Challenging The Mavericks and Why The Surf Gods Love Geologists

Image from  Surfer catching wave at Mavericks

The Mavericks competition was this past Saturday bringing in the best dozen or so big waver surfers (invitation only!). The best word to describe someone who spanks waves reaching 20-30 feet, historically they have reached near 50? Cajones. Let us not forget the freezing water and jagged rocks. You can see all the pictures here (note picture 27!).

I mentioned in the past if if you want to know where the good surf spots are sure you could ask your local bro’, or you could gather some geologist and map the seafloor at high resolution. Sure the first might cost you at most a cigarette and beer while the latter requires a multiyear grant that rivals the budget of a third world country. I still vote for the mapping. We should get Ron Jon to fund geology research!

So what causes these incredible waves? Surfing gods? Nope, it is a long gradual continental slope that provides a ramp allowing waves to hold before breaking. This combines with deeper and calmer water on both sides of the ramp that cause a wave convergence.


Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

3 Replies to “Challenging The Mavericks and Why The Surf Gods Love Geologists”

  1. “The best word to describe someone who spanks waves reaching 20-30 feet, historically they have reached near 50? Cajones.”


  2. Mavericks is one of the best surfs spots in the world, next to jaws (peahi), i am 17 and i have surfed here a couple of times and its amazing catching 20 to 25 foot waves, i want to become a professional big wave surfer someday!!

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