Minutes of the 1259th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, January 11, 1995.

     President Stifel, in the true spirit of institutional reform, called the meeting to order at precisely 8:00, surprising members who were enjoying the best beer since the 1988 Annual Meeting (which was held at the Carnegie Institution).  Thanks go to Steve Shirey for  making the arrangements.  The minutes of the 1258th meeting were dispatched without (audible) comment.

     Two guests were announced: Jim Male of AGI; and, Dr. Kiselev of the University of St. Petersburg, Russia.

     Six new members were announced:

       Peter Buseck, NSF and Arizona State University

       Robert R. Jordan, Delaware Geol. Survey (Corresponding)

       Bret W. Leslie, Springfield, VA

       Joshua M. Coder, George Washington Univ. (Student)

       Janine N. Savage, Univ. Maryland (Student)

       David R. Bell, Geophysical Laboratory

     In a break with tradition, four of the five new local members were actually present.

     A moment of silence was observed in memory of Richard E. Grant, who passed away in December.

     The President then summarized that day’s council meeting.  Highlights included a possible GSW T-shirt, and the planned March 8 meeting of the Society at the AGU building.

     There were no informal communications.

     The formal program began before 8:15 with Martin Fisk of NSF and Oregon State University speaking on “Microbial alteration of mid-ocean ridge basalt glass.”  Drill cores taken through pillow basalts at 50-60ºC off the Galapagos Islands contain small cracks, along which glass is altered to clay.  Focusing on the grunge rather than the glass (get used to it), Fisk noticed that tiny tube-like structures with dark tips often adorn these areas.  Staining techniques showed DNA to be present, and the microprobe revealed high phosphorous and carbon there as well.  DNA extraction was successful, but imaging of the up to 10 kinds of bacteria presumed to be present has not been achieved.  20-Ma basalts off the Mendocino ridge showed similar effects.  Questions by George Helz, Ken Towe, JK Bohlke, E-an Zen, Peter Buseck, Pat Taylor and President Stifel revealed that what the bugs eat and how the tubes form are unknown, and that only other rocks need fear infection from rock-born diseases (a good thing, since the speaker brought one of the rocks with him).  [20 min. + 10 min. discussion]

     Sally Newcomb of Prince Georges Community College then presented, “Contributions of chemical experimentalists to geology in the late 18th century.”  The tradition of using laboratory experiments to support studies of geology were well established by the mid 18th century.  Furnace temperatures were calibrated early on by Wedgewood, and James Hall measured high pressures with the help of Rube Goldberg (a perennial experimentalist).  Davy, Boccone and others examined the role of chemical reactions in geology.  By 1742, one chemist had asserted that no opinion should be valid without experimental confirmation.  Henckel measured minor and trace metals in pyrites, and used his data to explain hot springs deposits.  Pott’s thousands of experiments led in 1746 to a chemical classification of minerals, and were applied to theories of basalt origins.  Late 18th-C work by Guettard, D’Arcet and Curwen showed the difficulty of fusing rocks, and mostly supported the ideas of neptunism (so much for experiments).  But, in retrospect, they clearly showed that overly simple observations could stand in the way of good theories.  The audience, still trying to read that last slide of French text, only managed two questions, by Cy Galvin and Moto Sato.  It seems that most 18th-C geochemists relied on private sources of income to do their work (as may 21st-C geochemists). [22 min. + 2 min. discussion]

     Doug Rumble, Geophysical Lab., spoke on “Ultra-low d18O values from ultra-high pressure coesite-bearing and diamondiferous eclogites, east central China”.  Showing that he hadn’t lost his touch since his Sleeping-Bear-winning presidency of 7 years ago, Doug illustrated the formation of these rocks, now known from the collisional margins of several cratons, with a series of upside-down viewgraphs.  These rocks were apparently magically exhumed from mantle-like depths, some from over 120 km.  Oxygen isotopes of some ultra-high pressure rocks from a zoned, orogenic belt in the Dabie Mts., China, have extremely light values, some with d18O as low as -10½ to -8 ‰, but other measured eclogites are more normal.  Rumble believes that the light oxygen derives from meteoric water at high latitudes, exchanged with the precursor rock in the hydrothermal system associated with intrusions.  These isotopic signatures survived metamorphism, preserving paleoclimate information through the fantastic journey of the rocks.  A skeptical Dave Stewart questioned that so much rock could have gotten altered in this way.  Other questions by John Slack, E-an Zen, Brooks Hanson, Geo. Helz, Dan Milton and JK Bohlke revealed that the age, C and H isotopes, and d17O are unknown, and that no other mechanisms seem possible to Doug for affecting oxygen isotopes (but Dave Stewart remained unimpressed). [16.5 min. + 11 min. discussion]

     After announcing the next program, Pres. Stifel adjourned the meeting at 9:41 pm.  There were 76 people in attendance [21 women], including 10 past presidents, one present president, and at least one future president.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1260th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, January 25, 1995.

     First Vice-president George Helz called the meeting to order at 8:03 pm, 8:04 pm, and 8:05 pm.  The crowd of 123 members and guests [~26 women, 7 past presidents] was the largest since Frank Press’s special talk 3 years ago, and the ties the record for the largest at a standard “3-talk” meeting in the last 10 years.  The minutes of the 1259th meeting were approved as read. 

     Three legitimate visitors were announced:

       Dan Steinberg, NASA Goddard

       Tim Beach, Georgetown University

       Alex Spear, Mineralogical Society

     Two illegitimate visitors were already members:

       Josh Coder, Geo. Washington Univ.

       Antonio Segovia, U. Md.

     From the looks of the audience, there were numerous “lurking” visitors as well.

     Two new members were announced:

     Munir Humayun, Carnegie Institution of Wash. [present at meeting], and

     Roger A. Haskins, Bureau of Land Management

John Jens presented the winner of the Washington area science fair competition in the field of earth sciences, as judged by GSW.  Sajjad Matin, a sophomore at MacDonough High School, Pomfret, Md., presented his project, “The effect of flow rate on improvement of water quality in nontidal wetlands” as an “informal” informal communication, and fielded questions from Zen and Jens.  John Jens presented a $100 cash award, and the book A Positron Named Priscilla to the student, and John was applauded for his service to GSW.

     There were no “formal” informal communications.

     Martitia Tuttle, U. Md and Lamont Doherty, presented “Evidence of prehistoric earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone, central United States.”  She showed evidence for 2 to 3 very large quakes in that area in the 2000 years preceding the giant 1811 and 1812 events, which were felt from Chicago to Atlanta to Washington.  The 19th-century quakes produced a huge area of world-class sandblows, and liquefaction features are still visible today.  Native American artifacts and carbon dating constrained the ages of earlier earthquakes in excavated sediments and paleosols showing liquefaction features.  Events occurred at 0-500 AD, 800-1000 AD and 1200-1400 AD.  The inferred interval between such large earthquakes is several hundred to 1000 years.  Questions were asked by Steve Obermeyer, Sorena Sorensen, Karen Prestegaard, Moto Sato and Peter Buseck. [21 mins]

     Dorothy Tepper, USGS, Ithaca, NY,  then presented “Aquifer dewatering and subsidence caused by partial collapse of the Retsof salt mine, west central New York.”  This century-old, underground mine the size of Manhattan has been collapsing since last March, and water has been “leaking” in at the rate of 18,000 gal/minute (that’s 1100 liters/sec for any of you geochemists who can only think in SI units). A small earthquake on March 23 was actually a large cave-in in the mine where small support pillars were used instead of  large ones. Wells in the area are drying up, and large sinkholes, up to 70' deep, have formed over two large collapsed mine rooms.  At $50/gallon for epoxy sealer, it was deemed impractical to stem the inflow of groundwater.  Fortunately, 30 or 40 state, local and federal agencies are on the job, studying the phenomenon and providing advice.  Modeling shows that the entire area may soon subside about 10'. Although local residents are suing right and left, local officials are making large amounts of cash available to the mine owners as an incentive to stay.  The lengthy talk concluded with a video of every homeowner’s worst basement nightmare.  [Historical note: Contrary to VP Helz, this was not the first video shown at GSW, it was at least the 10th (dating back to 1923)]. Questions by Mark McBride, Rob Robinson, Dan Steinberg,  E-an Zen, Bill Houser, Bob King, Lindsay McLellan and Tom Van Brundt revealed that this is not likely to turn into a giant eco-disaster, there’s not much anybody can do about it, and that the USGS is likely to have a good source of income here for at least a few more years. [28 mins]

     Alan Brandon of DTM ended the long evening with “Rates of granitoid magma transport derived from epidote dissolution kinetics.”  Recent data has begun to suggest that granite bodies may rise through the crust as fast-moving dikes rather than sluggish diapirs, allowing little time for crustal interactions.  Presumably magmatic epidotes, thought to be stable only above 6 kbar, are often corroded in shallower granites.  Piston-cylinder experiments were carried out to measure the rate of epidote dissolution at various conditions, and the data were modeled by simple diffusion equations. Rhyodacite dikes from Colorado apparently ascended at 16-350 m/yr, and the White Creek batholith, B.C., may have risen at 1700 m/yr (which is 0.0001 mph for any of you paleontologists who can’t think in SI units), consistent with dikes, not diapirs.  Questions from Brooks Hanson, Sorena Sorensen, Craig Schiffries, George Helz, E-an Zen and Eric Krogstadt revealed a bit of skepticism about cooling rates, fO2, crustal contamination, viscosity and the effect of water on the data. [18 mins].

