Susan R. Eaton is a geologist, geophysicist, journalist and 'extreme' snorkeler with an intense curiosity about planetary processes, the marine environment, climate change and global sustainability issues.
A member of the New York Explorers Club, Susan's exploration interests have evolved from her scientific, environmental and journalistic backgrounds which flow together seamlessly on a continuum. She's incorporated the sciences of geology and geophysics into field work being conducted on climate change around the world, with a particular interest and focus on polar regions. An extreme snorkeler, her area of interest — and expertise — is exploring the planet from the water-air-land interface which provides a unique window to investigate the flora and fauna of the planet's largely unexplored oceans and adjacent land masses.
In late December 2012, Susan embarked upon her third Antarctic expedition during the past three years. Led by Dr. Ian Dalziel of the Jackson School of Geosciences (University of Texas at Austin), the expedition will explore the interplay between solid earth dynamics, plate tectonics, glaciology, climate and life. Struck to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Geological Society of America — and comprised of 70 earth scientists from more than 15 nations — the expedition marks a momentous voyage of exploration and geological discovery to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Western Antarctic Peninsula. << MORE >>
THE MOVIE: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION: THE BOOK
VIDEO SEGMENT ENTITLED "WE DID IT!"
MAY 6, 2013
The complete movie will be released on December 25, 2013. The movie will be free, and it's the Elysium Epic's Christmas gift to the world. Thank you expedition members and sponsors... Enjoy this video segment called
"We did it!" Video courtesy of Michael AW.
MARCH 2010: Before we disembarked the MV Professor Molchanov — our home base for 20 days — Captain Nikolay Parfenyuk told us that we had earned the title “Sea Wolves.” Jokingly, Captain Parfenyuk said he was pleased that “we had all survived” the seas. During our return voyage to South America, we endured three to four days of horrific weather which sent about 30 percent of the Explorers to their cabins with sea sickness. Passengers were confined below decks for several days, as crashing waves made it too dangerous to venture outside.
At its height, we were caught in a Force 11 Storm with 15-metre-high waves and 65-knot winds. To put this into perspective, on the Beaufort Scale created in 1806 by British hydrographer Sir Francis Beaufort, a Force 12 Storm is a hurricane...
Perhaps due to my Maritime roots – but more likely due to the fact that I didn’t enjoy being catapulted from side to side, in my upper bunk — I joined the small gang who waited out the ‘hurricane’ in the ship’s bar, a favourite gathering place. The ‘bar’ gang shared many laughs and a few bottles of Argentine Malbec, as computers, wine glasses, and literally every item that was not secured — including people — were hurled from side to side of the bar. On the last night of the voyage, with music blaring, we even managed to ‘dance up a storm,’ so to speak...
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PREMIERE AT THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM
THE MOVIE: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION: THE BOOK
APRIL 13, 2013
This video dedicated to all the Elysium Team - Elysium Shackleton Antarctic Visual Epic: 8 Feb to 2 March 2010. The Elysium Epic expedition explorers from Michael AW.
The 2010 Elysium Visual Epic Expedition ("Elysium") was struck to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Shackleton's vessel, the Endurance, was crushed by ice and sank, precipitating the greatest survival story of all time. Elysium explored the route that Shackleton and his crew travelled after they lost the Endurance – from Elephant Island, across the treacherous Scotia Sea to South Georgia.
Elysium's deliverables include a traveling photographic exhibition, a documentary feature film, a limited edition high quality photographic book, and a permanent library of images to document climate change in the Western Antarctic Peninsula. On April 13, Elysium's photographic exhibition and a video preview dedicated to the Elysium Epic explorers premiered in Sydney, Australia, at the Australian National Maritime Museum. “The Elysium Epic is about extraordinary explorers using advanced imaging technologies to document the last wilderness on our planet," said Michael Aw, Elysium's expedition leader and founder of the Ocean Geographic Society.
