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News Release November 4, 2000
GSA Release No. 00-27
Contact: Christa Stratton

(303) 357-1093


The Geological Society of America
2000 Annual Meeting - "Summit 2000"
Information for Science Writers and Editors


This media advisory updates GSA Release No. 00-24, issued on Sept. 29, 2000, regarding GSA's 112th Annual Meeting, November 9-18, at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. For complete meeting information, please see Summit 2000 on GSA's web site.

Onsite registration for media will begin Sunday, November 12, 7:30 a.m., in the GSA Newsroom, Room A8. All who have pre-registered should also come directly to the Newsroom to pick up badges and Programs.

Listed below are scheduled press briefings. The first briefing will take place Sunday afternoon, November 12, at 5:00 p.m.; the last is scheduled for Wednesday, November 15, at 11:45 a.m. All briefings will be held in Room A8. Press briefing information is subject to change, so please check the Newsroom for updates upon arrival.


Sunday, November 12

5:00-6:00 p.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Frontiers in Gas Hydrate Research
Miriam Kastner, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Charles Paull, Research and Development, Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Keith Kvenvolden, Coastal and Marine Geology Team, U.S. Geological Survey
Peter Brewer, Research and Development, Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
The briefing will include discussion of: landslides and slope-stability problems in relation to gas hydrates; estimates of Earth's gas hydrate reserves; and the potential impact of gas hydrate dissociation on seawater chemistry and global change.

Monday, November 13

10:00-11:00 a.m. PRESS BRIEFING, The Walker Lane: An Evolving Transform Plate Boundary
Wayne Thatcher, Earthquake Hazards Team, U.S. Geological Survey
Brian Wernicke, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology
Steven G. Wesnousky, Center for Neotectonic Studies, University of Nevada, Reno
John S. Oldow, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Idaho
J. E. Faulds, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, University of Nevada, Reno
The Walker Lane fault zone is a series of active earthquake faults nearly 800 miles long extending from the Mojave Desert in eastern California to the Cascade volcanoes in central Oregon. Though less well-known than its famous cousin the San Andreas, the Walker Lane is not much less active, taking up about 25% of the motion between the giant crustal plates of the Pacific Ocean and North America. Because of its activity, the Walker Lane is of interest and importance not only to geologists and seismologists but to planners, earthquake response officials, and residents living along the urbanizing corridor lying between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Great Basin region of eastern California, western Nevada and central Oregon.

11:15 -11:45 a.m. PRESS BRIEFING, NASA's Next Landed Mission to Mars: The 2003 Mars Exploration Rober Project
Steven W. Squyres, Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University
NASA's next landed mission to Mars will send two robotic field geologists to the planet's surface. The two Mars Exploration Rovers will be launched in the summer of 2003, and will land in January and February of 2004. The rovers and their payloads will be used to read the geologic record at the landing sites, to investigate the ancient environmental conditions and water activity there, and to assess the sites' suitability as possible former abodes for life. This briefing will include detailed descriptions of the rovers and their Athena science instrument package, as well as information on the planned landing technique.

12:30-1:30 p.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Structure and Tectonics of Planets and Satellites
Tom Watters, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Catherine L. Johnson, Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution
William McKinnon, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences and McDonnell Center for Space Science, Washington University
Robert Pappalardo, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Brown University
This briefing will present some of the latest research results on faulting and folding of both rocky and icy bodies from the inner and outer solar system using images and data obtained from previous and currently active planetary missions. The presentations will cover Mercury, Venus, and Mars, the icy moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, and the asteroid Eros. Highlights include: new topographic data on tectonic features of Mercury derived from Mariner 10 images; and the new global dataset from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft and its implications for hypotheses regarding the Tharsis volcanotectonic complex.

4:00-5:00 p.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Paleoclimatology and Climatology of South America
Paul A. Baker, Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University
Catherine Rigsby, Dept. of Geology, East Carolina University
Alan Mix, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University
Paul Colinvaux, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
The Amazon basin contains Earth's largest tropical rain forest, is Earth's most biologically productive region, and is Earth's region of highest biodiversity. Some of the most advanced coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models yield the extraordinary result that under future conditions of 4X modern atmospheric CO2 levels, that the Amazon could become a desert. Although not to be accepted at face value, that result is a wake-up call that a better understanding of Amazonian climate is needed. This briefing will explore the nature of climatic and paleoclimatic variability of (mostly) tropical and (some) extratropical South America, examining geologic records and placing these records into a global context. Note: Due to a scheduling conflict, Wallace S. Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, is unable to participate in this briefing. He will be available to talk with interested media following his presentation, The big climate amplifier: Ocean circulation-sea ice extent-storminess-dustiness-cloud albedo, in session 123, Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 4:45 p.m.

Tuesday, November 14

10:00-11:00 a.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Evolution of the Lake Tahoe Basin: Geologic Framework, Neotectonics, Seismology, Geophysics, Geomorphology, Hydrology, and Environment
Mary Lahren, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno
Charles Goldman, Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis
Richard Schweickert, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno
Robert Karlin, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno
Graham Kent, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
The briefing will include discussion of: man's impacts on the basin as revealed by ongoing environmental research and monitoring; neotectonics and natural hazards, including active faults, landslides, and tsunamis; and application of new technologies to studies of lake history.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Active Western North America Tectonics
Richard A. Bennett, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Kevin Furlong, Dept. of Geosciences, Penn State University
Lucy Flesh, Dept. of Geosciences, State University of New York, Stony Brook
Meghan Miller, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Central Washington University
This briefing will include information on: the recent evolution of faults in northern Baja California, and their relationship with seafloor spreading in the Gulf of California; the dynamics of plate boundary deformation in the western U.S; and recent geodetic measurements in Cascadia.

