October 9 – 15, 2016 marks this year's Earth Science Week, with the theme “Our Shared Geoheritage.” First started in October 1998 by the American Geosciences Institute, which seeks to connect “earth, science, and people,” the annual national and international event is a way to “help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth.”
According to the AGI website for the event (EarthSciweek.org), geoheritage is “the collection of natural wonders, landforms, and resources that have formed over eons and come to this generation to manage, use, and conserve effectively.” Rocks and minerals, fossil fuels, water, air, and plant life are all part of the Earth's geoheritage.
Ample information about Indiana's geology in particular – including energy and mineral resources, water and environment, and even geological hazards, can be found at igs.indiana.edu, the site for the Indiana Geological Survey, an institute of Indiana University since 1993.
Gene Stratton-Porter was reluctant to label herself a scientist, and preferred to refer to herself as a nature lover. She was aware of the complex systems of the Earth, as evidenced in this quote from Music of the Wild: “It was Thoreau who, in writing of the destruction of the forests, exclaimed, 'Thank Heaven, they cannot cut down the clouds!' Aye but they can! That is a miserable fact, and soon it will become our discomfort and loss. Clouds are beds of vapor arising from damp places and floating in air until they meet other vapor masses, that mingle with them, and the weight becomes so great the whole falls in drops of rain. If men in their greed cut forests that preserve and distill moisture, clear fields, take the shelter of trees from creeks and rivers until they evaporate, and drain the water from swamps so that they can be cleared and cultivated – they prevent vapor from rising; and if it does not rise it cannot fall. Pity of pities it is: But man can change and is changing the forces of nature. I never told a sadder truth; but it is true that man can 'cut down the clouds.'"
Whether roaming the prairie potholes formed by the glaciers in her beloved Limberlost, observing the flora and fauna along the Wabash River flowing above its limestone bed - like the hero of her Song of the Cardinal, or noticing the changes in landscape as oil, gas, and lumber were removed from the region, Gene Stratton-Porter took note of Indiana's geoheritage, and shared her perspective in fact and fiction. Many connections of Earth, science, and people can be found in Gene Stratton-Porter's works – and a visit to the Limberlost Cabin and the nature preserves associated with it reveals the contemporary connections as well. So while Gene Stratton-Porter may not have considered herself a geoscientist, she certainly appreciated our shared geoheritage!