Western Geology and Eastern Meteorology

Don’t get me wrong, both earth sciences are important on both coasts.  Weather is everywhere, and earth is our planet.  But the effects of these areas of knowledge are more profound on their respective sides of the United States.

My point is the majority of geological disasters (as well as benefits, whether practical or aesthetic) happen on the west side of the country.  And because of the 1959 ratification of Alaska and Hawaii as states, that adds to the picture.

A prime example is the state of California.  Pros of living out there (concerning geology) are its beautiful structures, from mountains (i.e., Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada), to the coast itself.  A notorious con is, of course, earthquakes, due to the San Andreas Fault.

The Pacific Northwest (i.e., the states of Washington and Oregon), extreme northern California, and the Canadian province of British Columbia also hold a grand mountain range, the Cascades.  This is where things get nasty, however, namely, concerning volcanoes.  If you are old enough to remember 1980’s Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington state, you will understand what I mean.  There are other Cascade volcanoes as well.  I hope to discuss in a later post in more detail about how volcanoes work, as well as other geological phenomena.  For now, as a sneak peek, I will at least mention that Hawaiian volcanoes are a little safer.

And further inland, we all know about all the major spectacles, like the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, and many others.  Ditto for Alaska and much of Canada, which are not only sublime sights, but Canada may provide oil and natural gas, to help our economy divert from imports from Middle Eastern lands.  But that’s politics, so let’s not go there)

Now on to the east.  As an east coast dweller (Pennsylvania) myself, we worry more about hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods.  (And maybe the very occasional tornado).  While many of these ills are of an issue on the southeastern portion of the east coast (as well as the states by the Gulf of Mexico), in rare instances, like 2012’s “Superstorm Sandy,” a strange type of hurricane, portions of the northeastern end (mostly the states of New York and New Jersey) was quite severely traumatized.

But the east is not devoid of geologic structures!  The Appalachians (another splendid region) are probably the best example.  Pennsylvania (and probably other states) has some iffiness on “fracking” (namely, shale fracturing).  The dilemma in this case is either clean water, or more and/or better energy.  Again, though let’s stay away from politics!

Perhaps the heartland gives the best of both worlds.  The Great Plains in the Midwestern Untied States, often known as Tornado Alley, was intended as the path for the Keystone XL pipeline designed to capitalize on American and Canadian fossil fuels.  And obviously, it is a tornado risk area.  The Gulf of Mexico, also an oil source, is also hurricane prone.  (Remember Hurricane Katrina in 2005?  Most locals would rather repress it.)

So while both sides of our great country involve both branches of earth science, geology seems more dominant out west and meteorology in the east.  I’ll be sure to update you as I read things on the subject!

Hey, this stuff may make a good hobby later on.