Michael Wysession Ph.D.

Michael Wysession Ph.D. >

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Santorini—Impact of Volcanic Eruptions
Episode 1 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Learn Professor Wysession's criteria for choosing more than 200 different geologic wonders in nearly 120 countries. Then explore the first on his list: the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, which is the relic of a volcanic eruption that had a…
The Grand Canyon—Earth’s Layers
Episode 7 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Read the incredible story told in the mile-deep layers of the Grand Canyon. Investigate the canyon's formation and its connection to the opening of the Gulf of California and the birth of the San Andreas Fault. Also consider what gives…
Galapagos Rift—Wonders of Mid-Ocean Ridges
Episode 3 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Continue your study of phenomena associated with plate tectonics by visiting the Galapagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin. This magnificent archipelago is on a volcanic hotspot near a mid-ocean ridge, formed by moving tectonic plates. Natural wonders abound in…
Iceland—Where Fire Meets Ice
Episode 27 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Visit Iceland, a geologist's paradise where you can walk along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland is a hotspot that sits atop the plate boundary that divides North and South America from Europe and Africa. Here, volcanoes and glaciers--fire and ice--coexist.
Mount Fuji—Sleeping Power
Episode 2 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Turn from eruptions to volcanoes themselves--in particular, Mount Fuji in Japan, a sacred site whose nearly perfect cone shape is a popular subject in Japanese art. Investigate the origin of volcanoes such as Mount Fuji and the special conditions that…
Burgess Shale—Rocks and the Keys to Life
Episode 6 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Chart the evolution of life revealed in the extraordinary fossils of the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. This mountainside quarry records the proliferation of new organisms--both familiar and bizarre--that followed a mass extinction half a billion years ago.
Devils Tower—Igneous Enigmas
Episode 18 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Famous as the landing pad for aliens in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower in Wyoming is an otherworldly geological formation. Discover how this massive tower of igneous columns developed. Along the way, investigate why nature…
Fiordland National Park—Majestic Fjords
Episode 21 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Visit the stunning fjords of Fiordland National Park in New Zealand, focusing on the most famous of these flooded glacial valleys, Milford Sound. The drama of the landscape is matched by tumultuous tectonic forces that are slowly ripping New Zealand…
Uluru/Ayers Rock—Sacred Nature of Rocks
Episode 17 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Go to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia to inspect two popular attractions shaped by erosion: Ayres Rock, known locally as Uluru, and the Kata Tjuta rock domes. Trace the history of moving plates, rising and receding seas, and constant…
Great Blue Hole—Coastal Symmetry in Sinkholes
Episode 14 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Probe the mystery of the Great Blue Hole, an enormous submerged sinkhole ringed by a coral reef off the coast of Belize. Study the processes that create sinkholes, and investigate the nature of karst topography, which is produced by the…
The Himalayas—Mountains at Earth’s Roof
Episode 8 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
What makes the highest mountains in the world so high? Follow the events that created Mount Everest and the rest of the Himalayan range on the vast Tibetan Plateau. Learn the role of the plateau in cooling the entire planet…
African Rift Valley—Cracks into the Earth
Episode 4 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Visit the African Rift Valley, a mid-ocean ridge in the making. From the Red Sea to Mount Kilimanjaro, tectonic forces are splitting Africa apart, forming a new ocean in the process. This impressive valley is also the site of many…
Mammoth Cave—Worlds Underground
Episode 12 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Water doesn't just flow on the surface; it also flows underground, carving caves in the process. The largest cave system in the world is Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Discover how groundwater excavated this network of passages that extends…
Cave of Crystals—Exquisite Caves
Episode 13 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Focus on the spectacular shapes, such as stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and other cave features formed by minerals slowly precipitating from water. Then visit the recently discovered Cave of Crystals in Mexico, a science-fiction-like world with individual crystals up to 35…
Erta Ale—Compact Fury of Lava Lakes
Episode 5 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Zoom in on a remarkable feature of the African Rift Valley: the lava lake at Erta Ale in Ethiopia. This seething cauldron of molten rock is the oldest of the world's five active lava lakes, and it replicates on a…
A Montage of Geologic Mini-Wonders
Episode 35 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
In an entertaining change of pace, watch a countdown of 10 geological wonders that are hard to classify, from number 10--the White Cliffs of Dover--to number 1--a geological mystery in Death Valley that would seem like a hoax if it…
Ha Long Bay—Dramatic Karst Landscapes
Episode 15 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
The picturesque limestone islands in Vietnam's Ha Long Bay are an example of mature karst topography. Discover how the bay's cone-shaped towers are related to the sinkholes in episode 14. The key to understanding their puzzling geology is to focus…
Yellowstone—Geysers and Hot Springs
Episode 25 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
What happens when a hotspot is beneath a continent? The answer is Yellowstone National Park, a wonderland of geysers and hot springs nestled in the gigantic caldera of a supervolcano. Tour the attractions of Yellowstone, and ponder the history and…
Bay of Fundy—Inexorable Cycle of Tides
Episode 23 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Why are the tides in Canada's Bay of Fundy exceptionally high? Probe the principles of tides--what causes them, why the times of high and low tide vary from day to day, and the peculiar geometry between Nova Scotia and New…
Antarctica—A World of Ice
Episode 19 of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Head south to a pristine, unearthly continent: Antarctica. Explore the varied geology and the complex behavior of the giant ice sheets that flow relentlessly toward the ocean. Among its attractions, Antarctica is a superb place to test techniques for exploring…