September 20, 2015

Earth Science for Dummies: Lesson 2

I grew up in Michigan, so I thought I knew something about ice. But nothing prepared me for turning the corner and seeing a glacier.
The glaciers are the Rocky Mountains of Ice. But unlike the Rockies, they are on the move.
As they melt, the ice pushes up against the earth,creating astounding formations.

The ice melt forms rivers, which carry the floes out to the sea.

 The enormity of seeing ice formed 2500 hundred years ago (Iceland's biggest Ice Age was 500 BC) end a journey...end an existence...before my eyes was strangely poignant.
As was cradling a piece in my hands. Look what water looks like without pollution.

The ice melt does more than create water (and massive floods, if it happens too fast). It creates the essence of the land and in largely untouched Iceland, you can see the story unfolding right beneath your feet.
Take a walk through an old riverbed and look closely at the rocks. They start like this.
 Centuries of seasonal thawing and freezing and thawing and freezing cut them like...well, like ice. With no one around to disturb them, the fingerprints of the ice stay intact. 

Bigger rocks get cut smaller...

And smaller...
Until they become independent little stones...
Communities of pebbles...
 And then, finally, dust.
I felt overwhelmed by the majesty of this process. I know it goes on all around me in Pennsylvania, but our landscapes are so overrun with blacktop and bulldozers that I have never seen it with such clarity before.

You should go to Iceland if for no other reason than to see this. And you'd better hurry, before Thor smashes it all up.


  1. i love love love Thor and his hammer after reading all the above, how a human being
    will still somehow need to add their own touch....
    Your photographs, breath taking .... the ice in your hand
    and the sequential photographs of Becoming, continuing the Becoming....
    I would have NEVER thought i would want to go to Iceland, but the PURE beauty
    of this all has changed me. I cannot imagine the Silence, the Stillness in this place
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
    now i'm going to back and look more. Thank you for going there for me, so much....

  2. I love love love Thor too and yes, he needs to touch to truly take something in. He doesn't really need to hammer it to bits to understand, he just so wants to find a geode in situ. You should have seen him at your Rockhound State Park. At least there were no snakes here.