The Planet in A Pebble

The Planet in A Pebble

A Journey Into Earth's Deep History

Book - 2010
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Baker & Taylor
Uses a pebble of slate from a beach in Wales to describe the Earth's geologic history stretching back billions of years.

Blackwell Publishing
Every pebble has many stories to tell. Its particular atoms, its crystals, its minerals, its grains, its textures, its strata, its tiny fossils bear evidence to a history that stretches back billions of years. Within a pebble that fits in you hand lie signatures of powerful Earth-shaping forces, and long-vanished landscapes.

In this book, Jan Zalasiewicz chooses a pebble of slate from a beach in Wales. He takes us on a journey through the history of that pebble-how its atoms were forged; how its molecules resided in the rock of an ancient continent, and were eroded off and carried into the sea where they sat in the deeps capturing evidence of life; how they were lifted up within the mountains and then released by weathering once more to the Earth's surface. How do we know all this? Zalasiewicz shows how geologists ingeniously decode the clues, telling time with zircon crystals, exposing microscopic fossils, to reveal the pebble's journey through time and space.

All that from one pebble of Welsh slate. Pick up a pebble from somewhere else, and it will have other stories to tell. And so we piece together the long history of the Earth.

Oxford University Press
This is the story of a single pebble, whose history carries us into abyssal depths of time, and across the farthest reaches of space. Indeed, starting from this tiny, common speck, Jan Zalasiewicz offers readers a stimulating tour that begins with the Universe's dramatic birth in the unimaginable violence of the Big Bang and explores the construction of the Solar System and the origins of our own planet. Zalasiewicz shows the almost incredible complexity present in the apparently mundane pebble, starting with the astonishing number of atoms in each. We learn that many events in the Earth's ancient past can be deciphered from a pebble: volcanic eruptions; the lives and deaths of extinct animals and plants; the alien nature of long-vanished oceans; and even the creations of fool's gold and oil deep underground. Zalasiewicz also demonstrates how geologists reach deep into the Earth's past by forensic analysis of even the tiniest amounts of mineral matter. The pebble may be small, and ordinary, but it is also an eloquent part of our Earth's extraordinary, never-ending story.

Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010
Description: xiv, 234 p., [4] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 23 cm
ISBN: 9780199569700
Branch Call Number: 551.7 Zal


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