Intricacies and oddities of Sonoma Coast

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Most people go to the coast as day-trippers. Thomas E. Cochrane goes as a scientist in search of geological treasure. From the metamorphic nobs rising from pastureland on the way there, to the sea stacks that tower photogenically at water’s edge, Cochrane knows the Sonoma-Mendocino coastal landscape like few others do.

A geologist and former teacher who consults on geologic hazards, and often lectures on plate tectonics and related topics, Cochrane is the featured speaker for the Second Saturday series, presented by the Sonoma Historical Society at the Community Center on March 9 at 2 p.m.

After 40 years of sleuthing, Cochran sees the coastal landscape differently than most. Where others see a pond, Cochrane sees “Hole in the Head,” the huge divot left behind when plans to build a nuclear reactor on the Sonoma Coast got the kibosh from environmentalists. Where most people see the charming town of Bodega Bay, Cochrane sees the convergence of tectonic plates.

His fastidious research has produced a book titled “Shaping the Sonoma-Mendocino Coast,” which includes well-defined road logs for 85 miles of coast, pointing the curious toward easy-to-miss landmarks, like “PGE marker 45.35” at Salt Point State Park, where a willingness to hike is rewarded by views of towering sea stacks from bluffs where few humans tread.

Cochrane’s lecture will introduce attendees to concepts like the Geologic Time Clock and “Deep Time,” in a detailed yet approachable style. Learn why the Sonoma-Mendocino coastline looks as few others do, and discover a guide to its fascinating oddities.

Admission is $5, free to Historical Society members and local docents.

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