El Grupo Whitman on Isla Rábida, Galápagos, with Yate Daphne in the background.

Back: Bob Carson, Prof. of Geology and Environmental Studies; Clare Carson, 
Dir. of Academic Resources; Alice Letcher ('03); Michael Simon ('02); Sarah 
Koenigsberg ('02); Sarah Pulliam ('00).  Middle: Frank Metheny ('57); Mary Jane 
Coombs ('00); Heber Nielsen ('71); Magill Lange ('98); Matt Silver ('02); Bettimae 
Metheny.  Bottom: Neil Taylor ('02); Kate Leslie ('01); Carolyn Nielsen ('71); Jim Lace.


Pictures: Machu Picchu || Galápagos Wildlife || Galápagos Geology
Writing: Eroded Granite and Rising Lava: the Andes and Galápagos || Adventures in the Galápagos

Machu Picchu

 Machu Picchu, often called the "Lost City of the Incas," is believed to have been an active religious center and royal retreat, built by the Incan kind Pachacuti during the height of the Incan Empire (about five centuries before present).  It is located approximately 80 km northwest of Cusco, Perú, 400 m above the meandering Urubamba River, in an Andean cloud forest.  The name, which means “old peak,” was given to this place by Hiram Bingham, the American who discovered the city in 1911.  Because of its remote location, Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spanish, unlike many Incan buildings around Cusco which are now in ruin.  The city is filled with beautifully constructed stone buildings, most of which have been so carefully assembled that one could not fit a razor blade between the perfectly-fit stones.

machu picchu
Machu Picchu, with Hayana Picchu in background 

Alice with llamas at Machu Picchu

hayana picchu
On top of Hayana Picchu

urubamba river
View of the Urubamba River from Machu Picchu



Galápagos Wildlife

The Galápagos Islands, which straddle the equator, are located approximately 1,000 km west of mainland Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. They are home to many endemic species, including the giant tortoise, marine iguana, blue- and red-footed boobies, Darwin's finches, and the only species of penguins residing in the Northern Hemisphere. These islands were made famous with the publication of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species in 1859, in which he proposed natural selection as a mechanism for evolution.  Darwin had visited the Galápagos in 1835 while on a five-year voyage of the HMS Beagle.  In only a couple months on the islands, he gathered enough specimens of plants and animals to help him formulate the idea of natural selection when he returned to England. 


blue-footed booby
Blue-footed booby, Isla Seymour 

land iguana
Molting land iguana, South Plaza Island

sea lions
Sea lions on Isla Seymour, with Isla Daphne (Major) in the background

marine iguana
Marine iguana

giant tortoise
Giant tortoise, Isla Santa Cruz

bob and tortoise
Bob feeding a giant tortoise at the Darwin Research Station, Isla Santa Cruz

Our alumni tripsters:  Heber and Carolyn Nielsen ('71), Frank Metheny ('57), 
and Magill Lange ('98)

Galápagos Geology

The Galápagos are a group of volcanic islands located above a hot spot near the intersection of the Nazca and Cocos tectonic plates.  The dominant type of volcano found on the islands is the shield volcano, some of which contain huge calderas.  Historically recent volcanism has occurred on Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Fernandina, Floreana, Marchena, Pinta, Santiago, Sierra Negra, and Volcan Wolf.  Some islands, such as Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal, have been active in recent geologic time, yet also show evidence of volcanism occurring as far back as over two million years ago.  The Galápagos Islands are home to many "textbook" examples of volcanic landforms, including the spatter cone, tombolo, caldera, and pahoehoe and aa lava flows.

post office bay
Magill at Post Office Bay

matt beach
Matt on the beach of Isla Rábida, with stratified tuff in the background

Magill, astounded by the beauty of the Sierra Negra caldera, Isla Isabela 

Fumarole on Isla Isabela

El Grupo Whitman on top of Isla Bartolomé, looking west toward Isla Santiago 
(tombolo in the background) 

Kate and Magill swallowed up by pahoehoe on Isla Santiago