     The 90 remaining people adjourned at 10:06 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1261st meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, February 8, 1995.

     President Stifel called the meeting to order at 8:02 pm.  The minutes of the 1260th meeting were read and approved.

     Six visitors were announced:

       Prof. Kiselev, University of St. Petersburg, Russia

       Jeff Plescia, JPL and NASA HQ

       Don Hull, the Oregon State Geologist

       Cheryl Beach, George Mason University

       Helana Cichon, USGS

       Prof. Carl Bowser, University of Wisconsin

     President Stifel announced the upcoming McKelvey Forum, to be held in Washington, D.C.   He then reminded the audience that the March 8 meeting of GSW will be held in the AGU building, which is just beyond the “strip joint” up the street.  A number of members jotted down the address... we’ll see if they make it to the talks.

     Next, John Jens engaged in the perennial GSW winter sport of begging for science-fair judges.

     Master parliamentarian Stifel then led the members through a proposed change of the GSW by-laws, which would establish an official Archivist for the Society.  After reading from one version, while showing a viewgraph of another, the President led the already glassy-eyed audience through a series of motions and votes that even he didn’t seem to understand. It was finally agreed that a final version of the new by-law would be voted on at the next meeting.

     Cy Galvin presented an informal communication on the formation of terraced seaweed berms on beaches in British Columbia.  He discussed how wave action pushes rafts of seaweed in, and how folding in these mats resembles features in pahoehoe lava.  There were no questions from the now catatonic audience.  [5 minutes]

     Bill Burton then announced that the spring field trip would be delayed, and he encouraged people to participate in a survey of light pollution.

     The formal program finally began at 8:41 with Peter Buseck of ASU and NSF discussing “Geological fullerenes.”  Since their discovery 10 years ago, these soccer-ball shaped forms of carbon, usually C60,  have become the hottest topic in science.  Over 1000 papers/year are being churned out in the search for their occurrence in nature, synthesis, structure, and their much-anticipated applications, including possible uses as superconductors, catalysts, chemical sensors, drug-delivery systems, molecular containers, and optical devices.  “Buckyballs” have now been found in interstellar space, shungites, impactites, possibly in meteorites, and now in fulgerites.  Buseck was able to synthesize fullerene-bearing fulgerites in a Ben Franklin-like experiment done with a rocket instead of a kite, high atop a mountain.  The significance of buckyballs in the geologic record remains cryptic.  Questions by E-an Zen, Bevan French, Moto Sato, George Helz and Pete Toulmin served to emphasize that research on fullerenes has a long way to go... maybe with a few thousand more publications we’ll find some applications. [27.5 mins] 

     David Applegate of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources gave the next formal talk on “Mesozoic extension in the Death Valley region of California.”  Although the 2nd President of GSW got there 120 years ahead of Applegate,  G. K. Gilbert didn’t realize that the disturbed rocks in the Funeral Range were part of a core complex.  High grade rocks of the core are bounded by a Miocene age detachment fault,  and show evidence for extreme extension in the area, including shear zones.  The projector, apparently shocked that a structural geologist was planning on showing geochemical data, choked on a slide showing Ar-Ar evidence for late Cretaceous extension in an area best known for Tertiary extension. Without losing his cool, the speaker showed a series of cross-sections to account for the temperature-pressure-time history recorded in this area.  Heat from the Sierra batholith may have played a role in the Cretaceous extensional history of this area.  Questions were asked by Bevan French, E-an Zen, Bill Burton and Tom Armstrong.  [16.5 mins]

     Mark Fahnestock of NASA/Goddard wrapped things up with “Satellite-based research on the Greenland ice sheet.”  Sea-level changes are caused by changes in the world’s large ice sheets, but it is difficult to make physical measurements of growth or shrinkage rates in these locations.  Imaging radar on the ERS-1 satellite allows zones of dry snow, percolating layers, wet snow and bare ice to be mapped from space, and year-to-year changes will soon allow measurements of ice changes.  Areas of rapid ice flow have already been mapped in Greenland, and interferometry done with synthetic-aperture radar shows flow-rates in ice streams up to 100 m/year faster than in surrounding areas.  The properties of the channel beds are critical to ice stream propagation.  The speaker concluded by showing a NASA film-loop of rapid ice movement in an ice-stream in western Greenland.  Murray Hitzman, Bill Burton, Pres. Stifel, Dan Steinberg and Carl Bowser asked questions.  [28 mins]

     President Stifel adjourned the 96 members [6 past presidents, 16 women] and guests at 10:18 pm, the latest in 3 years.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1262nd meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, February 22, 1995.

     President Stifel called the meeting to order at 8:00 pm.  The minutes of the 1261st meeting were read and approved with slight correction.

     Three visitors were announced:

       Michael Hickey, Dept. of Interior

       John Lawther

       Sara Russell, Smithsonian Institution.

     Once again, there appeared to be numerous lurking visitors.

     Four new members were announced:

       Jeff Plescia, NASA/JPL

       Daniel Steinberg, NRC/GSFC/NASA

       Jeff Heyman, student, Univ. Maryland

       Thomas W. Biolsi, student, Univ. Maryland

     After a brief reminder by the President about science fairs and the March 8 meeting at AGU, the discussion of a new by-law to establish an official GSW Archivist was resumed, in accordance with the Constitution.  The President quickly learned that it is not safe to turn his back on the Secretary, and then moved the proceedings with unprecedented speed.  Within three minutes, the members approved a motion by Zen to accept the new by-law, finished discussion, and approved it. Doug Rankin was conspicuously absent.  In recognition for his many years of service to the Society, Gene Robertson was appointed as the first Archivist by the President.

     There were no informal communications.

     The regular program began with Douglas Erwin, Smithsonian Institution, speaking on “Life and death at the end of the Permian,” or, “the Mother of Mass Extinctions.”  80-90% of marine and 50-60% of terrestrial fauna species disappeared at the Permian/Triassic boundary; insects suffered their only major extinction in history;  flora changed rapidly.  Some taxa seemed to die and get resurrected, but these Lazarus species may just have been paleontological Elvis impersonators.  Species-poor and narrowly distributed genera went extinct quickly, making this a normal extinction event, unlike the K/T one.  Without any evidence for a sudden catastrophe, Erwin concluded that marine regression caused loss of habitat, climatic instability, anoxia in the oceans and/or climate change.   Then, an early Triassic sea-level transgression caused further pressure on organisms.  Questions by Blair Jones, Moto Sato, Cy Galvin and Dan Milton revealed, among other things, the fascinating history of the early description of the Paleozoic/Mesozoic boundary. [20 mins]

     David Houseknecht, USGS Reston, then presented, “The 1995 USGS assessment of oil and gas resources,” At the turn of the Century, there was the stereo-opticon, then came glass slides, carousel projectors, and now GSW has seen a computer controlled presentation for the first time.  Just as in 1902, there was grumbling from the back of the room. In collaboration with the Mineral Management Service, the USGS has assessed known and hypothetical reserves of oil and gas in the US, and is in the process of releasing the data on CD-ROMs.  Production costs and land availability were not considered in making the assessments.  Both oil and gas have large and increasing reserves in already-discovered, conventional deposits, thanks to improving extraction technology.  New types of gas deposits and new methodologies for tapping them have also entered the equation in the last 10 years.  Houseknecht then demonstrated an interactive CD-ROM for the audience, complete with 500 pages of text, tables, figures, and hundreds of detailed maps and stratigraphic sections.  And, we got to see it all in this 32-minute talk.  Answers to questions by Don Hadley, Julian Hemley, Moto Sato, Jeff Machimer, Brent Leslie, Charlie Prewitt and Pres. Stifel showed that despite large reserves, technology prevents gas from replacing oil, and that gasoline prices will never, no never, be unaffordable to average people. [32 mins].

