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Spring 2002 Lecture

The Roadside Geology of Massachusetts

James W. Skehan
Geologist

May 8, 2002

Were you woken unexepectedly early on Saturday, April 20, by a strange shaking of your residence? It turned out to be an earthquake of maginitude 5.1 centered in upper New York State. Could we expect such an earthquake here in Newton? If you've sometimes wondered about earthquakes and local geologic formations, come hear renowned geologist James Skehan speak on his book Roadside Geology of Massachusetts on Wednesday, May 8, 2002, at the Newton Free Library (330 Homer Street).

About the Speaker
Longtime teacher and researcher James W. Skehan is a professor emeritus in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Boston College and director emeritus of Weston Observatory, a research center for the study of earthquakes, the origin of mountain systems, and the movement of the Earth's tectonic plates. He holds a doctorate in geology from Harvard University as well as a master's in theology from Weston College. As a Jesuit priest and a geologist, he actively promotes dialogue on science and religion.

He is also the co-author of the classic local guide The Geology of Newton which was published by the Newton Conservators. This publication covers such local geologic points of interest as Hammond Pond Reservation, the Webster Conservation area, Oak Hill, the Nahanton Street outcrops, Hemlock Gorge, the Claflin school, and Edmands Park. The geologic bedrock features of Newton were formed as part of a volcanic chain located on the margin of the Gondwanan Supercontinent (what is now the northern fringe of South America and Africa before they split apart). Autographed copies of Professor Skehan's books will be available before and after the lecture.

In reviewing the Roadside Geology series (11/16/01), New York Times writer James Gorman had this to say, "Here are a few things to do on a highway trip: Play 20 Questions, plug your kids into some sort of electronic anodyne, lose your mind. Here's another idea: Look for gneisses and amphibolites; seek out scarps, klippes and fault slices. Head for the Silurian boundary. Instead of feeling miserable and confined, feel the bones of the earth as you ride past the exposed evidence of the planet's history... That's roadside geology, road food for the mind and eye." After this lecture, you will never drive down the Mass Pike the same way again!

 

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