Candidate Profile

Earth Sciences, Geology & Geography
Travel & Destinations
James A. Jacobs enjoys sharing his life-long fascination with earth history and nature and describing it in simple and clear terms to interested cruise guests. As a lecturer, Jacobs is a Fulbright Scholar, having won 4 Fulbright Senior Specialist awards from the US State Department for his teaching. After spending several years as an oil geologist on the arctic North Slope of Alaska and in Texas, he started an environmental consulting company in California in 1990. He is licensed as a Professional Geologist in several states and acts as a forensic expert to help resolve disputes in environmental cases. He earned his BA degree in English and geology from Franklin and Marshall College and an MA in geology from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of the National Ground Water Association and a Virtual Fellow with the U.S. State Department.

He has taught graduate classes and workshops on a variety of environmental science and geology topics at the University of the West Indies (Mona Campus) in Jamaica, Afeka College of Engineering in Tel Aviv, Israel, Technical University of Munich in Germany, and SRTM University in Nanded, India. He has also taught Sustainable Remediation Methods for Soil and Water as part of the Natural Resources Program at the UC Berkeley Extension in Berkeley, California.

Professionally, he has over 35 years of experience and he specializes in the assessment and cleanup of soil and groundwater impacted by toxins. He has coauthored and five environmental books, He has written over 100 technical articles on water treatment and environmental issues and has given over 50 technical presentations. As an elected public official, Mr. Jacobs has also been involved with wastewater treatment, recycling and community programs. He has been an officer of several geology professional societies and has enjoyed sharing the wonders of nature with cruise passengers.

"A bad day on a cruise ship is still far better than a good day in the office."

Click here to visit James's website >>

Destination-Related Special Interest Speaker Lectures:

Lectures have also focused on the geology and natural history of New Zealand-Australia; Eastern and Western Europe; East Coast of North America, Southwest Alaska, Hawaii, Western Mexico, Western and Eastern Caribbean; and Norway-Scotland-Iceland-Greenland-Nova Scotia.

Fires Down Under: New Zealand North Island Volcanoes
Auckland is underlain by craters of inactive volcanoes and historic lava flows. Not too far from the port of Tauranga, volcanic activity and vents can be observed on White Island, the most active cone volcano in New Zealand. The geologic processes causing volcanoes and geothermal hot springs of the Taupo Volcanic Zone will be presented as well as the forensic evidence for the lost Pink and White Travertine Terraces, sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Cheers: Geology and New Zealand Wines and Beers.
Wine lovers have long understood that Terroir, or the interaction of soil and climate conditions of the vineyards, has a powerful impact on the taste of the wine. Terroir gives wines unique attributes, even if the same grape variety and winemaking processes are used. Groundwater affects the taste of beer, whiskey, and even bottled water. The strong link between the geochemistry of the water sources and the historic success of certain beverages in specific areas will be presented. New Zealand beverages and historic European beverages will be discussed.

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet - New Zealand’s Earthquakes
Plate tectonics can explain New Zealand’s earthquakes, including the 1929 Murchison shaker, as well as the largest recent quakes which occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand. Firsthand accounts will be presented as well as an innovative method using forensic evidence to determine earthquake recurrence intervals in New Zealand’s largest and most active fault.

Chill Out - Glaciers in New Zealand
New Zealand glacial features will be presented from Mount Ruapehu on the North Island to the major glacial zone in the Southern Alps on the South Island. The geologic evidence in Milford Sound will show that during the last glacial event, the site was home to a massive tidewater glacier.

Wall of Water and New Zealand Tsunamis: Everything You Need To Know
Tsunamis are attributed to earthquakes, undersea landslides, volcanoes and even meteor strikes, and New Zealand has had plenty of tsunamis. The lecture will present the geologic conditions including a tsunami caused by a landslide in 1931 at the port of Napier on the North Island of New Zealand, as well as the great mystery of the orphan tsunami.

