An Aerial View of Geology

Photographer Michael Collier and his Cessna 180 bring North America’s coastal landscapes into focus.

(Michael Collier)

Petit Bois Island

(Michael Collier)

Collier went on to study structural geology at Stanford University, eventually taking a job writing layman-oriented materials for the U.S. Geological Survey. “I had great fun,” he recalls. “Apparently I had an office in Tucson, but I would just send the secretary news that I needed to go to Honduras, or Antarctica, or Alaska, and she would just roll her eyes and send me plane tickets.”

Of this image, Collier writes: “Hurricanes have repeatedly swept over Petit Bois Island, Mississippi, one of the many barrier islands and spits that lie a few miles off the Gulf Coast between Texas and Florida. The island, home to laughing gulls and snowy plovers, has sand dunes that face left toward the open water of the Gulf. A thin veneer of tenacious vegetation struggles to survive the onslaught of storm waves during hurricane season.”

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