Published DateEverything you ever wanted to know about the White Mountains
by Gail Scott
RANDOLPH—Did you know that Mt. Washington used to be eight miles higher than it is now? Did you know there was a big lake in Jefferson?
A stunningly illustrated new book about the geology of the White Mountains will answer these questions and more. The book covers the subject from the precambrian to the present, written in terms everyone can understand.
"The Geology of the White Mountains," written by seven scientists, designed and organized by Bates College Geologist Dykstra Eusden (long time summer resident of Randolph), and published by the Durand Press (founded by John Mudge, another Randolph resident), is $35 and is in bookstores today.
Anyone who has ever walked the trails in the Presidentials will recognize images in the book of the convoluted and curious rocks they may have hiked over and wondered about.
With economy and clarity, this book answers questions: how did the mountains, the valleys, the cirques, the rocks get that way and why and how are they changing even now—including a section on the Old Man of the Mountain from beginning to end and the continuing evolution of that cliff face on Cannon Mountain. The book even includes a section on the Paleoindians who inhabited Randolph and Jefferson 13,000 to 10,000 years ago and wrought spearheads, possibly using the rhyolite of Mt. Jasper, possibly to hunt caribou.
Collaborating on the book were Brian Fowler, Wallace Bothner, Mudge, Woodrow Thomson, John Creasy, Richard Boisveret, P. Thom Davis, Eusden, and William Ash.
Fowler is a retired engineering geologist, known for his structural geologic work on the Old Man of the Mountain and as past-president of the Mt. Washington Observatory. He has conducted field reserach on the deglaciation of the White Mountains and northern New Hampshire.
Bothner is professor emeritis at the University of New Hampshire where he taught geology for more than 42 years. He continues to work on bedrock problems in central and coastal New Hampshire and Maine.
Mudge established The Durand Press in 1992 and has published books on the history of the White Mountains, among other things.
Thompson is a geologist with the Maine Geological Survey. He has been the author of many publications on the glacial geology of Maine, the White Mountains, and Connecticut.
Creasy is a professor of geology at Bates College. His mentor was Marland P. Billings, another summer resident of Randolph, a structural geologist who was widely known for his work on North American geology. Creasy is interested in large-volume silicic magma systems (i.e. rich in silica) and rift-related igneous rocks. (The Geology of New Hampshire's White Mountains has an excellent glossary).
Boisvert is the State Archaeologist for New Hampshire, locally known for his careful supervision of the Paleoindian excavations in Jefferson and Randolph.
Davis is a professor of geology and paleoclimatology at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.
Eusden is a professor of geology at Bates College. His research is on the ancient bedrock and tectonic history of New Hampshire as well as active tectonics in New Zealand.
The book is definitely a collegial effort, Eusden said.
"We've been toying with the idea of this book, off and on for about 20 years," said Eusden in an email exchange.
He said one of the primary reasons to do the book was "to make our science accessible to the general public, to do so in a way that is pleasing to the eye and incorporates all of our collective geologic research over the years."
Eusden had a sabbatical this year from Bates. He took the time to focus on preparing and publishing the book.
"The cover design was a coordinated effort between myself and Will Ash of the Image and Computing Center at Bates," Eusden wrote. "He taught me what I know about InDesign five years ago and we went back and forth on earlier version of the cover.
"The layout of everything inside was done by me and I would send chapters to Will for ideas and comments, which he was again very helpful with," Eusden continued. "I made all the geologic maps in Chapters 3-6 from scratch as well. The co-authors would send me raw photos or imagery or tables that I would then work into the graphic design styles and then wrap with text. Once we had a draft of a chapter, I'd send it out to all the authors and get their feedback, then make those edits.
"Once the whole thing was done, I sent it out to a number of reviewers and then made those edits. Everything started in August and I sent the final file to the Printers in early February. It was an intense whirlwind of effort but we all like the outcome!"
Readers will, too. The information in the book is accessible to anyone who can read, and the attractively reproduced pictures, charts and maps will appeal to everyone who can see. Hikers will see a lot of familiar and well-loved locations explained.