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News Release August 30, 2004
GSA Release No. 04-24
Contact: Christa Stratton


Geological Society of America 2004 Annual Meeting:
Denver, Colorado, Nov. 7-10

Boulder, CO – More than 6000 geoscientists will gather at the Colorado Convention Center (CCC) in Denver Nov. 7-10 for “Geoscience in a Changing World,” the 116th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. Nearly 250 symposia, topical sessions, and discipline-specific sessions will cover a wide variety of topics.
I. Technical Program Highlights II. Media Participation

 I. Technical Program Highlights

Seeing Mars With New Eyes: Active Missions, Science Results, And Geoscience Education (Pardee Keynote Symposium)
Wednesday, Nov. 10, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC Ballroom 2/3
Leading scientists associated with active Mars missions will present the latest findings and discuss wide-ranging impacts on education.
Speakers include:
  • Steven W. Squyres, Cornell University. Scientific Results from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission
  • Dan McCleese, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech. Robotic Exploration of Mars
  • Michael C. Malin, Malin Space Science Systems. Mars Global Surveyor: The Second Mars Revolution
  • Jeffrey J. Plautt, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech. The Mars Express Mission
  • And more
For a complete list of speakers and their abstracts see
In addition, the speakers will conduct a public forum, "The Latest (Red) Dirt from the Mission Makers," on Tuesday evening, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m.
Pre-Mesozoic Impacts: Their Effect on Ocean Geochemistry, Magnetic Polarity, Climate Change, and Organic Evolution (Pardee Keynote Symposium)
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC Ballroom 4
Pre-Mesozoic comet and meteorite impacts, many far exceeding in magnitude those at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary, produced extreme oceanic and climate changes, causing mass extinctions followed by rapid radiation of surviving organisms. Thus, they were a driving mechanism in early evolution of life on Earth. Glacial episodes and paleomagnetic changes also resulted from some major impacts. This symposium will explore impacts, as well as other extraterrestrial influences, on four major mass extinctions: the end-Precambrian, Late Ordovician, Late Devonian, and end-Permian. A new paradigm will be introduced, new evidence pro and con presented, and controversies explored.
Speakers include:
  • Jared A. Morrow, University of Northern Colorado. Late Devonian Impacts, Events, and Extinctions-A Paradigm for Pre-Mesozoic Earth History.
  • Bruce Simonson, Oberlin College. The Influence of Impacts on the first 87% of Earth History.
  • Nicholas J. Butterfield, University of Cambridge. Temporal Discontinuity in the Impact of Impacts: The Pre-Phanerozoic Follows Different Rules.
  • Bruce S. Lieberman, University of Kansas. Did a Gamma-Ray Burst Initiate the Late Ordovocian Mass Extinction?
  • Peter M. Sheehan, Milwaukee Public Museum. The Late Ordovician Extinction: Ecological Signature of a Non-Impact Event.
  • Gregory J. Retallack, University of Oregon. Another Look at Impact, Methane Outbursts, and Extinction Mechanisms at the Permian-Triassic Boundary.
  • And more
For a complete list of speakers and their abstracts see
On Tuesday evening, Nov. 9, the speakers will hold an open forum, "The Role of Impacts on Evolution."
Medical Geology (Pardee Keynote Symposium)
Sunday, Nov. 7, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC Ballroom 2/3
The developing field of medical geology deals with the impacts of geologic materials and processes on human and animal health. Hear broad perspectives on this evolving area of geoscience, as well as the latest findings on specific medical geology topics by leading experts from federal agencies and academia.
Speakers include:
  • Syed E. Hasan, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Medical Geology comes of Age
  • Robert B. Finkelman, U.S. Geological Survey. Musings of a Meandering Medical Geologist
  • William H. Orem, U.S. Geological Survey, Health Effects of Coal-Derived Organic Compounds in Natural Waters: Case Studies of Balkan Endemic Nephropathy and Renal/Pelvic Cancer
  • Gabe Filippelli, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Lead Poisoning and Medical Geology: An Unfinished Story
  • Christina A. Kellogg, U.S. Geological Survey, Dust in the Wind: Intercontinental Transport of Desert Dust in the Atmosphere and its Implications for Human and Ecosystem Health
  • Ahman Abdel-Fattah, University of Texas at El Paso, Dead Sea Black Mud: Medical Geochemistry of a Traditional Therapeutic Agent
  • And more
For a complete list of speakers and their abstracts see
Geoscientific Aspects of Human and Ecosystem Vulnerability (Pardee Keynote Symposium)
Sunday, Nov. 7, 1:30-5:30 p.m., CCC Ballroom 2/3
Experts, analysts, and civil authorities tend to react to relatively short-term socio-political hazards. They are far less prepared to analyze and reduce the vulnerability of populations to longer scale geologic processes.
Speakers include:
  • Michael H. Glantz, National Center for Atmospheric Research. Will the 21ST Century Become the Climate Century?
  • Donald J. Wuebbles, University of Illinois. Vulnerability and Sustainability: The Added Stress of Climate Change.
  • Ward Chesworth, University of Guelph. In the Neck of the Hourglass.
  • Robert J. Finley, Illinois State Geological Survey. Fossil Fuels and the Future: You Don't Know What You've Got'Til It's Gone (Or Do We?).
  • William E. Rees, University of British Columbia. Why Modern Humans Inevitably Trash Ecosystems (and Ultimately Undermine Themselves): A Thermodynamic Interpretation.
  • And more
For a complete list of speakers and their abstracts see

