Tree tectonics



Nature often replicates her processes at different scales of space and time in differing media. Here a tree-trunk cross section I am preparing for a dendrochronological display at the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Nature Sanctuary (Calvert County Maryland) dried and cracked in a way that replicates practically all the planform features found along the Mid-Oceanic Ridge (see Figure l). The leftlateral offset of saw marks, contrasting with the right-lateral “rift” offset, even illustrates the distinction between transcurrent (strike-slip) and transform faults, the latter only recognized as a geologic feature, by J. Tuzo Wilson, in 1965 (Nature, 178, 343–347). However, wood cracking is but one of many examples of natural processes that replicate one or several elements of lithospheric plate tectonics. Many of these examples occur in everyday venues and thus make great teaching aids, “teachable” from primary school to university levels.