The Explorers Club, Northern California Chapter


This meeting will be preceeded by our traditional coctail party hosted by Dan and Rusty Liebowitz and the dinner and presentation will be at the Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto.

Art Ford, Geologist and polar wanderer, U.S. Geological Survey


fig j
Mount Erebus, an active volcano of Ross Island, rises above sea ice of McMurdo Sound.

Annual Peninsula meeting

PENINSULA COCKTAIL PARTY - Friday, May 29, 1998, at the home of Dan (MN-66) and Rusty Liebowitz,
175 Fox Hollow Road, Woodside (see map to Dan and Rusty's)

DINNER MEETING Garden Court Hotel , Palo Alto (see map to Garden Court Hotel)

  • 5:30 PM - 6:45 PM, Cocktail Party at Dan and Rusty's house
  • 6:45 - 7:15, travel time from Woodside to Palo Alto
  • 7:15 PM (sooner if you cut your travel time), Cocktails at the Restaruant
  • 7:45 PM, Dinner
  • 8:45 PM, Speaker
  • $45.00 each ($50 after May 22 and at the door)


    hotel pix
    Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto


    -- The Antarctic Treaty of 1959: An amazingly successful experiment in mixing of immiscibles: International Politics of colonial to cold-war days; the Environment; Commercialization; even Scientific Research. A continent now dedicated to science. It's past: heroism, colonialism, and exploitation. It's present: science research and tourism. The future? -- the first World Park?
    "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in the event of success." -- Ernest Shackleton (ad said to have been placed by Ernest in The Times of London in early 1907)

    fig a
    Art Ford in younger years models polar clothing of 1962 in the Thiel Mountains of Antarctica.

    Arthur B. Ford first traveled to Antarctica's McMurdo Station almost 40 years ago (Nov. 1960), aboard a WWII Airforce Globemaster prop plane from Christchurch, New Zealand. This was soon after the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year and when many areas of mountains and ice sheets had still never been visited, some still unseen. It was part of National Science Foundation's U.S. Antarctic Research Program (USARP) and the Navy's Operation Deep Freeze. The US Navy departed Antarctica a year ago now, its glorious history of the Lieutenant Wilkes, Commander Byrd, Admiral Dufek, and Air Development Squadron Six (VXE-6) days replaced now by private contractors for the future. Will it be better? NSF's polar acronym is shorter today, just USAP. Gone the "R" (for Research). McMurdo sailors once called us NSF civvies "SARPs." Luckily those swabbies are gone, else we'd see that new acronym used.

    fig b
    Location of Art's work in Thiel Mountains near South Pole.

    The impossible had been reached on 1 December 1959 -- the signing of the Antarctic Treaty by those antagonists the USSR and 11 nations of the West. Antarctica would be held for only peaceful purposes forever, mainly scientific research. The Treaty entered force 23 June 1961. Many nations later acceded and agreed to abide by the original 14 Articles and later Agreements, Amendments, and Protocols. One, the "Madrid Protocol," taking effect 1998, is for wide environmental protections.
    "Antarctica, it has been suggested, may have become a continent for science because it was useful for nothing else." -- Art Ford, Encylopædia Britannica (1986, chapter Antarctica)

    fig c
    US Air Force Globemaster from New Zealand landed on sea ice of McMurdo Sound where cargo and passengers including Art Ford were unloaded in 1960.