A sampling of topical sessions includes:

  • Climate Change
    • Frontiers in Understanding the Geologic Record of Climate Change
      Monday, Nov. 8, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC 603
    • Records of Late Quaternary Climatic Change from the America: Interhemispheric Synchroneity or Not
      Tuesday, Nov. 9, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC 103/105
  • Nuclear Waste Disposal
    • Geologic Disposal of Radioactive Waster: Rising to the Challenge of Regulatory Requirements and Environmental Protection at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, and the Yucca Mountain Site, Southern Nevada
      Sunday, Nov. 7, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC 203
  • Water Resources
    • Hydrologic Impacts of Urbanization and Suburbanization on Water Resources
      Monday, Nov. 8, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC 205
    • Groundwater Depletion and Overexploitation in the Denver Basin Bedrock Aquifers
      Sunday, Nov. 7, 1:30-5:30 p.m., CCC 207
  • Environmental Geoscience
    • Assessment and Characterization of Geologic Formations for Long-Term CO2 Storage (Sequestration)
      Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1:30-5:30 p.m., CCC 207
    • The Gulf of Mexico-Past, Present, and Future: Relating Ecology to Geology
      Monday, Nov. 8, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CCC 103/105
  • Sustainability
    • Sustainable Management of Water Resources
      Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1:30-5:30 p.m., CCC 102
    • The Science of Sustainability: How can we most Effectively Education Students, the Public, and Policymakers?
      Monday, Nov. 8, 1:30-5:30 p.m., CCC 607
  • More on Mars
    • Mars Mineralogy: The View from MER
      Wednesday, Nov. 10, 1:30-5:30 p.m., CCC 103/105

In addition, a special session on "Beer and Geology" will be hosted by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, former geologist and former owner of a popular Denver brewpub. Three invited talks on geology's impact on the taste and quality of beer will be followed by sampling of regional brews. Tickets for the Sunday evening session cost $10 (pre-registration only) and $15 onsite.

View the entire technical program at

 II. Media Participation

Onsite Newsroom facilities will be available at the meeting. Qualified media are invited to attend and registration is complimentary.

Eligibility for media registration is as follows, all of whom have equal access:

  • Working press representing bona fide, recognized 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 2003 or 2004.
  • PIOs of scientific societies, educational institutions and government agencies.

Journalists and PIOs must pay for any short courses or field trips in which they wish to participate.

Representatives of the business side of news media, publishing houses, and for-profit corporations must register at the main registration desk and pay the appropriate fees.

For additional information on eligibility and housing, and to register, visit Contact Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications, for assistance (

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