Virtual Field Trips

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay parts of this universal frame are less to be called solitarie than those which the vulgar esteem most solitarie, since the withdrawing of men and beasts signifieth but the greater frequency of more excellent creatures.

Bernardus Silvestris (12th c) De Mundi Universitate (Cosmographia), quoted by C.S. Lewis in Out of the Silent Planet

A Note on Philosophy

Web pages, like peanut butter, can be "creamy" or "chunky." Creamy sites have small pages that load quickly. I prefer chunky. It may take a while to download, but once you have it, everything is there.

"Virtual Field Trip" is a contradiction in terms to some extent. But a page with lots of text and few pictures is the worst contradiction in terms of all. It's no more a field trip than a slide show is a field trip. What separates a virtual field trip from a mere site description is enough pictures to give a fairly complete sense of what a place is like, and enough pictures to allow serendipity so that, just like on a real field trip, a viewer might notice something new. I have lots and lots of pictures. It's not the same as being there, but perhaps if you ever do go to any of these places, you can have some idea what to look for and be able to recognize things as you see them.

Ideally, every picture should be a complete 360-degree pan in all directions with extremely high resolution. The technology isn't quite there yet, both with regard to digital photography or the ability of servers to cope with the amount of data. Nobody would be happier than me to serve up my photos at full resolution instead of the tiny format on these pages.

Things change, even on a human time scale. Some of my photos are digitizations of slides going back as far as 1968. These are useful because some places just aren't accessible any more, or are overgrown, buried, or covered by development, and old pictures are the only records we have of these places. Even for places that do still exist, old pictures can provide a record of changes (compare the 1968 and 2003 photos of Mount Lassen, for example).

Links to Major Field Trips

The Missoula Floods

I didn't set out to get interested in the Missoula Floods but a Geological Society of America field trip in 1994 was too good to pass up and another trip in 2003 allowed me to see the entire system.


Coast Ranges and Central Valley

Yosemite National Park

High Sierra

East of the Sierras


Other Locality Descriptions


Eastern U.S.


South Dakota









New Mexico

Other Western U.S.



Geology and People

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Created 15 May 2001, Last Update 10 June 2020