Nick Zentner Field Trip to the Cascades with Professor Stacia Gordon makes an impact on YouTube

Geology Professor Stacia Gordon took a field trip this summer with popular YouTuber Nick Zentner. Gordon is a collaborator on a National Science Foundation grant with researchers Bob Miller (San Jose State University) and Mike Eddy (Purdue University). Zentner calls the three of them the “Dream Team” in North Cascades geology, and asked if they could all do a field trip together through the North Cascades.

Zentner has a geology-themed YouTube channel with nearly 48,000 subscribers. He is a geologist and faculty member at Central Washington University, and has been regularly posting to YouTube for two and a half years. His lectures for students were posted online, but they weren’t solely intended for students at Central Washington University. Zentner has racked up over 7 million views on his YouTube channel from people around the world interested in geology, and he’s invited Stacia Gordon onto the channel several times.

Most recently, Gordon, Zentner and Miller met in the North Cascades National Park. The group toured along the North Cascades Highway in the National Park and made stops along geologically interesting areas, essentially creating a guided tour to the geology of the North Cascades.

The researchers talked about how the “plumbing” system of volcanoes exposed in the rocks of the North Cascades are affected by plate tectonics and faults in the region. They looked at places where specific features of those interactions are visible.

“I hope it encourages people to go to the National Park and check it out,” Gordon said. “I feel like that’s what the National Parks are there for, to be accessible to a wide audience of all different abilities. We tried to do all the stops at places where you could pretty easily pull over or where there are designated overlook areas with parking spots so hopefully people can visit the park and see what we’re describing.”

“We wanted to do something for people who are going through the park system so that they can learn a little bit more about the geology,” Gordon said. Their North Cascades Highway Geology video has more than 38,000 views and was met with 1,100 “likes” and over a hundred positive comments.

One comment written by viewer “Craig McCue” reads, “Incredible video! I don’t know how all that technical data is memorized and recalled so easily. These video interviews allow me to experience people and be exposed to knowledge that would otherwise be out of my grasp. Thank you so much Stacia Gordon and Bob Miller for your time and incredible knowledge and thank you Nick for your time with them, editing and putting this out here for all of us.”

Gordon has been a part of five of the videos, and looks forward to participating in the future, too.

Wenrong Cao, an assistant professor in the Mackay School, and Gordon will be collaborating on research about similar rocks in the Gangdese Batholith in Tibet. Gordon looks forward to collaborating with Zentner again on videos, this time about the work she and Cao will do.

As a woman in geosciences, Gordon hopes she can be a role model.

“I think it’s always important to see a diversity of scientists out there doing the work,” she said. “I’m happy to do my part in being out there and inspiring people to change the stereotypical view of what they think of as a geologist and a scientist.”