Viewing America With Geology Essay

1143 words - 5 pages

America has changed through the years in many ways. Medicine has improved, average standard of living has risen, and the overall quality of life has changed drastically over the course of time. Yet, these are all short-term ideals when taken into the whole picture. Although all of this is important, to truly understand the actual face of America, we have to think farther back than a few hundred years. The face of America can best be portrayed in thinking about how America looks the way it does. Questions like “How did the Rocky mountains form?” or “Why are the Great Plains located where they are?” These types of questions are important because once you figure out why certain areas have the qualities that they do, it becomes simpler to pinpoint why Americans live and react the way they do. For example, not just Americans but humans in general desire a marine climate area, typically close to a water source, and moderate temperatures that do not vastly fluctuate. This is why so many people are located on the coast near California or Florida. What becomes interesting is that if the tectonic plates hadn’t shifted the way it did, and perhaps broken apart differently from Pangaea, then America wouldn’t look the same as it does now. America would have more or less land for people to cultivate and live on possibly changing the areas of higher population or common wealth depending on if the new land was useful in anyway. All this ties into why America looks the way it does or the “face” of America.
Since California had previously been mentioned, it is a great place to begin explaining the complex geological impacts starting with the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas is what geologists know as a strike-slip fault, meaning that when two plates slide against each other in this case, it does not slide smoothly. There is a chunk of northern California sticking out toward the Pacific that prevents the lower tectonic plate from sliding upward steadily. Instead the lower plate gets stuck on the protruding area, but because the plates are still moving this causes sudden “jerks” of movement of the plates grinding against each other (San). This is one, but not the only way to make the phenomenon we know as earthquakes. This fault has not only caused trouble in the past but is likely to bring devastating destruction in the relatively near future. San Francisco had an earthquake, because of this fault, in April 1906 killing over 700 people and causing millions in damage (San). If a new earthquake were to happen it would kill thousands of American citizens along the west coast. Consequently, there would be a major drop in population over there which could reduce the amount of production created in this region all tying back into why the geological aspect of America is a main determining factor for seeing the importance of why America has the properties it has and will have in the future.
Another well-known geological phenomenon in the United States is Yellowstone...

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