Friday, February 18, 2011

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

Earlier this week, in preparation for my talk on Katmai National Park and the 1912 eruption of Novarupta (see previous post), I was researching the internet, looking for information on the state of seismographs during those early years of the 20th century.  It was during all this Binging and Googling that I came upon an obituary in the New York Times.  

I don't remember learning much about Jack Oliver when I was in school - not like I remember learning about so many other giants of the geologic realm - William Smith, James Hutton, Charles Lyell, Alfred Wegener, J. Tuzo Wilson.  Jack Oliver was one of the pioneers in the study of plate tectonics.  In the 1960's,  his studies of seismic activity and the records of earthquakes in the South Pacific ultimately led him and two of his graduate students to conclude that part of the ocean floor was being shoved downward.  According to his biography on Wikipedia, "The research by Oliver's team led them to conclude that the collision of tectonic plates was forcing material deep into the earth where they met below the Pacific Ocean, and provided strong evidence of the existence of continental drift, a theory that had been largely scoffed at by the scientific community when it was first proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912."

I am proud and not a little overwhelmed to be standing on the shoulders of such a giant as Jack Oliver.
 Click here for the abstract of his 1968 article "Seismology and the New Global Tectonics."


  1. Hope your presentation went well.

  2. Gaelyn - The presentation went very well! A lot of students who were "strongly encouraged" came to it - but surprisingly, most of them actually stayed, even though it lasted over an hour. Katmai is someplace not many people will get to in their lives.
    One of my points in giving the presentation was to show students that graduate school isn't the only option - federal jobs such as with NPS are certainly attractive choices, too.