Shortly before attending a science conference on Kauai in November 2004, Joe spent two weeks on vacation in Hawaii. While there he was on four of the islands – Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Hawaii (the Big Island). The photos here are just some of the spectacular areas he visited.

Starting in 1986, Kilauea, the large active volcano of the Big Island, began nearly continuous effusive eruption. This activity generated so much lava that it completely closed off part of the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. When he visited, Joe hiked about a mile and a half beyond the closed road over the glassy volcanic surface to see the hot lava up close.

In 2003, this “No Parking” sign was consumed by the lava as it continued to flow over the Chain of Craters Road and the surrounding region on its way to the ocean. This sign is about ten feet off the road surface.

In 2004, the Halema’uma’u Crater of Kilaeua was quiet, as seen here. However, in 2008, activity in this crater began again with a series gas emissions from a fumarole on the east wall. Several minor to moderate explosions occurred in March to Septemeber 2008. This crater had been inactive since 1982.

Papakolea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach) is partially encircled by the now eroded, 49,000 year old cinder cone, Pu’u Mahana. The Green Sand Beach gets its distinctive coloring from olivine, a very common mineral in Hawaiian lavas.

The primary active crater of Kilauea is Pu’u’o’o, as seen here from a helicopter. This cinder cone has been continuously erupting since January 3, 1983.

As the lava flows from Pu’u’o’o down the flanks of Kilauea, it crosses the Chain of Craters Road, eventually entering the Pacific ocean, where it cools and becomes new land. This is an aerial view of the steam rising from the newly cooled lava.

Kualoa Valley on the windward coast of Oahu.

Docked in Pearl Harbor are the two objects that mark the beginning and end of World War II for the United States. On the right, the USS Arizona memorial and on the left the USS Missouri. On December 7, 1941, the Arizona was sunk in the harbor with over 1000 men aboard, causing the United States to enter the war. On September 2, 1945, the Instrument of Surrender was signed by the Japanese foreign affairs minister aboard the Missouri, officially ending World War II.

The USS Missouri sits in Pearl Harbor as a war memorial.

A rainy, windy day at Kaenae Point on Maui.

A quiet, off-the-beaten-path stream in the Iao Valley on Maui.

One of the more pristine places left in the Hawaiian Islands is on Kauai along the Napali Coast.

Waimea Canyon, Hawaii’s smaller version of the Grand Canyon.

Wailua Falls, the 80 foot tall falls on Kauai.

Kilauea Lighthouse on Kauai. Kilauea Lighthouse began lighting the way for mariners in 1913 and served as a pivotal navigation point for ships sailing to the Orient.

Hanalei, a peaceful place along Kauai’s north coast.



Just prior to going to Antarctica in late November 2005, Joe spent seventeen days on vacation in New Zealand (The US Antarctica Program is supplied and run through its base in Christchurch, so to take vacation there seemed obvious.). He explored by car the northern half of South Island and the central portion of North Island. Most of the trip was centered around visiting geologically interesting areas or locations used in filming the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Definitely the star attraction on North Island is Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano which experienced a major eruption in 1995, and smaller ones in 1996, 2006 and 200

Another large volcano on North Island is Mount Egmont (also called Mount Taranaki) (below). This volcano has been very quiet in the last century. Its last geological activity was back in the 1850s or 1860s when it produced a lava dome, which subsequently collapsed, inside the crater. A moderate ash eruption was reported in 1755, and a major eruption, similar to that of the 1995 Ruapehu eruption, occurred in 1655.

Some beautiful scenery in an area called Leith Hill and Cave Stream, about 100 kilometers northwest of Christchurch.

The cloud-capped and snow-draped Mt Ruapehu, looking more majestic than terrifying. Ruapehu was used as a stand-in for “Mount Doom”, in the movie, “Lord of the Rings”.

This is the iconic tree seen in “Lord of the Rings” near Frodo and Bilbo’s home in “the Shire”. This particular tree is located on the private land of a sheep farmer.

Edoras, the hilltop town, where King Theoden of the Rohan lives in “Lord of the Rings”. This little hill, in fact called Mount Sunday, is located in the middle of a valley surrounded by numerous braided streams and is only accessible with a four wheel drive vehicle. None of the original “Lord of the Rings” set remains on the hilltop.

The “Dimholt Road” or the “Paths of the Dead” in “Lord of the Rings”. In actuality, it is called the Putangirua Pinnacles, a geological formation consisting of eroded alluvial conglomerate deposits. A very fascinating place located on the southernmost shore of North Island, New Zealand.

The valley in which “Helm’s Deep” is located in “Lord of the Rings”



From late November 2005 to mid-January 2006, Joe joined ANSMET (The Search for Antarctic Meteorites), a jointly funded NASA/National Science Foundation annual expedition, to help collect meteorites on the blue ice fields. He went to Miller Range in the Transantarctic Mountains, which is about 400 miles from the South Pole.

The meteorites collected are processed and curated at Johnson Space Center in Houston and the National Musuem of Natural History (the Smithsonian) in Washington D.C. Institutions and individuals from around the world can borrow or obtain samples of the meteorites for research or educational/display purposes.


Joe Boesenberg in Antarctica with the ANSMET (The Search for Antarctic Meteorites) collection team on New Years Day, 2006. From left to right: Jani Radebaugh, Gordon Ozinski, Mike Rampey, Ben Bussey, Shaun Norman, Joe Boesenberg, Marie Keiding and Mike Kelley.

One of the larger meteorites collected during the season.

The rolling hills of blue ice. The rocks in the foreground unfortunately were not meteorites, and are simply part of the local geology.

Some of the spectacular scenery in an area called Hockey Cirque. Note the snowmobile at the far left for scale.

Looking across the valley at Milan Ridge.

A massive ice windscoop adjacent to a nunatak. The cliff was made as ice was ablated away near the mountain by the wind.

During eight weeks in Antarctica only one penguin was seen, and it was along the shoreline near McMurdo Station.

One of the most successuful animals in Antarctica is the skua. These aggressive birds are both scavengers and predators. They are also the only animal you will see (besides humans) on the interior of the continent, often seen following aircraft to the South Pole.

The first of three snow storms approaches. This severly hampered the meteorite collecting objective.

A photo of the first sunset Joe saw in 56 days, taken from inside a C-17 on the trip back to New Zealand.



On his way back to the US from Antarctica in January 2006, Joe took a few days to visit the area in and around Sydney, Australia.

This prominent eroded sandstone formation is called the Three Sisters and is located in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

A photo of the valley in the Blue Mountains.

Unlike Antarctica, Australia was teaming with wildlife, such as this wallabee seen in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Unlike Antarctica, Australia was teaming with wildlife, such as this four foot long monitor lizard seen in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.