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Gene Shinn Wins Preeminent SEPM Twenhofel Medal

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Gene Shinn and Terry Edgar
Above: Gene Shinn (left) and Terry Edgar (USGS, retired) collect a sediment core in a dry karst pond at Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve, lower Tampa Bay, Florida, to test water-table depth and ground-water salinity. One of three formerly isolated, low-salinity or freshwater ponds in a preserve that was ditched in the 1950s and 1960s when the surrounding uplands were under agricultural production, this pond currently is poorly connected to tidal flow by manmade ditches. In wet years, the pond retains brackish water year round; in dry years, like that shown, salinities increase to hypersaline (greater than 40 psu), water levels fall, fish die, and the ponds go dry. As part of a restoration project by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the ditches to this and the two other ponds will be plugged in an effort to return the ponds to permanently inundated, low-salinity conditions, which will provide a greater diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. How long it will take for natural processes to leach accumulated salts from the sediment underlying the ponds is unknown. [larger version]

Eugene A. Shinn, carbonate geologist with Shell Oil in the 1960s and then with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for 31 years, will receive the 2009 William H. Twenhofel Medal from the Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM). The highest recognition given by the SEPM, the Twenhofel Medal is awarded annually to a person for his or her outstanding contributions in sedimentary geology. Albert C. Hine, Associate Dean of Research at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, made the announcement in August. Shinn received an honorary Ph.D. from USF in 1998 and was a commencement speaker. Since retiring in 2006 from the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center office in St. Petersburg, Shinn has been seated as a Courtesy Professor at the USF College of Marine Science next door.

Nominees for the Twenhofel Medal are chosen for their outstanding contributions in paleontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and (or) allied scientific disciplines. The contributions normally entail extensive personal research but may involve some combination of research, teaching, administration, or other activities that have notably advanced scientific knowledge in the field of sedimentary geology. Shinn has devoted his career to each of these areas and more, and has excelled in all. As a researcher dedicated to working in the field, he is recognized as a pioneer in studies of carbonate sediment, tidal flats, diagenesis, coral-reef ecosystems, and, in recent years, the effects of transatlantic African dust on corals and human health. Shinn has an innate ability often to perceive truths before others do, and he encourages discussion and innovative thinking. He is not afraid to speak his mind or to get on the hot seat amidst controversy; he also knows when to avoid controversy. Shinn has led numerous modern-carbonate field trips to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas for SEPM, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the Geological Society of America (GSA), and many universities and local societies. He has published more than 150 scientific papers, produced training films, won several “best paper” awards, and received the USGS Meritorious Service Award, as well as the USGS Gene Shoemaker Award for Excellence in Communications. Shinn joins the ranks of other very distinguished geologists who have shaped major concepts in understanding Earth processes and history in the realm of carbonate geology. The honor is long overdue. Shinn will receive the award at the Society’s annual meeting in Denver in June 2009. Congratulations, Gene, for a meritorious job well done!

William H. Twenhofel (1875-1957), Ph.D. Yale (1912), is regarded as the patriarch of sedimentary geology. Twenhofel, who was a member of the National Research Council, retired in 1945 from an illustrious academic career at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where the Department of Geology and Geophysics has offered one of the top Earth-science programs in the United States for decades. Twenhofel cofounded the Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, now the Journal of Sedimentary Research, one of the premier journals in the field of sedimentary geology.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Retirement of Gene Shinn, Pioneer in Carbonate Sedimentology and Coral-Reef Ecosystems
February 2006
Gene Shinn Wins 2002 Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communications
March 2003

Related Web Sites
Twenhofel Medal
Society for Sedimentary Geology

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Tracking Sea Turtles

Research Alaskan Glaciers Retreating

Migratory Birds Carry Avian Influenza

Outreach Earth Science Day in Menlo Park, CA

Awards Shinn Wins SEPM Twenhofel Medal

USGS Collaborator Wins SEPM Shepard Medal

Staff New Chief Scientist for Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team

Publications December 2008 Publications List

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