Ask GeoMan...

What are the differences between regional and local views of the earth?

The differences between regional and local views are like the differences between looking at the forest or the trees. In one case you are looking at the big picture (regional), while in the other you are examining the details (local). Being able to quickly move and adjust between these two views is very important in any study of the earth and its processes. Geologists are constantly stepping back in order to develop a regional model for a particular situation, and then moving in close to see if the details support their ideas. Unfortunately, the earth is such a complex organism that our regional ideas rarely hold perfectly at the local level. Refer to Strickler's 1st Law of GeoFantasy for additional discussion of this problem.

It is important to note that regional and local are relative terms: locally I am now sitting at my desk and pounding away at my computer, while regionally I am in Grants Pass, Oregon. At the same time I could say that locally I am in Grants Pass and regionally in Oregon. Or, locally I'm in Oregon but regionally I'm in the United States. Or locally I'm in the good ol' U.S. of A. while regionally I'm in North America. And so on up to locally in the universe and regionally in who knows what! Remember - it's a relative thing.


Click here to ask GeoMan a question

Return to Ask GeoMan's Index of Questions

Return to GeoMan's Home Page


You are GeoManiac number since April 1, 1997