Technical Program

Technical Program


Panel Discussion on Careers in Geoscience. Sunday, 18 March, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Kevin M. Bohacs, ExxonMobil Upstream Research Co.
Nathan W. Hagelin, AMEC Environment & Infrastructure
John G. Nevius, Anderson Kill & Olick P.C.
Sean P. Rigsby, RJS Associates, Inc.
Boudins in metaigneous rocks of the Middletown Complex in the Bronson Hill terrane.  Tolland, CT. Stop 6 in Field Trip 4 by Wintsch et al. Photo by Tim Byrne. Click for larger image.


1. Modern and Ancient Orogenic Belts.
Tim Byrne, Univ. of Connecticut; Yu-Chang Chan, Academia Sinica; Clark Burchfiel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mountain belts, including the northern Appalachians, have intrigued geologists for nearly two centuries, and their potential for generating natural resources and natural disasters has significantly influenced human development around the world. Understanding orogenic processes, however, has been particularly challenging, in part because mountain belts often develop along plate boundaries with long and complicated histories. In this session, we encourage presentations about orogenic processes in modern and/or ancient mountain belts that provide new insights on their evolution and integrative history.
2. New Advances in the Stratigraphic Record and Chronology of Pleistocene Glacial/Interglacial Events in the Southeastern Laurentide Ice Sheet Region.
Byron D. Stone and Janet R. Stone, U.S. Geological Survey.

This session solicits presentations of new local and regional stratigraphic records of Pleistocene glacial advances and retreats and intervening terrestrial/marine interglacial deposits. Geochronologic constraints on the timing of the related glacial/interglacial events will allow presenters to suggest correlations of the events of this region with global events, ice-sheet and marine oxygen-isotope stages, and climate stages. Comparisons of rates of processes, ice-margin dynamics, and duration/amplitudes of events also will place these records of Pleistocene changes in the global scheme, allowing further considerations of feedbacks in the region’s climate-forced earth-surface events.

3. The CAMP Province: Compositional Variation, Sources, and Environmental Effects.
Johan (Joop) C. Varekamp, Wesleyan Univ.; Anthony R. Philpotts, Univ. of Connecticut; Paul E. Olsen, Columbia Univ.

The Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) stretches from eastern Canada through Florida, Brazil and Venezuela, to West Africa, Iberia, and France, with seaward-dipping reflectors offshore indicating even more voluminous buried basalt flows. Three major lava-flow formations have been mapped in New England: the Talcott, Holyoke, and Hampden basalts, each with their own feeder dike systems. The Holyoke Basalt is part of one of the largest basaltic lava flows in the world. What led to the large-scale melting and eruption of these massive lava flows over such an enormous area? What were the source regions in the mantle for these magmas? Has there been continental assimilation during transport and storage? What were the environmental effects of these massive lava volumes with their gas emissions, especially the effects of CO2 in regard to climate and Earth’s biota? Presentations are encouraged that address these global aspects as well as detailed studies on local flow emplacement and evolution.

