Some people see visions of the Virgin Mary in everyday objects like pieces of toast. Alene sees things in Google Earth imagery. Take a look at the following:
Just to orient you, we have the Hawaiian Islands in the lower right corner and the Aleutian Islands at the top of the picture. The Hawaiian Islands continue as a line of seamounts (submerged islands) — which are a record of the motion of the Pacific Plate over the geologic hotspot that is now building Hawaii. At some time in the past, the motion of the Pacfic Plate changed direction — and this is record as the dogleg where the chain of seamounts suddenly takes a more north-south direction.
It’s in the crook of that dogleg that Alene fancies she sees the outline of the lower 48 of the United States — perhaps a little smaller and tipped over somewhat — but if you humor her and stare at it long enough, you will make out the Gulf coast and Florida peninsula, the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and the Rocky Mountains. Even if you don’t — please bear with us, because we think we have the makings of an intriguing story.
Imagine the ISS crew woke up one day to see something new in the Pacific Ocean — a brand new landmass in the shape of the lower 48 of the United States —and, at closer examination, an exact physical replica — complete with Grand Canyon, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Columbian Plateau, the Rockies, the Ozarks, the Appalachians, the Mississippi River and its delta — a bit smaller than the original article — but all there down to the finest detail.
What’s missing is any sign of human disturbance. The Great Plains are a sea of native grasses. No forests have been cleared for agriculture or settlement. There are no canals, railroads, highways, airports or cities. There are not even cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. Mankind has never set foot on this landmass. It’s a virgin America — but perhaps even better than the original, because it’s bounded on the north by ocean instead of land — which means that the climate will be much better!
What will happen to it? Who owns it? Who will get to live there? Who will have access to its resources?
What does it mean for the original country on which it was modeled?
And how did it come to be there? And why?