A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice

In Greenland, the ice pack is receding, exposing layers of rocks that have lain hidden for millennia. Geologist William Glassley describes "some a fraction of an inch thick, some thicker than houses, colored in a palette of earth tones and off-whites, greens and blue-blacks and reds, fold back on one another, pinch and swell, stretch to paper thinness, then thicken again, telling stories we ache to know but can barely read." He is working with two colleagues to decipher those stories embedded in the earth. They suspect that billions of years ago the land was a sheer zone where two ancient continents collided, creating a mountain range the size of the Himalayas. They need to analyze the rocks, however, to know if this hypothesis is true.

A Wilder Time is far more than dry geological inquiry, though. It is a poetic, metaphysical and philosophical treatise on the wildness of life on earth. Glassley ponders the connections between humans and reindeer as he nibbles on reindeer lichen. He sniffs a piece of rock and wonders what new life forms might be created as freshly released atoms drift on the breeze. And he delights in the taste of a piece of glacial ice frozen for thousands of years. His enthusiasm for geology is palpable. His love of the wild is tangible, and his way with words beautiful. Throughout, he re-creates the dramatic moments and discoveries he and his team encountered in this under-explored section of the world. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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