     The final talk was by Thomas Meisel of the University of Maryland, “Isotopic study of the K-T boundary: a test for impact versus volcanic hypotheses.”  Despite 200 papers/year over the course of 15 years of study, there is still debate over whether Ir anomalies at the K/T boundary are meteoritic or volcanic in origin.  Some now think that the enormous impact at Chixulub, Mexico, may have caused widespread volcanism in the southern hemisphere, and that both sources may contribute to Ir layers.  The slide projector, making a strong bid for the Sleeping Bear Award, once again jammed on a speaker’s first data slide.  Osmium and strontium isotopic data from the Sumbar section, Turkmenistan, follow a mixing line unlike that shown by seawater.  A strong component of radiogenic Sr and Os may derive from continental rocks, washed into the ocean by acid rain.  After a question by Dallas Peck, Moto Sato tried to ask one.  Robin Brett, hearing his name, asked Moto to speak up, but still couldn’t understand him.  So, Robin tried to ask the question, but the speaker couldn’t understand either of them. [18 mins]

     The audience of 99 members and guests [14 women, 8 past presidents] adjourned at 9:54 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary


     Approved without dissent at the 1262nd meeting:

     “Bylaw XI - Society Archivist

     There shall be an official Archivist of the Society, appointed by the President with the approval of the Council, whose term shall be indefinite.  The President may replace the Archivist with approval of the Council.

     The Society’s Archives, including the minutes of Regular, Council and Annual meetings, Annual Reports, and files of Presidential papers, shall be stored in an institutional library, to be designated by the Council.  The Archivist shall collect all items considered essential to the continuance of a complete historical record, and deposit them in the Archives.  The Archivist shall serve as liaison between the Council and the designated library in matters concerning the maintenance and preservation of the Archives.”



Minutes of the 1263rd meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, main Auditorium, American Geophysical Union Building, Wednesday, March 8, 1995.

President Stifel called the meeting to order at 8:02 pm.  The attendees paid the gavel-less president no heed, and continued to feast on wine, cheese, crackers, fruit, and bottled beer at the back of the hall.  But, with order established at 8:06, the minutes of the 1262nd meeting were read and approved after correction.

     The six visitors who were announced were:

       Nat Richardson, Thos. Brown & Associates

       Conel Alexander, DTM, who is actually a member

       John Chambers, DTM

       Carmen Aguilar, Geophysical Lab

       Gary Stanoway, GHB International

       Shane Peters, Clean Sites.

     The lone new member was Rosa E. Gwinn of Dames and Moore.

     There were again no informal communications.  We are averaging 0.20 informals per meeting this year, behind last year’s pace of 0.23 per meeting.

     The first scheduled talk was by Clark Johnson, Univ. Wisconsin and DTM, on “Dating detrital mineral grains and origins of supermature sandstones.”  U-Pb dating of zircons from Ordovician and Cambrian sandstones from the Wisconsin Arch gives a wide range of ages; this detritus is a mixture of grains from 2.7 Ga crust and 1.1 Ga Grenvillian rocks.  Detrital quartz grains appear to give Pb-Pb isochrons, but the data can also be explained by mixing of components similar to those found for zircons.  In the Michigan Basin, zircons from related units are more discordant on U-Pb diagrams, and the Pb-isotope geochemistry of quartz grains is strongly affected by overgrowths of authigenic feldspar.  Here, deep-basin diagenesis hinders geochronological studies.   However, zircons from Proterozoic Baraboo-type quartzites in Wisconsin give good U-Pb data, and show evidence for extremely rapid deposition after they formed.  There were questions by Brooks Hanson, Blair Jones, Eric Hauri, and Eric Krogstat. [26 minutes]

     Larry Puckett of the USGS then discussed, “Non-point and point sources of nutrients in watersheds: A national perspective.”  The NAWQA program at the USGS studies water quality in 60 watersheds in the US in a 9-year cycle.  While water-quality legislation has resulted in decreased ammonium contamination in streams over the last 20 years, nitrate has risen by a similar amount.  Point sources of such pollution are worst in the central and northeastern US, especially near major cities.  Non-point sources include commercial fertilizer, which is a problem in the midwest and other agricultural areas, and the manure problem gets worse the farther east you go.  Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen is mainly a problem in the Midwest and Northeast.  While point-source pollution tends to be minor, the ratio of point to non-point sources is highly variable.  One-size-fits-all legislation probably is not appropriate in dealing with this.  Much more data are needed to develop sound public policies.  Questions by Brent Leslie, Karen Prestegaard, Ken Towe, Dave Applegate, Ray Rye, Margaret Chauncey, and E-an Zen revealed that the USGS doesn’t tell Congress what to do, it just generates data, and that we’re in good shape compared to Europe. [23 mins]

Pres. Stifel then made a comment about manure recovery, told us where the restrooms were, and announced the next talk on degassing.

     That talk, by Jennifer Blank of the Geophysical Lab, was entitled, “Constraints on the degassing and fragmentation histories of erupted magmas from measurements of water in pumice glasses.”  Pumice tends to have less vesicularity than one would predict based on equilibrium at 1 atm.  Pumice containing glasses of rhyolitic composition from Mt. Pinatubo and Nevada del Ruiz seem to have produced vesicles at 80 to 200 bars pressure, and should have around 1% water in the glass.  Since actual water contents are much lower, diffusive loss must have occurred after vesicle growth ceased. D/H ratios in these glasses varies by 30 permil, despite the narrow range of water contents.  Degassing must have taken place within about 20 s after the bubbles became interconnected, all at 1 to 3.5 km depth.  Fragmentation also must have occurred at depth, perhaps up to 5.5 km down.  There were questions by Clark Johnson, George Helz, Mike Ryan, Pres. Stifel, Dallas Peck and E-an Zen.

The audience of about 75 members and guests [11 women, 8 past presidents] adjourned to face a messy ride home at 9:53 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1264th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, March 29, 1995.

     President Stifel called the 86 attendees [20 women, 10 past pres.] to order at 8:05 pm.  In response to the “100 years ago at GSW” transparency, President Stifel gave an impromptu informal communication about G.K. Gilbert’s work on isostasy and Lake Bonneville. The minutes of the 1263rd meeting were then read and approved.

     Four (three) visitors present were:

       John Pallister, USGS, Denver

       James Farquhar, Univ. of Alberta

       Allan Treiman, Lunar & Planetary Inst., Houston

       Bob Hatcher, Univ. of Tennessee

     The President then made several brief announcements, including one about the upcoming GSW spring fieldtrip on May 20.

The overexcited President then introduced the second formal informal communication of the year, deferring the customary announcement of new members until later.  The short talk, “Geological observations on Trinity campus,”  was given by Gina Perovich, a student at that institution.  She observed geological processes at work on the stone buildings at Trinity, including differential weathering, stalactite formation, ice wedging, and leaching.  Descending on the speaker with the stern authority of the Nation’s leading earth science organization, Dallas Peck suggested that the Kentucky limestone on campus might not be Jurassic in age.  The former Director could only roll his eyes as Doug Rankin tried to come to the rescue, suggesting that maybe it really was Jurassic.  [5.3 mins]

     Finally, the two new member were announced:

       Gene Peters, Clean Sites, Inc.

       Jonathan W. Frenzel, Md. Dept. of Natural Resources and Johns Hopkins Univ.

     The first formal talk was “The joint education initiative: An academic-agency-professional partnership bringing real earth science data into our nation’s classrooms,” by Robert Ridky and Christopher Keane of the Univ. of Maryland.  This was the second computer driven talk of the year in what is obviously a conspiracy between Microsoft, the eyeglasses industry, and the makers of Tylenol.  The initiative, known as JEDI, involves the USGS, NSF and universities, and has produced CD-ROMs containing huge, research-quality datasets, easily accessible with a simple menu-driven interface.  Books and activities have been developed around this product for teaching earth science.  The GIS tools allow the combination of topographic, geologic, geophysical, political and cultural data.  Ridky’s demonstration showed that it is possible to do a multimedia talk at GSW within one’s allotted time.  Questions by Louis Pribble, Pete Toulmin twice, E-an Zen, Margaret Chauncey, Tom Dutro, and John Pallister were divided into two categories.  The more senior questioners were plainly worried about the problem of teaching basic skills to students, while junior questioners were more complimentary, and more interested in technical aspects of the work.  The problem of how to archive data permanently received general discussion. [20 mins]

