Monday, October 22, 2012

Poems for the Inexplicable

Franciscan Complex up close, near San Simeon, California.
I’m from California's Central Coast, home to the Franciscan Complex.  It’s a good thing I waited until I moved to Wyoming to learn about geology, otherwise I would have been totally turned off!
“The whole point of geology is to make sense of the rocks ... If all rocks resembled the Franciscan complex, no science of bedrock geology would have emerged.” (David Alt and Donald Hyndman in Roadside Geology of Northern and Central California, Mountain Press Publ. Co., 2000).
I’ve contemplated writing a post about the craziness of the geology there, the chaos that occurred as the North American Plate overran the Farallon Plate, and that continues today as the Pacific Plate bumps and grinds against the North American.  The resulting scenery certainly is fantastic!  But I always end up intimidated.  The story is just too complex -- multiple accretionary events, goo scraped off subducting seafloors, blueschist, eclogite, serpentinite, mantle rocks now at the surface, major shifts in the dance of the plates, repeating ophiolitic suites of shale, chert, pillow basalt, peridotite and gabbro, and of course the infamous Franciscan mΓ©lange -- all deformed again and again. Perhaps this inexplicable mess is better suited to awe and wonder, poetry and photographs.
Point Sal, home to the Coast Range ophiolite.
 The Big Sur Coast, a coast of dreams.  Photo by Ronn Koeppel.


Fog softens the scuffle
of rock against rock
crashing waves
are just
gulls call is
muted by mist
while what we call
eternal moves a little
and then, suddenly, a lot
shredding itself into
piles of debris
its innards out
for all to gape at:
“Oh my god thats so incredible
I must get a photo please
move a little to
the left.”

And from Robinson Jeffers:

Carmel Point

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses--
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads--
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly.  It has all time.  It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve.  Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.  --As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
Searching for enlightenment at Big Sur, in the day.

GeoPoetry is the topic for this month’s Accretionary Wedge, hosted by Matt Herod at Geosphere.