The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites

Course No. 1712
Professor Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
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Course No. 1712
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What Will You Learn?

  • Learn the science behind erosion, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and other spectacular geological processes.
  • Visit geological sites around the world that feature some of the exciting geological phenomenon you'll learn about.
  • From deserts to river deltas to fjords, travel the globe to visit our planet's most fantastic geological features.
  • Get helpful tips on other attractions you can find when you visit the professor's list of recommended geological sites.

Course Overview

Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Fuji, the Galapagos Islands. These natural wonders are on everyone’s list of must-see attractions that are both spectacular and geologically fascinating. But what of Ha Long Bay, the Columbia Glacier, Erta Ale lava lake, and the Great Blue Hole? They also belong on the list, along with more than 200 other sites, both famous and obscure, that are well worth a visit to see breathtaking vistas combined with the grandeur of geological forces in action.

Shaped by erosion, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and other processes over the course of billions of years, Earth is a planet of immense variety. Impressive geological scenes are everywhere. But only a select few—whether astonishing valleys, mountains, waterfalls, or other formations—qualify as geological wonders that are not only memorable and worth a special trip, but that also tell us something profound about the way the world works.

For example, consider these lesser-known but awe-inspiring places:

  • Ha Long Bay: Thousands of limestone towers soar upward out of this bay of mystery and beauty in Vietnam. The formation is what geologists call a karst landscape, sculpted from the slow dissolution of soluble rock by rain and groundwater.
  • Columbia Glacier: One of the most intensively studied glaciers in the world, this magnificent river of ice twists its way for 50 kilometers from Alaska’s coastal range into the sea. Such glaciers advance and retreat for unknown reasons.
  • Erta Ale: In rare cases, lava from a volcano will continuously feed into the volcanic crater and bubble away like a seething caldron. Of the five active lava lakes in the world, the longest running is in a volcano called Erta Ale in Ethiopia.
  • Great Blue Hole: What could cause a nearly perfect circle of intensely deep blue water in the middle of a shallow reef? The Caribbean’s Great Blue Hole tells a surprising story of repeated glaciations and rising and falling seas.

Whether you are planning your next vacation or exploring the world from home, you owe it to your planet to know the places that make it exceptional throughout the solar system. The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites is your gateway to an unrivaled adventure. In 36 lavishly illustrated half-hour lectures that are suitable for nonscientists and geology enthusiasts alike, Professor Michael E. Wysession of Washington University in St. Louis introduces you to Earth’s most outstanding geological destinations.

During more than three decades as an award-winning teacher and geophysicist, Professor Wysession has traveled the globe, getting to know Earth’s most intriguing geological formations. In The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders, he focuses on the leading contenders in 36 categories, from deserts to river deltas to fossil quarries to fjords. After touring his top choice in detail, he presents at least four runners-up that are every bit as spectacular. By the time you complete this course, you will have experienced more than 200 different geological wonders in nearly 120 countries.

Prepare to Be Surprised

Geological wonders impress us for many reasons. They are exceptionally beautiful or mysterious. They relate to us on a practical level, cutting a natural route through a mountain range or providing a source of valuable minerals. They may have played a role in human history, such as the picturesque Greek island of Santorini, which is the remnant of a volcano that erupted in ancient times, possibly ending the Minoan civilization. Natural wonders also teach us about Earth’s interconnected systems, and they put time into perspective. A million years is nothing in the life story of a canyon, a cave, or a continental rift.

Moreover, great landscapes, like great works of art, surprise us:

  • Grand Canyon: No one is prepared for that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, which suddenly appears as a breathtaking series of chasms in a seemingly featureless plateau. Which raises the question: Why is there a deep canyon here at all?
  • Himalayas: If you go to the top of Mount Everest, you will find marine limestone with fossils. In other words, the roof of the world is made of rocks that came from the bottom of sea! Nothing better demonstrates the power of Earth to move crustal plates.
  • Amazon basin: The Amazon is a river of superlatives. At the point where it drains into the Atlantic Ocean it contains as much water as the next seven largest rivers combined. Twenty percent of the fresh water entering the ocean comes from this mighty river basin.
  • Hawaii: The big island of Hawaii is not only the biggest volcano on Earth; it’s the biggest mountain on Earth of any kind. Measured from its base on the sea floor, it is almost twice as high as the tallest land mountain.

