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Re: Geology, do you know the history you have traveled through?

I have been doing cross country road trips for decades. But recently I have found online videos that cover the geology of the places I have been. The Pacific Northwest has a very active geologic past and it is still active. Central Washington University (Nick Zentner) has a large number of YouTube videos of lectures he has presented to the public. A recent one is Supervolcanoes in the Pacific Northwest  it contains information that can be expanded on in previous lectures, like the clockwise rotation of Western Washington around Pendleton, Oregon as tracked by a GPS network on a daily basis.

Other topics like Ice age floods, lava floods, mud flows, tsunamis past and future.... stuff that will color how you see the places you visit... and maybe suggest reasons to visit other places.

The subject matter in Geology is developing very fast with the new technology and many areas may have new online geology video coming out.

How about sharing the geology of areas you live or have visited?   Nick Zentner has covered more than the state of Washington... the processes going on are big ones.

13 Replies

Good call.  I discovered Nick several years back when I saw his short "2 Minute Geology" clips on my local PBS station in Seattle.  His own website has most or all of the many videos he has made over the years.  You can get a very good intro to geology in general and PNW geology specifically for free.  Note from his website that he and another prof at CWU offer 4 free field trips each year for the general public.  The ones I've been on were attended by mostly nonstudents and were very informative.  He also offers free public lectures at various venues around WA and welcomes the public at his CWU Geology 101 classes. 

I also like the Roadside Geology book series.  It's mostly about what you can see from a car, but does include some off-the-road info.  Personally I always try to load some geo and botany info onto my phone and into my head before traveling in an area so I can maybe understand what I'm seeing and possibly answer the questions Nature is throwing at me (e.g. "What is this purple flower?" or "Why is this slope devoid of plants but shows no erosion or sliding?")  That way the journey is about more than just achieving the destination point.

I absolutely love the Roadside Geology Books! Every road trip I bring them for the states I am going through. My significant other and I are both self-proclaimed Geology nerds. One of us will read the book while the other drives. It is so interesting to know how the landscape around us was formed.

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

In the new Exotic Terranes series Nick uses a stack of the roadside geology books sometimes with page numbers of what he is talking about... and the new series goes California to Alaska... you might enjoy the hikes in the Nick on the Fly series...  


He seems to be doing some nice longer Lectures like , 4 of them last spring 2019 and I am looking forward to what he does this spring.

CWU's Nick Zentner presents 'Hells Canyon and the Ringold Formation' - the 27th talk in his ongoing Downtown Geology Lecture Series. Recorded at Morgan Audi...


Geology is truly fascinating. One of my favorite authors is John McPhee, and he has written several great books on geology, including Basin and Range, Coming into the Country, Rising from the Plains, In Suspect Terrain, Assembling California, etc. 

I will have to check out the YouTube videos you mentioned. 

I'm reading Basin and Range for the second time!  I agree 100% about John McPhee.

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If we are concerned with the history of places through which we travel, we should include archaeology and relatively recent history as well.  The subjects re not t all incompatible or exclusive.  Considered together, they provide a richer understanding of the landscape in view.  At some places, you will be giving consideration to drastic changes in vegetation and wildlife.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Randy is a native American that in a couple of Nick's videos, shares lore he remembers from when he was a kid... native foods and events.


Nick Zentner is a great communicator.  I love his talks even though he mostly covers the Northwest and I am in California.  It is great that his lectures are available to all on YouTube so can be streamed.