Textbook helper?

One of the questions from the staff at UC Press about GG’s upcoming book was, could this be used in a class? GG’s first response was, well no, it wasn’t written that way. But thinking on it, maybe there is a role there.  This is more a reference post to consider the possibility…

Now the reality is that GG’s book is dealing with the Sierra, so a lot of stuff in an intro textbook just isn’t there. But the point would be to use The Mountains that Remade America as motivation, so even if a point is hit tangentially, it might serve as a starting point for textbook material. First, the table of contents of GG’s book might be of help:

Introduction [Effects of Sierra on Nevada, LDS church, Hollywood]
1• An Asymmetric Barrier
2• A Golden Trinity
3• A Placer for Everyone
4• Fossil Rivers, Modern Water
5• Lode Gold
6• “A Property of No Value”  [Yosemite Valley]
7• Granite, Guardian of Wilderness
8• Big Trees, Big Battles
9• Mountains Adrift
10• What Lies Beneath
11• Paradoxes and Proxy Wars

So with that in mind, here is an attempt to identify parts of the book that relate to chapters of a popular intro textbook, Grotzinger and Jordan’s Understanding Earth.

  1. Earth system. Not singled out the way a textbook does.
  2. Plate tectonics: Ch. 5 on lode gold discusses the creation of sea floor and its destruction at subduction zones as well as exotic terranes.
  3. Minerals and Rocks: The main igneous rocks make numerous appearances, from basalts in Ch. 5 to granites overwhelming Ch. 7. Not so many sedimentary rocks. So not the strongest lead-in.
  4. Igneous rocks: Ch. 5 and Ch. 7 deal with this considerably.
  5. Sedimentation: The process of transporting and depositing sediment is key in Ch. 3 on placer deposits and also a substantial part of the story in Ch. 4 on hydraulic mining. [but see point 18, below, as lots of overlap]
  6. Metamorphism: Ch. 5 on lode gold discusses the metamorphic reactions that release gold-rich fluid to rise up and make the Mother Lode.
  7. Folding and fracturing: Ch. 5 (again) has the deformation associated with creating the Calaveras Complex as well as faulting associated with terranes. Folding of a sort in describing metamorphic septa in Ch. 8. Faulting shows up a fair bit of Ch. 9.
  8. Age dating. Relative and absolute dates in Ch. 6 as well as cosmogenic exposure ages.
  9. Early solar system history. Nothing for this.
  10. History of continents. A bit unclear, but creation of continental crust is in Ch. 11.
  11. Geobiology. Ch. 7 discusses the megafauna extinction. Ch. 8 talks about sequoias and mentions possible connection to bedrock composition.
  12. Volcanoes. Volcanic activity in the present at Long Valley is a big part of Ch. 9, and past activity is in Ch. 7
  13. Earthquakes. Ch. 9 covers 1872 quake, elastic rebound, geodesy, and the first earthquake forecast. Use of earthquakes in getting earth structure in Ch. 10.
  14. Earth’s Interior. Isostasy, crustal structure is in Ch. 10. Really deep earth not a player, though.
  15. Climate system. Ch. 11 discusses the use of proxy data for paleoelevation (which exploits water cycle in a sense) and the idea that changing climate could cause erosion.
  16. Weathering, erosion. Ch. 1 and 3 consider this and Ch. 4 addresses movement of sediment. Ch. 6 considers erosion by water and especially ice.
  17. Hydrologic cycle. Ch. 4 covers moving water around. Ch. 8 mentions sinkholes. Introduction considers the rain shadow of the Sierra.
  18. Stream transport. Ch. 3 and 4 especially considers this.
  19. Winds and deserts. Nothing here.
  20. Coastlines and ocean basins. Creation and destruction of ocean crust in Ch. 5; some oceanic sedimentation in Ch. 8
  21. Glaciers. Ch. 6 is Yosemite and whether it was created by ice.
  22. Landscape development. Not sure what this covers, but Ch. 1 is tied into that, and Ch. 10 and 11 at a larger scale.
  23. Human impact. Hazards from past mining in Ch. 5; extinction of megafauna in Ch. 7

Stuff not making chapter level that still might be interesting is economic geology (much of Ch. 2-5). How science is done is in Ch. 11.

Obviously you cannot simply read GG’s book and then go chapter-by-chapter through a textbook at the same time.  So this wouldn’t be a trivial connection to make, but there are links and maybe a clever instructor could make this work.  (If so, GG would love to hear about how it went).

3 responses to “Textbook helper?”

  1. B. Bishop says :

    Looking at this a bit differently, would it be useable as a text for something more for non-majors or even outside of a geology department?

    Your description strikes me as sounding like it could be an interesting geo-heritage text, or something similar.


    • cjonescu says :

      Certainly could. There are sort of cross-discipline science classes that are kicking around in places that could conceivably work off a book like this. Not a huge market, I don’t think, and not easily addressed as most are kind of boutique classes.


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