Fire up Your Imagination!

As part of your grand tour, Professor Wysession often gives tips on side trips and other attractions you can find when you visit one of the sites on his list. He also gives cultural background. For example, many geological wonders, such as Mount Fuji in Japan and Ayres Rock in Australia, have long been considered sacred to the people who live in their vicinity. Other locations may seem at first glance to be overwhelmed by hotels, shops, and other tourist amenities. But most of these sites are so vast that it’s not hard to escape into pure nature. And in all cases, if you know the story behind the place that you’re visiting, then just being there, even for a short time, is an experience never to be forgotten.

The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders takes you to stunning locales that spark your imagination. One of the top wonders in anyone’s book is Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in Wyoming. The geysers, bubbling hot springs, and colorful geological formations are awe-inspiring to behold. Even more awesome is the knowledge that nearly the whole park is an enormous volcanic crater, sitting atop a massive, active magma chamber that could erupt at any time. A look at a map of North America shows that the continent has been slowly drifting across a hotspot in Earth’s mantle, which has been responsible for a whole series of “Yellowstones” over the course of millions of years.

The course also probes questions such as these:

  • Why do waterfalls form? Standing at the dazzling Iguazu Falls along the border of Brazil and Argentina, you may wonder why such features are so rare, since rivers and cliffs are common. Learn that the distinctive structure of the rock beneath a river determines whether falls will form.
  • Why does nature prefer hexagons? On close inspection, Devils Tower in Wyoming is made up of hexagonal columns of volcanic rock. Probe the connection between this geological feature and the cells of a honeycomb or the tiles on a bathroom floor.
  • Are meteor craters always circular? Meteor Crater in Arizona is nearly circular, as are most of the countless craters on the moon—even those formed by meteors that strike at low angles. Investigate the amazing physics of an object impacting at escape-velocity speed.
  • Where are the still undiscovered natural wonders? All of the spectacular geological formations on the surface of Earth have been found. But underground, dramatic caves wait to be discovered. Explore an exceptional example that recently came to light in Mexico.

Professor Wysession winds up the course with a tour of geological wonders on other planets, as Earth is not alone in having impressive volcanoes, canyons, and other attractions. But Earth’s combination of plate tectonics, flowing water, a relatively dense atmosphere, and life has created formations that are unique in the solar system. Take advantage of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders to discover what makes our planet so spectacular. There’s truly no place like home!

