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News Release February 2, 2001
GSA Release No. 01-02
Contact: Christa Stratton

Two of the World's Oldest Earth Science Organizations Collaborate in Study of Planet Earth and Beyond

The Geological Society of America (established in 1888) and the Geological Society of London (established in 1807) will co-convene "Earth System Processes" June 24-28, 2001, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to take an updated look at how the Earth works. Recognizing the rising importance of holistic approaches to the study of our planet, they're also inviting colleagues from other scientific disciplines to join them.

Scientists will explore Earth system linkages, the relationships among solid Earth and the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere. They will also examine Earth system evolution and how processes controlling the nature of the planet have changed since the birth of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago.

"Sessions will be of interest to everyone from anthropologists, astrobiologists and botanists, to climate modelers, hydrologists, ecologists, and oceanographers," said Ian Dalziel of the University of Texas, Austin. Dalziel, the technical program co-chair and Secretary of GSA's International Division, also expects that applied scientists, including those involved in petroleum exploration and production, will be attracted to the sessions on fluid reservoirs and petroleum degradation. Sessions will involve a combination of invited and submitted papers.

The technical program for the conference will transcend traditional geology and include thematic and general sessions relating to atmospheric, oceanic, and life sciences. The program will include other planetary systems and key extraterrestrial influences. The Scientific Programme Committee overseeing the technical program consists of prominent scientists from both the U.S. and U.K.

"It's fitting that we meet in Edinburgh, where James Hutton's Theory of Earth was first published in 1788," explained Ian Fairchild of Keele University, Staffordshire. (Hutton, a former medical doctor, became a self-taught geologist and is recognized as the founder of modern geology. He held the vision of a self-renewing, self-repairing earth.)

"Hutton, Darwin, and their contemporaries were naturalists, considering all aspects of the natural and physical sciences," Fairchild said. "At this meeting, a group of scientific specialists will come together and, like modern-day naturalists, explore complex, integrated system questions and problems." Fairchild is the co-chair of the technical program.

Two eminent University of Edinburgh scientists, Aubrey Manning and Geoffrey Boulton, will deliver the keynote addresses. Manning, Emeritus Professor of Natural History, has won new fame for his role in the acclaimed BBC documentary series, "Earth Story." Boulton, Regius Professor of Geology, is known for his holistic view of Earth processes and history.

Other plenary keynote speakers include: Andrew H. Knoll, Fischer Professor of Natural History, Harvard University, who will discuss the geological consequences of evolution; Michael Gurnis, Professor of Geophysics at the California Institute of Technology, who will address the connection between Earth's deep interior and evolution of its surface; and James M. Franklin, President of the Society of Economic Geologists (Denver, CO), who will speak on mineral resources and the changing planet.

Field trips and field workshops round out the meeting.

For additional information and registration,
or contact
Ian Dalziel, University of Texas, Austin,, or
Ian Fairchild, Keele University,



Dates: June 24-28, 2001

Title: Earth System Processes

Geological Society of America and Geological Society of London

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

A broad, interdisciplinary meeting for scientists interested in interrelationships among different Earth systems. Major themes are Earth systems linkages (relationships among solid Earth, the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere) and Earth system evolution (ways in which processes controlling the nature of the planet have evolved through time). Includes comparison with other planetary systems in the solar system and critical extraterrestrial influences.

Abstract deadline: February 28, 2001

Final pre-conference registration deadline: April 30, 2001

Ian Dalziel, University of Texas, Austin,
Ian Fairchild, Keele University,

Additional information and registration:


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