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News Release March 26, 2003
GSA Release No. 03-08
Contact: Christa Stratton

Joint Meeting of the Atlantic Geoscience Society and the Geological Society of America Northeastern Section This Week in Halifax

Program Highlights

Registration & Procedures

Boulder, Colo. - Geoscientists from around the globe will gather this week in Halifax at a joint meeting of the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America and the Atlantic Geoscience Society. The meeting takes places March 27-29 at the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel, 1181 Hollis Street, Halifax. Approximately 500 scientists, students, and K-12 educators are expected to attend.

Hosting the meeting are geoscientists from Dalhousie University, Acadia University, St. Francis Xavier University, St. Mary's University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of New Brunswick, Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Energy, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy, and New Brunswick Department of Environment, and local government.

The Geological Society of America invites journalists to attend sessions of interest, interview scientists, and visit the exhibit area. Local, regional, and national topics of interest include area environmental concerns, energy resources, and earthquake hazards. Topics of international interest include planetary geoscience and paleontology.

Information on complimentary media registration and procedures for arranging face-to-face and telephone interviews during the meeting follow the program highlights below.



Mass Extinctions, Asteroid Impacts, and Giant Volcanic Eruptions-The Beginning and End of the Dinosaurs
Paul E. Olsen of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, will give a special talk at the Museum of Natural History Wednesday evening. While this talk is not part of the technical program of the meeting, the content is of considerable interest to both scientists and the general public. Olsen will look at evidence surrounding Earth's three major mass extinctions that took place 250 million years ago, 200 million years ago, and 65 million years ago. All three have evidence of extraterrestrial impacts. All are also associated with giant lava flows through the Earth's crust, alterations in oceanic and atmospheric conditions, and disruptive changes in vegetation. Olsen will discuss possible linkages among these dynamic Earth processes and their significance to the reign of the dinosaurs.
Wednesday, March 26, Museum of Natural History, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Paul E. Olsen
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Palisades, NY, USA
Large Impact Crater in the Gulf of Maine?
Dallas Abbott, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, and her colleague Dominic Manzer, will present evidence for a large impact crater in the Gulf of Maine. They believe the crater, referred to as the Small Point crater, may be approximately 65 million years old, perhaps coinciding with the well-known Chicxulub impact event in Mexico. (The latter is believed to have resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs.) Geoscientists refer to this timeframe, which marks the shift from a period of geologic time called the Cretaceous to one called the Tertiary, as the K/T boundary. Abbott and Manzer will discuss evidence of the K/T boundary Small Point impact structure and some of its distinctive features. They will also share results of modeling that suggest Small Point lies along a trajectory extending from Chicxulub to Silverpit and Boltysh, two European K/T boundary craters. Additional studies suggest that Chicxulub and Small Point may have been a double impact event with only a few minutes separation, resulting in craters of similar size. The Small Point impact could have affected the ejecta distributed from Chicxulub and produced a tsunami that shaped much of the Martitime provinces' topography.
Thursday, March 27, Westin Hotel, Commonwealth A (Posters 8:00 a.m.)
Dallas H. Abbott   [ view abstract ]
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Palisades, NY, USA
Friday, March 28, Westin Hotel, Commonwealth B, 1:40 p.m.
Dominic Manzer  [ view abstract ]
Greenbelt, MD, USA
Meteorite Reporting and Research in Canada: Geologists and Astronomers Assist the Canadian Space Agency
Earth accumulates nearly 100 tonnes of extraterrestrial material every day. Some of that material survives the descent through Earth's atmosphere and lands on the surface as meteorites. According to James Whitehead and John Spray of the Planetary and Space Science Centre, University of New Brunswick, meteorites are important sources of information about our solar system's early history, among other things. Whitehead will talk about the Meteorites and Impacts Advisory Committee (MIAC), a volunteer group of geologists and astronomers that coordinates reporting and research on meteorites and other impacts for the Canadian Space Agency. Full and associate members of MIAC help investigate and reconstruct flight paths in order to locate impact sites and potentially recover meteoritic material. Currently, there is only one MIAC representative in Atlantic Canada and more are needed.
Saturday, March 29, West Hotel, Commonwealth A (Posters 8:00 a.m.)
James Whitehead  [ view abstract ]
Planetary and Space Science Centre
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, NB, Canada


1929 Grand Banks Earthquake Provides Clues to Risk of Large, Tsunami-Inducing Failures on the Scotian Margin
Canada experienced its worst earthquake-related disaster on November 18, 1929. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake released an offshore landslide along the Grand Banks in Newfoundland. That landslide then triggered a 13-meter tsunami that killed 28 people on the Burin Peninsula. D. Calvin Campbell of the Geological Survey of Canada's Bedford Institute of Oceanography and Brian McAdoo of Vassar College will shed new light on this tragic event and discuss the likelihood of a similar occurrence in the future. Campbell will present research findings on the record of slope failures in the area over the past 1,000,000 years. McAdoo will discuss recent sediment studies and what they suggest about tsunami wave height and velocity.
Friday, March 28, Westin Hotel, Commonwealth B, 2:20 p.m.
D. Calvin Campbell  [ view abstract ]
Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic)
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Friday, March 28, Westin Hotel, Commonwealth B, 2:40 p.m.
Brian G. McAdoo  [ view abstract ]
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY, USA