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36 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Santorini—Impact of Volcanic Eruptions
    Learn Professor Wysession’s criteria for choosing more than 200 different geologic wonders in nearly 120 countries. Then explore the first on his list: the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, which is the relic of a volcanic eruption that had a profound effect on the ancient Mediterranean world. x
  • 2
    Mount Fuji—Sleeping Power
    Turn from eruptions to volcanoes themselves—in particular, Mount Fuji in Japan, a sacred site whose nearly perfect cone shape is a popular subject in Japanese art. Investigate the origin of volcanoes such as Mount Fuji and the special conditions that produce their sturdy symmetrical cones. x
  • 3
    Galapagos Rift—Wonders of Mid-Ocean Ridges
    Continue your study of phenomena associated with plate tectonics by visiting the Galapagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin. This magnificent archipelago is on a volcanic hotspot near a mid-ocean ridge, formed by moving tectonic plates. Natural wonders abound in the region, both above and below water. x
  • 4
    African Rift Valley—Cracks into the Earth
    Visit the African Rift Valley, a mid-ocean ridge in the making. From the Red Sea to Mount Kilimanjaro, tectonic forces are splitting Africa apart, forming a new ocean in the process. This impressive valley is also the site of many fossil discoveries relating to early humans. x
  • 5
    Erta Ale—Compact Fury of Lava Lakes
    Zoom in on a remarkable feature of the African Rift Valley: the lava lake at Erta Ale in Ethiopia. This seething cauldron of molten rock is the oldest of the world’s five active lava lakes, and it replicates on a small scale the complex process of plate tectonics. x
  • 6
    Burgess Shale—Rocks and the Keys to Life
    Chart the evolution of life revealed in the extraordinary fossils of the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. This mountainside quarry records the proliferation of new organisms—both familiar and bizarre—that followed a mass extinction half a billion years ago. x
  • 7
    The Grand Canyon—Earth’s Layers
    Read the incredible story told in the mile-deep layers of the Grand Canyon. Investigate the canyon’s formation and its connection to the opening of the Gulf of California and the birth of the San Andreas Fault. Also consider what gives the canyon its extraordinary visual effect. x
  • 8
    The Himalayas—Mountains at Earth’s Roof
    What makes the highest mountains in the world so high? Follow the events that created Mount Everest and the rest of the Himalayan range on the vast Tibetan Plateau. Learn the role of the plateau in cooling the entire planet over the last 60 million years. x
  • 9
    The Ganges Delta—Earth’s Fertile Lands
    Much of the rock eroded from the Himalayas ends up in the Ganges River delta, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Learn how a delta forms and how the Ganges is both life-sustaining and destructive—qualities that give it a religious significance for millions of people. x
  • 10
    The Amazon Basin—Lungs of the Planet
    The Amazon River collects rainfall from a huge region, called the Amazon basin. Trace the basin’s extensive network of tributaries, which produce 20% of the fresh water that flows into the ocean. Furthermore, the basin’s lush vegetation is responsible for 20% of all oxygen in the atmosphere. x
  • 11
    Iguazu Falls—Thundering Waterfalls
    Waterfalls are among nature’s most beautiful spectacles, and the most impressive falls form under unusual geological conditions. Along the border of Brazil and Argentina, tour thundering Iguazu Falls, a display of 275 separate falls over a 1.5-mile span with individual falls up to 270 feet high. Learn their close connection to a hotspot on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. x
  • 12
    Mammoth Cave—Worlds Underground
    Water doesn’t just flow on the surface; it also flows underground, carving caves in the process. The largest cave system in the world is Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Discover how groundwater excavated this network of passages that extends for at least 390 miles. x
  • 13
    Cave of Crystals—Exquisite Caves
    Focus on the spectacular shapes, such as stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, and other cave features formed by minerals slowly precipitating from water. Then visit the recently discovered Cave of Crystals in Mexico, a science-fiction-like world with individual crystals up to 35 feet long. x
  • 14
    Great Blue Hole—Coastal Symmetry in Sinkholes
    Probe the mystery of the Great Blue Hole, an enormous submerged sinkhole ringed by a coral reef off the coast of Belize. Study the processes that create sinkholes, and investigate the nature of karst topography, which is produced by the erosion of limestone. x
  • 15
    Ha Long Bay—Dramatic Karst Landscapes
    The picturesque limestone islands in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay are an example of mature karst topography. Discover how the bay’s cone-shaped towers are related to the sinkholes in Lecture 14. The key to understanding their puzzling geology is to focus not on the rock that’s there, but what’s missing. x
  • 16
    Bryce Canyon—Creative Carvings of Erosion
    Continue your study of erosional features with Utah’s Bryce Canyon, the densest display of weathered rock pinnacles, called hoodoos, anywhere in the world. Learn that Bryce Canyon isn’t really a canyon because it hasn’t been formed by a river. But then what created the hoodoos? x
  • 17
    Uluru/Ayers Rock—Sacred Nature of Rocks
    Go to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia to inspect two popular attractions shaped by erosion: Ayres Rock, known locally as Uluru, and the Kata Tjuta rock domes. Trace the history of moving plates, rising and receding seas, and constant weathering that created these impressive structures. x
  • 18
    Devils Tower—Igneous Enigmas
    Famous as the landing pad for aliens in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower in Wyoming is an otherworldly geological formation. Discover how this massive tower of igneous columns developed. Along the way, investigate why nature loves hexagons. x