New Zealand’s Gold Rushes
New Zealand has had numerous historic gold rushes on both islands, including the Otago Gold Rush, West Coast Gold Rush, and the Coromandel Gold Rush. The talk will focus on historic New Zealand gold mining methods, the geologic sources of the gold, and the methods of recovering the valuable metal.

Narrated Glacier Tour in Milford Sound – Geologic Insights from the Bridge
The glaciated valleys of Milford Sound are a highlight of any trip to New Zealand. The presentation will focus on the geology of the local mountains, and the geologic erosional processes and glacial features found in Milford Sound.

Geology of Hawaii:
In history, customs and geology, the Hawaiian Islands are different from any place on earth, and the volcanic geology and marine mammals, fish and reefs make it so special.

Volcanoes, Landslides, Tsunamis and Plate Tectonics of Hawaii:
Hawaii volcanoes are giants and are very different from most land-based volcanoes in the world, learn why. The large tsunamis hit Hilo, every few years. Learn more about earthquakes, volcanoes and large walls of water!

Pioneer Missionaries and Hawai’i of the 1820s:
American Hiram Bingham I was the first missionary to Hawai’i in 1820. Learn about his life, times and legacy in Oahu and Hawai’i. The author’s wife is a great great great granddaughter of Hiram Bingham I.

Native Son and World Explorer
American Hiram Bingham III was possibly the model for Indiana Jones and he discovered Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes in 1911. He later became a pioneer aviator and later a U.S. senator. The author’s wife is a great granddaughter of Hiram Bingham I.

Tsunamis of Hawaii:
Learn about the amazing Tsunami of 1948, 1960, 2010 in Hilo, Hawai’i and how to plan your escape!

Geology of Geology of the Eastern Three Hawai’i Islands and the Ring of Fire (Part 1):
Geology of Hawai’i (the Big Island), Maui and Lanai will be described. Active volcanoes, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis are all part of the Pacific Ring of Fire which is part of the unifying geology theory of Plate Tectonics.

Geology of the Western Three Hawai'i Islands and the Ring of Fire (Part 2):
Geology of Molokai, Oahu and Kauai with their specific geologic features, including the amazing Napali Coast and Diamond Head in Oahu will be discussed.

The Evolution of Marine Mammals in Hawai’i:
50 million years ago whales and dolphins were land based animals and started their amazing evolutionary changes to be rulers of the sea in Hawai’i. Whale sightings might be made from the boat! (Learn about some of the better fishing places as well).

Narrated Tour of the Nâpali Coast on Kaua’i – Geologic Insights from the Bridge
Learn about the volcanic and erosional features and underlying geology, the marine and nonmarine wildlife in the generally inaccessible (by land) but breathtaking Nâpali Coast.

Ketchikan Coastal Birds and Mammals and the Animals of Inuit Mythology:
Learn about the natural history of local Alaska wildlife which is intertwined with the Inuit legends.

Juneau, Alaska’s Gold, Magnificent Glacial Features and High Mountains:
The history and geology of Juneau’s gold mining days will be retold. Learn about the glaciers and mountains that set this capital city apart.

Skagway, the Klondike Gold Rush and Learn to Pan For Gold:
Hear the famous history of the Klondike gold rush through Skagway, Dyea, and the Chilkoot Pass. Tips will be provided on how to pan for this shiny metal.

The Megatsunami of 1958 in Southeast Alaska:
The largest tsunami ever recorded occurred in Lituya Bay, Alaska, just west of Skagway. A wall of water 1,720 feet high will be contemplated and discussed.

Geology of Southeastern Alaska, Plate Tectonics:
The geology of British Columbia and Alaska include glacial features which will be described in the lecture.

Alaska Glaciers and the Ages of Ice in Earth History:
Ice ages have occurred many times during earth’s long history, including a time called “Snowball Earth”.

Narrated Alaska Glacier Tour of Tracy Arm Fjord – Geologic Insights from the Bridge
Glacial processes are explained along with the geology and description of local marine mammals on this lecture from the bridge.