Elysium's 57-member team of explorers came from 18 countries and included some of the world’s most celebrated image-makers, historians, and scientists. Susan R. Eaton, a Calgary-based geologist, geophysicist, freelance writer and environmentalist, joined Elysium's scientific crew. Sponsored by several Canadian and American geosciences organizations, Susan's dispatches from the Bottom of the World enabled readers to follow her, virtually, as she explored Antarctica and South Georgia. << MORE >>
CANADIAN SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM GEOLOGISTS INTERNATIONAL DIVISION
SPONSORED BY CENOVUS ENERGY
NEXEN PLUS 15 CONFERENCE CENTRE
NEXEN ANNEX BUILDING
7TH AVENUE AND 7TH STREET SW
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2013
ADMISSION FREE; BRING YOUR LUNCH
International Antarctic Expedition 2012: 72 team members and eight team leaders from 22 nations aboard the M/V Sea Spirit cozy up to a tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound in March 2012. The iceberg was born when the Larson B Ice Shelf collapsed and broke up in 2002. Image courtesy of 2041 (IAE 2012).
A century ago, Sir Ernest Shackleton's scientific expeditions were comprised of geologists and geophysicists explored Antarctica because it was there, and because it was unclaimed by any nation. During the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, geoscientists discovered volcanoes, mountain ranges, fossils, coal and minerals in this uncharted continent. And, in 1909, geoscientists in Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition planted the British flag at the Magnetic South Pole.
One hundred years later, Antarctica is still unclaimed by any nation. This mysterious continent belongs to citizens of the world and is development-free until 2041 when the Madrid Protocol, declaring it a place for peace and scientific endeavours, expires.
Join Susan R. Eaton on a journey to the Bottom of the World, as she continues the century-long geological tradition of exploration and discovery in Antarctica. << MORE >>
By Jacqueline Louie for the Calgary Herald, January 19, 2013
Susan R. Eaton, geologist, geophysicist and journalist, strikes a warrior pose at Sailbury Plain, with 300,000 of her closest King Penguin friends.
For professional geologist and geophysicist Susan R. Eaton, building a rewarding career is all about following your interests and your passions." Follow your dreams, perhaps revise them as you go along," says Eaton, who has worked in the oil and gas industry for more than three decades, and now acts as a mentor to young geologists and geophysicists. She advises students who are interested in earth sciences to consider obtaining a degree in geology, geophysics or engineering. << MORE >>
Date: January 6, 2013
Place: St. Andrew's Bay, South Georgia
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Dispatch Number Five
In the foreground, adult King Penguins at St. Andrew's Bay, South Georgia. In the background, brown ribbons of colour are crèches – groups struck for protection against predators and the elements – of chicks.
Our fifth and final day of exploring South Georgia involved a memorable landing at St. Andrew's Bay, home to the island’s largest colony of King Penguins. Comprised of more than 150,000 breeding pairs, the colony contains close to half-a-million birds when the juveniles, non-breeding adults and recently hatched chicks are included.
Framed by three mountains (Mount Roots, Mount Kling and Nordenskjold Peak) which tower 2,000 metres above sea level, the St. Andrew's Bay King Penguin colony sits at the confluence of three glaciers.
The pungent aromas of urea and guano hit us long before we stepped ashore.
Katabatic winds – dense cold winds generated by glaciers – buffeted us about on the beach. Capable of flipping boats, these chaotic winds have forced visitors to seek shelter inside the British Antarctic Survey’s emergency hut at St. Andrew's Bay.
The glacial outwash plain pulsated with non-stop action: family conflicts and life and death dramas played out before us. Loping like a quarter horse in slow motion, I observed a large Antarctic Fur Seal cut a wide swath through the penguin colony, sending adults and chicks scattering for safety. Caught in the melee, some of the adult birds dropped eggs that they had been painstakingly incubating. Accordingly, we observed the breeding colony from a respectful distance, atop an adjacent hillside. << MORE >>
Date: January 5, 2013
Place: Grytviken, South Georgia
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Dispatch Number Four
Four members of the British Antarctic Expedition (1907-1909), also known as the Nimrod Expedition, who came within 97.5 nautical miles of the South Pole (98° 23′ on January 9, 1909). (L-R) Frank Wild, Ernest Shackleton, Eric Marshall and Jameson Adams.