  • 19
    Antarctica—A World of Ice
    Head south to a pristine, unearthly continent: Antarctica. Explore the varied geology and the complex behavior of the giant ice sheets that flow relentlessly toward the ocean. Among its attractions, Antarctica is a superb place to test techniques for exploring cold, dry environments such as Mars. x
  • 20
    Columbia Glacier—Unusual Glacier Cycles
    Witness the power of glaciers, which carry a continuous stream of ice and rock from the tops of mountain ranges down to the base—often to the sea, such as at Columbia Glacier in Alaska. Chart the rapid retreat of Columbia Glacier since 1980, which has been triggered by climate change. x
  • 21
    Fiordland National Park—Majestic Fjords
    Visit the stunning fjords of Fiordland National Park in New Zealand, focusing on the most famous of these flooded glacial valleys, Milford Sound. The drama of the landscape is matched by tumultuous tectonic forces that are slowly ripping New Zealand apart. x
  • 22
    Rock of Gibraltar—Catastrophic Floods
    The Rock of Gibraltar marks the gateway from the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean—a connection that has been closed on and off through recent geologic time. Explore the currents, catastrophic floods, and drastic sea-level changes that have occurred at the strait of Gibraltar and throughout the Mediterranean basin. x
  • 23
    Bay of Fundy—Inexorable Cycle of Tides
    Why are the tides in Canada’s Bay of Fundy exceptionally high? Probe the principles of tides—what causes them, why the times of high and low tide vary from day to day, and the peculiar geometry between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that results in an extraordinary tidal range. x
  • 24
    Hawaii—Volcanic Island Beauty
    The Hawaiian Islands are part of the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain, which stretches 3,600 miles across the western Pacific Ocean. This feature is mostly straight, except for a curious sharp bend. Investigate the origin of the chain and the special qualities of its easternmost element: the big island of Hawaii. x
  • 25
    Yellowstone—Geysers and Hot Springs
    What happens when a hotspot is beneath a continent? The answer is Yellowstone National Park, a wonderland of geysers and hot springs nestled in the gigantic caldera of a supervolcano. Tour the attractions of Yellowstone, and ponder the history and future of the hotspot that fuels it. x
  • 26
    Kawah Ijen—World’s Most Acidic Lake
    Imagine a place where steam is so acidic that it burns your lungs, where flaming, liquid sulfur condenses from that steam, and a turquoise-colored lake is filled with the equivalent of battery acid. This hellish place is the crater lake of Kawah Ijen on the island of Java in Indonesia. x
  • 27
    Iceland—Where Fire Meets Ice
    Visit Iceland, a geologist’s paradise where you can walk along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland is a hotspot that sits atop the plate boundary that divides North and South America from Europe and Africa. Here, volcanoes and glaciers—fire and ice—coexist. x
  • 28
    The Maldives—Geologic Paradox
    Home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean show the tranquil end-stage of ocean islands built on hotspots. The volcanoes beneath this coral reef archipelago are long since dormant, and the islands themselves barely rise above sea level. x
  • 29
    The Dead Sea—Sinking and Salinity
    Begin a series of lectures on desert regions by exploring the Dead Sea. Learn why this body of water on the border between Israel and Jordan is almost nine times saltier than the ocean and has the lowest elevation of any place on Earth. x
  • 30
    Salar de Uyuni—Flattest Place on Earth
    Travel to the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Almost the size of Connecticut, Uyuni is the flattest place on the planet. When it gets a very thin layer of water, it becomes the world’s largest mirror. Uyuni contains the world’s largest reserve of lithium—should it be mined? x
  • 31
    Namib/Kalahari Deserts—Sand Mountains
    Contrast two of the world’s most fascinating deserts, the Namib and Kalahari deserts in southern Africa. The Atlantic shoreline of the Namib Desert has been aptly named the Skeleton Coast. The Kalahari Desert includes the mighty Okavango River, which empties into the arid landscape and then disappears. x
  • 32
    Siwa Oasis—Paradise amidst Desolation
    Located in the eastern Sahara Desert, Siwa is an island of water in a giant sea of sand. Investigate how an oasis with 1,000 springs can exist in one of the driest places on Earth. One clue is that the water beneath Siwa soaked into the ground more than 20 million years ago. x
  • 33
    Auroras—Light Shows on the Edge of Space
    Investigate a stunning atmospheric phenomenon caused by events both inside Earth and in outer space. The shimmering colors of auroras result when particles from the solar wind are accelerated in Earth’s magnetic field, which is generated by Earth’s churning iron core. x
  • 34
    Arizona Meteor Crater—Visitors from Outer Space
    Meteor Crater in Arizona is the best preserved of Earth’s few remaining impact craters. Why does the moon have more than 500,000 craters at least as large? Explore what happens when extraterrestrial debris strikes Earth at escape-velocity speeds. A relatively small object can do a surprising amount of damage. x
  • 35
    A Montage of Geologic Mini-Wonders
    In an entertaining change of pace, watch a countdown of 10 geological wonders that are hard to classify, from number 10—the White Cliffs of Dover—to number 1—a geological mystery in Death Valley that would seem like a hoax if it weren’t true. x
  • 36
    Planetary Wonders—Out of This World
    Tour some of the amazing geological features beyond Earth, among them planet-circling lava flows on Venus and the solar system’s largest volcano and canyon on Mars. Close with the hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan, proving that there is no end to geological wonders throughout the cosmos. x

