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Aesthetic Pleasures

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Viewing and learning about the geological structures of our planet is appealing to almost everyone. Indeed, many national parks and natural monuments, visited by millions of people every year, preserve and display dramatic structures exposed at the earth’s surface.

Who is not intrigued by the vastness of geologic time when peering down into the Grand Canyon, or dumbfounded by the power of mountain-building processes when first confronting the Rocky Mountains rising out of the great plains of the central United States?

Mapping, describing and analyzing geologic structures help us to understand and to appreciate the wonders of the natural world. One of the great scientists of the early twentieth century, Henri Poincaré, said it this way:  It is because simplicity and vastness are both beautiful that we seek by preference simple facts and vast facts; that we take delight, now in following the giant courses of the stars, now in scrutinizing with a microscope that prodigious smallness which is also a vastness, and now in seeking in geological ages the traces of the past that attracts us because of its remoteness.

Sheep Mountain, WY