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