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"Rock Stars" to Present Geologic Findings at Houston Conference
Released: 10/6/2008 8:58:30 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Dave Ozman 1-click interview
Phone: 720-244-4543

Marisa Lubeck 1-click interview
Phone: 315-271-7274

Top scientists from across the world, including 192 earth science experts from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), will be gathering this week to share their latest findings and most innovative research. 

The USGS will be a major participant at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA), Oct. 5-9, 2008 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. USGS scientists will present approximately 140 papers and posters on topics ranging from the extreme coastal impacts of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav to the potential effects of moon dust on astronauts.


"Is Las Vegas Wastewater Threatening Lake Mead Fish Reproduction?" 

Contaminants in Nevada's Lake Mead might be threatening fish reproduction. Reproductive problems in male fish observed at several locations in Lake Mead include altered reproductive hormones, reduced gonadal development, and lower sperm quality-all possibly indicating exposure to contaminants in the water. Treated wastewater from the Las Vegas Metropolitan area flows into Lake Mead through Las Vegas Wash and enters into Las Vegas Bay. Studies were recently conducted to determine the distribution and potential sources of contaminants in Lake Mead and indicate that the main source is Las Vegas Wash.  

Presenter: Michael R Rosen, USGS

Monday, Oct. 6, 10:20 a.m., General Assembly Theater Hall C

"Strategic Science Plan for Salton Sea Restoration"

California's largest lake is in jeopardy, but scientists are coming to the rescue. The Salton Sea provides irreplaceable habitat for migratory birds and an important cultural and recreational resource; however, water transferred from agricultural uses in the Imperial Valley to municipal uses in southern California will decrease the amount of irrigation water returned to the lake. If no action is taken, the results will be loss of aquatic and wetland habitat, increased salt content, increased receding of the water level, and degraded air quality.  USGS scientists are assisting in restoration planning through science evaluations and oversight and collaboration on a monitoring and assessment plan.  The Strategic Science Plan will help link resource managers with the scientific community by addressing issues such as biological sustainability, water and air quality, and socioeconomic values.

Presenter: Doug Barnum, USGS

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 3:20 p.m., General Assembly Theater Hall B

"New USGS Studies on Post-Fire Dryland Soil Stability and Habitat Restoration"

Habitat restoration project results from the eastern Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau confirm the need for managers to evaluate the risks of increasing soil erosion when planning land treatments. Efforts largely funded by federal programs are underway in western North America to restore wildlands that have been degraded by effects of land-use, invasive exotic plants, and altered fire regimes. The goals are to enhance ecosystem resistance and resilience to fire, resistance to invasive exotic plants, native plant diversity, habitat quality for wildlife, and forage production for livestock. USGS scientists highlight the need to address the risks of soil erosion in such plans.

 Presenter: Mark Miller, USGS

Sunday, Oct. 5, 11:05 a.m., Room 332AD


Poster Presentation: "Soil Development and Vegetation Succession in Glacial Fiords of Southcentral and Southeast Alaska"

Soil and plants are replacing many glaciers in Alaska. Glacier melts due to current climate conditions have given way to bays that contain new soils. More than 90% of Little Ice Age glaciers have been retreating since their maximum sizes were reached 100 to 250 years ago. The relationship between soil and vegetation in new bays of Kenai Fjords National Park has been studied. Results show that soil profile development increases as distance from the remaining glaciers increases and as maturity of the vegetation increases.

Co-Presenter: Bruce Molnia, USGS

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m., Exhibit Hall E

Energy and Minerals

"Potential for Undiscovered Hydrocarbon Accumulations in Southern Louisiana-Insights from the Structural Interpretation and Restoration of 2D Seismic Lines"

Scientists speculate that undiscovered gas might exist in Louisiana. The work being presented is an assessment of undiscovered hydrocarbon resources, gas compounds that are often used for energy, in underground rock layers of the Gulf Coast. Models of the underground geology have been created based on interpretations of seismic lines from southern Louisiana.  Results suggest that there are large unexplored structural traps containing hydrocarbon in rock from the Tertiary time period.

 Presenter: Ofori N. Pearson, USGS

Monday, October 6, 4:30 p.m., Room 351AD

"Oil and Gas Near Shore in the Gulf of Mexico"

The author will present a recent USGS assessment of the technically recoverable undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastal plain and state waters. USGS estimated a mean of 83.8 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas, a mean of 396 million barrels of undiscovered oil, and a mean of 3.1 billion barrels of undiscovered natural gas liquids in the assessed Paleogene strata.