     Malcolm Ross, Science and Environmental Policy Project, then spoke on “A school room asbestos abatement program: A public policy debacle.”  The “zero threshold concept” for hazardous materials, favored by some activists and by EPA, has led to the notion that “one fiber of asbestos kills.”  Despite a recent reversal by EPA, in which they now advise against unwarranted asbestos removal, fear and panic, fed partly by the press, still prevail, and have led to enormously expensive, unnecessary, and perhaps dangerous abatement efforts in NY City public schools and elsewhere.   Chrysotile, the most common form of asbestos, is apparently harmless at exposure levels 20 to 20,000 times those experienced by school children, although still higher occupational levels are hazardous.  At 0.0002 fibers/cc in the schools, only 1 excess death per lifetime would be expected, even if all the children smoked cigarettes (which they probably do). The mostly sympathetic audience showed great interest, with 10 questions before discussion had to be cut off; these were by Nick Woodward, Sorena Sorensen, Pat Taylor, Louis Pribble, Craig Schiffries, Pete Toulmin, Gene Robertson, Harold Williams, Bob Ridky, and Dave Applegate.  New, more positive laws may be now on the horizon.  [21 mins]

     Susan Keddie of Science Applications International Corporation concluded the evening with “Large volcanoes on Venus.”  Using Magellan radar data, Keddie has shown that most of the 150 or so known large volcanoes on Venus are considerably lower in elevation than comparable structures on Mars and the Earth.  She tested the idea that the large pressure gradient in Venus’s atmosphere would cause magma chambers to form at higher elevations than on Earth, because vesicle formation would occur higher above the surface.  Low volcanoes on Venus tend to be simple, but those that rise higher, including “Beer” Mons and Maat Mons show evidence for episodic eruptions, magma chambers, dikes, and fracturing.  The data are consistent with the “neutral buoyancy” theory, and volcanoes may form over mantle plumes.  Questions by Dallas Peck, Pete Toulmin, Bill Ehmann, Moto Sato, John Pallister, Gene Robertson, Eric Krogstat and Pres. Stifle brought out the curious fact that something dramatic happened 300 Ma ago on Venus, possibly the complete overturn of its crust.

     Pres. Stifel adjourned the meeting at 10:12 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1265th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, April 12, 1995.

     President Stifel reeled out of the Cosmos Club dining room at 8:00, and eventually called 74 attendees [14 women, 10 past presidents] to order at 8:07pm. The minutes of the 1264th meeting were read and approved after editorial comments by Doug Rankin and Ellis Yochelson.  Doug is planning post-retirement research on the recent disappearance of Jurassic rocks in Kentucky.

     Five visitors were announced:

       Phil Long, Pacific Northwest Labs

       Jean Weaver, USGS Reston

       Patrick Dobson, UniCol

       Joseph Hannibal, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

       Matthew Wills, Univ. of Bristol

     There were also five new members [none present]:

       Thomas C. Meisel, Univ. Maryland

       Debra Harrington, student, Univ. Maryland

       Christopher Keane, student, Univ. Maryland

       Diane Hanley, student, Univ. Maryland

       Sally Newcomb, Prince Georges Community College

     The President then announced that he will host a barbecue for GSW at his fabulous inherited estate on the Eastern Shore on Saturday, Sept. 30, in lieu of the 2nd regular fall meeting.  As part of his sales pitch, he bragged that “Every kind of animal will be there.”

     Next came three informal communications.  Ellis Yochelson dedicated his in honor of Gene Robertson’s 80th birthday.  Ellis read from a speech TW Stanton gave in 1943, at the 50th anniversary of GSW’s founding, containing reminiscences from 1893. Among other things, Stanton hoped that the K/T boundary question would be “removed from the realm of controversy” by the Society’s centennial in 1993.  [3.5 mins; the text of the speech has been placed in the GSW archives]

     Michael Smoliar, Univ. Maryland, then communicated about his studies of Re-Os systematics in 3 groups of iron meteorites.  High precision data show that the ages and initial Os isotopic ratios differed among the groups.  All formed within a few 10’s of Ma of the origin of the solar system. [3.5 mins]

     Cy Galvin concluded this part of the program with a review of the morphology of channel fill features in sedimentary rocks.  His study of surface features of granites along Pohick Creek, Virginia, led him to conclude that the granites formed from sediments, and were never molten.  In the absence of James Hutton, Judy Ehlen, Steve Shirey and anonymous asked questions.  [7.8 minutes]

     The first formal talk, by Rodney Feldmann, Kent State Univ., was “Paleogeography of fossil crabs from high southern latitudes.” He began by begging the Secretary for leniency in the minutes, which was unnecessary since the talk turned out not to be funny. Feldmann told us how rare organisms such as decapods are often neglected in interpretive studies of the fossil record.  He searched a series of localities in western S. America, from Chile to Argentina, and found 15 taxa of fossil decapods, including primitive crabs, which have modern relatives only in the western Pacific.  Three basins in eastern S. America also contained a variety of fossil decapods, but these only have analogs to the north and east, in mid-latitudes.  Only in extreme southern Patagonia is the Pacific influence picked up again.   The barrier between eastern and western S. America was apparently firmly established by Cretaceous time.  Questions by Gene Robertson, George Helz, Moto Sato and Pres. Stifel revealed the speakers skepticism about a nuclear winter extinction scenario at the end of the Cretaceous.  [19 minutes]

     Anne Thompson, NASA Goddard, then spoke on, “Tropical ozone pollution from biomass burning.”   Satellite studies of stratospheric and total ozone concentrations in the atmosphere indicate a buildup of ozone in the south Atlantic from September to November.  She used a combination of remote sensing and airborne data, and computer modeling of the atmosphere to show that the excess ozone is the result of human activity and weird meteorology.  Fires in southern Africa can disperse pollutants to the west, and abundant recirculation favors ozone buildup.  Deep convection over South America brings ozone into the upper troposphere, where winds carry it eastward, again toward the Atlantic.  20-30% of the excess ozone in the southern Atlantic comes from the S. American source, a bit is produced by lightning, and the bulk comes from Africa.  There were questions from Moto Sato, Murray Hitzman, Cy Galvin and E-an Zen. [21 minutes]

     Mike Ryan, USGS, Reston, who Pres. Stifel introduced as “one of our good council members,” finished off the audience with, “Basaltic foams: development, structure, stability, and significance.”  Bubble-bubble interactions are an important mechanism for transporting volatiles from the mantle to the atmosphere in volcanoes on Hawaii and elsewhere.  Mike did a series of melting experiments and theoretical studies to show how bubbles interact and coalesce, and how liquid is transported around them. In basaltic foams, the most stable configuration of melt is along the edges of polyhedra with hexagonal and square faces, although nature often finds other geometries.  Stretching and compression of foams changes the stable topology.  Sudden CO2 exsolution from melts in Hawaii causes magma to accelerate toward the surface as bubbles grow and coalesce. Sorena Sorensen and Moto Sato (twice) asked questions, and Peter Buseck pointed out every conceivable and inconceivable analogous structure he could think up in 20 minutes.  [24 minutes]

     Pres. Stifel adjourned the meeting at 10:13 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1266th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, April 26, 1995.

     President Stifel called the meeting to order at 8:03 pm.  The minutes of the 1265th meeting were read without incident, and approved.

     Two guests were announced:

       Luisa M. Vilar, Conacet, Buenos Aires

       Betty Campbell, Army Topographic Engineering Center

     There were no new members.  Judging from the number of suits in the audience, there must have been many more guests and potential new members present than were announced.

     The President then announced that he was shocked that absolutely nobody at the 1265th meeting volunteered to serve on GSW committees.   The audience seemed unconcerned.

     The first of two informal communications was by Paul Thomasec of the Univ. of Maryland.  He is trying to use Li isotopes as a tracer in hydrologic and igneous systems, and to study their abundances in the solar system.  Maryland waters vary by >50 permil in d6Li, and albite from pegmatites varies by 4 permil.  A question by Pete Toulmin showed that it is too early to make many interpretations from these data.  [5 mins]

     Judy Tegler, an honor student and senior at the Univ. of Maryland, communicated about here studies of mafic enclaves in granitoids from the Robertson River igneous suite in Virginia.  Her petrographic and geochemical studies seem to indicate a previously unrecognized period of mafic magmatism in this region.  The audience seemed happy with this, and asked no questions. [5 mins].