Theme Sessions

1. Future Directions in Appalachian Tectonics: Building on Recent Lithotectonic Syntheses.
Sandra M. Barr, Acadia Univ.; James P. Hibbard, North Carolina State Univ.; Margaret D. Thompson, Wellesley College.
The lithotectonic record of the Appalachian orogen has lately been integrated graphically (lithotectonic map of Hibbard et al., 2006 [Geological Survey of Canada, Map 02096A]) and detailed in writing (GSA Memoir 206 of Tollo et al., 2010). Yet these wide-ranging syntheses also highlight stratigraphic, tectonothermal, and paleogeographic issues, to name a few, that will require continuing investigation using the complete spectrum of tools and methods available to geoscientists. This session is intended as a forum for discussing ongoing efforts, airing innovative approaches, and framing new visions to ensure that Appalachian insights will continue to advance tectonic thinking in general. The title is deliberately broad to encourage contributions relating to any lithotectonic element at the surface or lithospheric division deep in the crust of the orogen during any part of its long history.
2. High-Strain Zone Kinematics, From the Microscopic to the Macroscopic Scale.
Yvette Kuiper, Colorado School of Mines; Scott Giorgis, SUNY Geneseo.
This session focuses on high-strain zones at all scales, including microstructures and high-grade nappe associations. We welcome contributions involving results from field mapping, integrated structural and metamorphic analysis, and numerical modeling. Topics may also include the change in kinematics and rheology with time and/or metamorphic grade (e.g., in channel flow zones).
3. Modeling Deformation from the Micro to the Macro.
Phil Resor, Wesleyan Univ.; Michele Cooke, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Modeling of deformation from the grain scale to the scale of orogens has provided many insights into the structural evolution of Earth’s lithosphere. In this session, we will bring together modelers who apply a variety of techniques to discuss the state of the art, limitations, and future directions in numerical and analog modeling. We welcome theoretical contributions as well as applied studies of the eastern margin of North America and beyond.
4. The Legacy of Humans and Glaciation in Northeastern Rivers.
Will Ouimet and Denise Burchsted, Univ. of Connecticut; Jon Woodruff, Univ. of Massachusetts.
From their headwaters down to the coast, northeastern rivers display variable morphologic and sedimentologic character owing to the combined legacies of glaciation, post-glacial evolution, and human activity. This session will discuss the evolution of rivers affected by these events, case studies exploring river morphology and sediment distribution in these landscapes, mitigation of the sediments that are legacies of human activity, and comparisons of legacy sediments in previously glaciated rivers with those of the unglaciated mid-Atlantic and other regions.
5. Using Ground-Penetrating Radar to Analyze Geomorphic and Sedimentary Records of Environmental Change.
James A. Hyatt and Peter A. Drzewiecki, Eastern Connecticut State Univ.
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has become an increasingly popular tool for investigating near-surface geologic materials that both influence and record episodes of environmental change. We solicit basic and applied case studies that utilize GPR in conjunction with other techniques (e.g., coring, other geophysical methods, outcrop and surface mapping) to characterize and interpret near-surface geologic materials over a wide range of time scales.
6. State and Fate of Urban Watersheds in the Northeast.
Jonathan R. Gourley, Trinity College; Suzanne O’Connell, Wesleyan Univ.
Urbanization, increased impervious surfaces, and stormwater runoff have had, and will continue to have, serious impacts on many watersheds throughout the northeastern U.S. and adjoining parts of Canada. This session encourages research that focuses on the environmental issues that currently face urban watersheds from a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to geochemistry, hydrology, toxicology, geomorphology, and watershed modeling.
7. Environmental Impact of Historical Landfills.
Rudolph Hon, Boston College; William C. Brandon and Marcel Belaval, USEPA.
During the past centuries, solid waste in the northeast was commonly disposed of in unregulated open dump sites, frequently located in former gravel pits and wetlands. Inadvertently, geochemical environments of solid waste materials interacting with infiltrating rainwater and groundwater often resulted in complex transformations and transport phenomena involving both toxic and non-toxic compounds. We encourage presentations on all aspects of the legacy of historical landfills, from characterization of the environmental impacts, societal concerns, and policy to remediation strategies and future solutions.
8. Human Impacts on Estuaries.
Vincent T. Breslin, Southern Connecticut State Univ.; Johan (Joop) C. Varekamp, Wesleyan Univ.
Many estuaries show signs of impacts related to excess nutrient discharges (eutrophication), metal pollution, and overfishing as well as physical disturbances related to dredging. More subtle changes may have taken place related to climate change and changes in runoff induced by variable land use patterns over time (freshening). Major estuaries like Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Casco Bay, and Boston Harbor present their own set of environmental problems related to current or past human activities that impacted the water quality and ecosystems. We encourage presentations based on core data for a historical perspective of environmental change, studies of modern estuarine environments, as well as modeling of estuaries.
9. Mercury Dynamics in Northeastern North America.
Johan (Joop) C. Varekamp, Wesleyan Univ.; Robert Mason, Univ. of Connecticut.
Mercury is a pervasive contaminant that occurs in almost every lake, wetland, and estuary. Fish advisories have been issued for most lakes in New England. Sources in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada are local point sources related to specific industries as well as regional and long-range transport and atmospheric deposition. Much of the “heritage mercury contamination” in aquatic systems is still mobile, and climate change, eutrophication, and other changes can impact its fate, bioavailability, transformation, and bioaccumulation. We seek contributions on the contamination geochemistry and fate and transport of mercury in air, water, and sediment of lacustrine, coastal, and riverine environments, especially from northeastern North America. In addition, presentations on mercury cycling and dynamics within the context of large-scale environmental change are welcome.