    Under "Madrid," prospecting, exploration, and exploitation of Antarctic minerals are prohibited for at least 50 years. An impact on earth science studies can be foreseen: a "search for minerals in the national interest" had always easily justified geological studies to politicians funding research in all nations. Politicians everywhere understand "minerals," though not mineralogy, and not paleontology, petrology, stratigraphy, or geophysics. Fossils of Glossopteris in the Pensacola Mountains were found during USGS geologic mapping under the "minerals" funding mentality. Those mountains had not previously been visited and US geologists had to have a look before the Russians got there. Likewise the Russians in their areas before the Americans.

    fig d
    Giant C-141 Starlifter jet cargo planes now provide logistical support from New Zealand for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

    Deep Sea Drilling Project drilling by the vessel Glomar Challenger in the 1970s found hints of fractionated hydrocarbons in the Ross Sea, but nothing really significant, and only gases probably from rotting seals in the muds in most DSDP sites. No platinum or chromium minerals were found in the giant layered-igneous complex known as the Dufek intrusion in 1960s' and 1970s' studies by the USGS, in contrast to the mined wealth of those metals in similar bodies in Africa. The Dufek has often been considered to be among Antarctica's geological features with greatest mineral-resource potential. Scrutiny of the numerous green-stained rocks of the Antarctic Peninsula by British, Chilean, and Argentine geologists failed to find any significant copper-deposit source. The Peninsula obviously was not the holder of the great mineral wealth of its orographic relative, the Andes of Chile.

    fig e
    Map of Antarctica showing stations of the United States for the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year.

    The heyday for Antarctic geologists of those years is over. Classic earth sciences in Antarctica seems increasingly difficult to justify against funding for the Environment, whales, global warming, and the ozone hole. Tourists today arrive by zodiac onto shores of King George, Livingston, Cuverville and Penguin islands, and elsewhere by the thousands annually and numbers are increasing. Antarctica's future, many are thinking, will evolve into some more permanent form of internationally controlled political system than the present treaty, perhaps a World Park.
    "Who would have believed in Penguins unless he had seen them?" -- Connor O'Brian

    fig f
    In the early 1960s the DC-3 Dakota (Navy's R4D) on skis was the workhorse for remote field parties. Shown here at the former Byrd Station in West Antarctica with engines being preheated for Art's 1960 flight to the Thiel Mountains. The Navy retired the venerable R4D in 1965.

    Using slides he took over a third of a century from the 1960s as field geologist to February 1998 as geology lecturer on a tourist cruise on the Professor Multanovskii to the Antarctic Peninsula, Art will show spectacular scenic views of unique geologic features in the great ranges of the Transantarctic Mountains and other areas in the continent and discuss the changing scenery of Antarctica's human occupation of this continent.
    "For scientific discovery, give me Scott. For speed and efficiency, give me Amundsen. But when disaster strikes, and all hope is hone, Get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." -- Perhaps Ray Priestley; sometimes credited to Hillary


    Art earned his Ph.D. in geology at the University of Washington (Seattle) for his studies of Glacier Peak volcano and underlying rocks in the North Cascades. In September 1960 while preparing lectures as an Asst. Professor of Geology (San Diego State Univ.) he received a cable from the Washington D.C. headquarters of USGS to join an expedition to investigate one of the ranges of the Transantarctic Mountains closest to the South Pole, a range later named Thiel Mountains after Univ. Wisconsin geophysicist Ed Thiel. (An IGYer of U.S. Ellsworth Station, Ed was killed in a tragic aircraft incident at a Russian station in Antarctica.) Art's geological studies have also taken him to many Alaskan places -- Southeastern and Glacier Bay and the Juneau Icefield, the Alaskan Range and the Talkeetna Mts and Denali National Park, and the Brooks Range.

    fig g
    The C-130 Hercules, on skis, has replaced the DC-3 for field-party support in Antarctica.

    Following that 1960 expedition, Art led numerous USGS geological field expeditions that took him to studies of many areas of previously unvisited mountain ranges of the Last Continent. He led numerous field parties in the 1960s and 1970s in a study of one of the world's largest layered gabbroic complexes, the Dufek intrusion of the Pensacola Mountains. In 1970 he worked in the Lassiter Coast (Antarctic Peninsula); in 1972 he was a sedimentologist on the first cruise of the DSDP vessel Glomar Challenger to Antarctic seas; in 1976 he was an exchange scientist on the 22nd Soviet Antarctic Expedition to the Shackleton Range; and in 1987 he worked on a joint USGS-BAS (British Antarctic Survey) geological study of the Black Coast (Antarctic Peninsula).

    fig h
    Twin Otter skiplanes provide close support for field parties. Shown here at a BAS (British Antarctic Survey) camp at the Black Coast where Art worked in 1986.

