cover image Cycles of Rock and Water: At the Pacific Edge

Cycles of Rock and Water: At the Pacific Edge

Kenneth Brown. HarperCollins Publishers, $23 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016056-2

``All rocks have stories to tell,'' writes freelance journalist Brown in this engaging account of the geological forces at work on the West Coast. Drawing on two years spent traveling with geologists and other scientists, the author moves north from Baja California (which is gradually separating from Mexico by movement of the Pacific plate) to the Aleutian Islands, where subduction--recycling of surface rocks into the earth's mantle--was first observed. He reveals the processes that shape dunes and mountains by focusing on specific phenomena: a tree that precisely straddles the San Andreas Fault, the 10,000-foot-deep midocean ridges of the Pacific Northwest, the fast-growing mountains of Cape Mendocino. His sketches of field specialists at work make the complex, ever-changing earth they explore come alive for general readers. (Apr.)