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Your professor

Michael E. Wysession

About Your Professor

Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
Dr. Michael E. Wysession is the Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Wysession earned his Sc.B. in Geophysics from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University. An established leader in seismology and geophysical education, Professor Wysession is noted for his development of a new way to create three-dimensional images of Earth's interior from seismic...
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Reviews

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 257.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses I have even had! From the first course, any student could see Dr. Wysession is very passionate about geology and the many geological wonders around the world. He presents in a way that is very engaging to the audience and draws them into each lecture. He also bring a personal touch, sharing stories and experiences. In addition, I love the deminstration as well as the computer graphics and images used. Really one of the best courses!
Date published: 2020-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and informative I not even half way through but am impressed with the content and the quality of the production. The accompanying book greatly adds to the experience. One suggestion: I'd like to see more emphasis on photographs of the subjects. Also, perhaps give the professor something to lean on or sit on. It would make things more relaxing.
Date published: 2020-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice pictures! I have watched 4 lectures so far, and they are very educational. My only negative thought is the extreme emphasis on evolution which is contrary to my personal beliefs. However, I still feel like I am gaining knowledge in spite of that.
Date published: 2019-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear engaging presentation Great presenter, good graphics. References to how geological events affected history.
Date published: 2019-12-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great content but the graphical presentation could The material is exciting, but there could be a lot more illustration. The lecturer is animated and knows his subject, but I would like to see a lot more of the subject and less of him. In many cases that would just mean giving us a longer look at the subject; I often just wanted more time to savor it.
Date published: 2019-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The most interesting series I've watched! Professor Wysession's choice of lectures and the depth of interesting information make this my favorite lecture series I've watched so far. It's a fascinating presentation of our 'home' called Earth. My husband, who doesn't enjoy TGC as much as I do has said this is a "really good series"!
Date published: 2019-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Survey of Geology Around our World This is just a fun course for those who want to know more about geology. As a Chem major, I took as many Geology electives at University as possible, but still find it to be a fascinating area of study. Professor Wysesson does an excellent job of describing each "Wonder" and then actually goes past the promise of 36 "Wonders" with his "Top Five" list of similar structures at the end of each lecture. While I have seen many of the 36, I can no longer travel easily, to see many more of these sites, this course allows me to expand my knowledge from the comfort of my own home. That provides an indipensible value for those of us who are restricted in our ability to get out and about as we age.
Date published: 2019-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Splendid! Am 3/4 through the course and enjoying every lecture. Prof. Wysession presents his material in a clear manner and obviously "knows his stuff". I'm really happy (and impressed!) with all the illustrations, both the photos and the diagrams etc. Years ago I purchased "How the Earth Works" by the same professor, I liked it very much so knew this one would be outstanding as well.
Date published: 2019-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Outstanding Educational Experience This course is a terrific value for anyone who wishes to see and understand the geologic history of notable features around the globe. Professor Wysession is clearly well-qualified and well-spoken. The visuals are appropriate to the lectures. Although I have only completed the first 14 lectures, I do have a couple of minor notes which may be of interest to some: 1) Lecture 6: The Sterkfontein Caves are NOT where the first Australopithecus africanus was found. These caves yielded the first ADULT A. africanus. The first specimen was the Taung Child, discovered near Kimberly, South Africa in 1924 and identified/classified by Professor Raymond Dart in 1924/1925. This places identification and classification of A. africanus a generation earlier than implied by the lecture. 2) Lecture 14: Professor Wysession discusses the climatic implications of eccentricity, tilt, and precession of the earth's orbit. Milutin Milanković probably deserves mention for identifying these factors nearly a century ago, helping to identify and understand the 100,000 year cycles associated with the ice age. See "Milankovitch cycles." Once again, a top notch series of lectures, highly recommended!
