September 2023 Newsletter

the power of PLACE

“Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice”—Will Durant

Philosopher and historian Will Durant reminds us that we might benefit by occasionally considering the ground upon which our feet stand, metaphorically as well as literally. Geology is often destiny, and explains Crested Butte’s coal mines, ski resort, and even RMBL.

The presence of Crested Butte’s coal mines is explained in part by the Western Interior Seaway that split North America into two landmasses. Decomposition lacking oxygen is inefficient, leaving energy behind. Coal is just concentrated energy and was generated through plant material that accumulated in swamps and wetlands adjacent to the Western Interior Seaway, places where dead plant material would accumulate but oxygen was limited.  Geology explains CB coal mines!

Ian Billick - Director RMBL

Ian Billick | PhD
Executive Director, RMBL


Intersection of geology and biology

I was pretty excited when Ian asked me to write a piece on the intersection of geology and biology for the RMBL newsletter. My scientific career in soil geomorphology places my research at that intersection and many of my friends and colleagues work in that intersection as well. As you can probably imagine, the boundaries between earth science and biology are somewhat arbitrary. Biology is the scientific study of life at all scales – from molecular biology of cells to evolution of populations and, in general, earth science investigates the abiotic components of the earth system (geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere) as well as the long history of those systems and what that history might tell us about the future. These two scientific branches intersect in interesting and important ways.