     Pete Palmer, representing the Institute for Cambrian Studies, located in his basement, gave the first formal talk, “The early Paleozoic isolation of Laurentia,” but not before the President gave his third informal-informal communication of the year, this time about how he dumped water down the speaker’s back some time ago.  Trilobites are the “conodonts of the Cambrian,” and are extremely useful for correlation studies of rocks from this period.  Different types define the lower and middle Cambrian across North America and elsewhere in the world.  At least four major, isolated landmasses were present, Laurentia, Baltica, Gondwanaland and Siberia, although in earliest Cambrian time, North America may have been linked with other continents.  A fragment of Laurentia appears to have ended up stranded in Argentina. With questions by E-an Zen, Cy Galvin, Moto Sato, John Repetski, and Pres. Stifel, we learned that the fragment in South America may have come from the Appalachian region.  [22.5 mins]

     Gordon Eaton, Director of the USGS, then spoke on “What’s happening to geological surveys around the world.”  The answer, as we all now know, was “bad things.”  Geological surveys in Canada, Great Britain, and other nations are equivalent to the Geologic Division at the USGS, and all are experiencing drastic cuts in appropriated funds and personnel.  Governments are viewing “solid earth” science research as being of diminishing societal relevance, and are favoring  environmental and hydrological work.   Many foreign geological surveys are relying heavily on competitive contracts with industry to complete their work, or are simply going out of existence.  While the Water Resources Division of the USGS is prospering, the Geologic Division will have to change its emphasis, and find some middle ground between academia and private industry if it is to survive.  Questions by Phil Bethke, Cy Galvin, Frank Jacobeen, Bruce Doe, Kirk Lindsay, Karen Prestegaard (twice), E-an Zen (twice), Gene Peters, Jill Schneiderman, and Pres. Stifel brought out the fact that many sciences are suffering along with geology, academia is having difficulty retooling for the future too, and that, just between the audience and him, Eaton thinks the USGS may not really belong in the Interior Dept.  Snoring from a bearded USGS dinosaur in the back of the room rounded out the audience commentary on Eaton’s talk. [23.5 mins]

     Rising from the now-depressed audience,  Paul Renne of Berkeley Geochronology Center, gave the final talk, “Synchronism and causal relations between the Permo-Triassic boundary crisis and Siberian flood volcanism at 250.0 Ma.”  The Siberian Traps are up to 3.7 km thick, comprise 44 major flows, and are the largest of 8 known outpourings of basaltic magma greater than 1-million km3.  When mantle plumes form, they cause 2-4 km of uplift in the overlying crust, followed by this prodigious melt production. Sulfur emitted during the volcanism may cause global cooling, affecting ecosystems.  The Permo-Triassic boundary is marked by the largest extinction event in history. Changes at the boundary in Sr, C, S and O isotopes indicate desiccation, oxidation, and cooling on the continents. After this 21-minute introduction, the speaker showed his own new Ar-Ar measurements of the basal suite of the Traps and bentonites from the Permo-Triassic boundary in China, which give exactly the same age, 250.0 Ma, consistent with some sort of causal relationship.  There were questions from Phil Bethke, Bruce Doe (twice), Pete Palmer, Geo. Helz, Murray Hitzman, and Porter McBride. [27 mins]

     95 members and guests [20 women, 7 past presidents] were adjourned at 10:31 pm, the latest regular meeting since 1983 and second latest in 20 years.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1267th Meeting,

13 September 1995

     President Stifel called the meeting to order at 8:03 p.m. Minutes of the 1266th meeting, prepared by the Meetings Secretary, were read by the Council Secretary. The minutes were approved after Craig Schiffries pointed out that the Siberian flood volcanism occurred at 250.0 Ma, and not at 250 Ma, as read by the Council Secretary, and the Council Secretary admitted that the Meetings Secretary had actually written 250.0 Ma in the minutes, but that he had read them as 250 Ma in the interest of saving time.

     There were numerous guests and visitors, including Asuka Tsuru and Rachel Presley, University of Maryland; Pete Folger, GSA Congressional Science Fellow; Mark Teece, post doc at the Geophysical Lab; Paul Baldauf, MSA and PhD student at George Washington University, who introduced 1 l anonymous fellow students, en masse; Peggy and Chris Smith, Maryland Department of Environment; Caroline Ingraham(?), University of Wales, Bangor.

     President Stifel announced that Tom Hoering, Geophysical Lab, had died at the end of July from a brain tumor. The assembled group stood silently for a moment in his memory.

     The secretary read the names of those elected to membership since the last meeting: Jane Jennes (USGS), Nathaniel Richardson (Association of Engineering Geologists), Rama Krishnaswamy (GWU), Dan Walker (National Research Council), and Adam Lipin (VPI).

     President Stifel mentioned the joint meeting of the New York Geologic Conference and the Eastern Section, AAPG, to begin on 13 October, and the 1996 spring AAPG national meeting in San Diego. He gave the results of the elections of GSW delegates to AAPG. The delegates elected, and the final year of their terms are: Bob Jordan and Ann Wylie (1996), Sandra Clark and Ken Englund (1997), and Jane Egleston, Anita Harris, and Bob Milici (1998). Alternates include Donald Hadley, Peter Blau, Suzanne Weedman, Marcus Milling, Jack Pierce, Daniel Stanley, and Craig Schiffries.

     President Stifel reviewed actions taken at the Council Meeting that afternoon. Steve Shirey is coordinating an effort to establish a Speakers' Bureau for geologists to talk to elementary and high school students. GSW is looking into what can be done to improve a plaque noticing a thrust fault in the vicinity of Adams Mill Road and Clydesdale Place on the east side of Rock Creek Park. Council is considering increasing the value and/or significance of their annual prizes.

     President Stifel expressed the concern of the Council for those members affected by the USGS RIF, and any others in similar circumstances. He asked for input from the members on this subject in time for the next Council meeting on 11 Oct 95, drew attention to the list of employers on the table in the back of the room, and asked that members correct, add to, or annotate this list, based on their experience.

     The nominating committee under Dallas Peck was preparing a slate of officers for the coming society year. Members with an interest in the operation of the society or with suggestions for nominees, should communicate with the Committee.

     President Stifel invited GSW members and their families to a picnic with entertainment on 30 September at his property, Hope Farm, on the Eastern Shore.

     Steve Shirey described a program called 'Hands on Science' in Montgomery County. The program provides l-hour after-school units at three levels in the K thru 6 range. Instructors are being recruited. Contact Michelle Abraham, 301-881-1142.

Allison MacFarland said that George Mason University is looking for someone to teach process-oriented Junior-level geomorphology next semester. Contact her or Rick Diecchio at 703-993-1208.

     There were no informal communications. The President thanked John Repetski who arranged that evening's program for the Program Committee.

     The first scheduled talk was given by Suzanne D. Weedman, USGS, on "Miocene Subaerial Exposure in Southern Florida".

     Suzanne reported on the collective efforts of herself, Lucy Edwards, Lynn Wingard, Cathleen Simmons, and Tom Scott to identify the extent of a buried Tertiary weathered zone in south Florida, and describe the environment and age of its weathering. She identified a sequence of CaC03 fossil dissolution: listed in order of increasing resistance to dissolution, they are aragonitic mollusks, forams, bryozoans, ostracods, calcitic mollusks, echinoids, and finally red algae. Dissolution of dolomite rhombs was also a marker. The work was keyed to a core from South Venice, and age control came from dinoflagellate cysts.

     Logic requires that the age of dissolution be younger than the age of the rocks showing dissolution, but older than the age of the oldest overlying strata with no leaching. This requirement indicates that the dissolution under study occurred after mid Miocene and before Pliocene. The lowered global sea level of this time (Haq, et al, 1987) is consistent with the rocks being exposed at that time, as is Suzanne's interpretation of lowered sedimentation rates at that time. Core studies indicate that this weathered surface disappears down dip to the southeast, and that the Arcadia formation ranges more widely in time, down into the Oligocene and up to the middle Miocene, from its accepted early Miocene position.

     Questions by Murray Hitzman, Dan Milton, Dallas Peck, and Jen Blank brought out that leaching does not ordinarily increase permeability, the inside of rhombs are calcium rich, and it is not yet clear whether the dissolution occurred above or below the water table.

     The second scheduled talk was given by Carl G. Bock, Washington Metro System, on "Observations on Bedrock Structure Along Metro Lines".

     By way of setting the scene, Carl said that his basic job is to tell the construction engineers what type of rock to expect as they tunnel forward. His job is "not to understand, but to get the train through." He also mentioned that the word 'faults' seemed to make people nervous, so he has identified 'shear zones'.

     His geologic findings (since 1971) generally confirm what was previously known or could be extrapolated to the area. He found N.H. Darton's work on the bedrock surface of D.C., and Darton's mapping of sedimentary remnants west of Rock Creek Park particularly accurate. Information from Jacobeen and from Mixon and colleagues extrapolated into this area is consistent with his data. Earlier data from driving a water tunnel to McMillan Reservoir is also consistent, particularly as related to the Lydecker Fault.

     As a general finding, NE-SW trending faults are consistently down to the east, so much so that Carl believes the fault lines are more or less coincident with the Fall Line, as suggested by work to the south. He believes that in Rock Creek, stream channel directions are controlled by these NE faults and probably NW joints. Under 14th Street, they have found what amounts to a pre-Cretaceous horst whose top is unweathered, bounded by rock on either side that is weathered 10 or 15 feet deep. In addition to small thrust faults documented by Darton, he found a larger and flatter thrust in schistose gneiss at the crown of the tunnel under the Potomac. The Wissahickon schist is especially prone to give trouble.