Date published: 2019-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course Makes you want to Travel!! The World's Great Geological Wonders is a course I wish would not have ended at 36 lectures! Professor Wysession is very smooth in his delivery (no scripted reading of notes); brilliant in his knowledge and presentation of the geological wonders discussed. I could listen to him for hours and it just builds ones excitement for seeing the sites described. My Ph.D work is in environmental science, and I have taught 125 classes from undergrad through Ph.D., and I view Professor Wysession as an exemplar in the field of geology and environmental science. I have learned an amazing amount of knowledge from the course and Dr. Wysession. Through the 36 lectures, the learner is slowly immersed in our planets geologic systems, how the wonders evolved over geologic time and where they are headed. Volcanos, earthquakes, plate tectonics, even the solar system and planets are discussed. This is a fun course, with a brilliant professor!! The Great Courses have numerous such professors I buy every course they present. I have purchased over 300 courses and keep adding to my library. Favorites are: The late Professor Rufus Fears: Jeannette Nordon, Dr.s Whittle, Hazen, Mathewes, Filipennko,Carroll, Polk, .... Every course Dr. Wysession presents is a pleasure to be a part of. I highly recommend this course and each of the others he has presented!!
Date published: 2019-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Geology review Professor is engaging. He presents multiple geologic mechanisms and resultant formations in a concise, straightforward manner. Variety is excellent and the quality of the illustrations exceptional. This is a great course for a novice.
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I enjoy Geology and had my eye on this one. So far have viewed 2 of the discs and enjoying every minute. We have purchased Professor Wysession's DVD's in the past and enjoy his presentation.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have watched the first fourteen episodes. I was watching on line and then purchased the DVD to give to my grandsons. Professor Wysession was excellent at bringing the understanding of why and what was happening in each gological wonder. In doing so I got a healthy dose of earth science and what is happening to our earth. Our grandsons are of the age they are going to every natural/science museum and hiking area available. This course is giving me and them an understanding of what I'm looking at and what conditions produced them. I felt Professor Wysessions gives a framework of scentific fact that lets me really add more information of whatever naturalist lecture I'm listening to at whatever park. Since geologic information has increased enormously even in the last twenty years I felt I caught up with the basics and got a healthy dose of and more.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Takes you there and then teaches. I am homebound now and do not travel as I once did but these kinds of courses allow me to mentally "travel", and as I love learning about my travels, I also get to indulge that passion. I would recommend this series for anyone in the same situation or anyone traveling to these places who just wishes to learn more.
Date published: 2019-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Very professional, educational and so interesting. Well done!
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing This is the first Great Course I've been disappointed with. Much too technical and unnecessarily long. This course would have benefited greatly from some video clips.
Date published: 2019-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great presentations of complex science I've just received an invitation from Great Courses to write a review. I'm only partially through the course but I'm game. I'm on Chapter Five about the Burgess Shale. The professor guides us through a sweeping history of geology and life at this unique find up in the gorgeous Canadian Rockies. Just one small example in this many faceted lecture draws a contrast between the geological histories of the U.S. and Canadian Rockies. ThIs lecture is just one of the showcases for the power of building visuals into lectures. I started listening to Great Courses in the era when all of the lectures were audio only. Some of my favorite courses are in this format. I was initially skeptical when they introduced video. When they successfully integrate the two formats the result is powerful and enjoyable learning. This course really does the job. The beauty of the sites shown in digital photos and the well thought out explanations in the charts both illustrate the points made by the soft, easygoing professorial explanations. The joy of learning indeed.
Date published: 2019-05-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Seems Redundant I have only finished the first three lectures. The material seems redundant (plate tectonics). The teacher is a trifle dull.