Ninety-one years ago, to the day, Sir Ernest Shackleton died aboard a boat anchored in Grytviken Harbour, South Georgia. Suffering a massive heart attack at the age of 47, Shackleton’s death marked the end of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration.
On this auspicious and rainy day, we made the obligatory pilgrimage to Shackleton’s gravesite in Grytviken. We raised a wee dram to his polar achievements. As is customary, each of us saved a modicum of the single malt whisky for Shackleton, reverently pouring it on his gravesite.
During the 1907-1909 Nimrod Expedition, Shackleton’s team discovered the magnetic South Pole and came to within 100 miles of the geographic South Pole; his difficult decision to abort the race for the pole – due to dwindling food supplies and the deteriorating condition of his men – ensured that everyone made it home alive. When Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice during the 1914-1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, his leadership ensured that all the men under his direct command survived the two-year ordeal.
But Shackleton’s gripping story didn’t end with his death: in a convoluted series of recent events, Frank Wild’s ashes were discovered after languishing, since 1939, in a South African crematorium.
In 2011, Shackleton’s right-hand man was laid to rest on Shackleton’s left-hand side. We toasted Wild’s return to the Bottom of the World, and his enduring friendship with Shackleton which began more than one hundred years ago. << MORE >>
Date: January 4, 2013
Place: Fortuna Bay and Stromness Harbour, South Georgia
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Dispatch Number Three
Ruins of the whaling station at Stromness Harbour, South Georgia. Photo courtesy of Jens Bludau.
Following in Sir Ernest Shackleton's footsteps 100 years later, our group of intrepid explorers retraced the final leg of Shackleton's epic trek across South Georgia. In the process, we shared, in a very small measure, some of the sights, sounds and emotions that Shackleton and his men experienced a century ago.
Symbolic in nature, the 5.5-kilometre-long hike from Fortuna Bay to Stromness Harbour represents the final chapter in Shackleton's monumental story of survival against all odds.
In May 1916, Shackleton and two of his men set out – without tents or sleeping bags – on a non-stop crossing of the largely unmapped island. Equipped with ice crampons fashioned from screws wrenched from their lifeboat, they arrived in Stromness thirty-six hours later.
In an effort to save time and energy during their 33-kilometre-long crossing of South Georgia, Shackleton and his hiking companions formed a three-man toboggan chain, glissading down an uncharted mountainside.
Our hike from sea level to the 300-metre mountain pass was slow and measured. But, the toboggan ride down the backstretch was wild and lasted mere seconds.
After a hurried session of perfecting my skills at arresting – or, at the very least, impeding – my trajectory down the snow-covered mountainside, I held my breath and plunged, feet first, over the precipice.
Although my backpack acted as a speed retardant, my Gortex™ pants turned into a potent accelerant...
On fire, I raced down the slope. << MORE >>
Date: January 3, 2013
Place: Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Dispatch Number Two
Drygalski Fjord, South Georgia. Photo courtesy of Connie J. Martin.
A booming voice sounded over the ship’s public address system at 6:30am. Dr. Ian Dalziel, professor of geophysics at the Jackson School of Geosciences (University of Texas at Austin), was on the horn, enticing us to forsake our warm beds for the ship’s bridge. At the very least, Dalziel encouraged us to gaze out of the cabin potholes.
But, it wasn’t charismatic mega fauna – Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales or Weddell Seals – that catapulted me and my fellow group of explorers to rise so early. For the group of intrepid geologists, it was the opportunity to view something that’s rarely observed in nature: ophiolites or primordial rocks formed at oceanic spreading centres and brought to the Earth’s surface via violent tectonic forces. A world-class outcrop of these ancient sea floor rocks is exposed in the Drygalski Fjord on the southwestern tip of the island of South Georgia.
Suitably inspired, I assembled my camera gear and headed to the Akademik Ioffe’s bridge where I was greeted by a stunning panorama of towering cliffs, glaciers cascading to the ocean and sea birds aloft.
