Navigation Menu
popup category descriptions

News Release May 7, 2003
GSA Release No. 03-12
Contact: Christa Stratton

Geologists Discuss Area Prehistoric Cultures and Regional Wildfire at Meeting This Week in Durango

Program Highlights

Registration & Procedures

Boulder, Colo. - Geoscientists from around the globe are gathering this week in Durango, Colorado, for the 55th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America Rocky Mountain Section. Hosted by scientists from the Department of Geosciences at Ft. Lewis College, the meeting takes places May 7-9 on the Ft. Lewis campus. Approximately 250 are expected to attend, including scientists from the U.S., Albania, Austria, and Puerto Rico.

The Geological Society of America invites journalists to attend sessions of interest, interview scientists, and visit the exhibit area. Information on complimentary media registration and procedures for arranging face-to-face and telephone interviews during the meeting follow the program highlights below.


Prehistoric Settlements in the Canyon of the Ancients Region of Southwestern Colorado: A New Look at Their Demise
Speculation abounds that climate change had something to do with the disappearance of pre-Puebloen settlements in southwestern Colorado and Utah. New detective work by Kenneth Kolm, a hydrogeologist from Washington State University, and his colleague Schaun Smith, a Ph.D. student from the Colorado School of Mines, may help explain what happened. With funding from the National Science Foundation, they are studying present-day natural landscapes and groundwater resources in the area while reconstructing a climate picture of the past. Using tree-ring data and a healthy dose of mathematical modeling, they hope to document changing distribution of water resources and reduced flow quantities during the late pre-Hispanic occupation. Such changes would have reduced the supply of drinking water and resulted in settlement abandonment. Kolm and Smith are working with archaeologists Tim Kohler, Washington State University, and Mark Varien, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, in addition to mathematician Robert Reynolds, Wayne State University, in this biocomplexity study of the Canyon of the Ancients region.
Presentation Friday May 9, 8:55 a.m., Ft. Lewis College Noble Hall 125
Contact information:
Kenneth E. Kolm
c/o Argonne National Laboratory
Lakewood, CO
303-986-1140 ext. 251
Characteristics of Wildfire in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Colorado State University, and the USDA Forest Service believe that wildfires like the 2002 Missionary Ridge fire are a relatively recent phenomenon. Dating of fire scars and tree ring analyses in the San Juan Mountains suggest that fires prior to European settlement varied by elevation and forest type. Predominantly Ponderosa pine forests at lower elevations experienced frequent low-intensity fires; spruce-fir forests at higher elevations experienced less frequent but more severe fires. Susan Cannon of the USGS and her colleagues found that the situation changed abruptly around 1880. European settlers arrived and introduced grazing animals, effectively reducing vegetation that allows low-intensity surface fires to spread. As result, forests now have unprecedented fuel loadings and increased tree densities. The consequences of these changing ecological conditions are becoming apparent with extensive, high-severity fires at lower elevations as well as at higher ones.
Presentation Wednesday, May 7, 1:45 p.m., Ft. Lewis College Noble Hall 130
Contact information:
Susan H. Cannon
U.S. Geological Survey
Denver, CO
Heidi Koontz
U.S. Geological Survey
Denver, CO

** 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 College Union Building. Registration hours are 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, and Thursday, May 8, and 7:30-10:00 a.m. on Friday, May 9. 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 970-382-6955 and leave a message requesting a callback from the speaker.

For additional information, contact Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications, at 303-357-1056.


top top

  Home Page | Privacy | Contact Us

© The Geological Society of America, Inc.  

GSA Home Page Contact Us Frequently Asked Questions Site Search Site Map About GSA Member Services Publications Services Meetings & Excursions Sections Online Newsroom GSA For Students Geology & Public Policy Grants, Awards & Medals Employment Opportunities GeoMart Education & Teacher Resources Internships & Mentor Programs GSA Store Online Journals Join GSA Donate Now!