03-02-2013 David Williams: Stories in Stone

About the Talk

Stories in Stone:  Travels through Urban Geology

David Williams of Seattle will present a lecture on “Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology” This lecture is part of the Jefferson Land Trust’s geology program and is co-sponsored by the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau program.

Most people do not think of looking for geology from the sidewalks of a major city, but for the intrepid traveler, any good rock can tell a fascinating story.  All one has to do is look at building stone in any downtown business district to find a range of rocks equal to any assembled by plate tectonics.  Furthermore, building stones provide the foundation for constructing stories about cultural as well as natural history.

Take Seattle as an example. At the wonderful Art Deco Seattle Exchange building, you can find 3.54-billion-year-old gneiss, the oldest rock that most of us will ever see. Just up the block is the Rainier Club and its 330-million-year-old stone menagerie of fossils called the Salem Limestone, the most commonly used building stone in America. Or consider the Rainier Bank Building, partially covered in travertine, which comes from the same quarries that provided rock for the Colosseum in Rome.  David conducts field trips through downtown Seattle in association with his new book.

About the Speaker

David B. Williams is a freelance writer focused on the intersection of people and the natural world. His books include Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology; The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City; and his latest, Cairns: Messengers in Stone. Stories in Stone, the subject of today’s talk, was named a finalist for the 2010 Washington State Book Award in the general non-fiction category. David also works at the Burke Museum and is a former National Parks ranger in Utah and Massachusetts. He maintains the blog GeologyWriter.com from his home base in Seattle.

12-07-2013 Wendell Duffield: Kilauea Volcano

About the Talk

Chasing Lava – A Geologist’s Adventures at Kilauea Volcano, Hawai’i

In 1969, as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, a young geologist known as Duff (aka Wendell Duffield) was preparing to set foot on a rocky landscape of another sort:  Kilauea Volcano, a growing shield volcano, on the island of Hawaii, where he would spend three years at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Duff’s time at HVO encompassed everything from the scientific to the humorous to life-threatening.

While he was at HVO, Kilauea erupted at three areas. Several times, 2,000-ft-tall lava fountains spewed from the east rift zone, at a site later named Mauna Ulu (Hawaiian: growing mountain). Elsewhere, so-called “curtains of fire” danced from long cracks on the floor of Kilauea’s summit caldera. And for only the fourth time in Hawaii’s historic record, lava emerged from a fissure along the southwest rift zone.

An unexpected “extra” for Duff was large, sluggishly circulating lake of thinly-crusted-over molten lava that played out a miniature version of global plate tectonics — then a revolutionary and newly developing model of how Earth’s crust moves about. Duff’s movies and photos of the small-scale version of ‘plate’ motions quickly became a popular teaching aid in classrooms worldwide.

Meanwhile, during the brief moments between Duff’s observing and recording antics of the active volcano, his dog Cinda discovered a reticulated python hiding in the rainforest — in a state that proudly advertised a total lack of snakes other than at the Oahu zoo. This discovery was very unwelcome news for Hawaiian political officials.

About the Speaker

Duffield’s first encounter with an active volcano was at Kilauea on the Big Island in 1968. From 1969 to 1972 he was a staff geologist there at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Kilauea erupted nearly non-stop during those three years. His book “Chasing Lava” tells the tale of those exciting times.

In 1997, Duff retired from the USGS and immediately settled into being an Adjunct Professor for the Geology Department of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, where he gave the occasional classroom lecture, mentored students, continued researching topics volcanic and began writing essays and books on a variety of topics. Although he moved from Flagstaff to Whidbey Island in May of this year, he retains his NAU title but now spends most of his time writing.

05-04-2013 Rowland Tabor: Olympic Mountains

About the Talk

Rocks and Rain in the Olympic Backcountry

Ever hiked deep into the Olympic Mountains and wondered why they are so high, so steep and where they came from? Well, Dr. Rowland Tabor of the U.S. Geological Survey is ready to answer these and many more questions about the Olympic Mountains when he presents “Mapping a Tectonic-Plate Boundary: Rocks and Rain in the Olympic Backcountry” as part of the  Jefferson Land Trust Geology Lecture Series.

Along the west coast of North America, from Mexico to southern Canada, are mountain ranges of diverse character collectively called the Coast Ranges. The Olympic Mountains, at the extreme northwest corner of the conterminous United States, are a unique part of these ranges. Even though they are closely related to rock composition to the Coast Ranges of Oregon, they are separated from them by the broad lowland of the Chehalis River and are considerably higher and more rugged. They have some scenery in common with the Insular Ranges of Vancouver Island in Canada but are geologically quite different. To learn more about the geology of the region, or to take a virtual field trip.

About the Speaker

Dr. Tabor, a leading scientist in the Northwest and author of the sentinel publication Geology of Olympic National Park, will present his personal experiences from years of mapping in the Olympic Mountains, a detailed outline of their geology, the development of geologic ideas about their formation, and briefly mention of some new work by others.