Oasis of Stone: Visions of Baja California Sur

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9780916251765: Oasis of Stone: Visions of Baja California Sur

Gorgeous full-color photography by award-winning photographer Miguel Angel de la Cueva, and evocative text by Bruce Berger, bring the southern half of Baja California to life. Beginning with its unique geology, and moving on to the coastal, desert, and mountain ecosystems of Mexico's little-known peninsula, this lush coffee-table book highlights the flora and fauna of the region.

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From the Publisher:

"Oasis of Stone" recently won a national book award at BookExpo America (BEA) in New York City, adding another title to its award-winning roster of Baja California books.

The winners of the ForeWord Magazine 2006 Book of the Year Awards were announced at a ceremony Friday, during BEA in NYC. Oasis of Stone: Visions of Baja California Sur, with photographs by Miguel Angel de la Cueva and text by Bruce Berger (co-published by Sunbelt and Planeta Peninsular), took the Silver medal in the Nature Category.

Book of the Year Award-winning books are selected by a panel of judges composed of librarians and booksellers. The winners, narrowed from nearly 1,400 entries, represent the finest work from today's vibrant independent publishing community. Each entry was judged on criteria including originality, writing and production quality, and patron/customer interest in the subject matter. "It was a great experience, and I know our patrons will benefit from these titles," said Mary Cooper, a librarian and one of this year's judges.

The critically acclaimed pictorial book also won an award for the author of its text. The 2007 Colorado Authors' League (CAL) award for Bruce Berger, in the "Specialty Writing" category.

Of course, the CAL judge mentioned the photos, which are beyond magnificent; but she also addressed the text. "The writing sparked my interest immediately -- from the jacket flap I knew precisely what kind of book this was -- a more serious exploration of the baja beyond what the cruise ships see. The writing sings -- the best way to know the desert remains what it has always been -- to walk. What a grabber -- I could picture doing it. Those kind of zingers go through all the rest of the text. I loved the image of the plants in the open and the animals in shadow.

And the environmental impact of people -- just enough to remind us that if we're not careful we won't have this magnificence forever. Great job."

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Most contemporary borders are drawn by the brawling, distracted hand of man. Baja California Sur, by contrast, is defined on three sides by the meeting of land and water, and on the fourth side it is separated from its sister state on the Baja California peninsula by the 28th parallel - which is to say, not by a division of local power but by a line on the grid with which we measure the great globe we live on. As one of the thirty-one states of Mexico, Baja California Sur is very much a participant in contemporary politics, but the prominence of its generating forces has kept plain what is everywhere the case: that nature is the source of our lives, the weave of our flesh, the air we breathe, the limb we sit on.

The significance of the state's natural abundance is reflected in the legal protection extended to over forty percent of its land. Its seven protected areas include El Parque Marino Nacional Cabo Pulmo, Mexico's first underwater national park, and La Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaíno, the largest single mass of protected land in Latin America. Though home to less than 0.5 percent of the nation's population, Baja California Sur embraces one quarter of its seacoast. The Sierra la Laguna contains a greater percentage of endemic plants than any other protected Mexican habitat. Baja California Sur also possesses more islands than any other state, and one of those islands - Espíritu Santo - has become the first to be expropriated by the federal government to preserve its natural habitat.

The eye confirms these statistics, for the brilliance of nature is seldom out of sight. The air, sweeping in from that clean third of the planet that is the Pacific Ocean, is crisp and transparent, providing sharp distances by day and radiant heavens by night. Scarcity of rainfall has kept man from overwhelming the landscape, leaving expansive habitats to creatures that specialize in aridity. Even in the capital city of La Paz, most urban of the state's environments, the skyline is dominated by twin granite peaks, while a sandspit encloses its inner bay with billowing clouds of mangroves. Comprising the southern half of the Baja California peninsula, that reach of marvels split off from mainland Mexico, Baja California Sur seems almost a separate creation, a world apart.

No lands are truly separate, from the standpoint of geology, but subterranean forces seem to have conspired in Baja California's isolation. We know from the recently accepted theory of plate tectonics that the earth's crust - its continents and its ocean floors - are like the vast tiles of a mosaic that covers our planet's molten interior. Riding the liquid rock that rises against them, over the course of eons the plates shift in relation to each other, forming ever new configurations of ocean and land. It is in the meetings and partings of those plates that new planetary crust is born. When the plates are thrust against each other, one will slide beneath the other, lifing it and heating its undersurface so that the melted rock erupts in explosions of vulcanism. When plates are pulled apart, the exposed surface gives way to more volcanic eruptions. When the plates slide against each other laterally, the tension and slippage produce earthquakes and further vulcanism. Our planet is even more unstable than it appears from the headlines, for plates usually collide, separate and slip against each other where elevations are lowest and least observed - which is to say, under the sea.

With its soaring and fissured rock, its clefts of darkness, its burnt ochres and coagulated reds that drought has exposed to the sun and wind, Baja California has the appearance of an ancient land, survivor of primeval calamities. Geologically speaking, it is newborn. It was created, unsurprisingly, at the meeting of two plates: the massive North American plate, which carries mainland Mexico, and the equally massive Pacific plate, itself a splintered agglomeration of smaller plates. The materials of what would become Baja California gathered independently, haphazardly. The peninsula's oldest rocks, ruddy with their burden of iron and manganese, rode the Pacific plate eastward toward their future as the Sierra San de José Castro and Isla Cedros at the peninsula's midriff. Metamorphic rock from a chain of volcanos, equally ancient, moved toward similar fates as cores of the Pacific Islands of Margarita and Magdalena. In the mid-Cretaceous, some ninety million years ago, a string of volcanic islands erupted from the fracture between the plates, while more molten rock solidified beneath them, forming the basement rock for the peninsula's volcanic spine. These formations eroded away, leaving the foundation for what would become Baja California. Gradually the Pacific plate slid under the North American plate, generating the material that now greets our eyes. The coastal shelf of the North American plate was lifted into a highland. The heated topside of the Pacific plate rose without breaking through the surface, solidifying into the granite masses, or batholiths, that compose the Sierra la Laguna. As the plates further collided, an immense sequence of blowouts heaped the volcanic ashes and lava flows of the Comondú formation, which forms the bulk of Baja California's major ranges north of the Cape.

The process reached a pivotal turn when the Pacific plate stopped driving into the North American plate and began to slide laterally against it. Five centimeters a year may not sound like much displacement, but geologists have calculated that the Pacific plate moved an impressive 350 kilometers northwest in relation to the North American plate over a six million year period. It is believed that the first incursion of seawater into this sideslipping breach occurred some twelve million years ago, forming the gulf in its first version. Water entered and left, then entered to stay as the Gulf of California some five million years ago, leaving the profile of a Baja California we would recognize.

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Book Description Sunbelt Pubns. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover. 202 pages. Dimensions: 11.3in. x 11.1in. x 1.2in.Gorgeous full-color photography by award-winning photographer Miguel ngel de la Cueva, and evocative text by Bruce Berger (Almost an Island, There Was a River), bring the southern half of Baja California to life. Beginning with its unique geology, and moving on to the coastal, desert, and mountain ecosystems of Mexicos little-known peninsula, this lushly decorated coffee-table book highlights the geology that created this oasis of stone and the flora and fauna that are make their homes here. Ending with a short photo-essay on The Newcomers (mankind) from cave painters to the enduring rancheros, the book packs a pro-environmental punch by following the many pages of glorious natural beauty with some succinct words and images of what mans enduring legacy might be, should we continue unchecked. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Bookseller Inventory # 9780916251765

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