Geo-Joint: Iceland’s Cool Story

The Geo-Joint recently prattled on about the grand phenomenon that built the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Though it would be quite a sight, most of its very long, sinuous outline is well undersea and out of viewing range for tourists. A striking exception to this is the little country on the sizeable island called Iceland. Iceland is built of the magma rising … Read More

Geo-Joint: Venice—Treading Water and Waiting for a Life Preserver

The origins of Venice are rooted in simplicity and desperation. Simple, because the earliest inhabitants of the many lagoon islands at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea were those making a basic living off the sea—fishermen and sea salt miners. But as the Roman Empire came under attack by invaders from the north, desperation became a motivation. People from … Read More

Geo-Joint: Continents Drifting Toward Plate Tectonics

Anybody with half a brain idly spinning a globe will notice that the coastlines of eastern South America and western Africa are pretty similar. And that’s just the most obvious coastline match-up, of which there are many. It has always seemed like a logical notion that the two continents were at one time connected, but then there’s that part about … Read More

Geo-Joint: Lava Tubes—Hot Conduits and Cool Caving

The Hawaiian Islands are built of lava. Some of it is fresh and flowing, some of it is cooled, some eroded into pebbles and soil, but it all started as molten lava. The first thing a tourist learns, especially if they are visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, is that there are essentially two forms of lava … Read More

Geo-Joint: Movin’ the Mighty Mississip’

Rivers flow where gravity pulls them, and they effortlessly seek the easiest path. In steep mountain canyons, they tumble down sharply defined channels—there’s no doubt of their course. But when the land is flatter, it’s a good deal easier to influence that fluvial path. As a river meanders through territory of low relief, its course may wander back and forth … Read More

Geo-Joint: Shipbreaking in Southern Asia

From the beaches of Santa Barbara you can see them anchored a half-mile offshore: giant, white, floating boxes called cruise ships. They are enormous, but nothing compared to the behemoth tankers and container ships that ply the ocean road between the mainland and the local Channel Islands. Though they appear tiny on the horizon, their astounding size is evidenced by … Read More

Geo-Joint: Northern Ireland’s Peace Walls

Robert Frost sagely noted that good fences make good neighbors, an admission that keeping a healthy distance and clearly marking my territory versus yours can keep trouble from starting. It developed kind of the other way around in Northern Ireland. In the early part of the 20th century, forces in Ireland banded together to fight for Irish independence from the … Read More

Geo-Joint: The Enduring Bristlecone Pine

There are a lot of ways to establish records. Hairsplitting a category can make for multiple “biggest” or “tallest” or “oldest” of whatever. Just ask Guinness—it keeps them in business. So it is with the oldest living things. There are various kinds of organisms, even if you narrow the categories down to just trees. We’ll save some of the other … Read More

Geo-Joint: South Pacific Atolls

Beauty is a subjective thing, but almost everyone agrees that the settings of Polynesia are among the most pleasant and soothing in all the world. The warm water helps, but the colors of the sea and sky, and the rich green plant life and colorful sea life all add to the beauty. It’s also nice not to have to dodge … Read More

Geo-Joint: Disconnected USA – the Northwest Angle and Point Roberts

Besides its far-flung “empire” of island territories and possessions distant from its mainland, the United States includes a large number of relatively nearshore islands off its several coasts. Of course, our two youngest states, Alaska and Hawaii, are totally separate from the Lower 48, but today’s subject is not so obvious. The area in question isn’t along our southern border, … Read More