10. Can the Fractured Bedrock Water Resource be Sustained Given Trends in Rural Development?
Gary Robbins, Univ. of Connecticut.
Rural New England and adjacent regions rely very heavily on water derived from fractured crystalline bedrock. Yet, despite over a hundred years of study, we still cannot answer basic questions regarding the productivity and sustainability of the resource. This is becoming more critical with increasing rural development, and our lack of basic knowledge hinders the application of sound management practices on water usage. We encourage presentations that address the following issues: estimating recharge rates to the bedrock, defining contributing areas to pumping wells, new approaches to characterizing bedrock flow conditions and groundwater contamination, studies that illustrate impacts of development on bedrock water quantity or quality, and ways to evaluate the sustainability of the water resource.
11. News from the Newark Supergroup.
Cosponsored by the Eastern Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology).
Elizabeth Gierlowski-Kordesch, Ohio Univ.
The exposed and buried early Mesozoic rift basins along the east coast of North America have informed our understanding of topics as wide ranging as the cyclicity in Earth’s climate system and the asymmetric nature of continental rifting. This session covers the newest research on the Triassic-Jurassic Newark Supergroup basins with emphasis on sedimentology, stratigraphy, paleontology, structure, tectonics, petrology, geochemistry, hydrology, and paleoclimate.
12. Where It All Began: Trace Fossil Research in Northeastern North America
Cosponsored by the Eastern Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology).
Patrick R. Getty, Univ. of Connecticut; Jacob S. Brenner, Tufts Univ.
The scientific study of trace fossils, what Edward Hitchcock coined “ichnology,” was born out of research that took place in the Connecticut River Valley. Therefore, the Northeast region can rightly claim the title “The Cradle of Ichnology.” We encourage presentations of research performed within northeastern North America, still fertile ground for trace fossil work of all kinds and from all geologic eras. We also encourage presentations on the history of ichnology, especially that which pertains to New England and its many distinguished ichnologists.
13. Microbial Mats and Microbialites: From Ancient to Modern.
Cosponsored by the Eastern Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology).
Kristen L. Myshrall and Natalie J. Stork, Univ. of Connecticut.
Geobiological investigation of microbial mats and microbialites, both extant and extinct, is providing insight into the processes leading to the formation and preservation of these morphologically diverse structures, which have been present on Earth for 3.5 Ga. We encourage presentations of work undertaken on modern microbial mats and microbialites, including investigations of texture, morphology, microbial ecology, and processes influencing lithification. We are also seeking presentations on aspects of fossil microbialites, including processes responsible for the formation of these ancient structures and the ecological roles of microbialites through time. Talks on other aspects of microbe-mineral interactions, specifically those related to extreme environments with astrobiological implications and mineral evolution and its impacts on life are also highly encouraged.
14. Mineralogy in Health Sciences: Sources to Applications.
Catherine Skinner, Yale Univ.; John A. Smoliga, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Mineralogical applications in health sciences can be found in the areas of biominerals (bone, teeth, “stones”), pharmaceutical formulations (active and non-active ingredients), and hazardous environmental contaminants. The goal of this session is to provide a forum for mineralogists, geologists, and health-science professionals to exchange information pertaining to the interdisciplinary nature of mineralogy in health sciences. Topics will include mineralogical occurrences, benefits, hazards, characterization, and applications in health sciences.
15. Historical Perspectives: 250 Years of Geology in the Northeast.
William R. Brice, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Sally Newcomb.
Geological studies of northeastern North America have had a profound influence on our understanding of local geological history and also on clarifying the history of the planet. This session encourages presentations on the development of geological understanding of the northeast over the last two and a half centuries in all fields of geology. Presentations can address the influence of specific locations/outcrops, individual investigators, seminal publications or journals, museum or library collections, etc. Examples include the broad historic sweep of the interpretation of northeast tectonics; interpretation and re-interpretation of the Wissahickon Formation; the progress of mapping; energy resources: coal and oil to natural gas; transportation networks; mineral deposits; influential schools of geology; and interpretation of the geology of a specific location over time. All presentations that discuss where we’ve come from and/or how we’ve gotten to current interpretations are welcome.
16. Women in the Geosciences: Past, Present, and Future.
Cosponsored by the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG).
Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State Univ.; Heidi Hoffower, Chevron Corp.
