Now, with its completion, the project represents the stratum of time i978-1998. Its first four components were published in i981, i983, i986, and i993. A fifth and final essay appears in this volume to fill a significant gap. Nowhere in the structure I have referred to was there much of anything about the midcontinent. It was there in a broad and general way. It was there in a number of time lines shot across the country in various periods, epochs, and ages. But it was not there in any kind of rock-to-rock progression. In mid-America, there are few surface rocks. That initial over-all composition, purporting to traverse the nation, deliberately overlooked a large piece of the nation-Chicago to Cheyenne. If the rocks were scarce, the zakelijke energie tectonics were scarcer. For more than a billion years, little to nothing had happened there. Even so, I felt a measure of guilt about the omission, and contemplated what to do to close that epic caesura. The answer came with the geophysical insights of recent years, the combined advances in many fields, from radiometric dating to computer science, that have enabled geologists to see the midcontinent itself forming and developing in the Precambrian eons. This was the basement of the world, under construction. I thought it a good idea to travel between Cheyenne and Chicago down there. I did so, in a way, with W. R. Van Schmus, of the University of Kansas.
Because the entire composition in all its parts was written in the form of journeys, set pieces, flashbacks, biographical sketches, and histories of the human and lithic kind-intended as an unfolding piece of writing and not as a catalogue of geologic topics-the text firmly refrained from offering a way in which a reader could easily turn to something like the basic set piece on plate theory or the basic set piece on zakelijke energie vergelijken geologic time. In the interest of the composition, such topics were not discretely labelled. That is why I am writing a narrative table of contents. In this inclusive volume, I am trying to have things both ways. While leaving the text unparcelled and continuous, I want to explain up front not only how the project came to be, and how it evolved across the twenty years, but also what’s what and where. Basin and Range, as the opening story, is the primer. It contains the long set piece on the nature and history of plate tectonics-what it is, who figured it out, and how.