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Find Your Science at GSA
9 August 2011
GSA Release No. 11-50
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach

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Fragile Earth Explored

Boulder, CO, USA - The trips in this special "Fragile Earth" field guide examine the records and recording tools of geological processes, from plate motions, to deep crustal structure and deformation, to near-surface processes and interactions between the Earth's surface and climate. Three chapters focus on observatories and communicating geosciences to the public through Geoparks, while four other papers loosely define a north-south geological cross section through the eastern Alps of Germany and Austria and its foreland basin.

The related international conference, "Fragile Earth: Geological processes from global to local scales and associated hazards and resources," will take place in Munich, Germany, on 4–7 Sept. 2011. The meeting is jointly organized by the Geological Society of America and the German Geological Societies (German Geological Society and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften), and is hosted by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Munich.

"Fragile Earth" is one of the scientific themes at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München (the University of Munich), from which the three editors of this volume hail. According to senior editor Sara Carena, "This theme emphasizes that the Earth's surface is highly sensitive to the exogenic and endogenic geological processes that generate both natural resources and events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, storms, or tsunamis."

Carena and co-editors discuss the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that occurred offshore of northeastern Japan in March 2011 as an example of the vulnerability of a region to geological processes as well as the possible global economic and social implications. Thus a regional geological event had important social repercussions worldwide as well.

The editors note that the occurrence of great earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural events at the regional scale is ultimately controlled by global dynamic processes in the Earth's interior. These processes, they say, "build and modify the lithosphere and its surface, which is also affected by climatically driven processes. Therefore, the lithosphere and its surface are unique recorders of geological processes at all scales. The understanding of geological structures, deposits, and landforms at the regional scale and the quantification of surface deformation is of particular importance in linking the global driving forces to resultant local hazards and resources."

Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through the Geological Society of America online store, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service, .

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting Jeanette Hammann, .

Geological Field Trips in Central Western Europe: Fragile Earth International Conference, Munich, September 2011
Sara Carena, Anke M. Friedrich, and Bernd Lammerer (editors)
Geological Society of America Field Guide 22
FLD022, 125 p., $40.00; Member price $35.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-0022-9