2:00-3:00 p.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Superplume Events in Earth History: Causes and Effects
Kent C. Condie, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
David J. DesMarais, Space Science Division, NASA Ames Research Center
Dallas H. Abbott, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Lee R. Kump, Dept. of Geosciences and Earth System Science Center, Penn State University
Why have continents grown in bursts over geologic time? This question, which has puzzled geologists for decades, now may have an answer: superplume events in the mantle. Superplume events are short-lived catastrophes in the Earth's mantle during which large numbers of mantle plumes bombard the base of the plates and release large volumes of magma that result in continental growth. Global warming, black shales, mass extinctions, rapid plate motions, liberation of oxygen into Earth's atmosphere, deposition of iron formation, and high sea level are all possible secondary effects of superplume events. This session brings together for the first time scientists from a variety of disciplines to talk about the generation of superplumes in the mantle and the possible effects of superplume events on the Earth's crust, atmosphere, oceans, and life.

3:30-4:30 p.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Recent Results on the Causes and Consequences of Oceanic Island Volcanism: Where are we Going Next?
Michael O. Garcia, Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaii
Sean C. Solomon, Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution
Garrett T. Ito, Dept. of Geology, University of California-Davis
Karen S. Harpp, Dept. of Geology, Colgate University
Terry R. Naumann, Dept. of Geology, University of Alaska, Anchorage
Dennis Geist, Dept. of Geological Sciences, University of Idaho
Studies of ocean island volcanism have played a vital role in the development of modern theories on how the earth generates magma, plate tectonics, and the consequences of volcanic eruptions. In this briefing a progress report will be given on the ongoing Hawaiian Scientific Drilling Project, the deepest hole ever drilled into a volcano. The first phase of this project penetrated 3.1 km (10,200 ft) into Mauna Kea volcano revealing for the first time the submarine growth of oceanic volcanoes. Results from a major seismic study to image the deep earth and the mantle plume that is responsible for Hawaiian magmatism will be discussed. Also covered in the briefing will be recent work in the Galapagos archipelago that has resulted in quantam advances in the dynamics of mantle plumes, specifically how plumes might behave when they hit the "ceiling" of the earth's lithosphere and how they interact with the magmatic systems of the mid-ocean ridges. Integrated studies of oceanic island volcanism will also be discussed, with emphasis on its role in controlling biodiversity.

Wednesday, November 15

8:00-9:00 a.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Applications of Remote Sensing and GIS to the New Valley Project, Toshka, Egypt
Allie K. Thurmond, Center for Lithospheric Studies, University of Texas at Dallas
R. J. Stern, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas
M. G. Abdelsalam, Dept. of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Scientists and astronauts from the Johnson Space Center, the University of Texas at Dallas, and Ain Shams University of Egypt have been monitoring four lakes that formed in the past two years in the Sahara Desert of southern Egypt, a part of the world which has not had permanent lakes for about 6,000 years. The New Saharan Lakes formed when water spilled westward through the Tushka depression, which occurred when the water level in Lake Nasser reached an engineered spillpoint of 163 m above sealevel. After many years of low Nile floods during the 1980's, Lake Nasser has filled to the brim as a result of very high rainfall over the Ethiopian highlands, and began to overflow westward in 1998. Astronaut photography recorded the first lake in Nov. 1998, and all four lakes existed by Dec. 1999. These lakes are now estimated to hold about 20 billion m3 of water, about 25% of the annual flow of the Nile. Inspection of Landsat TM imagery over this time period provides an outstanding record of how these lakes formed. The total water area now encompasses about 1600 square km, and the possibility that more lakes may form exists. Satellite imagery over the region now occupied by the lakes reveals no evidence for older lakes, suggesting that these depressions formed as a result of recent earth movements.

10:00-11:00 a.m. PRESS BRIEFING, Application of Hydrologic and Geologic Studies to the Performance of a Potential Geologic Repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada
Bob Levich, U.S. Department of Energy, Las Vegas, NV
Yvonne Tsang, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
Jake Turin, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
Zell Peterman, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO
John Stuckless, U.S.Geological Survey, Denver, CO
This briefing highlights the use of data gathered through hydrologic and geologic studies at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and the surrounding area, to support evaluation of the site as a potential deep geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. Specific topics to be discussed include: seepage potential of thermally mobilized condensate water into emplacement drifts; results from the Busted Butte unsaturated zone transport test and their relevance to radionuclide migration; ground water flow paths as inferred from isotopic and hydrochemical data; and use of archaeologic analogues for building confidence in the ability of the unsaturated zone to safely isolate radioactive wastes over long time periods.


Media unable to attend the meeting but interested in conducting telephone interviews or obtaining other information are encouraged to call Ann Cairns in the GSA Newsroom for assistance. She will be available onsite at 775-335-8886 from Sunday, Nov. 12, through Thursday, Nov. 16.


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