Comprised primarily of the mineral olivine, the olive-green rocks of the Drygalski Fjord Complex represent a classic textbook example of basalts that spewed from the Earth’s mantle during the Cretaceous period, some 150 million years ago. The basalts poured, like molasses, from a fissure in the oceanic crust, creating new sea floor mass in the process. << MORE >>
Date: January 1, 2013
Place: Sailing from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia
Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Dispatch Number One
The Akademik Ioffe.
Image courtesy of Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris.
We heralded in the New Year with two celebrations: at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, our dinner concluded with a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne. In the ship’s bar, at midnight, local time, we toasted to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2013 and to great geological discoveries in the Scotia Arc.
Understandably, breakfast was pushed back by 30 minutes the following morning.
Our 22-day-long geosciences expedition departed Santiago, Chile, on December 29, 2012, bound for Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. With a population of 2,000 people, Stanley is the smallest and most remote capital city in the world. It’s also, unofficially, the lupine capital of the world – every house sports a lovely English garden that’s chock-a-block full of lupines and other hearty flowers.
Following the spine of the Andes, we jetted southwards towards Tierra del Fuego. On several occasions, the plane lurched, seemingly, to the port side when a good half of the passengers jumped across the aisle, straining to get a glimpse of geological processes in action: a smoking volcano and glaciers descending from mountaintops on their death marches to the adjacent Pacific Ocean.
At writing, we’ve travelled 585 nautical miles across the Scotia Sea, en route from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia and the Western Antarctic Peninsula. During the expedition, we'll spend six days at sea and 15 days on land, exploring geological outcrops and experiencing Serengeti wildlife moments. The seas are uncharacteristically calm this afternoon, and the waves gentle. Although some people have been queasy, no one has suffered from seasickness. << MORE >>
By Susan R. Eaton, Explorer Correspondent, December 2012
Fourteen-year old Justine Wild fundraising for the Students On Ice 2012 Expedition, January 2012.
Photo courtesy of Justine Wild.
In January 2012, Justine Wild, age 14, embarked upon an expedition-of-a-lifetime.
Justine, a petite and resourceful Grade Nine student from Kamloops, British Columbia, joined 60 other teenagers from around the world, crossing the perilous waters of the Drake Passage to the Western Antarctic Peninsula.
My outreach and educational activities (funded, in large part, by the AAPG Foundation) played a role in Justine's decision to travel to the Bottom of the World. During the past 20 months, I've encouraged Justine and others to follow their dreams, and I've provided them with an Antarctic road map to make it happen. << MORE >>
By Susan R. Eaton, Explorer Correspondent, December 2012
ON THE COVER: Ted Cheeseman, an adventurer who specializes in getting explorers to exotic locales, stands atop a peak on Antarctica’s Devil’s Island, overlooking the Weddell Sea. AAPG member and EXPLORER Correspondent Susan R. Eaton returns to the "Bottom of the World" this month, as the AAPG Foundation-backed Antarctic Explorer-in-Residence. Photo courtesy Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris.
Susan R. Eaton, a Calgary-based geophysicist, geologist, science journalist and Antarctic Explorer-in-the-Making, will travel to the Bottom of the World from December 29, 2012 to January 21, 2013, participating in the Scotia Arc Tectonics, Climate and Life Expedition. Bitten by the polar bug, this is Susan's third Antarctic expedition since 2010.
Led by the Jackson School of Geosciences (University of Texas at Austin), this international expedition involves world-renowned instructors — geologists, geophysicists and biologists — who will focus on the interplay of geology, geophysics, glaciology, plate tectonics, climate change and life.
The Scotia Arc is a tectonically active area comprised of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Western Antarctic Peninsula. The Scotia Sea and Scotia Arc evolved during the past 40 million years, via an eastward-migrating subduction zone situated at the boundary between the South American and Antarctic plates. << MORE >>
With an equal mixture of excitement and trepidation -- and a final, furtive scan of the horizon for polar bears -- I drop over the side of the boat, into the icy Arctic waters of Hudson Bay. As I hit the water, my breathing is reduced to shallow, frenetic gulps inhaled through my snorkel. I'm decked out from head to toe in an Arctic rated dry suit, yet I'm not completely adapted to this aqueous otherworld.