Geologists of Jackson Hole
The following offers some recommendations concerning readings on the geology of Yellowstone, the Tetons, and Wyoming – one narrative, one systematic account, and one collection of geological vignettes
Windows into the Earth: the geologic story of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Robert B. Smith and Lee J. Siegel
Oxford University Press, 2000
In terms of style and approach, Smith and Siegel’s book falls between Love’s and McPhee’s. Where Love, et al., offer a chronological trek through geologic time, Smith and Siegel present Yellowstone and Teton geology in terms of its main episodes. The book begins with the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake, relating this story through its human as well as geologic effects with some of the literary attention of McPhee. The result is an account that is less geology-intensive, with more emphasis on the human experience of geologic phenomena. The book is also distinguished by its large number of beautiful illustrations, many of which are in color, and also include two chapters that provide guided driving tours of the parks.
Rising from the Plains, John McPhee
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001 (1986)
The most readable introduction to the geology of the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Wyoming. McPhee, a long-time staff writer at the New Yorker, places science within a wider societal context, showing how geology influences our politics, economics, and imaginative life. He builds his account around David Love, dean of Western geologists and a Wyoming native, juxtaposing events of Love’s life in early 20th century Wyoming with the development of Love’s understanding of Wyoming geology. Human and geological history also intersect through selections taken from the unpublished diaries of Love’s mother Ethel Waxham Love. The reader comes away with an appreciation for the entirety of the Wyoming landscape, including those areas that are often described as ‘wasteland’.
Creation of the Teton Landscape, by David Love, John Reed, Kenneth Pierce
Grand Teton Association; 2nd Revised & Enlarged Edition, 2016
If John McPhee offers a friendly ramble across Wyoming with David Love, Creation of the Teton Landscape (Love, Reed, and Pierce) offers the reader a systematic account of the geologic history of the Teton Range. The book moves back and forth from an explanation of general geologic principles to how they reveal themselves in the Tetons. The book is ordered chronologically, describing the two-billion-year-old core of the Teton Range as well as the glaciations of the last million years. The more than 100 photographs and diagrams and removable geologic map make the book accessible to the general reader while remaining interesting to those with a background in geology.
Geology Underfoot in Yellowstone Country, Mark Hendrix
Mountain Press, 2011
Geology Underfoot focuses on the geology of Yellowstone National Park. Hendrix, a professor of geology at the University of Montana, has arranged the book in terms of 20 ‘vignettes’ – location-specific accounts of places accessible via car and hikes. A map identifies roadside pullouts or places along trails where the reader can learn about the geology of the Yellowstone region. The text describes both the geologic history of the Yellowstone region before it became a volcano as well as the volcanic eruptions of the last two million years. Illustrations complement the text, as Hendrix does a good job of explaining the underlying principles that have created the world’s largest collection of geysers.