     There were eight questions or comments by Murray Hitzman, Pete Folger, Jim O'Connor, Gene Robertson, Margaret Chauncey, Suzanne Weedman, Murray Hitzman (again), Margaret Chauncey (again), which brought out the following: geologic hazards are not a worry when riding Metro; usually there is no ground water below 70 feet except if you hit a quartz vein, and then it makes water like crazy; there is a large accumulation of drill core outside Carl's office with no potential long-term home.

     The final scheduled talk was given by Thomas M. Cronin, USGS, and Gary S. Dwyer, Duke University, on the "Impact of Climate Change on Deep-Sea Environments"

     Tom's talk had three parts: the deglaciation of the Arctic; the (mainly) Pliocene history of North Atlantic bottom water; and interpreting bottom water temperature changes in the deep North Atlantic. His story depends on water mass oceanography, interpretation of cores (many from the Arctic and one core from North Atlantic DSDP Site 607), micropaleontology of ostracods and forams, Milankovitch cycles (41 ka obliquity cycle and the 100 ka eccentricity cycle), 18O/16O ratios, and Mg/Ca ratios.

     In part one, Tom found frequent and significant changes in bottom fauna in the Arctic based on recently available cores. The time interval of part one was 20,000 years, that is, half a Milankovitch obliquity cycle.

     In part two, the time interval expanded and shifted, emphasizing the Pliocene from 2.8 to 2.2 million years. Tom interpreted core DSDP607 to show 12 to 13 obliquity cycles with notable benthic animal response. He examined in detail the last five of these cycles. From these he interpreted a glacial (ice) phase, a deglacial (melting) phase, an interglacial (warm) phase, and an early glacial (pre-ice) phase.

     In part three, he pinned down an ambiguity in climate detection: 18O/16O ratios used to estimate ice volumes on land have a temperature sensitivity that needs to be controlled for. Tom thinks he found such a control in the Mg/Ca ratio of ostracods. Temperature comes from Mg/Ca ratios through a calibration curve derived from bugs living at the thermocline off the Bahamas, in shallow arctic water, and elsewhere.

     In summary, Tom found that the glacial cycle produced temperature changes of 1º-2ºC back in the Pliocene and as much as 3º-4º in the last 200,000 years. An interesting detail: based on the Mg/Ca calibration, bottom water cooling predates continental ice growth by 2 or 3 ka.

     Questions by Murray Hitzman, Dan Milton and Peter Stifel.

President Stifel adjourned the meeting at 10:02 p.m. Attendance was approximately 88.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Cyril Galvin (Council Secretary)

     for Jeff Grossman



Minutes of the 1268th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, October 11, 1995.

     President Stifel banged the gavel at 8:04 pm. As the beer quality was not what it might have been, the audience quickly capitulated, and sat down. The minutes of the 1267th meeting, taken by the Council Secretary, were digitally compressed and uploaded to the audience by the Meeting Secretary, and approved after a few snide comments.

     Four guests were announced:

       James Farquhar and George Cody, Geophysical Lab

       George Cokely, US Bureau of Mines

       Will Friedman, Univ. Maryland

     There were five new members, four of whom were actually present:

       Jeanie Yarnell, Student, Geo. Washington Univ.

       Chris Smith, TPH Technologies

       J. Alexander Speer, Mineral. Soc. Amer.

       Rex Alan Hanger, Geo. Washington Univ.

       Peggy Smith, Maryland Dept. Environment

     Pres. Stifel reminded the audience about the fall field trip, to be held on 21 October, entitled, “The Floods of Madison County.” He then announced that he would not announce the slate of officers nominated for 1996.  The President concluded by informing members that the Council is supporting a move by Ellis Yochelson to name a mountain in Canada after GSW founder and first president, C.D. Walcott.

     Jim O’Connor next gave an informal communication in observance of National Landslide Awareness Day, which we all mistakenly had believed was November 1, 1994, by showing slides of slides, and images of historically important geological sites in Washington, some of which have not survived, and others requiring action to preserve them. [6 mins]

     Doug Rumble threatened to give a second informal communication, but instead rose to thank President Stifel for hosting the Society at its First Annual Barbecue at his Eastern Shore resort on Sept. 30.  The President received a standing ovation for his generosity.

     Richard J. Walker, Univ. Maryland, gave the first talk of the evening, “Heterogeneous sources for granitic rocks, Black Hills, South Dakota: Do granites really serve as interpretable crustal probes?”  The answer turned out to be, sometimes, but only if you analyze them right.  The Harney Peak Granite in the Black Hills is actually a series of thousands of uncoalesced blobs of melt. Rare earth patterns and oxygen isotope ratios are quite variable, and imply there were at least two protoliths, one for the 18O-rich central granites, and one for the isotopically lighter, peripheral granite.  Lead isotopic data confirm this, and point to an older, possibly Archaen source for the central rocks, and a younger, Proterozoic source for the others, possibly the same metasedimentary rocks into which they were emplaced. Nd isotope data are also in agreement, and show that there may have been two melting events for the same protolith, first producing nearby Archean granites, and later the central Harney Peak Granite.  Ignorant and foolish researchers have frequently published interpretations of granite data ignoring the potential complexity of these systems.  There were questions by Dan Milton, Anonymous, Gene Robertson, Dallas Peck, Bill Abbey and Steve Shirey. The only one that stumped the speaker was a scholarly inquiry about why two Barney Rubble statues were carved next to Fred Flintstone on “Mount Rockmore.” [20 mins]

     The second speaker, Richard L. Stanton of the University of New England in Australia, currently the Society of Economic Geologists International Lecturer, discussed “Understanding massive sulfide ores.” The idea that massive sulfide deposits might be precipitated from fluids has been around for 150 years.  Recent conventional wisdom is that the metals in the deposits were leached from seafloor rocks by circulating hydrothermal fluids.  Stanton challenged this idea, and favors a model in which late-stage magmatic fluids, rich in volatiles, are expelled into the seawater system. The compositions of deposits correlate with host rock chemistry.  Iron, then Cu, Zn, and finally Pb, appear in increasingly large and more complex ores, as the related igneous systems become more silicic, richer in pyroclastics, and lower in volatiles.  Bulk trace metal contents of the igneous rocks are inconsistent with the leaching hypothesis. However, crystal-melt-vapor equilibria can explain many of the trends, if volatiles could escape the system. The uncharacteristically subdued audience only managed three questions, one giving a unique bit of supporting evidence by JK Bohlke, and one each by Tom Blackburn and Holly Stein. [21 mins]

     Dan Walker of the National Research Council concluded the evening with, “The North Carolina Low-Level Radioactive Waste Project: A view from the trenches.” In the early 1970’s, low-level rad-waste was often buried in shallow landfills without any inventory of isotopes, and sometimes was even lost.  At Maxey Flats, Ky, groundwater migrates in and out of old dumps, and costs the state millions of dollars each year.  Since then, engineered solutions have become more common.  North Carolina is seeking to license a new facility, engineered to prevent water problems, but legally, the natural characteristics of the site must be relied on for long-term containment.  Unfortunately, the site characterization team has excluded state geologists, resulting in the selection of a fractured, faulted unit of Triassic siliciclastics to host the dump.  It may not even be possible to fully characterize the size as required by law, and the licensing may be in deep trouble. Three questions by George Helz included his opinion that the pyramids might not have been looted had the Egyptians put their rad-waste inside. Other questions came from Tom Blackburn, Anonymous again, Bevan French, Mike Ryan, Harold Williams, Bret Leslie and Mark MacBride.

     89 members and guests [18 women, 7 past presidents] were adjourned at 10:07 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary



Minutes of the 1269th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, November 1, 1995.

     Grumbling as usual about the service in the Cosmos Club mess hall, President Stifel started the meeting at 8:04 pm.  The minutes of the 1268th meeting we approved, and three visitors were introduced:

       Chris King, from Arkansas and the Water Resources Division of the US Topographic Engineering Center,

       David Christie, Oregon State University

       Linda Rowan, Science Magazine

     Four new student members were announced before the ink was dry on their application forms:

       Rachael Pressley and Katherine White, University of Maryland, and

       Mollie Fletcher-Klocek and Mike Evans, George Mason University.