Eastern Mexico and Caribbean
Geology of Belize and Eastern Mexico:
The origin of the Great Blue Hole of the Yucatan: Learn how the moving tectonic plates created the geology of eastern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Dinosaurs and the Meteorite Extinction in Mexico’s Yucatan:
Learn about the demise of the dinosaurs with collision of a meteorite into the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago.

Reefs and Fish of the Western Caribbean:
See how the reefs and fish of the Western Caribbean interact and how have they changed since the closing of the Isthmus of Panama 5 million years ago.

Geology of Puerto Rico:
Plate tectonics and the geology of the islands. Learn why some of the best coffee in the world comes from the Caribbean and why the water characteristics and underlying geology influence the quality of rum.

Western Mexico
Western Mexico and the Geology of Western Mexico and Baja:
Learn about the great volcanoes of western Mexico and the story of the birth of one volcano in a farmer’s field a half a century ago.

Plate Tectonics, the Baja and the Spreading Sea:
The origin of Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, the San Andreas Fault Zone, and the Basin and Range of Nevada are all linked together in the mind's of geoscientists. Let's look at the evidence for all these links.

Aztec Gold in Western Mexico:
The Aztec’s artfully used gold in ceremonial objects. How and where is the gold found and how was it mined. Gold panning and mining techniques will be discussed.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Western Mexico:
Learn why large tsunamis occur in western Mexico as well as major earthquakes and volcanoes.

Evolution of Whales and Dolphins in Western Mexico:
Over the past 50 million years, marine mammals, such as whales have undergone extraordinary changes from being land dwelling animals to masters of the sea.

Eastern US and TransAtlantic
Plate Tectonics and the Geology of the Azores:
Explore the plate tectonic history of the Azores, a collection of nine islands close to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Meteorite History in the Eastern USA:
A surprising look at a large meteorite impact that occurred tens of million years ago in the Eocene not far from the nation's capital.

Eastern and Western Mediterranean
Where Continents Collide: Plate Tectonics and the Geology of the Mediterranean Sea: Learn how the moving tectonic plates created the world’s largest inland sea with an amazing history.

Geology of Santorini, Athens and Istanbul:
Explore the geology, volcanoes, and resources of the Eastern Mediterranean and the associated settlement patterns in Greco-Roman times.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Eastern Mediterranean:
Learn why 10% of all worldwide tsunamis occur in the Mediterranean Sea and learn about these devasting events in Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Eastern Mediterranean Marine Mammals:
Evolution of Whales and Dolphins: Over the past 50 million years, marine mammals, such as whales have undergone extraordinary changes from being land dwelling animals to masters of the sea, including the Mediterranean Sea.

Geology of Venice:
This show is about rising sea level, building in the lagoon and global climate change well into the future.

Geology of Dubrovnik:
Learn about karst topography from the type localities in Croatia. Hear about the Messinian Salinity Crisis several million years ago when the Mediterranean Sea was occasionally a deep, dry, evaporative basin lower than Death Valley or the Dead Sea.

Geologic Tour of Italy:
A show focused on the great mountains of Italy and Southern Europer as well as a discussion of geology and the sources of the lovely Italian marble, used for the great Roman buildings.

Northern Transatlantic Crossing (Norway, Iceland and Greenland)
Iceland in World War II
The sinking and discovery of the HMS Hood - Iceland was critical in World War II, so much so that the British invaded in 1940. Nearby, the HMS Hood, once the pride of the British fleet was sunk in the Battle of the Denmark Strait in 1941. Searching for German U-boats inspired important studies in oceanography and helped with the development of plate tectonics, the unifying theory of geology. Learn about the discovery of the HMS Hood on the sea floor by Dr. Robert Ballard.

Greenland, Iceland and Viking Expansion
Massive European invasions by Scandinavian sea-raiders in the ninth century led to their control of parts of Iceland, England, Russia, France, and as far south as the Mediterranean Sea. Norse settlers colonized two areas along Greenland’s southwest coast, only to disappear by 1450. What was their motivation to expand? Learn the new complex set of factors on why Norse settlers retreated from Greenland, and more recent island politics.