    Art is the author of the chapter Antarctica in the current edition (15th) of Encylopædia Britannica, as well as other chapters (Ross Sea, Ross Ice Shelf, Scotia Sea,Weddell Sea) and numerous research reports and geologic maps on his Antarctic work. He presently is an emeritus research geologist with USGS in Menlo Park. In retirement from USGS, he stays involved in geology as a volunteer geologist with NPS working on the Denali Fault in Denali National Park and for the past two austral summers as lecturer on geology on a variety of cruise ships to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.

    fig i
    Mount Jackson, named after U.S. Pres. Andrew, is the highest peak on the Antarctic Peninsula (~10,000 ft.).


    The small and select group which attended the Annual East Bay meeting of the Northern California Chapter was treated to a special event that evening. The meeting was held at the Lafayette Park Hotel which, incidentally, offers easy access and great meeting accommodations once the hurdles of the bridge crossings are cleared. The meeting featured Stephen Dutton, very new Northern California Chapter member, MN-98, and his wife, Heidi Tiura, whose program, "In the Paths of Giants," described their long-term project to radio-tag and follow Gray Whales on their annual 12,000 mile round-trip migration between their birthing facilities in the warm lagoons of Baja California and the Gulf of Alaska. The speakers pointed out that though these whales are visited and studied extensively at their calving grounds, almost nothing is known of their habits at sea and during their long migrations, even though they pass close to shore at several locations along the West Coast.

    The speakers described their project, which is conducted in Monterey Bay. This involves maneuvering by kayak to within a few yards of the giant animals and their calves, shooting a harmless self-contained long-term and long-range radio transmitter into the skin of their backs, and then tracking their wanderings. Heidi Tiura is the fully licensed boat captain of the Sea Dog, which transports the kayaks and the crew out to the migration lanes of the whales. She then waits nearby while the kayaks are launched and Steph and one other oarsman maneuver in closely as the behemoths pass, in order to attach the radio beacons.

    This evening program was complemented by a complex array of video projections, slides and audio effects, all gathered and provided by Mike Diggles, FN-92. Remarkable underwater footage of the whales' activities has seldom been seen before, and close-up views of the migrating whales are made by Steph using a head-mounted video camera.

    The program was remarkably polished, and reflected the speakers' enthusiasm and excitement so clearly that the attendees left with a feeling of exhilaration and joy at having obtained this glimpse into the lives of these enigmatic creatures. Since this is only the second season of the Dutton/Tiura project, which is planned to be a long-term one, it is hoped that they will be able to return for an updating program after they have gathered their data and made their conclusions.

    The "In the Paths of Giants" project is operated under the supervision of Jim Harvey, Ph.D., gray whale expert and professor at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories of San Jose State University, and operates under his proximity permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Duttons' project presently interacts with school children through their Web site, and will eventually be the subject of a full-length documentary film. For more information interested persons are encouraged to contact Steph Dutton at (408) 644-8250, or They formerly were at, then Sanctuary Cruises which they have since (2012) sold to Captain Mike Sack and Marine Biologist Dorris Welch who carry on their traditions.

    Many thanks for assistance in the presentation of this remarkable program are due to Webmaster Mike Diggles, FN-92, who provided the very sophisticated audio-visual equipment, transported it all over from Menlo Park, set it up, connected it all to the "mixer," operated it for the Duttons and then transported it all back that evening. Mike, your efforts were deeply appreciated.

    fig k
    View south across Ross Ice Shelf to the midsummer's midnight sun over the Transantarctic Mountains. Photo by Tom Taylor.

