Tag Archives: geology

Echoes of Earth

When L. Sue Baugh announced to the writing group a few years back that she and her friend Lynn Martinelli wanted to document the oldest places on earth, there was no way for those in attendance to know how serious she was–and how glorious the results of that project would be.

Sue and Lynn sought to experience landscapes that resembled what ancient Earth might have been like long before humanity appeared. Their search led the two women into remote regions of Western Australia, Canada, Greenland, the United States–and eventually into territory not marked on any map.

The outcome of their research is Baugh’s book Echoes of Earth: Finding ourselves in the origins of the planet. The work combines science and philosophy, but it is dominated by the photographs that so gloriously capture the primitive beauty of the places explored. The book is remarkable not only in its subject matter and beauty, but also in its format. There are die cuts, half pages, and fold-outs, making the book an interactive experience.

While Baugh says she loved everywhere she visited, she said Australia was the place that most captivated her. She relates, “I don’t think my heart ever fully came back from there.” Of course, that’s a sentiment I share with her.

The book is not just getting noticed by Baugh’s associates in local writing groups. It has in a short time racked up an impressive number of awards:
• A silver medal for Photography/art from the Nautilus Book Awards
• Awards in two categories from the Benjamin Franklin Awards (Baugh is happiest with the award in the nature/environment category).
• A gold medal for science/nature/environment category from Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Not too surprisingly, the book is available on Amazon. However, if you want a signed, numbered version–with additional materials–you can go to the website for Wild Stone Arts.



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Albany Coast, Torndirrup Peninsula

In many places, the face that this corner of Western Australia presents to the sea is a hard one—great walls of ancient granite and even older gneisses.

The oldest rocks, the gneisses, pre-date almost all life on Earth. Scientists estimate that these rocks were formed between 1300 and 1600 million years ago, shaped by incredibly high pressure and temperatures. The granite, on the other hand, was formed when the Australia and Antarctica tectonic plates collided about 1160 million years ago. The collision caused such immense friction that the Earth’s crust, between the two continents, melted and rose slowly, cooling into the masses of granite visible through this area today.

The Gap and Natural Bridge, in Torndirrup National Park on the Torndirrup Peninsula, is considered an ideal place to view this astonishingly ancient rock. This area was one of Western Australia’s first national parks, set aside in 1918. It took it’s name from an Aboriginal group that lived on and near the peninsula. The area is as rich in wildlife and botanical specimens as any other in this region, but it is the rocks here that are most remarkable.

I’m always delighted by impressive statistics, but here, it was the beauty and drama of the location that captivated me. Wind and waves both beat relentlessly against this geological fortress, but the walls hold, though they are wonderfully carved in places by the endless attack.

I read later that when the Bridge eventually collapses, it will form another wave trap like the Gap. I have encountered two different collapsed natural bridges in Australia since my stroll out onto the Bridge at Torndirrup, one of which collapsed only shortly before my visit, but of course the possibility of collapse didn’t even occur to me on the day I visited the dramatic, windy coast near Albany.

If you read the story of Jimmy Newhills in my book, you may have wondered how unlikely his survival was. The photos below show Jimmy Newhills Inlet and the nearby Gap, and I think the contrast illustrates why it was reasonable for everyone to assume Newhills could not survive the storm. After all, most of the peninsula looks like the Gap, not the inlet.

Jimmy Newhills Inlet

Jimmy Newhills Inlet

The Gap

The Gap

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