Land of Fire and Ice: Iceland’s Volcanoes, Glaciers and Other Phenomena
Iceland lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a geologic hotspot and provides visitors with a rare ocean spreading center on dry land, with parts of both the Eurasian plate on the east, and the North American plate on the west. Join Geologist Jim and hear about Iceland’s volcanoes and glaciers and related tourist attractions including the Blue Lagoon, calderas, waterfalls, icebergs, geysers and hot springs. Hear about the jet stream off Iceland which regulates climate and the famous aurora borealis, also called the northern lights.

Greenland’s Shrinking Ice Cap and Current Gold Rush
As the Arctic ice continues to melt, Greenland's mineral and energy resources: including gold, iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, rare earth minerals, uranium and oil are being exposed for the first time. The talk will focus on the geology of Greenland, and the environmental considerations of resource extraction.

Geology and the Beers of Iceland, Greenland, New England and the Maritimes
For the beer enthusiast, the North Atlantic countries feature some terrific local brews. This presentation reviews the current local beers and the links between groundwater quality, minerals, geology, soil, rainfall, native ingredients, and other factors that influence the quality and taste of these beers and a comparison with the historic brewing styles of Europe.

Chill Out/Glacial Features in Nova Scotia and New England
Nova Scotia and New England experienced massive glacial sculpting over the last 2.5 million years. The origin of some of the most famous landforms on the western cruise itinerary will be discussed and Earth’s glacial history going back to Snowball Earth.

Ride the Tide/Bay of Fundy
The highest and most powerful tides in the world makes the Bay of Fundy noteworthy, but these tides also create an amazing ecosystem with the largest concentration of whales and other sea life on the Eastern Coast of North America. Learn about the geology and features which create the tides and some of the sustainable concepts to harness the vast quantities of free energy in the area.

Wall of Water and Greenland’s Mega-Tsunami
Everything You Need to Know Tsunamis are attributed to earthquakes, undersea landslides, volcanoes and even meteor strikes, and Greenland had a massive one in June 2017. The lecture will present the geologic conditions for tsunamis, a few of the more well-known examples, as well as assessing the risks of tsunamis.

Narrated Greenland Glacier Tour: Insights from the Bridge
The glaciated valleys with tidewater glaciers are a highlight of any trip to Prince Christian Sound, Greenland. The presentation from the bridge will focus on the geology of the local mountains, the erosional processes and glacial features found in Prince Christian Sound.

Special Interest Shows:

Machu Picchu and the Amazing Incan Engineers:
A show about Hiram Bingham III, the discover of Machu Picchu in 1911 and the geology of the site and amazing erosion and water engineering accomplishments of the Incans. The author’s wife is a great granddaughter of the explorer. The show features unpublished family documents and photographs from the family collection.

Geology and History of Beer
A review of beers from almost a dozen historic brewing capitals of Europe demonstrates the link between local groundwater and world-famous brewing styles. A 5% alcohol beer is 95% water, so water quality is significant. Local geology and minerals in the water have influenced beer makers for hundreds of years. Variations in malts, hops, brewer’s yeast and water are used to create different types of beer. Brewing history, brewing processes, serving and tasting will be discussed. Beer tasting forms will be available.

Geology and History of Wine
Wine making has been developed over thousands of years, and many in the industry strongly believe that Terroir, or the local soil, climate, groundwater, minerals in the rocks and other factors, strongly impact the quality of the grapes grown and wine produced. The geology of selected world-famous wine regions will be featured. The lecture will focus on the sensory experiences, including tasting of specific wines, understanding the wine making process, and the interactions of Terroir to wine quality. Wine tasting forms will be available.

