Taxonomy term

david b. williams

Down to Earth With: Adrian Hunt

Adrian Hunt grew up in England, but after earning his undergraduate degree in geology at the University of Manchester, he began looking for somewhere foreign to attend graduate school. At the time, Hunt says, he thought, “If it doesn’t work out, at least I’d see somewhere exotic.” He ended up in New Mexico, where his brother was working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array in Socorro. It worked out and Hunt stayed to complete a master’s degree at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, followed by a doctorate at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

18 Mar 2013

Benchamrks: December 4, 1992: The Seattle Fault Zone is described

Since the early 1900s, scientists, boaters and residents have known that a ghostly, submerged forest of dead trees lurked just below the surface of Lake Washington, on Seattle’s eastern edge. The trees were mostly too deep to bother anyone until the Lake Washington Ship Canal opened in 1916, connecting the lake and Puget Sound and dropping the level of the lake three meters. Then the dead trees — many of which were still upright — became hazardous to boaters. In response, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted and chained down 186 trees in one submerged forest. Forty years later, when a diver visited a different underwater forest in 28 meters of water, he found himself in a dense grove of dead trees — predominately Douglas fir — the largest of which had a circumference of 9 meters. 
04 Dec 2012

Benchmarks: August 24, 1873: The Mount of the Holy Cross is found, photographed and mapped

The rumors had persisted for decades, some said for centuries. Deep in the Colorado Rockies was a mystical mountain. Upon the face of a towering peak rose a massive cross, formed by snow accumulating in two huge cracks. In his 1868 book, “The Parks and Mountains of Colorado: A Summer Vacation in the Switzerland of America,” journalist Samuel Bowles wrote, “It is as if God has set His sign, His seal, His promise there — a beacon upon the very center and hight [sic] of the continent to all its people and all its generations.”
03 Aug 2012

Off the beaten path in the north of Iceland

Although many of Iceland’s best-known geologic features are in the south — on the southwest Reykjanes peninsula, near Keflavik airport and the capital city of Reykjavik, and along the southern coast Ring Road — the north shouldn’t be overlooked. Without entering the interior highlands, which often requires four-wheel-drive, one can skirt the border of Vatnajökull National Park to take in an array of sights from geothermal to glacial.

05 Jul 2012

Getting There and Getting Around Iceland

Iceland Air is the main airline serving Iceland, but many major American and international carriers stop there. The airport is in Keflavik, about 50 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavik. Public buses timed to flight arrivals run to and from Reykjavik.

05 Jul 2012

Travels in Geology: Trapped by geology in Iceland with flights grounded by volcanic ash, one writer seeks out the island's geologic wonders

On a recent trip to Iceland, my wife and I learned a central fact of life while traveling around this isolated island country: We could never escape the geology. We quickly learned to be wary of hot water taps because the water — sourced directly from geothermal hot springs — came out at scalding temperatures. At a hostel in the small town of Laugarvatn, we more comfortably exploited this phenomenon by soaking in a hot pot — similar to one built by one of Iceland’s most famous early citizens, the 12th-century writer Snorri Sturluson, which you can still visit. We also ate delicious tomatoes grown in greenhouses heated by Iceland’s largest thermal spring, which gushes 180 liters of boiling water every second.

05 Jul 2012

Down to Earth With: The Swindling Geologist

When Clarence Dutton spoke, people listened. As one of the most famous geologists of the late 1800s, he regularly attracted large crowds to his talks. He also had a way with women. The president of an Indiana literary society once wrote to Dutton to confirm a lecture and assured the speaker that “the ladies would be delighted to see him again.”

10 Oct 2011

Benchmarks: August 1576: False gold found in Meta Incognita

Three small boats set sail westward from London on June 7, 1576. Their goal: Find a northwest passage across the Arctic to Cathay, or China. A former pirate, Martin Frobisher, captained the 34 men. By July 11 they had reached Greenland. A storm overtook them, sinking one boat and forcing another to return home.
08 Aug 2011

Benchmarks: December 31, 1853: Dinner in a dinosaur

The weather in London on Saturday, Dec. 31, 1853, could not have pleased Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. After a relatively warm Friday, the temperature had plummeted, snow had begun to fall, and for the first time in more than a decade, masses of ice floated down the Thames River. The snow made the streets so slippery that injured pedestrians filled the hospitals.
03 Dec 2010

The first dinner in a beast

Surprisingly, there is precedence for eating dinner in the body of a massive beast. In February 1802, Rembrandt Peale, an early American painter best known for his portraits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, invited 12 friends and family to dine under the rib cage of a mammoth, which had recently been erected in his father’s museum in Philadelphia.
03 Dec 2010