Joseph MacInnis is intrigued with human performance in high-risk environments.
Given the considerable on-the-edge professional activities of this physician-scientist and undersea explorer, he's eminently qualified to be an expert on the subject.
The All-Convention Luncheon at the annual AAPG gathering in Calgary will offer featured speaker MacInnis the opportunity to recount some of his experiences delving into the mysteries of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans where he has logged more than 5,000 hours of undersea exploration activity.
Dramatic video clips, which include trips to the decks of the Titanic and a sunken Russian submarine at the bottom of the Newfoundland Sea, will enhance these striking tales of adventure.
A fairly recent two-month expedition into the Atlantic and Pacific oceans filming volcanic vent fields proved to be an especially challenging event, and the details are sure to add plenty of punch to the presentation.
The trip included some illustrious participants, including Hollywood director James Cameron.
"We had two ships, four subs, 130 people," MacInnis said. "The Russian Academy of Sciences was involved, NASA sent an astronaut and a scientist, and we had marine biologists from four different universities and institutions.
"It was demanding from both an engineering and science point of view," he noted. "There were 10 different dive sites throughout the Atlantic and Pacific, as deep as two miles and as shallow as 1,000 meters.
"The four subs rendezvoused at 1,000 meters at a vent site called Lost City, which has spires and towers and actually looks like a city."
A few days following his AAPG presentation, MacInnis heads to Newfoundland where he will board a ship to join Cameron and a 50-person team for Cameron's last dives to the Titanic. The purpose is a two-hour Discovery Channel television special to be aired in July.
MacInnis is writing a companion book to the program: "Last Mysteries of the Titanic."
Leadership and 'Magic Stuff'
Not one to get carried away with the glitz and glamour associated with such high-profile adventures, MacInnis stays grounded by focusing on traits and qualities which are crucial to the success of these challenging activities.
He noted, for instance, his fascination with the subject of leadership, which he will discuss at some length during his upcoming presentation.
"I'm going to introduce the audience to individuals and events that taught me about leadership," MacInnis said. "In the process, I'll refer to geology and the geosciences and talk about companies I've been involved with. But leadership is independent of whatever human endeavor you're attempting, so I'll talk about things crucial to any form of leadership -- whether it's the geological sciences or exploring the deep sea.
"These things include what I call quiet courage, high-empathy communication and fierce innovation, e.g., where a problem appears insurmountable yet you're ultimately able to solve it."
Not surprisingly, MacInnis' longtime interaction with the undersea environment has led to an understanding and appreciation for the science of geology.
"I'm not a geologist," he said, "but I understand how crucial geology is in terms of the workings of the planet, and the ability of the human family to live on the planet comes because we use what comes out of those rocks.
"I'll be reminding the audience during my talk what a delight it is they have this extraordinary ability to read the ages and read the rocks," he said. "I know enough geology just to say, 'Wow, that's pretty magic stuff.'"