Apologies in advance to natives of the Midwest who love the place, but I fucking hate the Midwest. I may have been born and spent my first years of life in Indiana, but I am by no stretch of the imagination a Midwesterner. Every time I go back there, I get, and I am not exaggerating, suicidally depressed almost as soon as I step off the plane. I can only take so many miles of cornfields, deciduous trees, cornfields, hay fields, deciduous trees, and cornfields without a single freaking mountain to break the monotony before I'm begging for a gun. I spent my formative years with volcanoes practically in my back yard. I scrambled up pine trees. The closest thing to a corn field we ever had in the area was that patch we raised in the garden once. And humidity was something that happened to other people. So many years in Arizona left it impossible for me to appreciate the Midwest.
(Although I adore Chicago. Go figure.)
Alas for my sensibilities, worldbuilding had required me to virtually explore the Midwest. It's a long story, so don't ask. Suffice it to say that I've spent several hours over a couple of (thankfully not consecutive) nights staring at pictures of grass, leafy trees, and teensy little hills that wouldn't even qualify as a bump in the ground where I come from, but are a major landmark amidst all that flat, bloody boring ground. And yes, I'm depressed just looking at it.
There are consolations, however.
Unexpected things happen when one searches Google images. Things like finding Callan Bentley's NOVA Geoblog, which has delicious pictures of geology from all over the world. I've also found out that Callan's one of us - Pharyngula is mentioned. Hee.
Via Callan, I discovered the National Park Service's Geologic Resources Inventory Publications. I know it sounds boring, but hot damn, there's some good shit on that page!
Clicking on another image brought me to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Landslides page, which has a link to all sorts of great things, including their Geology & Soils site. Considering I'd settled on northwestern Nebraska as a template for the bit I'm working on, this is like stumbling across a gold mine. It's got geologic maps. Mwah.
And a little more research might just soften my opinion of the Midwest. After all, I'm already looking forward to exploring the roadside geology of Indiana with me mum - now that I know it has some.
So, here we are. All that glorious science found not because I was searching for it, but looking for images of slightly hilly areas in northwestern Nebraska. Google - I love you. However did we survive without the intertoobz?
(Ooo. Just found the Geotimes archives while searching for stuff on the Kobe earthquake. The intertoobz are truly a wonderful place.)