Saturday, December 16, 2017

Announcing "Ancient Landscapes of Western North America" My Newest Book Published by Springer for 2018

My latest book, Ancient Landscapes of Western North America, is now available online in print and e-book formats. With a publication date of 2018 this is a brand new title just in time for the new year. ALWNA is the second book in the Ancient Landscapes series with the first one being Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. The new book can be purchased at (once on their site, just type the title of the book in the search bar and it will pop up).

In this new book, Dr. Ron Blakey's stunning paleogeographic maps take center stage again, but this time the maps cover much larger areas in western North America, running in many cases from southeast Alaska to Sonora Mexico, and from the Pacific coast to Colorado. A few sample maps and diagrams can be seen below. I wrote the text that leads readers on a journey through time in the western North American Cordillera. Cordillera is a Spanish word for rather large and rugged mountainous areas. Our original intent was to title the book, Ancient Landscapes of the Western Cordillera but both of our non-geologist wives objected to that wording as being cryptic. Being good husbands, we listened to them. Geologists borrow the word from the Spanish and commonly use the term to refer to the active margins of both North and South America.

This map shows the Pacific edge of North America at about 270 Ma (million years ago) with the state lines serving to place the ancient landscapes upon the modern ones. Various shades of blue represent sea water at relative depths  with darker blue depicting deep water and lighter blue to whitish depicting very shallow water. Land areas are obvious with mountains shown amidst light yellow coloring that depicts the location of ancient sand dunes. In the Four Corners area, the Kaibab Sea is portrayed which deposited the Kaibab Limestone now exposed on the rim of Grand Canyon. The micro-continents shown in California and Nevada are drifting toward the east into the edge of the continent during the Sonoma orogeny (mountain building event). There are dozens of portrayals of western North America like this at various time slices for the last 3,500 million years.

This set of five maps is Figure 7.5 and shows five separate time slices of the Pacific edge of North America during a 15 million year period from 165 Ma to 150 Ma. The large wedge-shaped micro-continent seen in the bottom three maps depicts Wrangellia (labeled WR) and is perhaps the most important exotic terrane that accreted to North America at this time. 

One of numerous diagrams that accompany the maps. This cartoon shows four time slices at 160, 130, 80, and 50 Ma as various terranes accreted onto the edge of the continent.

A sample page with colorful photos of the rocks that inform the maps. All photographs were taken by Ron and myself in our various geologic exploration of the west. In photograph a) the fluvial (river) deposits of the Chinle Formation in Petrified Forest National Park are shown, while b) shows the orange sandstone cliffs in Coyote Gulch, Utah in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

I include a sample of my writing style below with the Epilogue:

The back cover of our new book, Ancient Landscapes of Western North America depicting the North American Cordillera at about 80 Ma. The Sierra arc (a linear volcanic mountain chain) is located in this depiction in central and southern Nevada, and western Arizona. Only at about 20 Ma was the crust stretched to bring the Sierra Nevada mountains to their present position in eastern California. Stories like this abound in the new book! Order your copy today at

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The 2018 AAPG Geosciences in the Media Award

On December 1, 2017 I received the following note from the President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG):

Dear Wayne,
Good news! As president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, I have the privilege of informing you that you are the 2018 Geosciences in the Media Award recipient from AAPG! In reviewing your body of work, including webpages and wonderful geology books, it is clear to me that AAPG is very proud to recognize you with this very well deserved recognitionThere will be an article in the December issue of the Explorer. AAPG Headquarters will be following up soon.
I am delighted that I will be the one to present the award to you at Opening Ceremony, at ACE in Salt Lake City, Sunday, May 20, 2018! Congratulations, well deserved, all the best!
Charles A. Sternbach, AAPG President 2017-2018 

This award comes as an utter and complete surprise. However, it is a distinct honor to receive it. Many readers of my books, articles or this blog may know of my passion for sharing geology, landscapes and deep time with anyone not fortunate enough to have studied them formally. But I thought that I was working out here in the wilderness of tourism and adventure travel. I was unaware that such a prestigious organization was paying any attention at all to my earthly musings, books or articles. I thought that my work could hardly ever be recognized by those who make a living in academia or industry.

I am deeply touched and honored to accept this award. Here is a link to the formal announcement that was published yesterday in the December issue of the AAPG Explorer. Here is a link to the AAPG home page.

Those that know me well will not be surprised to learn that on the morning of the award ceremony (May 20, 2018), I will wake up in a hotel room in Lisbon Portugal. I will have just completed a 23-day Private Jet excursion with TCS World Travel as a geologic lecturer. I will have lectured to a group of 54 people in Lithuania about the "Ice Age in the Baltic Sea," the "Tectonic Assembly of the Asian Supercontinent" while in Turkmenistan, and in Oman about the "The Natural History of Oil and Petroleum in the Middle-East." As that trip comes to a fitting end, I hope to catch a flight from Portugal to Salt Lake City and accept the award in person.

Thanks to all of my loyal readers who have made this award possible!

Description of the award in the AAPG Explorer, December, 2017