     Pres. Stifel announced that the “Geology Walks” program needs leaders other than E-an Zen. He introduced Sharon Givens as our new projectionist, and then announced the slate of candidates nominated by Dallas Peck’s Committee:

       Bruce Lipin, 1st VP and President-elect,

       Jane Hammarstrom, 2nd VP,

       Kevin Crowley, Treasurer,

       Ian MacGregor, Meeting Secretary,

       and Dave Kuentz, Alison MacFarland and Alex Speer, Councilors.

     Judy Hannah of NSF provided an early “climax” to the evening with her talk, “Fluid evolution in the Mount Emmons porphyry molybdenum system, Colorado: From molybdenum stockwork to base-metal veins.”  The Mt. Emmons deposit, in the southwestern Colorado mineral belt caps a  batholith intruding the Mancos Shale, and is surrounded by a halo of base-metal veins.  Lead, O and S isotopes show that the mineralizing fluids were magmatic. d34S in this and other economic molybdenite deposits is heavier than in nonproducing deposits, and at Mt. Emmons the molybdenite stockwork has heavier S than the base-metal veins.  Coexisting magnetite, pyrite and molybdenite indicates unusually oxidizing conditions during mineralization, and allows fluid-melt fractionation of S to produce the observed isotopic differences, with SO2 as the dominant species; such conditions may be required for Mo transport.  Base-metal veins formed at lower T, under more reducing conditions where H2S dominates.  There were questions by Sorena Sorensen, E-an Zen, and Gene Robertson, plus two comments by Holly Stein. [24 mins]

     Jeff Williams, USGS, spoke next on, “Geologic controls on the Quaternary development of the Mississippi River deltaic plain, south-central Louisiana.” Williams allowed as how eating at the Cosmos Club is perhaps preferable to sharing dinner with his dog at home.  The Marine and Coastal Program at the USGS is attacking societally relevant problems along the Gulf coast.  Rapid loss of land in southern Louisiana has occurred since 1900, including about 2 km of erosion at Isles Dernieres, in the western delta.  Sea levels have risen 90 m here over 20,000 years, and rapid rises often lead to transgressions.  Storm surges and waves, such as from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, caused dramatic changes in shorelines.  Farming and river damming practices since the 1930’s have led to a 40% drop in sediment load in the Mississippi, greatly affecting wetlands stability.  Abandonment of old river channels can also cause changes in barrier island geometry.  Questions by George Helz, Pres. Stifel, Cy Galvin, and two by Brooks Hanson, plus a comment by E-an Zen pointed out the difficulty in separating sea-level rise from subsidence effects. [24.3 mins]

     George Cody of the Geophysical Lab, CIW, then challenged the audience with “Soft X-Ray microanalysis applied to organic geochemistry.”  Geochemists are constantly wrestling with questions of how organic matter is preserved and altered into kerogen.  Ordinary methods like GC/MS, MS, IR, SEM, XRD, and NMR pale in comparison to NEXAFS, which is similar to XANES.  This method uses STXM at X1A, and was developed at the NSLS at BNL by workers from SUNY.  This extraordinary technique can distinguish functional groups in samples at the 50 nm level.  Using 13C CPMAS/NMR, Eocene wood appears lower in carbohydrates than fresh wood; but,  NEXAFS shows the 1s-p* and 1s-3p/s* transitions, and reveals the original cell structure and distribution of lignin and carbohydrates PDQ.  Cretaceous wood shows little CHOH with NEXAFS, but still shows cellular structure.  NEXAFS of spores shows changes in aliphatics, aromatics, CHnOH and COOH with increasing maturity.  QED.  Cody crossed the finish line 3 minutes ahead of the audience, leaving Dan Milton, Pres. Stifel and Louis Pribble time to ask a few questions. [17 mins]

     77 members and guests [18 women, 6 past presidents] adjourned into the mist at 9:44 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary


BNL                        Brookhaven National Laboratory

CIW                        Carnegie Institution of Washington

CPMAS                  Cross Polarization-Magic Angle Spinning

GC                          Gas Chromatography

IR                            Infrared spectrometry

MS                          Mass Spectrometry

NEXAFS                Near Edge X-ray Absorption Fine Structure

NMR                       Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

NSLS                      National Synchotron Light Source

SEM                        Scanning Electron Microscopy

STXM                     Scanning Transmission X-ray Mechanism

SUNY                     State University of New York

X1A                        Unknown

XANES                   X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectrometry

XRD                        X-ray Diffraction



Minutes of the 1270th meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, held jointly with the nth meeting of the Paleontological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, November 15, 1995.

     Soon-to-be-former-President Stifel, wearing the black hat of GSW and the white hat of PSW, “called to meeting in order” at 8:04 pm.  After a subconscious attempt by the President to reschedule the meeting to December, perhaps to try to get out of delivering his Presidential Address, the minutes of the 1269th meeting were read and approved.  Ellis Yochelson (retired USGS/Smithsonian) then ad libbed the minutes of the n-1th meeting of PSW, held on the 3rd Wednesday of some month and attended by 17 people.

     Only one guest was announced, Thomas Matthews, Univ. of Maryland, Emeritus.

     Seven new members for GSW were announced:

       Arthur J. Goldberg, A dentist from Rockville, Md.,

       Christina L. Rosenfeld and Sarah Leiker, Students at the Univ. of Maryland,

       Paul Hackley, Student at George Washington Univ.,

       Paul Baldauf, Mineralogical Society of America (?)

       James Farquhar and George Cody, Geophysical Laboratory.

     Two new members of PSW were announced.

     Greg Sohn (retired USGS/Smithsonian) gave an informal communication about why ostracods are so widespread in the geologic record.  If you feed ostracod eggs to fish, the eggs can pass through unscathed, and will hatch after emerging at the other end.  After a brief, self-imposed loss of the audio portion of the show, Sohn guessed that ostracods may be dispersed globally by winds.  Questions by John Repetski (USGS non-essential), Dan Milton (USGS retired) and Pres. Stifel (GSW former secretary) brought out that tornadoes or submarine volcanism may launch the torpid critters into to stratosphere.  [4.5 mins]

     Christopher Maples,  a non-essential paleontologist (isn’t that redundant?) at NSF, gave the first formal talk, entitled “Significance of fossil echinoderms from northwest China.”  Echinoderms were once little-known in Asia, but recent expeditions to northwestern China have revealed one of the largest faunas of this type in the world:  16 families of crinoids and 7 of blastoids are now known in the Hongegulung Formation of the Xinjiang Uygur region.  Surprisingly, these late Devonian families closely resemble the Carboniferous types found elsewhere in the world, which were thought to have arisen only after a mass extinction event. Many types of echinoderms and blastoids were present here at a time when there was a gap in the fossil record in the west. This part of China, between the Junggar and Kazakhstan plates, may have served as an Echinoderm refuge at the end of the Devonian, and may have been the source for the later biological radiation that made the Carboniferous the “Age of Echinoderms.”   To correctly understand extinction and diversification of species, it is essential to have this kind of global data set.  Questions by Cy Galvin (GSW, former meeting secretary), E-an Zen (USGS retired), Dan Milton (USGS retired), John Repetski (USGS non-essential), George Helz (GSW former 2nd VP), and Bob Newman (former USGS), revealed that we may be dealing here with a crustal flake. [17.5 mins].

     Charles Guidotti (Univ. of Wisconsin, former professor, and Univ. of Maine) followed with, “Compressibility measurements in the muscovite-paragonite crystalline solution: Some thermodynamic, petrologic and geologic implications.”  Crystallization pressure alters the basal spacings of unit cells in white micas as a function of composition.  For example, the c dimension decreases as Fe2+, Mg and Fe3+ replace Si and Al in the “Fm” substitution, while the cell volume increases.  Similarly, as the Fm substitution increases due to pressure in muscovite, the Na/K ratio, basal spacing, and the a crystallographic rotation all decrease.  The paragonite-muscovite solvus opens widely with pressure due to the change in muscovite composition.  Experiments done on K-rich, low-Fm muscovite, Na-rich, low-Fm muscovite and K-rich paragonite clearly show the relationships between cell parameters and pressure.  At high pressure, unit cell distortions destablize some white micas, so compositions adjust themselves during recrystallization.  Muscovite compositions in blueschists and eclogites are dominated by the pressure effects.  There were three questions by Gene Robertson (USGS retired), trying to comprehend the applications of this work.  Moto Sato (USGS retired) tried to ask a question, but was pre-empted by the speaker.  James Farquhar (GSW, former nonmember) also asked a question. [21 mins]

     The last talk was given by USGS non-essential paleontologist John Repetski, about “Life, death, and posterity in the Ames Crater, an Ordovician impact structure in Oklahoma.” The Ames structure in Major County, Oklahoma, is a buried impact crater about 9-10 miles in diameter, in Ordovician sediments in the northern shelf area of the state.  Like about 10% of all impact structures, it is associated with economic deposits, in this case oil and gas.  Indeed, oil exploration found this crater in conjunction with an “oil window” in the Hunton Limestone.  Oil and gas were found in the fractured portion of the Arbuckle group, which also contains 120 feet of impact breccia and shocked quartz grains.  The black shale that filled the crater is the likely source of the hydrocarbons.  Abundant conodont fossils were found in the crater-fill deposit in drill cores, and careful structural analyses of them can be used to tightly constrain the age of the crater.  The audience then learned more than it ever wanted to know about the anatomy of fragmodus, flexuosis, and inflexus, the shallow marine conodonts found in this part of the Ordovician section.  There were questions by Bevan French (NASA retired, SI lockout), Dan Milton (USGS retired), Bruce Wardlaw (USGS non-essential), and Gene Robertson (USGS retired), culminating in a debate between French and Wardlaw about whether you get central uplifts in craters in limestone, and a cryptic but not explosive question by Moto Sato (USGS retired). [26.5 mins]

     The 91 attendees [22 women, 12 past presidents] adjourned  at 9:57 pm.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary,

     (USGS non-essential)



Minutes of the 1271st meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, December 6, 1995.

