Mission & Objectives
Scientists & Crew
Interviews: Marine geologist Jenny Engels
Jenny analyzes MR1 sidescan sonar data to make maps of the volcanic
seafloor around Isabela and Fernandina Islands in the Galápagos.
What are you hoping to study as your doctoral thesis?
Im working on interpreting the data from a 1993 to 1995 expedition in the Arctic. My advisor, Margo Edwards at the University of Hawaii, worked with a team mapping the Arctic basin using sidescan sonar and bathymetry, a project similar to what were doing here in the Galápagos. Since the Arctic is almost always covered with ice, instead of using a ship, the instruments were mounted on the bottom of a nuclear submarine. They discovered huge ice scours in the Arctic basin at depths below 900 meters. This was really exciting because icebergs arent deep enough there to reach those depths. The finding indicates extremely thick ice flows, at least 1 kilometer thick, once covered the Arctic. But oceanography and glacial studies have said theres no way that could have happened. Since we know our data are good, we have a great opportunity to find out about the climate during the past 150,000 to 200,000 years when these ice marks may have been created.
and Paul Johnson attach the wire to the MR1 sonar fish shortly
before a launch.
How did you become involved in geology?
I grew up in the small town of Aurora, OR. Whenever
my parents took my sister and I on trips to National Parks, I always
wanted to know about the origin of the scenery and topography that
I was looking at. When I went to Oberlin College I studied romance
languages and to meet a science requirement took an oceanography class
taught by a geologist. It was the best class I ever had. I took another
geology class and found it super exciting. I transferred to Oregon
State University where I majored in international studies and geology.
Now wherever I go, I always have something geologic to look at.
Why romance languages?
When I was a freshman in high school I took
three months in the summer to live in France. I returned my senior
year as an exchange student and had such a wonderful experience I
stayed for another year and a half, working as an au pair, or nanny.
In high school I also studied Spanish. Then during my freshman year
in college I studied Italian. Now Im working on learning Japanese.
Fornari discussing one of the research papers that Jenny is
writing which is based on her East Pacific Rise thesis research.
Who have been some of the role models in your
My undergraduate advisor, Dawn Wright at Oregon
State University, my current advisor, Margo Edwards at the University
of Hawaii, and my mom.
Im very lucky to have two female advisors who are awesome role models
and have been inspirational in terms of both career life and family
life and balancing family with academic needs. They are good at what
they do; they love geology and love teaching students. Theyre confident
in their own skills. Both came into geology when there were few
women geologists. They had perhaps one generation of women behind
them in the field. The generation of women going into the field who
are my age owe women like Dawn and Margo so much, because we are given
every opportunity they had to fight for.
So many women my age have mothers who are personally responsible for
the fact that we have all these tremendous opportunities. My mom is
an accountant and when she went to school in the late 1960s, the professors
discouraged her from taking math classes. When she graduated and started
working, she was the only woman in her accounting firm. She had to
put up with behavior that would be considered totally unacceptable
today. She, Dawn and Margo have always led me to believe I could do
anything and that all doors are open.
What is your relationship like with your sister?
My younger sister, Mary, is 23. She graduated
with her bachelor's degree in biology and will start her masters
this fall at the University of Hawaii studying geology. My parents
are bewildered that both their daughters are geologists. Its
wonderful having her in Hawaii, because we havent hung out with
each other since high school and its fun to get to know her
as an adult. Were on the same outrigger and canoe paddling team.
She and I have always raced together in the same boat - swapping between
two seats, one in front of the other. We encourage each other during
the race, yelling Go! Go! Go! and have a lot of fun. The
water in Hawaii is beautiful and its neat to have that time
to spend together.
| During our short visit to Puerto Ayora on
Santa Cruz Island, Jenny met one of the giant Galápagos
tortoises that live at the Darwin Research Station.
What makes this cruise important to you?
This is my third cruise. Its thrilling
to be in the Galápagos. In the scientific community this is
a hugely important place because of Darwins work here. It also
has an exciting geologic history that makes it one of the top three
places all geologists want visit - Galápagos, Iceland and Hawaii.
With so much of the Galápagos submarine geology unstudied,
its great to have the opportunity to be one of the first people
to see whats here. Working with the HMRG we can watch the geology
unfold as it spools out across the computer screen - never before
seen features right in front of you.