bathymetry survey Mendenhall Lake
bathymetry survey Mendenhall Lake
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

“ROCKS, ICE AND LaPEROUSE’S LITUYA BAY”, talk Sat June 12 7PM, Egan Lecture Hall

Robert Clark will give a talk and 50 minute slide show.  The French LaPerouse Expedition stumbled into a earthquake- and glacier-shaped country when they visited Lituya Bay in 1786.  The Little Ice Age was in full force where the highest coastal mountains in the world discharged their mantle of glacial ice into the stormy waters of the Northeast Pacific Ocean.  The loss of their young sailors to the great forces of nature reinforced the accounts they heard from their Tlingit hosts in the ‘lake within the point’.

By looking at how the land was formed by earthquakes, mountains, splash waves, and glaciers, we can better understand the shape of Lituya and also why the Tlingits only used it seasonally.  By looking at the climate we can see how the glaciers have changed and why Capt George Vancouver saw an ice-filled Glacier Bay during the last Little Ice Age.  When some of the tectonic and climate change facts are pointed out, the observations of LaPerouse can be made even more understandable.

Raised on the waters of the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Clark received his formal education as a chemist and oceanographer.  Following early cruises to the stormy North Atlantic and the remote South Pacific, he became a government research scientist and now a retired senior natural resources trustee for living marine resources and their habitats.  He traveled the oceans directing studies on the impacts of oil spills and industrial pollution on fish - to such places as the Aleutian Islands and Prince William Sound in Alaska, the East, West, and Gulf Coasts of the U.S., the Baltic Sea, the English Channel, and the Persian Gulf (after Operation Desert Storm).

He combined his love of the oceans with an interest in the commercial and naval maritime histories of the area, including serving as assistant curator of the Coast Guard Museum Northwest in Seattle.  Spending time on his grandparent's homestead in the interior of Alaska, he acquired a fascination for early gold mining legends of the Land of the Midnight Sun and could prospect for gold with a pan, cradle, or sluicebox by the time he was eleven.  His interest in steam railroading extended to the early uses of the Iron Horse to open up and exploit these rugged northern lands for gold and copper.

He retired from Federal service several years ago where he directed restoration of salmon habitats injured by the past releases of hazardous materials and oil in the Pacific Northwest.  Today's cruise allows him to return to his beloved sea and provides an opportunity to share his experiences and tall tales.  Hopefully, you will take home marvelous memories of the beautiful things you are about to see and maybe even a few facts acquired during this enjoyable adventure on the Inside Passage to Alaska.

Born: January 16, 1941 Torrance CA
Married to Shirley Miller, July 29, 1967; one son and daughter
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry 1963 - Harvey Mudd College; Claremont CA
Master of Science in Oceanography 1966 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Doctor of Philosophy in Oceanography 1983 - University of Washington, Seattle WA

Employed 1966-2004 by the US Government, Dept. of Commence, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, retiring as Director, NOAA Restoration Center Northwest, Seattle WA
Awarded the US Dept. of Commerce's Gold Medal (highest award presented by Department) for
"Outstanding service to NOAA, the Gulf Program Office, and the Interagency Assessment Team in support of Operation Desert Storm", as Expedition Leader of the 100-day International Oceanographic Cruise to the Persian Gulf on the NOAA Ship MT MITCHELL, 1992.
NOAA Administrator’s Award, 2004.
Published more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific and technical papers, articles, and reports.

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