Planetary Wonders—Out of This World

Planetary Wonders—Out of This World
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The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders
Geological wonders are like great works of art. They are impressive, beautiful, mysterious, and surprising. Whether you are planning your next vacation or exploring the world from home, this course is your gateway to an unrivaled adventure. By the time you complete this course, you will have experienced more than…
Galapagos Rift—Wonders of Mid-Ocean Ridges
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 the region, both above and below water.
A Montage of Geologic Mini-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 weren't true.
Antarctica—A World of Ice
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 cold, dry environments such as Mars.
Mammoth Cave—Worlds Underground
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 for at least 390 miles.
Kawah Ijen—World’s Most Acid Lake
Imagine a place where steam is so acidic that it burns your lungs, where flaming, liquid sulfur condenses from that steam, and a turquoise-colored lake is filled with the equivalent of battery acid. This hellish place is the crater lake of Kawah Ijen on the island of Java in Indonesia.
Great National Parks of Australia
Australia has some of the most spectacular, diverse and unique scenery in the world. This documentary explores six national parks, capturing the beauty, history and human impact on these areas. Featured are the marine wonderlands of the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest splendour of the Daintree and Queensland's wet tropics.…
Santorini—Impact of Volcanic Eruptions
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 profound effect on the ancient Mediterranean world.
Mount Fuji—Sleeping Power
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 produce their sturdy symmetrical cones.
African Rift Valley—Cracks into the Earth
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 fossil discoveries relating to early humans.
Erta Ale—Compact Fury of Lava Lakes
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 small scale the complex process of plate tectonics.
Burgess Shale—Rocks and the Keys to Life
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.