Emeritus Academy Lecture Series

David Ellliot
School of Earth Sciences

"Cryolophosaurus and other adventures during a misspent career as an Antarctic geologist"

February 5, 2020
4-5 p.m.
Grand Lounge, Faculty Club

Antarctica has fascinated many explorers, armchair and otherwise.  Antarctica was a “Terra Incognita” until January 1820 when first sighted, almost simultaneously, by Edward Bransfield and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen.  The continent was poorly known even up to the early 1950s, but the advent of the International Geophysical Year (1957-58) opened Antarctica to major scientific investigations run by national research programs.  This talk follows the career of one who had no intention of becoming an Antarctic geologist, nor of living in Ohio.  The Antarctic Peninsula, a continuation of the Andes, was the first port of call and an introduction to dog sledging, international politics, and rough weather, and some fascinating geology.  An unexpected letter from OSU led to an expedition to the Transantarctic Mountains, and the rot set in.  In the early days it was genuine exploration, and even today for the geologist there is every opportunity for discovery at places never before trodden upon.  Research swung between the northern Antarctic Peninsula and the Transantarctic Mountains, between immense lava fields and sedimentary rocks, with the odd fossil thrown in.  Accounts will be given of working in the Peninsula with dogs, off a small ship, and on land, and in the Transantarctic Mountains with skidoos and helicopters.  The research has shed a little light on continental drift in the days of skeptics (if not deniers), on the relationships between the southern continents in times gone by, on the controversy over the demise of dinosaurs, and on how far molten rock might travel.  A far cry from the original intent of being an economic geologist.