Geology and History of Spirited Beverages (Whisky)
The term “whisky on the rocks” has special meaning for geologists. During the Scottish Enlightenment, the father of modern geology, James Hutton, made key geologic observations at Siccar Point in Scotland and later had heated scientific arguments with colleagues over Scotch whisky in nearby pubs. Master distillers start with water and the geology and groundwater chemistry of selected locations in Scotland, Ireland, Tennessee, and Canada are known for their famous spirited beverages. The process of distillation of various spirited beverages and aging will be discussed. Whisky tasting forms will be provided.

Geology and History of Coffee
The character of coffee is strongly influenced by the terroir of its homeland, especially soils. The lecture will focus on origin coffees, from the coffee plantations on the rich volcanic soil of Kenya, to the microclimates of Ethiopia, to the earthy coffees grown in the jungles of Sumatra, to the beans grown in the high altitudes of the Columbian Andes, and locations in between. Learn about growing coffee and the subtle flavors and characteristics of origin coffees. Coffee tasting forms will be available.

Geology and History of Tea
The source of premium teas relates to terroir. A highly aromatic tea from the Darjeeling region in the southern slopes of the Himalayas in northeast India reflects the tea plant response to the steep topography and high altitude as the plant root system mechanically grips the side of the hill. The tea plants in the plains of Assam live under easier and flatter growing conditions producing a fragrant and flowery tea from a high plateau in northern India which hugs the Brahmaputra River. Besides soil type, the amount of sunlight, topography, elevation, rainfall and drainage are all key factors affecting the characteristics of the best teas in the world. Tea tasting forms will be provided.

Geology and History of Famous Mineral Waters
The quality of a mineral water depends on its source and the geologic nature of the aquifer, the associated minerals and water chemistry. Each truly unique mineral water has a signature taste. The lecture will discuss the geology and groundwater characteristics of some of the world’s most famous ancient and modern mineral springs, and the subtle differences in the sensory experiences of different mineral waters. Mineral water tasting forms will be available.

The Amazing Story of Marine Mammals:
50 million years ago whales and dolphins were land based animals, and started their amazing evolutionary changes to be rulers of the sea. Learn about the forensic evidence do we have to piece the story together.

Fire in the Sky and Plate Tectonics:
Volcanoes, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis are all part of the Pacific Ring of Fire or the Atlantic eruptions on Iceland, part of the unifying geology theory of Plate Tectonics.

The Earth Extinctions, Meteorites and Eruptions:
Look at the clues of the five major extinctions of life that occurred over the past 540 million years, including the 400 meteorite craters on earth, the giant eruptions as well as other causes.

How Birds Can Fly Over the Tallest Mountain Ranges:
Due to changes in the earth’s atmospheric conditions when dinosaurs developed 230 million years ago, some of their physical traits were inherited by modern birds allowing for some incredible metabolic feats.

Glacial Ages and Snowball Earth:
Let’s look at the geologic evidence of several large glacial periods over the earth’s history, including distinct episodes of an ice-covered planet called “snowball earth”.
Jim Jacobs is a forensic geologist with over three decades of experience and a Fulbright Scholar, having taught at a variety of universities. Since 2007, he has been a frequent lecturer on dozens of cruise ships entertaining passengers with port-specific geology, nearby naval history, gold rushes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and glaciers and the famous scientists who made the discoveries. The lectures on the links between geology and groundwater to our favorite beverages: beer, whiskey, and wine are well received. His enjoys narrating from the bridge to describe various landforms relating to volcanoes, fjords, and glaciers. He has co-authored five books.

Shows on Selected Cruise Ships:

- Journey
- Quest

Norwegian Cruise Line
- NCL Star
- NCL Sun,
- Pride of Aloha

P&O Cruise Line
- Arcadia

Princess Cruises
-Grand Princess

Royal Caribbean International
- Serenade of the Seas
- Brilliance of the Seas
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Silver Whisper 4929 Caribbean Cruise 11 San Juan Monday, November 11, 2019
Grand Princess A911 Hawaiian Islands Cruise 15 San Francisco, California Sunday, April 21, 2019
Grand Princess A910 Hawaiian Islands Cruise 15 San Francisco, California Saturday, April 6, 2019