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Books on the Rocks: Celebrating Earth Science Week

October 14, 2014

Rock on, friends: it’s Earth Science Week! And from a geological standpoint, there are few better places to celebrate than the Pacific Northwest.


“Earth’s Connected Systems” reigns as this year’s point of emphasis, according to the American Geosciences Institute. Daily activities across the nation will “help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the earth sciences and encourage stewardship of the Earth.” From coast to coast, organizations are hosting events that cover a variety of topics, from engineering to plate tectonics.


As Oregonians, our environment teems with unique topographical features and prime examples of nature’s inspiring power. Hike local favorite Mary’s Peak or take a day trip to the coast to join the festivities. But before you do, consider reading up on our local geography and the processes that made it so. Browse below to find just the resources you need to make any Earth Science Week event more meaningful and enjoyable!



Oregon Geology

Sixth Edition

Elizabeth L. Orr and William N. Orr


A comprehensive look at the state’s geologic history, Oregon Geology moves through Oregon’s regions to closely examine the unique geologic features of each, from the Blue Mountains to the Willamette Valley and beyond.


This 2012 edition includes biographical sketches of notable geologists, highlighting current environmental problems and tectonic hazards. Lavishly illustrated with an extensive bibliography, Oregon Geology offers an in-depth analysis of the state’s striking topography and geologic features.



The Next Tsunami

Living on a Restless Coast

Bonnie Henderson


In The Next Tsunami, Bonnie Henderson shares the stories of scientists like meteorologist Alfred Wegener, who formulate his theory of continental drift while gazing at ice floes calving from Greenland glaciers, and geologist Brian Atwater, who paddled his dented aluminum canoe up muddy coastal streams looking for layers of peat sandwiched among sand and silt. The story begins and ends with Tom Horning, a local geologist and native of Seaside—arguably the Northwest community with the most to lose from what scientist Atwater predicts will be an “apocalyptic” disaster.


Henderson’s compelling story of how scientists came to understand the Cascadia Subduction Zone and how ordinary people cope with that knowledge is essential reading for anyone interested in the charged intersection of science, human nature and public policy.



Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest

A Survivor’s Guide, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded

Robert S. Yeats


An essential guide for anyone interested in understanding earthquake science or in preparing for the next earthquake, this book is also a call to action. Vivid descriptions of recent disasters – including the great Northwest coastal tsunami of 1964 and 1993 earthquakes – underscore the urgent need for better earthquake planning and awareness.


In this expanded new edition of Living with Earthquakes, Robert Yeats, a leading authority on earthquakes in California and the Pacific Northwest, offers fascinating, updated information about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a great earthquake fault which runs for hundreds of miles offshore from British Columbia to northern California.



Ever Blooming

The Art of Bonnie Hall

Bonnie Hall


Resolved to "share the privileged close scrutiny of nature" that she had enjoyed as a scientific illustrator, Hall created her first screenprint in 1992 while undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Inspired by old botanical prints and motivated by a desire to draw attention to "the overlooked, undervalued, or threatened wild things native to our Pacific Northwest landscape," Hall produced scientifically accurate prints that revealed the personality, life stages, and the very essence of her subjects – what a fellow artist aptly called the "gesture" of each plant.


Hall’s narratives are rich in detail and informed by thorough study into plant distribution, life histories, use by Native Americans, taxonomic discoveries, and conservation issues. For botanists, wildflower enthusiasts, gardeners, and artists, as well as anyone who loves the Pacific Northwest wilderness, Ever Blooming offers a singular glimpse of the natural world as seen through the eyes of a gifted and inspired artist.



Oregon Fossils

Second Edition

Elizabeth L. Orr and William N. Orr


Providing an unparalleled fossil record of the state, Oregon Fossils covers a variety of terrains and time periods. From ocean beaches to the high desert and Blue Mountains to the Siskiyous, all known fossils are organized by county, age, rock formation and published source.


Unique among fossil field guides, Oregon Fossils includes both specimen identification and interesting notes about their discovery naming and conservation. Sprinkled with biographical sketches of influential paleontologists, the text is richly illustrated with photographs, line drawings, charts and maps. A complete bibliography lists full citations to fossil material. The only single volume that provides Oregon’s fossil record and history, Oregon Fossils is an excellent reference for classroom and library use, for researchers, and for private collectors and hobbyists.



Living with Thunder

Exploring the Geologic Past, Present and Future of the Pacific Northwest

Ellen Morris Bishop

Available Nov. 2014


Celebrate the beauty of Earth Science Week all year long with this beautiful upcoming title. In Living with Thunder, geologist and photographer Ellen Morris Bishop offers a fascinating and up-to-date geologic survey of the Northwest—Washington, Oregon, northern California, and western Idaho. New discoveries include Smith Rock as part of Oregon’s largest (and most extinct) volcano, portrait of Mount Hood’s 1793-1795 eruptions and new ideas about the origin of the Columbia River basalts and course of the ancestral Columbia River.


Intended as an introduction for the general reader and geological non-specialist, Living with Thunder enlivens Northwest geological history by combining engaging science writing with the author’s stunning color photographs. In addition, color maps and time charts help guide the reader. The book presents evidence of changing ecosystems and ancient life, as well as the Northwest’s exceptional record of past climate changes and the implications for our future.

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