Historically, women have faced numerous challenges as they attempted to gain a foothold in the geoscience community. Even today, women have not achieved parity with their male colleagues in terms of enrollment in graduate programs, attainment of faculty positions, or mobility to the highest levels of leadership in academia and industry. The infamous “leaky pipeline” has demonstrated the need to foster an interest in science from the earliest grades and to nurture that interest through high school, college, and early career programs. Creative pedagogies and effective mentoring have been shown to promote the success of female students as they progress from education to employment. “The past is the key to the present” is certainly the case in geology at large, but in the case of gender issues, the present is also the key to the future. This session will explore issues of gender and the geosciences, with an eye to applying the lessons of the past and present in order to promote women’s success in the future geoscience workforce.
17. Inquiry-Based Activities: Examples and Effectiveness.
Cosponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT).
Karen Kortz, Community College of Rhode Island; Ann Hadley, Manchester Community College.
Research indicates that students learn more when taught using inquiry-based activities, ranging from fully open inquiry through more guided actions in both the classroom and lab. For this session, we are seeking participants to share examples of student-centered activities used at all levels, to suggest strategies for integrating inquiry-based learning into existing curricular frameworks, and to present evidence on the efficacy of inquiry-based activities on student learning.
18. Technology Integration in K–16 Geoscience Education.
Cosponsored by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT).
Christine Witkowski, Middlesex Community College; Dawn Cardace, Univ. of Rhode Island.
Recent years have seen an explosion in the use of technology in geoscience education, including learning management and student response systems, animations and simulations, GIS and remote sensing, popular media, Web 2.0, and handheld devices. This session will explore the ways that technology is being used in classroom and field environments, as well as in distance learning and informal education, to enhance inquiry, improve comprehension and retention, and provide essential skills. We encourage participants to share examples of the successful integration of technology in teaching geoscience and to present evidence on the impact of the technology on student learning and skill development at all levels.
19. Presenting Geoscience Digitally: For the Classroom, Workplace, and/or Outreach.
Stephen A. Nathan and Chris Condit, Univ. of Massachusetts.
Rapidly changing and more powerful technology allows for the digital presentation of geoscience to a wide range of audiences and for a wide range of purposes. Web-based applications (e.g., Google Maps and Google Earth) or standalones (e.g., Dynamic Digital Maps [using LiveCode]) permit a nearly limitless development of virtual field trips, classroom content, laboratories, maps, etc. The purpose of this session is to bring together educators, the private sector, government, and other groups to showcase a broad sampling of the creative applications that present geoscience digitally, whether it is for improving geoscience education, enhancing workplace efficiency and/or client deliverables, or facilitating public outreach. Presenters are asked to briefly critique the effectiveness of their work.
20. Geologic Hazards and Climate Change in the Northeast: Impacts and Opportunities.
Cosponsored by the Eastern Section SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology).
Nicholas K. Coch, CUNY Queens College; Laurence R. Becker, Vermont Geological Survey.
This interdisciplinary session will cover a wide range of currently relevant topics that have both short-term and long-term impacts on the region and present challenges for the future. Topics will include definitively geologic hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, flooding, ground subsidence, and fluvial and coastal erosion and will also take into consideration impacts of hurricanes and nor’easters and future impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise.
21. Energy Geoscience and Climate Change Issues in the Northeast.
Fred Loxsom, Eastern Connecticut State Univ.; Stephen A. Nathan, Univ. of Massachusetts.
Many energy issues have a foundation in geoscience: climate change, geothermal, shale gas, methane hydrates, carbon sequestration, hydropower, tidal power, and nuclear power. This session will cover a broad range of energy-related issues that either impact the environment or present new opportunities for local power sources.
22. Geothermal Potential in the Northeast: A Quixotic Quest or Reality?
J. Michael Rhodes and Stephen B. Mabee, Univ. of Massachusetts.
For strategic, economic, and environmental reasons, it is imperative to develop alternative energy sources to reduce dependence on carbon-based fuels. In the northeastern U.S., geothermal energy has received less attention than wind, solar, or biomass, primarily because of low but sparse heat flow measurements. However, recent discoveries of high heat flow in West Virginia, locally high radon emissions, and the abundance of potentially heat-producing granites in northeastern states make this perception questionable and certainly worth testing. For this session, we welcome contributions on all aspects of geothermal energy, including Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), sedimentary basin and co-produced geothermal reservoirs, direct-use, low-temperature applications, and ground-source heat pumps (GSHP), especially as they relate to energy development in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.
23. Seeing through the Haze: Remote Sensing, Geophysical Investigations, and Neotectonics in Northeastern North America.
Robert J. Altamura, Consulting Geologist; John E. Ebel, Boston College.
Pleistocene glacial till and stratified drift cover much of the bedrock of northeastern North America, presenting challenges to understanding bedrock geologic relationships. Therefore, alternative methods such as remotely sensed imagery (e.g., LiDAR and SLAR), geophysical methods (geomagnetics, paleomagnetics, gravity, seismic profiling, and seismic monitoring), and deep research boreholes must be used to understand bedrock structures, such as fractures and faults, and the distribution of lithologies. These methods also provide evidence for understanding regional seismicity and neotectonic history. For this session, we encourage presentations that address any aspect of remote sensing or geophysical approaches to characterizing regional or local geology and/or neotectonics.


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