    (Note: Your editor apologizes for having given the instruction for those from San Francisco to reach the Lafayette Park Hotel by traveling over "the G.G. Bridge to Highway 24...". This may have been responsible for the poor attendance at this meeting by members from San Francisco, and for the numbers of bewildered Explorers seen to be wandering aimlessly in Marin County that evening.)

    fig l
    The British polar ship John Biscoe breaks pack ice near Bransfield Strait, carrying field party south for geological studies of Black Coast in 1986 (Art Ford on board).


    This is the Angel Island Outing. The event will be a Saturday event, on June 27, 1998. Directions, instructions, and details to follow.

    fig m
    Aerial view east down the giant Beardmore Glacier in the central Transantarctic Mountains -- the route of Shackleton's (1909)and Scott's (1912) parties from Ross Ice Shelf to the polar plateau.


    Silver Queen Flies Again Peter McMillan, FN-95, reports that the Vickers Vimy World War I biplane replica, which was so dramatically chronicled by Peter for the Northern California Chapter in 1995, is now being prepared for another long range trip. This time the craft, now named the Silver Queen, will depart from the Farnborough Airshow in England, the world's largest, on a flight to Cape Town, South Africa. This, the only Vimy now in existence, will recreate a flight made first in 1920, after one Vimy had spanned the Atlantic Ocean and another had made the long trip from England across Europe and Asia, to Adelaide, Australia. The original African expedition Vimy, named the "Silver Queen," proved that not only could airplanes be used as weapons of war, but they could also be instruments of exploration and, ultimately, transportation. Peter is the Project Supervisor for this attempted feat. The person in charge of flight planning, logistics and piloting the plane will be Mark Rebholz. The flight will commence on September 13, 1998. The Chapter will follow this adventure closely, with reports on it for Chapter members in subsequent issues of the Chapter Newsletter. If you are interested in more information, or becoming involved or supporting this adventure you may contact Peter McMillan at 303E AABC, Aspen CO, 81611, or

    fig n
    After a stormy week the sun finally breaks through at one of Art's camps on the Antarctic Peninsula (Mount Laudon, 1970).

    W.A.M.C. Announces Memorial Day Celebration Ron Reuther, FN-74, announces that the Western Aerospace Museum, now housed at North Field, Oakland Airport, is planning a big event for Memorial Day weekend, May 22, 23 and 24. This is your opportunity if you ever had a desire to actually fly in one of the WW II bombers. Rides can be arranged in most of these planes: the B-17G, B-24J, B-25J, P-51D(?), PT-13, and the DC-3. A reception, dinner and program, commencing at 4:00 PM on Saturday May 23, will feature the B-24 and the PB4Y. Admission will be $40.00 ($30.00 for members) in advance, and $45.00 at the door ($40.00 for members), and will include a buffet dinner, music, entertainment, war stories continually, and the program. For information or tickets, please call (510) 638-7100 by May 15.

    David Moorer reported at the April meeting that the Illa Tiki Expedition, with which he is associated, continues to be on schedule, and still plans to set out for the South Pacific in July.

    fig o
    Art tests snow bridge before ski-doo crosses, Irvine Glacier, 1971.


    Enclosed is a flier with complete information on the next Golden Gate-A-way, scheduled for October 16 and 17, 1998. The Exotics Encounter, cocktail party and reception will be held on Friday evening at the World Trade Club, San Francisco, from 6 to 10 PM. The Forays will occur Saturday from 9:00 AM. to 3:30 PM. That should give just long enough time to get to your home or your hotel, get gussied up in your fanciest togs as only true Explorers are able to do, and proceed to the Grand Gathering of Explorers, which will commence at 5:30 PM., at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco.

    fig p
    Style of driving ski-doos by remote control for safety on crevassed glaciers in Antarctica.

