Humans, with their relatively short lifespan, live with the illusion that the planet’s surface is unchanging. The processes that shape the natural landscapes are, in the main, slow to the point of invisibility. Riding the tectonic plates that float on the earth’s molten interior, continents slide inexorably apart or together, a few millimetres a year.
The ceaseless cycle of the seasons sculpts massive rock formations a few grains at a time. The long, slow heave of subterranean pressures thrusts seabeds upwards to become mountains – which erosion will, in turn, reduce to rocky pinnacles and flat plains. The drip and flow of water, obeying gravity, excavates caves and carves crayons.
But sometimes nature startles us out of our illusion of changelessness. Volcanic eruptions may create islands, like Iceland’s Surtsey, before our startled eyes. Or they may obliterate familiar landscape, as when lava from Vesuvius overwhelmed Pompeii in AD 79. Who can forget the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami which rocked Indonesia and several other parts and had a deep impact on the geographical structure of the world?
The natural landscape is never at rest. It dwarfs all human endeavours, and never ceases to amaze us with its beauty and power. The ice hauteur of the French Alps and the burning sands of the Namib Desert are a constant reminder that humans are ill-equipped to survive the extremes of natural conditions. And the menacing fracture of the San Andreas Fault makes us uneasily aware that all human works are just temporary compared to the Earth’s natural substance.
Mother Nature is a serial killer. No one’s better. But, she wants to get caught. She leaves bread crumbs, she leaves clues for eradicating her biological savagery. Mother nature knows how to disguise her weakness as strength.
“A quote from the movie World War Z”