Date published: 2019-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! My kids and I have been watching this course this school year and it's so interesting. We learn a lot about the earth that we never knew before. The visuals are great.
Date published: 2019-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Always learn something new. Purchased this as I saw a copy at our local library and enjoyed it so much I bought it for myself. Have watched it numerous times and learn something new each time. Good overview of world geology and sites I had no knowledge of and new information on those I did know about. Would recommend it to a student, world traveler or armchair geologist.
Date published: 2019-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title summarizes the course content beautifully. I bought this course a few years ago and have watched it several times. The course has given us excellent vacation/traveling targets which has proven to be an outstanding learning experience.
Date published: 2019-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Awesome! The material is in depth and also talks more than just geology. Professor Wysession is a delight to listen to and his level of knowledge is amazing. He has a way of imparting his awe, love and respect for the earth to the audience. I love how the sections are divided so it is easy to watch and just as easy to pick up where one left off. I can only imagine what a person would pay to get this amount of information from taking college courses!
Date published: 2019-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course, Excellent teacher Being unable to travel I wanted to see some of the world. In the process I've learned a great deal. Professor Wysession's teaching style has a way of drawing you in. This planet we live on has many fascinating features I'd never known about.
Date published: 2019-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous class My 20 year old son and I have been watching this course. It's so well done. The professor knows not only geology but also all the related fields that make connecting the dots so effective. And his enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious. The photos, animations and other diagrams are excellent and make the class totally understandable and interesting. I've had some very profound takeaways from this course already, and I've only watched 6 classes. Can't wait to see the rest. It doesn't get any better than this at the Great Courses. And, by the way, I had no particular interest in this subject matter.
Date published: 2019-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Michael Wysession is a great instructor! This course is great! Learned many things, well done!
Date published: 2019-02-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great geographic examples to support lecture. Needs more visuals. Lecture should be over talk of continuing visuals. Professor is a good speaker and obviously knows his material.
Date published: 2019-02-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Too Little Illustration of the Wonders One would expect that a discussion of the World's Greatest Geological Wonders would include quite a bit of beautiful photographs and videos. This series was really just a series of rather dry lessons in geology with a few pictures thrown in. Disappointing.
Date published: 2019-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative & entertaining I just began Great Courses for first time and am amazed at depth & quality of instruction. Geology brought to life would be my title for this course. It brings me the fascination of my college courses, but without the papers & exams.
Date published: 2019-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Informative and insight-full! Very informative program with a focus on tetonic plate movement /development. Very insightful concerning little known facts about familiar sites. Fascinating. Expected more photos of sites, but still very interesting.
Date published: 2019-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding organization, content, and visuals This course is spectacular in every way-- attractiveness of the subject, level of comprehensiveness, authoritativeness, effectiveness of presentation, and production elements. Dr. Wysession is not as charismatic as two or three other Great Courses professors I've encountered, but he is articulate, polished, and very effective—a pleasure to listen to. His extensive history of teaching, textbook writing, and consulting gives him major heft with his material. The course uses the extensive graphics and frequent in-studio demonstrations very effectively. Each lecture is well planned out and effectively linked to those before and after. The same organizational structure is used in every lecture; a “Top-5 List” at the end broadens the appeal beyond the specific site focused on and makes the lecture more widely relevant. The photos (many of which I’m sure are from Wysession’s personal collection from his extensive travels) are terrific. Overall, at the time I watched this course and first wrote these comments in 2014, this was in my opinion the best-conceived, best-presented course of the 30+ I had done.
Date published: 2019-01-02
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