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john van hoesen

Travels in Geology: Antarctica: Following in the footsteps of giants

In fall 2012, when I told friends and colleagues that I was heading south for a few weeks, they assumed that I, like many other northeasterners, was going to Florida or the Bahamas for a break from winter weather. Instead, I was headed to the iciest and southernmost place on Earth: Antarctica.

02 Jan 2014

Ship life

Perhaps the most common question I’ve gotten after returning from my trip is, “Did you get sea sick?” The answer is yes, but I wasn’t miserable. And in truth, very few individuals missed out on any of the shore excursions because they didn’t feel well.

02 Jan 2014

Getting there and getting around in Antarctica

Traveling to Antarctica pretty much requires being part of an organized tour, something tens of thousands of people do each year. We went on a trip arranged by the Geological Society of America and Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris. If you aren’t lucky enough to take a scientific tour, there are plenty of more traditional tours that will get you there. Most depart from Argentina, but some go through the Falkland Islands as well as Australia and New Zealand.

02 Jan 2014

Travels in Geology: Exploring Vulcan's Playground: The Volcanoes of Southern Italy and the Aeolian Islands

The prospect of traveling to Italy might conjure romantic thoughts of stucco-covered villas surrounded by terraced vineyards, ancient visages carved in marble, fountains gurgling in cobblestone piazzas, and pasta smothered in tomato and basil. However, when I was asked to spend a semester teaching in northern Italy, these were not my first thoughts. As a geologist, I instead pondered the Dolomites in alpenglow, the exposure of the iridium-bearing Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (formerly known as the K/T) in Gubio, and the possibility of visiting some of Italy’s famous volcanoes — Mount Vesuvius and Mount Etna — to the south.     

06 Dec 2012

School of rock: Educating educators at sea

Many things come to mind when you hear the words “School of Rock”: a bad Jack Black flick, the middle school band you were in, the guitar school down the street from you, some pun about geology … yes, all are likely candidates. But the one I’m thinking of probably didn’t cross your mind. The School of Rock I had the privilege to attend is a professional development opportunity for educators to spend a week to 10 days at sea, learning about ocean drilling, how science is conducted on a yawing ship, and how to be better science teachers.

20 Jul 2012

How the school of rock came to be

In the late 1950s, a growing interest in better understanding the structure and composition of Earth resulted in the creation of the controversial Project Mohole. Although the name may sound better suited for an Isaac Asimov novel, it was indeed a real, albeit short-lived, attempt to drill through the boundary between the crust and mantle, called the Mohorovičić (Moho) discontinuity — an engineering feat yet to be achieved. The project led to the modern-day Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) — and eventually the School of Rock.

20 Jul 2012

Travels in Geology: Chile: Exploring the archaeology, volcanoes and hot springs of the northern Atacama Desert

Mention the Atacama Desert and many people likely imagine an ocean of sand where rain never falls and life faces insurmountably hostile conditions. This is, after all, where scientists go to study Mars. Although some regions of the Atacama are indeed stark and barren, the northern section of this vast desert, which stretches approximately 965 kilometers along the western edge of Chile, contains diverse ecosystems, a rich archaeological history and, of course, intriguing geologic features. 

05 Apr 2012

Getting There and Getting Around Chile

You can arrive in Arica through a few different channels. The easiest is to fly to Santiago and then Arica with a short stop in Iquique; there are daily flights on LanChile and Sky Airlines. A more adventurous option is to fly into Tacna, Peru, and take either a “collective,” or shared ride, a taxi or the Ferrocarril Tacna-Arica train south to Arica.

05 Apr 2012