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No. 58: Jul-Aug 1988

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Earlier pages in earth's history revealed

Geologists are wont to liken the earth's sedimentary strata to pages in a history book. Well, it seems that seismologists may have discovered a previously unread chapter or two deep beneath the continental United States, in the guise of extensive stratified rocks in the Precambrian basement:

"The extent of the layered rocks became evident last summer as the Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling (COCORP) completed a major deep seismic reflection traverse across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and part of Missouri. The survey was conducted partly because industrial seismic data and studies by the Illinois Geological Survey showed basement layering in southern Illinois, partly because earlier COCORP surveys also showed such layering in Oklahoma and Texas, and partly because COCORP's broad program calls for comprehensive exploration of the entire continental basement of the United States.

"Although the composition and precise age of the Precambrian rocks are yet to be determined, their seismic reflection character suggests a sedimentary assemblage, at least in part. These layers occur within the Proterozoic Granite-Rhyolite province, where drilling typically recovers undeformed granite or rhyolite with ages of 1.3 to 1.5 b.y. Such prominent and orderly layering is surprising, given the widespread occurrence of granitic rocks. If the layered rocks are indeed igneous, the volume of silicic volcanic material is spectacular."

(COCORP Research Group; "COCORP Finds Thick Proterozoic (?) Strata under Midcontinent," Eos, 69:209, 1989.)

Some dimensions for these newly discovered pages were given in a report bearing the almost embarrassingly alliterative title indicated in the reference at the end of this item:

"In southern Illinois and Indiana, the layered rocks extend at least 180 kilometers in an east-west direction and average about 6 km in thickness."

(Monastersky, Richard; "Boring Plains Belie Bounty Beneath," Science News, 133:363, 1988.)

From Science Frontiers #58, JUL-AUG 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987