Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Ellen Bishop pens field guide to Northwest geology

“Every rock’s got a story. [Geology is a] way of telling a story about the earth,” said Visiting Assisting Professor of Environmental Studies and Geology Ellen Bishop.

Credit: Allie Felt

Bishop’s upcoming book “Field Guide to Pacific Northwest Geology” will be published in 2013. ┬áIn it, Bishop intends to tell the stories and histories of the land surrounding Whitman.

Bishop is currently using a draft of her book as the textbook for Geology 120: “Geologic History of the Pacific Northwest.” With the feedback that her students give her, Bishop will make revisions and finish the final draft of the book at the end of this semester.

First year Tim Reed, who is enrolled in the class, likes the idea of participating in the revision process of the book.

“It’s cool to have a teacher who makes it clear that she’s looking for feedback, [and] being able to be invested in the process, to help her get information across in an intellectually stimulating manner, is interesting,” said Reed.

Bishop was prompted to write her field guide by two factors. The first was to expand on her first book, “In Search of Oregon,” written in 2003, which was an in-depth look at the geologic history of Oregon as a state. Bishop’s new book would put Oregon in context, while providing a broad sweep of the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest as well as specific histories of regions and formations.

It took Bishop five years for the book to reach its current state.

“The problem with science is that we keep learning new things,” said Bishop.

Even now, facts that are presented in her field guide are being disproved by new geologic discoveries. At 10 years old, “In Search of Oregon” is much in need of a second edition. Much of the information in her book uses information from densely technical geology papers.

Credit: Allie Felt

“[Bishop is] skilled in weaving complex history understandable to a non-geologist, which is enhanced by her photographic expertise,” said Professor of Geology Pat Spencer, who teaches the Geological History of the Pacific Northwest class at Whitman every fall.

Bishop’s passion for both photography and the outdoors compose her second motive for writing this field guide.

“I like being outside. [I hope to] motivate people to get out and see their surroundings. The aesthetics of landscape draws people into Geology,” said Bishop.

Bishop additionally has a lifelong love of photography, and is looking forward to taking the photos for her book this summer.

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