[See my first post in this series: The holler’s seismic neighborhood]
On September 25, 1976, I dreamed that I was working with other people to help move large sections of the Earth’s crust and to reduce large pieces of rock at plate boundaries into smaller pieces to facilitate a less violent shifting of the plates. The emotional texture of the experience was calm and matter of fact. Even though there was some sense of urgency or need to get this done, no one acted as if it was dangerous or unusual to be where we were, doing what we were doing. When I woke up, the phrase “plate tectonics” was on my mind and kept repeating with enough frequency and intensity that I was compelled to do some further research.
At the time, all I had was an old geology textbook and a newer earth sciences encyclopedia (this happened long before I had a computer or Internet access!) from which I copied some of the entry on Plate Tectonics into my dream journal for future reference: -- A branch of earth science dealing with the formation, destruction and motion of segmental sections of earth’s crust called ‘plates’. This includes aspects of seismic activity and mountain building.
The layer of the Earth we live on is broken into a dozen or so rigid slabs (called tectonic plates by geologists) that are moving relative to one another. [Image and caption credit: USGS]
Plate tectonics as a discipline was pretty much being born in the mid-sixties. By 1976 when I had the dream, much more was known but it was still a relatively new idea. Not long after the dream, I came across a textbook, Plate Tectonics and Geomagnetic Reversals, by Alan Cox published just three years earlier. Cox (1973) writes in the Introduction that “The earth sciences are currently in an intellectual ferment as a result of recent advances in the study of magnetic reversals, sea-floor spreading, and plate tectonics.” (p.2)
He notes that in the century following the work of Charles Darwin, the earth sciences were characterized by specialization and divergence in which paleontologists, seismologists, geomagnetists, geologists and marine geophysicists got better at what they were doing but had less and less to say to one another. (p.2)
This trend was reversed, says Cox, when a series of articles written between 1962 and 1968 brought many of these main “threads of geologic research” together to “form the fabric of plate tectonics.” It would have been during this period of consilience that I first heard brief mention of the emerging science of plate tectonics as a freshman in geology 101 at Ohio State. I can still remember absorbing some excitement about it from the professor. With the dream, the interest that had apparently smoldered more than ten years found some air and again caught fire.
One of my research sources before I had a computer was the USGS office at the Denver Federal Center. There I explored photos from historical earthquake data, such as this one of Quake Lake: The Madison Canyon landslide near Yellowstone Park. This landslide occurred after the Hebgen lake earthquake (Richter Scale Magnitude = 7.5) in Montana, in 1959. The earthquake caused a great slide of rock, soil, and trees to fall from the steep south wall of the Madison River Canyon. Twenty-eight people camping in the area were killed as they were overtaken by this 21 million cubic meter mass. The landslide formed a barrier that completely blocked the gorge and the flow of the Madison River, and created a lake. [Photo and caption: USGS]
For about a year my research into plate tectonics and seismic phenomena stayed within the boundaries of earth science. In the fall of 1977, however, I had an experience in meditation that helped me connect the dots between the physical and spiritual dimensions of my fascination with our shifting Earth.
In my next post, I’ll share this experience and another dream that happened two weeks before my seismic re-awakening to plate tectonics -- a dream that foretold the connection to cooperative and coordinated ventures with spiritual space forces.