Crusty, craggy, stretchy. No, you haven’t accidentally queued up an episode on pizza dough making. Those adjectives also apply to the geologically vibrant landscape of New Mexico, the land of a thousand volcanoes. 

Encounter Culture host Charlotte Jusinski invited Jayne Aubele and Dr. Larry Crumpler, two geologists working with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, to lead a virtual expedition through eons of the state’s geologic history. As audiences will discover, Jayne and Larry share more than a fiery passion for this landscape. But first, the trio discusses what makes this diverse and wild place so special, the cultural implications arising from the volcanic processes that formed the area’s rifts, and what New Mexico can teach us about Mars and Venus.

“The landscape speaks; all you have to do is stop and listen.” Sounds simple enough, but to be fair, Larry has had practice interpreting the lingo of the land. It’s his job as a research curator of volcanology and space science. While the United States boasts incredible geology from coast to coast, Larry says it’s relatively silent. New Mexico is different. “Here, it’s just babbling away, and all you have to do is understand what it’s saying. It turns out to be totally shocking and amazing most of the time.” 

Jayne agrees. As a geologist and science educator, she likens her work to that of an intrepid investigator. “You have these clues, and you’re trying to figure out how the landscape was formed, what processes you’re looking at, what the rocks are telling you.” Once deciphered, Jayne switches from detective to translator, introducing laypeople to the lively geology around them in language that informs as it entertains.

New Mexico has provided Larry and Jayne a springboard from which to explore geology well beyond the state’s borders. Larry has a second career studying planetary geology, namely Mars and Venus. He’s also a team member on Perseverance Rover, the NASA program searching for signs of past microbial life on the Red Planet. In addition, he and Jayne conducted the original Venus volcano mapping based on data collected by the Magellan Radar mission, NASA’s only exploration of Venus thus far. Why all the fuss concerning faraway planets? “With Mars and Venus, hopefully, we’re looking at Earth’s past,” says Jayne. That intel might also inform life for subsequent generations of New Mexicans.
Learn more about New Mexico’s loquacious landscape in A Drive Through Time by Jayne C. Aubele and The Land of a Thousand Volcanoes by Dr. Larry Crumpler in the Fall 2021 and Fall 2020 editions of El Palacio Magazine, respectively. Exhibit information and tickets for “Roving With Perseverance,” which runs through June 5, 2023, are available at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. Find out about Jayne and Larry’s research through the museum’s online exhibit, The Volcanoes of New Mexico, which features a fascinating interactive map of the area’s volcanoes.

Visit for info about our museums, historic sites, virtual tours, and more.

Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski, Editor at El Palacio Magazine
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer:  Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Associate Editor: Helen King
Associate Producer: Alex Riegler
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
Instagram: @newmexicanculture
For more, visit

Comments are closed.