While on various field trips, I have written a couple of poems about what we have been doing. Here are some of my favourites.


The boxcore collecting a seafloor sample close to Neny Glacier from the back of the Laurence M. Gould in 2017. 
We lower her over with baited breath,
To investigate icy, murky depths.
Tensions mount with increasing cable,
Our ship holds station and stays stable.
As the reel slows, the bottom appears,
Propellers whirl, waters swirl, ice clears.
Without warning tension drops, then surges,
Ground is broken, the reel reverses.
More waiting follows as our cargo climbs,
Then out of the black, a bright light shines!
Success! Another mud recovery,
Species await, a new discovery?
What creatures will we bring up from the deep?
What dreams will Oyvind dream while he’s asleep?
But from apatite there’s no escaping,
To measure glacial landform reshaping.
Helium from radioactivity,
Lost with heat controlled diffusivity,
Unveils how rocks approach Earth’s surface
Ice brings these apatites to the abyss.
It’s uncharted fjords we love to explore,
With our trusty intrepid yellow #boxcore.


Cool telescopic deployment.
Colossal tall door
Cables turn dangerously
Courageously trawling depths

Could test demeanors
Calm tempers desired.
Capsule tubes decorate
Caged tubular design.

Continuous telemetric data
Contain tempests’ destinies.
Columnular timed discretizations
Cutting two dimensions.

Continental turbidity discoveries
Constrain terrigenous discharges.
Counting time down.
Conductivity temperature depth

Mooring Recovery

A successful mooring recovery in Andvord Fjord, Antarctica. 

Seeking searching, nothing all morning,
Fingers pens tempers gnawing,
Triangulating circles drawing,
Pinging listening waiting hearing,
Anchored, mud or rocky sea flooring,
Releasing surging surface-wards soaring,
Time slips: hourglasses pouring,
Filling time, Catan scoring,
Drinking, chatting, not boring,
High tensions, Oyvind snoring,
Hair pulling eyeballs clawing,
Where the hell’s this lost mooring,
I wish that we were boxcoring.

Shaky thing, shaky thing

We were collecting detrital material from around the Hangay Dome in Mongolia using an improvised sieve. We analyzed this material for 10-Beryllium with Josh West and the results are here.

Shaky thing, shaky thing
It’s what I collect the gravel in
Shaking it left, shaking it right
Do the shaky thing both day and night
Shaking it north, shaking it south
From river source to river mouth
Shaking it east, shaking it west
At collecting sand, shaky thing’s best
Shaking in rivers, shaking on land
Collecting fine to medium grained sand
Shaking in earnest, shaking in action
Discarding all but the sand-sized fraction
Shaking where we travel, shaking where we roam
Collecting gravel around the Hangay Dome


While mapping active faults in Central Mongolia, we visited many standing stones. Photo: Richard Walker

Beryllium ten with your nucleus unstable,
Tell us of your weathering fable,
Exposure dating and uplift rates,
To decay is your star-crossed fate,
Cosmic rays speeding from outer space,
Excite silica which you replace,
High latitudes hoard a greater share,
Under the high flux of rays focused there,
With increased depth production drops,
Exponentially from weathered rocks,
When Earth’s magnetic field is strong,
Ages you yield are youthfully young,
Stories you tell, tales you weave,
The ages you give us, oh it’s all make believe.

Choco Pie

We ate lots of Choco Pies.

When thrust faults are normal
When clouds cover the sky
Suspension coils are broken
Choco pie

When spiders cover the inner
When passes aren’t so high
Olivine crystals lacking
Choco pie

When the trench site is useless
When Frisbees are washed by
Tent flysheet melted
Choco pie

When vodka bottles lie emptied
When mosquitoes start to fly
Mutton again for dinner
Choco pie

Active Deformation in Central Mongolia

In Mongolia, we were mapping large scale strike slip faulting, the results of the fieldwork are here.

Jaki, Richard Walker and myself with Otgon Tengger in the background. Photo: Richard Walker. 

Unseen unheard they lie in slumber
100 miles long they’re many in number
Invisible to the human eye
Eagles track their course from on high

Nomads and yaks huddle close by
Knowing little of the dangers here lie
Chaos arrives every thousand years
Witnessed only by solitary gers

Slipping past standing stones erect
Scarps and offsets are hard to detect
Occasionally a clue is given
When left or right its course is driven

Marmots and hamsters have something to fear
As monster moles make their presence clear
Sag ponds tell of a shocking tail
When stress causes rocks to fail

Sliding, slipping striking east-west
A DEM provides the definitive test
Passive indentors best beware
Strike-slip faults don’t play fair

Critically Tapered Orogens

The drifting of continents, the collision of rocks,
Witnessed from space, or in a sandbox,
Faults and folds form - Earth's surface roughens,
Limited by rock strength: critical tapered orogens.

Shrouded in clouds, self similarly growing,
Eroded by streams, continually flowing,
Deformation focused, through simple mechanics,
Models predicting simple kinematics.

Shrouded in clouds, yet deeper in mystery,
A dynamical system, unknown sensitivity
Uplift and climate, forcings feedback, merge, mix,
Shaping orography, shaping tectonics,

Erosion rate needed, (In space and time desired)
From estimates of pressure and cooling rates acquired.
Or For shallower depths, a different method is handy,
Collecting detrital samples, getting muddy and sandy.

Through nuclear decay - daughter products produced,
Deep in the Earth's curst, lost in a process diffuse,
Rocks exhuming from depth, to cool is their fate
As temperatures drop, products accumulate.

Within the upper few meters, towards the end of their race,
The rocks get bombarded with rays from outer space.
Nuclides produced by cosmic ray spallation,
Erosion rates? A function of cosmogenic concentration.

Lhama of the Andes, the snakes of Taiwan,
The cows of the Swiss Alps, the yaks of Bhutan,
Bears of the Cascades, the sheep of New Zealand,
All living on a shifting, evolving, pile of sand!