Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Niagara Escarpment

At Cave Point
Door County, Wisconsin







"I think I saved the best 'til last," my travel buddy's uncle commented in a rather baffled tone of voice.  He couldn't help but notice my enthusiasm at seeing this magnificent jagged cliff which shapes the western boundary of Lake Michigan.  What is it about rocks that sends me into a state of rapture?

Because it is a form of time travel.  When I scramble among rocks, I am transported to an age I  can only imagine.  In this case, it is the Silurian Period, the time when most of our northern planet was under the sea.   416 million years ago.  This is the time when coral reefs thrived in tropical waters.  The remains of ancient sea life, plants and sand were compacted to form a hard bedrock called dolomite.  And I was walking on it.

What further boggles my mind, is that this area used to be located near the equator.  I am a witness to the collision of tectonic plates and the formation of the supercontinent Euramerica.

When glaciation began to take place and giant ice sheets advanced and retreated, the Great Lakes were formed and erosion began to break down the softer rocks and sediments.  Not so much the hard, hard dolomite.

Welcome to the Niagara Escarpment.  What remains of this ancient crust of earth runs east to west from New York State through Ontario, Michigan and Wisconsin.  It is the most prominent of several escarpments in the Great Lakes Basin.  Standing over the cliff at Cave Point and watching the waves crashing into the rock, further eroding, eroding, eroding . . . made me feel I was a witness to Genesis itself.

And that's why I love rocks.

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