Monthly Archives: May 2013

Episode 7: Where is the highest point in Pittsburgh?

PAgeomapJohn Steinbeck wrote brilliantly about America and the minds that inhabit this country:

“Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy – that’s the time that seems long in the memory.” – East of Eden

But the man was no geologist. Geologic time can be “splashed with interest”—look no further than earthquakes or volcanic explosions—but those colorful blips of violence don’t steal the show in geology like they do in memory. “Routine time” is where the action is at—you just have to look closely. And for a long, long time.

In this episode we ask: where is highest point on land in the city of Pittsburgh? In answering, we uncover the events that give our city both its unique topography, as well as the “gold mine” beneath our feet—-the Marcellus Shale. To help us, we talk to Professors Charles Jones and Brian Stewart of the Department of Geology & Planetary Science, as well as Mike Homa, GIS Manager for the City of Pittsburgh. They help us find the highest point, and teach us how “eventlessness”  in geology is not eventless at all.



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