North Dakota’s Geological Legacy

Review: North Dakota’s Geological Legacy: Our Land and How It Formed, John P. Bluemle, 2016.

When I go to a new place or return from one, I like to pick up some geological books to explain what I saw.

So, before returning to my once and present home of North Dakota after many decades (though to opposite ends of the state), I read this.

Bluemle is the former state geologist of North Dakota and has admirably succeeded in explaining to the state’s residents, those passing through, and anyone else interested why North Dakota looks like it does.

The book has all the modern appurtenances you could ask for: maps, diagrams, geologic timetables, a glossary, appendixes, a bibliography for further reading, and clear color photos, most from the author’s collection.

Rather following the popular Roadside Geology format, he divides the state up into geologic zones though he doesn’t restrict himself to just what you can see from the road.

Since the only reading on North Dakota geology before now that I’d done was on uranium mining in the state (a subject somewhat obscured by national security concerns) before, I learned a lot.

Besides explaining the features of my boyhood home in the southwestern part – a section with the state’s greatest topographical relief, lots of erosion, and many fossil finds, I learned that the common perception of the Missouri River’s course being determined by the advancement of glaciers about 10,000 years isn’t exactly true. It’s a composite valley of pre-existing segments and one cuts during the last Ice Age.

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