Two continents

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Two continents met to make the Urals. India, at unusual speed, hit Tibet. Eras before that, South America, Africa, and Europe had, as one, hit North America and made the Appalachians. The suture was probably the Brevard Zone, a long, northeast-trending fault zone in the southern Appalachians with very different rock types on either side and no discernible matchup of offset strata. Discontinuous extensions of the Brevard Zone seemed to reach to the Catoctin Mountains and conference room breda on to Staten Island. Southeastern Staten Island apparently was a piece of the Old World. Ships that sailed for Europe had arrived when they went under the bridge. Plate theory was constructed in ten years by people with hard data who were consciously and frankly waxing “geopoetical” as well. Once the essentials of the theory were complete-after the discovery of seafloor spreading had led to an understanding of trench subduction, and after the plates and their motions had finally been outlined and described-the theory took a metaphysical leap into the sancta of the gods, flaunting its bravado in the face of Yahweh. It could make a scientist uncomfortable. Instead of reaching back in time from rock to river to mountains that must have been thereand then on to inference and cautious conjecture in the dark of imperceivable unknowns-this theory by its conception, its nature, and its definition was applying for the job of Prime Mover. The name on the door changed. There was no alternative. The theory was panterrestrial, panoceanic. It was the past and present and future of the world, sixty miles deep. It was every scene that ever was on earth. Either it worked or it didn’t. Hoist it was to heaven with its own petard. “Established” there, it looked not so much backward from the known toward the unknown as forward from the invisible to its product the surface of the conference room almere earth. Anita was more worried than made hostile by all this. By no means did she reject plate theory out of hand. There were applications of it with which she could not agree. Moreover, it was too fast a vehicle for its keys to be given to children.

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