More About the Blog

Frequently, friends and family have said to me, after they returned from a vacation: I wish I had you there to tell me what I was seeing! Landscape is such a fundamental aspect of our travel experiences and understanding something about how they form makes our experiences more rewarding. So after 22.5 years of teaching and research in San Francisco (in January 2012), I decided to expand my classroom to the larger world of people who want to learn more about the planet they inhabit.

I decided to embark on this project after completing a 6-month stint as a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago. There I taught a class in sedimentary geology and traveled extensively in Chile and a small part of Argentina. Throughout the region I found awe-inspiring landscapes that motivated me to learn more about how they formed. With little information available for the non-expert, I was forced to read the primary research literature to find the answers to my questions. My goal with this blog, and subsequent more detailed publications, is to synthesize the research and then tell the basic stories of how landscapes evolved to their current configurations. I seek to provide a level that is interesting for geologists yet also accessible to non-geologists.

My research specialty within geology is sedimentation and tectonics, which involves using sedimentary layers to understand how faults move and evolve. Most of my research has been in coastal California, a site of intense geologic activity for many millions of years. I have traveled extensively in the world, especially in Latin America. My intention is to use this broad background to reveal aspects of the landscape that range from the most ancient rock outcroppings to the modern-day shaping of beaches by waves.

Three and a half years later, in June 2015, I "graduated" from the university and now have the opportunity to devote more time to traveling and telling geologic stories for a general audience. The goal remains the same—to help people better understand the planet they inhabit.  -Karen

Karen and husband Jay in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Chilean Patagonia), the place that, more than any other, inspired this blog.


  1. Kacy Carlson on August 11, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Karen,

    I spoke with your briefly the otherday at Rogue Valley Roasting Co. in Ashland. I found your blog and have enjoyed reading some of your posts. Great stuff!

    I look forward to bumbing into you again and sharing a stimulating conversation about this regions unique geology.


    • Landscapes Revealed on August 11, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Kacy, Thanks for the message – and for noticing my Baja basins t-shirt! I also look forward to chatting again. -Karen

  2. Mario V. Caputo on November 18, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Dear Karen, did you compose Ch. 9, Geology at Point Reyes National Seashore and vicinity, California (USGS publication)? It is a nicely done summary of the natural history of the Point Reyes National Seashore, I found something interesting in Figure 9-36, a photo of lithified Quaternary dune deposits. Other than the photograph of this outcrop, is there anything published on these eolian strata that you know of? Please let me know the reference: Thanks, Karen. Sincerely, Mario Caputo

  3. Daniel Hein on April 29, 2022 at 5:43 pm

    Hello Karen. I just read your post re: Yosemite. I have read many accounts re: the evolution of the Sierra and I ‘m happy to have read a recent account. Is this understanding still evolving? (I forwarded the link to other scientist friends and they enjoyed your account. One of them was concerned with spelling of ‘shear wall’ vs ‘sheer wall’ which put him on alert re: scholarship. He checked you out and discovered you and he graduated from the same school. I told him I would message you re the oversight). Daniel

    • Landscapes Revealed on February 14, 2023 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you Daniel

  4. Michael Douglas on February 14, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    Very nice info on Iceland. I have recently started lecturing on cruise ships in retirement – you might consider this if you want to reach a large adult audience. Now I’m gathering info for talks related to geology/geomorphology/oceanography of North Atlantic environment for an upcoming cruise. If you are good at speaking to a very diverse audience (mature general public) some cruise lines are likely interested…

    • Landscapes Revealed on February 14, 2023 at 9:59 pm

      Thank you Michael.

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