    We are going into this detail because already over 60 reservations have been received. Seating preferences will be taken on a first-come first-served basis, and no preferences will be honored until the paid reservations have arrived at the Explorers Club Golden GateAway, 7037 Chabot Rd., Oakland, CA 94618. Not only is it likely the best seats will be assigned by mid-summer, but it is expected that this event will be sold out well ahead of time. So if you want any special seating arrangement for the GateAway, it behooves you to think about it early and get your reservations with your preferences in early. This event has been announced by the New York Office and at the ECAD, Chairpersons of all the other Chapters have been encouraged to attend, and several of the Explorers Club Officers already have sent in their reservations. Don't wait until you return from summer vacation to decide!

    fig q
    Oblique map of Antarctica showing immense size of polar ice sheet of East Antarctica (East longitudes, right) compared to West Antarctica. Ross Ice Shelf, foreground. Antarctic Peninsula (left) reaches toward South America. Map by geographer Tau Rho Alpha.

    Peninsula Meeting:

    Location of cocktail party at Dan (MN-66) and Rusty Liebowitz's house in Woodside.
    175 Fox Hollow Road
    (650) 851-2171

    Dan map

    Directions to Liebowitz's:

  • From North: S. on 280 to Highway 84; west on 84 about 3/4 mile to the village, and straight on past another half mile to Fox Hollow Road which is on the left. The Liebowitz's house is near the end on the left.
  • From East: W. on Hwy. 84 across the Dumbarton Bridge, stay on the Bayfront Expressway to where it becomes Marsh Road and meets Hwy. 101. Take 101 one exit north to Hwy 84 west/Woodside Road. Follow 84 about 4 miles through Redwood City, under the Hwy. 280 freeway and proceed as above.
  • From South: North on 280 and exit on 84 and proceed as above or north on 101 and proceed as second paragraph above.

    Location of dinner meeting and speaker presentation at Garden Court Hotel in Palo Alto

    520 Cowper Street
    Palo Alto
    (650) 322-9000

    Garden Court map

    Directions to Garden Court Hotel from Liebowitz's

  • go back east on Hwy. 84 to El Camino Real
  • turn south on El Camino and drive about 5 miles to Palo Alto
  • Take the University Avenue exit off El Camino and turn left ("east") on University
  • Take University less than a mile through town to Cowper Street
  • Turn right on Cowper, go half a block. The hotel and free valet parking are on the right

    Directions to Garden Court Hotel for those who meet us there:

  • From North: S. on 101 to University Avenue exit ("west"), drive to Cowper Street, turn left, the hotel is half a block down on the right
  • From East: W. on Hwy. 84 across the Dumbarton Bridge, turn left at the first signal after the bridge which is University Avenue. Proceed over Hwy. 101 into Palo Alto to Cowper Street; turn left; the hotel is half a block down on the right
  • From South: North on 101 to University Avenue exit ("west"), drive to Cowper Street. Turn left; the hotel is half a block down on the right


    Click for Calendar of future events

    fig r
    Art Ford, now geology lecturer, assists visitors ashore by zodiac from the cruise ship M/V Bremen, Antarctic Peninsula, January 1998.

    Coupon for this month's Northern California meeting

    Please Return By May 19, 1998 To:

    Michael F. Diggles
    U.S. Geological Survey, MS-951
    345 Middlefield Road
    Menlo Park, CA 94070
    Mike's phone: (650) 329-5404 (w), (650) 369-6094 (h)

    Please reserve spaces for the Art Ford talk, at the Garden Court Hotel on Friday, May 29, 1998.

    $45/person... $50 if postmarked after May 22. Cocktails at Liebowitz's, 5:30 - 6:45 PM, Dinner at Garden Court Hotel, 7:30 PM, Speaker (Garden Court Hotel), 8:30 PM.

    Your Name: _______________________________________

    Your Address: _____________________________________


    Guests: ______________________________________

    Date created: 05/05/1998
    Last modified: 03/14/2002
    Content from Charlie (Chapter Secretary) and Louise Geraci. email to Charlie and Louise
    Web page by: Mike Diggles, Webmaster, Northern California Chapter of the Explorers Club. email Mike

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