Wesleyan Institute of Lifelong Learning

Courses

Travel with a Geologist: Hephaestus' Realm, Poseidon's Trench, and Apollo's Temple

For decades, Professor de Boer has been interested mainly in the geologic history of contact zones between colliding and separating crustal plates. This course will provide an insight into various fascinating aspects associated with geologic research. As as a student, de Boer traveled to Greece and became aware of new hypotheses about Plato’s disappearance of Atlantis and the demise of the Minoan civilization—both believed related to a volcanic eruption around 1630 BCE. After spending a decade working on plate tectonic zones in the Philippines and Central America, he was invited to study the Cayman trench, a segment of the fracture zone that separates the North American and Caribbean plates. The work involved the collection of rocks at and near the exposed contact between
the earth’s crust and mantle at depths between 7,000 and 12,000 feet. In the ’90s, de Boer returned to Greece and became interested in the geologic setting of the famous Delphi Oracle. Plutarch’s accounts of its inner workings mentioned that the Pythias inhaled pneuma in advance of their oracular sessions, and de Boer, with a team of researchers, discovered that the substance was most probably a mixture of the light hydrocarbon gases ethylene and ethane that rose with spring water into the adyton.

Jelle de Boer

THREE THURSDAYS: NOVEMBER 6, 13, 20 | 4:30–6 P.M.

WASCH CENTER BUTTERFIELD ROOM | $70

Course Instructor

JELLE ZEILINGA DE BOER is Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus. He was raised in Indonesia, studied in the Netherlands, and taught earth science at Wesleyan from 1965 to 2005.
Lately, he has focused on the role geologic phenomena played in Greek mythology, specifically at the Oracle site at Delphi and Apollo temples in southern Anatolia. He has published Volcanoes in Human History and Earthquakes in Human History (both with Donald Sanders ’52). His most recent books, Stories in Stone and New Haven’s Sentinels, explore the influence geology has had on Connecticut’s history.