Monday, October 28, 2013

Geological Society of America 125th Annual Meeting in Denver

NOTE: A TWO-DAY SESSION ON THE ORIGIN OF THE COLORADO RIVER AND GRAND CANYON WILL BE HELD ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY THIS WEEK. LOOK HERE FOR OCCASIONAL UPDATES. HERE IS A SUMMARY OF MY FIRST DAY AT THE TALKS.


I am attending this huge gathering of geologists held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. There are between 7,500 to 8,000 professional geologists in attendance - the venue itself is huge. During this four-day conference there will be 4,900 talks given and at any one time, 30 talks are underway! I have to choose among those talks to attend one of them. It is a mind blowing geology fest. Here are some pictures from the first day on Sunday, October 27.

This is Harrison Schmitt, the last of the 12 men who have ever walked on the moon. He talked his way into the Apollo program - a program that had identified military test pilots as the best candidates to go to the moon. Dr. Schmitt convinced the program that a professional geologist needed to go to the moon. He gave a talk on the composition of the rocks near the landing spot for Apollo 17. I was amazed to learn that the moon has pyroclastic deposits, as well as the usual basalt rocks.

In the main exhibit hallway are large (8 feet X 8 feet) paintings of ancient Colorado. Here is one from the Morrison Formation 145 Ma (million years ago) showing a Stegosaurus walking on the site of the present-day Rocky Mountains, then a broad low-lying floodplain.

Here is a Triassic depiction of Colorado about 215 Ma.

I conducted an oral history with William (Bill) Dickinson in his hotel room after the first day of talks. Bill received three degrees from Stanford University and then became a professor there during the 1960's. This is when the theory of plate tectonics was being developed and I was interested in learning more from him about the changes that occurred during this pivotal moment in the geosciences. Look here in the future for some excerpts.

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