WHEN INDIA MET ASIA
Though the distances divide us
There’s a paradise inside us
We can’t lose
Dan Fogelberg, Dancing Shoes
I remember the day I met my wife as if it happened yesterday. She was standing on her toes in ballet clothes and dancing a marionette doll across the hardwood floor in perfect rhythm to Dan Fogelberg. I sensed that this was a tectonic moment in my life but I was speechless. There were a lot of words tumbling around in the empty space between my ears but I could not bend them to my will. The marionette doll had more to say than I did. I envied him. I wanted to be attached to the same strings.
The general idea with the GJH newsletters is to alert our community of earth science fans to the great content GJH serves up on a fairly regular basis. I usually enjoy preparing these dispatches. Usually. As the sun sets today I am confronted with the hard truth that I am not up to the task at hand. I have spent the last 5 hours staring at the photograph above and as the deadline approaches I am still unable to find the words to do justice to the subject or the lecturer. Most of the folks reading this only need to hear that Mike Adler will be talking about the Himalaya. His photography is, well… breathtaking. And his lectures are enchanting. He will pack the Teton County Library Auditorium. A better Club Secretary would be able to whip up a newsletter that would be worthy of the event, but all four of my creativity brain cells cease to function each time I glance at the top of this page.
Its not that there isn’t plenty to talk about. The story of India meeting Asia is epic in every sense of the term. Very near the South Pole some 90 million years ago, India rifted away from Madagascar and began a long journey north, setting some impressive continental speed records in the process. To accommodate the journey, the Tethys Sea sacrificed itself by subducting under the southern margin of Asia. Some of its accumulated marine sediment was scraped off at the margin and we can now find 400 million year old marine fossils five and a half miles above sea level. Just when India truly “met” Asia is more a topic of debate than it is a matter of settled science. Conventional story lines set the first date at 50 – 55 million years ago, but there is a lot of good (I think better) data to support a collision as much as 20 million years later. If this debate interests you there are links at the bottom of this newsletter.
What we do know for sure is that there are some events on this planet that defy the human capacity to reduce almost everything to words. The Himalaya is in this class. At least for me. But I promise you this: If you show up this Tuesday, at 6:00 pm, Mike Adler will do a much better job than I have. And if words fail him too, his photography will do all of the talking needed.