Abundant Offshore Energy Resources in the Scotian Margin
The Scotian Margin extends from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Georges Bank in the north Atlantic. This area includes two different petroleum systems: the Carboniferous petroleum system in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and offshore Sydney basin; and the Triassic-Tertiary Petroleum system between the Laurentian Channel to Georges Bank, also known as the Scotian Basin. The area is considered to be an important source of energy resources with great significance for the future: natural gas, condensate, and gas hydrates. Prasanta ("Muki") Mukhopadhyay of Global Geoenergy Research Ltd. in Halifax will discuss geologic processes associated with formation of these resources and public policy implications of these abundant supplies. Canada's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, with its emphases on greenhouse gas emission control and development of fuel cell technology, may increase demand for these relatively clean burning, methane-based energy resources.
Wednesday, March 27, Pier 21, Kenneth C. Rowe Heritage Hall
Prasanta K. Mukhopadhyay  [ view abstract ]
Global Geoenergy Research Ltd.
Halifax, NS, Canada
New Cycle of Petroleum Exploration Onshore in Nova Scotia
The petroleum industry has had recent exploration success in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. Paul J. Harvey of the Nova Scotia Department of Energy in Halifax notes that the geology of Nova Scotia includes the same Paleozoic rocks that yielded discoveries in New Brunswick. Harvey will discuss recent developments in the search for onshore petroleum resources, including examples of play concepts, the role of government, and the regulatory framework.
Friday, March 28, Pier 21, Kenneth C. Rowe Heritage Hall, 4:00 p.m.
Paul J. Harvey  [ view abstract ]
Nova Scotia Department of Energy
Halifax, NS, Canada


Organic Pollutants in Halifax Harbour, Lake Ontario, and New York Bight
Prasanta K. (Muki) Mukhopadhyay, Global Geoenergy Research Ltd., Halifax, and colleagues have conducted comprehensive "fingerprinting" of both natural and organic pollutants in these bodies of water. They examined sediments deposited in each over the last 100-150 years and found four distinct groups of pollutants generated by human activity. These include: organic matter from sewage discharge; coal and coal-combustion products from ships and power plants; petroleum components from ships, refineries, and chemical factories; and various forms of plastics from a variety of sources. Mukhopadhyay will discuss the relative amounts of each type and implications for the future health of these important water resources.
Saturday, March 29, Westin Hotel, Commonwealth B, 2:00 p.m.
Prasanta K. Mukhopadhyay  [ view abstract ]
Global Geoenergy Research Ltd.
Halifax, NS, Canada


First Nations and Last Elephants
John Chiment, Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers, Cornell University, will examine an intriguing question regarding prehistory of the northeastern United States and the Canadian Maritime. He and colleague Thomas R. Lake from SUNY Dutchess Community College have studied a possible overlap in time of early humans and mastodons in the geologic time period known as the Pleistocene. Chiment will discuss findings from New York State's Wyoming and Chemung counties where humans and now-extinct large mammals appear to have coexisted. He will also talk about a new series of investigations into whether the first humans contributed to the extinction of mammoths and mastodons through the introduction of tuberculosis.
Friday, March 28, Westin Hotel, Lunenburg, 9:20 a.m.
John J. Chiment  [ view abstract ]
Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, USA
Thomas R. Lake  [ view abstract ]
SUNY Dutchess Community College
Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

** View the entire scientific program at **



Eligibility for complimentary media registration is as follows:

  • Working press representing bona fide news media with a press card, letter, or business card from the publication.
  • Freelance science writers, presenting a current membership card from NASW, ISWA, regional affiliates of NASW, or evidence of work pertaining to science published in 2001 or 2002.
  • Public Information Officers of scientific societies, educational institutions, and government agencies.

Media representatives may register at the main meeting registration desk located in the Commonwealth Foyer on the second level of the Westin Hotel.

Registration will be open
Wednesday, March 26, from 4-8 p.m.
Thursday and Friday, March 27-28, from 7:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 29, from 7:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

All media registrants will receive a name badge and the program/abstract book.

Media registrants may arrange on-site interviews after attending the session in which the talk is given or by leaving a note at the GSA Registration Desk requesting an interview before or after the talk. Interested media unable to attend may telephone the Registration Desk at 902-496-7961 and leave a message requesting a callback from the speaker.

For additional information before March 27, contact Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications, at 303-357-1056. During the meeting, March 27-29, contact the GSA Registration Desk at 902-496-7961.


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