In Living with Thunder: Exploring the Geologic Past, Present, and Future of Pacific Northwest Landscapes, author Ellen Morris Bishop takes reader on a slow-moving journey across time and place.
And by slow-moving I mean geologically speaking, as million and millions of years. This book does an admirable job of chronologically illustrating the evolution of the pacific northwest before there was a pacific northwest, as tectonic plates collided, submerged, and exploded, ending up hundreds of miles from where they began.
You can’t live in this region and not see volcanic evidence pretty much everywhere you turn. Which is one reason I was curious to read Living with Thunder. For instance, I didn’t realize that Smith Rock, located north of Bend (shown below), is left over from Oregon’s largest volcano — one that stretched more than 20 miles across. Suddenly Crater Lake doesn’t seem quite so large.
Another reason I was interested in this book was inspired by the now infamous article in The New Yorker about the coming “big one” for this region. And, yes, the book confirms that a big one is inevitable.
And if that’s not enough, the book reminds you that mountains such as Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Rainier are all very active and very much a threat to the surrounding towns. Though “active” is relative in geologic years. I’d like to think we won’t see any major eruptions in my lifetime, though eruptions are sure to come in someone’s lifetime.
Despite the looming risks, this book confirms why I love this region so; all those volcanoes make for dramatic scenery. The book is loaded with beautiful, full-color photos; my only criticism was that some of the exhibits felt a bit too small.
If you want to get a sense for how this region of the world has evolved over the years — and is still evolving, I recommend this book.
Living with Thunder: Exploring the Geologic Past, Present, and Future of Pacific Northwest Landscapes
Oregon State University Press
Author of the novels The Tourist Trail and Where Oceans Hide Their Dead. Co-founder of Ashland Creek Press and editor of Writing for Animals (also now a writing program).