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Find Your Science at GSA
16 May 2011
GSA Release No. 11-31
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach

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GSA Conference Stimulates Earth Science Exchange in Western U.S.

Boulder, CO, USA – More than 600 geoscientists will convene in Logan, Utah, USA, on 18-20 May to present their earth-science research at the 63rd/107th (respectively) joint annual meetings of the Rocky Mountain and Cordilleran Sections of The Geological Society of America. Members of the media are invited to attend and cover technical sessions with complimentary registration (details below). Geoscientists from around the nation will meet to discuss new research results in a wide range of geoscience fields, participate in technical sessions, and join field trips that range from southwestern Wyoming to northern Nevada.

Utah State University’s Department of Geology is hosting the meeting at the Riverwoods Conference Center in Logan. The meeting is co-organized by the Department of Geologic Sciences at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. Among the highlights of the meeting is a keynote address open to the public Thursday, May 19 on the USU campus.

Keynote: Giant Earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest
The CWU and USU host departments invite everyone to this keynote address by Dr. Tim Melbourne, Professor, Dept. of Geological Sciences and Director of the Pacific Northwest Geodetic Array (PANGA), Central Washington University.
When:   Thursday, 19 May, 8–9 p.m.
Where:  Eccles Science Learning Center 130 on the USU Campus
The address is open to the public and Dr. Melbourne will take questions from the audience.
About the talk:
The death toll for the recent earthquake in Japan, the best-prepared nation on earth, will soon surpass the combined American deaths in 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It's a sobering exercise to contemplate how the Pacific Northwest might have fared had the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck along the Cascadia fault beneath Washington and Oregon instead of Japan. The Northwest's vulnerability to seismic destruction matches Japan's, but its readiness does not. The Japan quake has shown that in its current state of preparations, the Northwest risks unimaginable loss of life and destruction of military, transportation, communication and economic infrastructure. The Cascadia fault has for several decades been considered a sleeping giant, but new instrumentation and new discoveries have shown it to be nearly continuously active over week-to-week timescales. This activity is now being put to use to map out future fault slip that, in turn, enables communities to better prepare for the inevitable.GPS technology in particular has become a powerful tool in the arsenal of seismic hazards mitigation, both in the forecasting of future earthquake location and sizes as well as in the rapid characterization of earthquakes once they begin. This talk will cover scientists' current understanding of the mechanics and risk posed by the Cascadia subduction fault. It will also discuss how new technologies are unveiling new phenomena occurring within the fault itself and refining our ability to characterize what it holds in store for Northwest communities.

View the session schedule by day or search the program by keywords at Click on session titles for a list of presentations, and click on presentations for the individual abstracts.

Find complete Southeast Section meeting information at


Coastal Response to Sea-Level and Climate Changes:  A Tribute to the Career of Stan Riggs
8:00 AM-12:05 PM, Thursday, 24 March, Wilmington Convention Center: Salon A

Coastal Response to Tidal Inlets: A Tribute to the Career of Bill Cleary
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Thursday, 24 March, Wilmington Convention Center, Salon A

From Triassic Basins to Hydrogeological and Environmental Characterization of Coastal Plain Environments: A Tribute to the Career of Paul A. Thayer
1:30-6:00 PM, Thursday, 24 March, Wilmington Convention Center Room 107

Significant Fossil Sites in the Southeast: Why They Are Important and How They Contribute to Our Knowledge of the Fossil Record, I and II
8:00 AM-12:05 PM, Thursday, 24 March, Wilmington Convention Center: Salon B
1:30 PM-2:50 PM, Thursday, 24 March, Wilmington Convention Center: Salon B

Local Contact: Richard Laws, , General Program Chair
Department of Geography and Geology
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Office phone: + 910-962-4125 (pre-meeting)


Eligibility for media registration is as follows:

Present media credentials to William Cox onsite at the GSA registration desk to obtain a badge for media access. Complimentary meeting registration covers attendance at all technical sessions and access to the exhibit hall. Journalists and PIOs must pay regular fees for paid luncheons and any short courses or field trips in which they 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 and assistance, contact Christa Stratton, GSA Director of Communications, at the address above.


The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 23,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 95 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.