Northeastern Section (45th Annual) and Southeastern Section (59th Annual) Joint Meeting (13-16 March 2010)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:55 PM


REESE, Joseph F., Geosciences, Edinboro Univ of Pennsylvania, Cooper Hall, Edinboro, PA 16444,

Earthscape is defined as an area's local Earth system that is a small yet distinctive part of the dynamic, global-scale Earth system of interacting spheres. It is the integrated sum of all parts of the global Earth system that are observed to distinguish a given place. The operation and interaction of this unique combination of systems characterizes an earthscape. An area's earthscape a) governs the type and location of local earth materials, resources, and hazards, b) specifies the local geologic history and landscape evolution, c) determines the nature of local human-environment and system interactions, and d) is interwoven into that place’s identification.

Northwestern Pennsylvania is characterized by Earth-system features and phenomena that distinctively express its earthscape. Modern and ancient earth-system products and processes are documented in abundance here. A long history of human interaction with and exploitation of the landscape and bedrock also exists. These aspects provide portals into understanding the area’s earthscape. Portals include the Lake Erie shoreline (especially Presque Isle), lake-effect weather, French Creek watershed, Devonian bedrock (especially related to petroleum history), viticulture, and glacial landforms. These greatly impact the local landscape, economy, culture, tourism, and history and are deeply rooted in the identity of northwestern Pennsylvania. Foremost here, they provide windows into the local Earth system.

Every area has its own earthscape – one that's applicable as an effective educational tool. How is your earthscape defined? What best expresses your earthscape? To this end, I address these overarching questions: 1) What local, natural features are icons of my place and how can they serve as portals into exploring my earthscape?; 2) What subset of system processes operate and interact as part of my earthscape?; 3) What has happened in the geologic past to produce and modify my earthscape?; and 4) How does the earthscape affect and drive human activity in my area? I capture the essence of northwestern Pennsylvania's earthscape by identifying portals, exploring these using an Earth-systems approach, and portraying them in myriad ways. The earthscape concept provides opportunities for students to learn about and connect with their local Earth system.