     President Stifel called the meeting to order at 8:03 pm, despite the fact that he could not remember the name of the society. It took some extra time for the audience to be safely seated, as he had booby-trapped the chairs with pointy souvenir mollusks.  The minutes of the 1270th meeting were read and approved.

     There were ten guests announced in much too rapid order:

       Paul Sargainy, Univ. of Poitier, France,

       Angela Jayko, USGS Menlo Park,

       Judy and Doc Triplehorn, University of Alaska,

       Klaus Metzger, Max Planck Institute, Mainz, Germany,

       Amanda Sigliato, Maryland Dept. Environment,

       Peggy Something-kowski from Someplace,

       Somebody totally anonymous sitting near Peggy Something-kowski,

       John Farrell, Ocean Drilling Project,

       Bob Oursman, unemployed.

     Two new members were:

       Helen Folger, USGS Reston and Denver,

       Barbara Anne am Ende, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

     The President then announced the resignation of Gene Robertson as GSW Archivist, and the appointment of Jeff Grossman to replace him.

     There were no informal communications.

     Vice President George Helz introduced President Stifel, whose talk was entitled, “Gastropods!!!,” shattering by two Frank Whitmore’s record for most exclamation points in a Presidential address title.

     The President began by ordering the audience act like a class of 19-year-old students listening to him lecture about prosobranch gastropods.  He immediately showed a sequence of 13 cartoons, proving that he is indeed an expert at communicating with undergraduates.  Many classes of gastropods developed near the end of the Proterozoic from flatworms having broad shields.  Their evolution included complex changes in the geometry of internal organs as the shells rotated and coiled.  Gastropod shells can be modeled with four important parameters, controlling the translation along a linear axis, the change in diameter along the axis, the distance of the centroid from the axis, and the shape of the cross section.  This allows computers to create new gastropod shells, although Nature doesn’t seem to need any help.  Some natural forms have parameters that vary with their environment.   Gastropods eat with scraping or piercing radulae covered with tiny teeth.  Primitive snails may have 10’s of thousands of teeth, but more specialized snails may have only one, sometimes poisonous fang.  Our tour through snail physiology moved on to the operculum, which may be lost in herbivores that clamp on to feed in high energy environments.  Some Devonian forms attached next to the anal openings of other animals in order to feed.  Moving on to the “snail potpourri” part of the lecture, Stifel showed that mesogastropods are interesting because they occur in huge numbers in parts of Europe, they’re good eating, but most of all because they undergo a sex change as they move from their larval to adult stages.  Cowries secrete sulfuric acid.  Whelks are fabulously ornate, and come with built-in clam openers and oyster drillers, including acid-emitting feet.  Ollids and cones are fantastically patterned and colored, with pigment-producing cells that turn on and off in response to complicated chemical inhibitors and activators.  And, finally, the deadly cones can extract their own teeth, and use them as spears to inject neurotoxins into prey.  Their poisons are a pharmacological gold mine of new useful compounds, and their shells are a collector’s gold mine, including gloriamanus, which can fetch thousands of dollars each.

     Accepting no questions, not that he’d get any from a bunch of 19-year-olds when there was free beer to be had, Pres. Stifel adjourned the meeting at 9:03 pm so that members could gorge on escargot at the back of the hall.  Attendance was 105 [26 women, 15 past presidents].

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary


The Geological Society of Washington

Minutes of the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of Washington, Powell Auditorium, Cosmos Club, Wednesday, December 6, 1995.

     President Stifel, sensing that things could turn ugly once all of the sautéed gastropods were consumed, stopped the feeding frenzy and reconvened the 87 remaining attendees, including 26 women and 14 past presidents, at 9:21 pm. I note that non-past-president males were the ones most likely to have skipped out after the President’s talk.

     Cy Galvin, the future-former Council Secretary read the minutes he took at the 102nd Annual Meeting in 1994, when he was the future-former Meeting Secretary. 4 minutes flat and approved.

     Yours truly, then the current future-former Meeting Secretary read the Annual Report of the Meeting Secretary for 1995.  After the Secretary noted that E-An Zen had asked 455 questions at GSW meetings since 1959, President-elect George Helz interrupted to say, “Boy, is he ignorant.” Unfortunately, the Chair of the Sleeping Bear Committee had already written his speech. 7 minutes even, and approved.

     The out-going Council Secretary then read the Annual Report of the Council Secretary for 1995, telling us all of the things that the Council did not act upon this year.  3 minutes and out the door.

     Next came the Treasurer’s Annual Report.  With Treasurer Margo Kingston seeking asylum in Siena, Italy, the retiring Meeting Secretary read the report. The General Fund lost $79 in 1995, and the Bradley and Endowment funds seemed healthy, despite earning only a few percent interest.  Auditor Phil Candela, who looked at the books with Mac Ross, was surprised that the Society entrusted a geochemist and a mineralogist with this duty.  He noted one minor transcription error, and with that corrected, he approved the Treasurer’s Report.  Margo would be notified that it was safe to return.  5 minutes.

     Suzanne Weedman, Chair of the Membership Committee, rose to give her annual report.  In 1995 we had 570 members (372 active, 173 corresponding, 25 student), down 4.7% from 1994.  Membership has been on the decline since 1984.  On the other hand, a higher percentage of members is now attending meetings.  To further reduce apathy, Suzanne suggested that we should lose some more members.  80 delinquents will be dropped from the roles if they don’t pay us soon.  Questions and comments by Pete Toulmin, Dave Stewart and Doug Rankin suggested, among other things, public embarrassment of deadbeats by posting their names. 5½ minutes and gone.

     John Jens followed with the Public Service Committee Annual Report.  15 people judged 8 science fairs, and the grand prize was awarded to Sujoy G. Tagore of Montgomery Blair High School for “Oxygen fugacity and anorthosite crystal composition.”  The GSW Speaker’s Bureau was predicted to soon come on line.  3 minutes did the job.

     Judy Ehlen proceeded to the report of the Awards Committee.  Fisk was fascinating, Tepper was tempting, but tardy, and Maples was marvelous, but Judy Hannah bagged the Bradley ($200) for a clear, concise communication on the complicated Climax complex called “Fluid evolution in the Mount Emmons porphyry molybdenum system, Colorado: From molybdenum stockwork to base-metal veins.” Rodney Feldmann took second prize ($50) for “Paleobiogeography of fossil crabs from high southern latitudes.”  The Great Dane Award for best informal communication was awarded posthumously to the last of the GSW Founders, T.W. Stanton, who died 40 years ago; a speech was delivered by Stanton at the 50th Anniversary GSW meeting in 1943, and was revived by Ellis Yochelson (the speech, that is).  Ellis accepted the award for Stanton.  5½ minutes and done.

     The secret Chair of the Sleeping Bear Committee was Eric Krogstead.  Defying tradition, which itself is a GSW tradition, he awarded the battered cup and bear to the Meeting Secretary (me) for delivering the audience from having to endure tedious minutes.  The once traditional “I am speechless” acceptance speech then resurfaced for the first time since the Eisenhower administration. 2 minutes and goodbye.

     Taking up old business, Ellis Yochelson then rose to tell a very stale joke about gastropods. This took two minutes, but it seemed like 10.

     Finally, President Stifel called out the slate of new officers, and there being no nominations from the floor, they were elected.

     With a poem and a flourish, Stifel turned over the beercan gavel to incoming President George Helz, who adjourned the meeting at 10:09 pm, the earliest for an Annual Meeting in 21 years.

     Respectfully submitted,

     Jeffrey N. Grossman, Meeting Secretary