Presenter: Peter D. Warwick

Monday, Oct. 6, 3:15 p.m., Room 351AD


Special Session: "Extreme Coastal Changes During Hurricanes Ike and Gustav" and "Mapping Hurricane Ike's Inland Storm Surge"

USGS scientist Asbury Sallenger will show compelling before-and-after photographs in this late breaking storm session. Extreme storms can change the shape and position of the coast as well as destroy buildings.  The changes wrought to the coast by the recent hurricanes will be illustrated using airborne-laser mapping, known as lidar.  Mike Turco (USGS) will discuss the deployment and success of using high tech, special sensors designed to measure Hurricane Ike's storm surge along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

Presenters: Asbury (Abby) Sallenger and Michael Turco, USGS

Monday, Oct. 6, 12:15-1:15 p.m., General Assembly Theater B

Please visit: https://www.acsmeetings.org/programs/events/webcasts/

"Bioaccumulation of Organic Anthropogenic Wastewater Indicators in Earthworms"

Earthworms studied in agricultural fields have been found to contain organic chemicals from household products and manure, indicating that such substances are entering the food chain.  Animal manure and biosolids, the solid byproduct of wastewater treatment, often are applied to agricultural crops to provide nutrients for plant growth and to improve the quality of soil. USGS and Colorado State University-Pueblo scientists have found that earthworms studied in agricultural fields where manure and biosolids were applied contain 20 different organic chemicals from household products and manure.

Presenter: Chad A. Kinney, Colorado State University-Pueblo

Monday, Oct. 6, 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., General Assembly Theater Hall C

"Geology, Health, and Security in the Global Community"

Earth science is integral to international environmental security.  Using case studies from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Zambia, the talk will explain how earth scientists working in collaboration with scientists from many other disciplines can contribute to global environmental security and disaster diplomacy. The session will immediately follow a technical session in the same room (Session T203, "Geology and Health in Texas, Mexico, and Beyond"), with talks examining many international geologic and health issues.

Presenter: Geoff Plumlee, USGS scientist and Outgoing Chair of the Geological Society of America's Geology and Health Division

Sunday, Oct. 5, 11:30 a.m. to 11:50 a.m., Room 330B

Poster Session: "A 50-state Inventory of Landslides -A U.S. Geological Survey Pilot Study"

Two USGS landslide publications that help assess the risk of landslides in the U.S. will be presented. Currently, landslide occurrences in the U.S. are investigated and tracked by each one of the 50 State Geological Surveys, with no uniformity in collection or presentation methods.  This lack of uniformity presents a critical challenge for emergency preparedness in landslide-affected regions.  The USGS is providing an integrated platform for each state to post its own inventory in one place, with the intent of eventually providing a publicly-accessible one-stop means of finding the landslide history of an area. The publications being presented have used a similar landslide inventory method to assess landslide hazards for two regions, serving as examples of inventory importance.

Chairs:  Helen Delano, Pennsylvania Geological Survey and Lynn Highland, USGS Landslide Program

Sunday, Oct. 5, 8 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Exhibits Hall

"Land-Use and Climate Change Affecting Desert Soil Erosion"

The threat of dust in dryland regions will be heightened by climate change and land use, scientists say.  Disturbance of the soil surface in dryland regions from recreation, livestock, mining and energy exploration, military exercises, and fire reduces or eliminates the natural protective cover of the soils, resulting in increased dust production.  The effects of future climate changes will also reduce cover of desert soil protectors such as plants.   Combined effects, such as surface disturbance occurring during drought periods, can create very large dust events, and these surface disturbances are likely to increase in the future.

Presenter: Jayne Belnap, USGS

Sunday, Oct. 5, 9:30 a.m., Room 332AD

"Delta Dikes in Northwest Washington-to Build or Not to Build?"

The flood protection and agricultural benefits of dikes at river deltas are often tainted by their resulting hazards. Recent surveys of large deltas in northwest Washington show a pattern of diked areas being about a meter lower than neighboring undiked areas. One explanation is that river sediments at deltas are naturally compacted over time; however, natural floods frequently deposit clay and silt sediments that compensate for this loss of land. Diked areas protected from such floods are not subject to sediment build-up and are therefore lower than nearby undiked areas. The results are loss of fishery resources, changes in wildlife habitat, lost carbon sequestration, and the ever increasing hazard of a great flood overtopping a dike.

Presenter: Ralph Haugerud, USGS

Monday, Oct. 6, 11 a.m., Room 352DEF

"The First Line of Defense: Louisiana's Barrier Islands"

Many of the islands that have served as Louisiana's first line of defense from storm surge are severely eroding. Some have retreated more than 20 yards per year. Many are not following the classic model of migrating landward with no change in form; they are diminishing in size and will eventually disappear because of subsidence, low sand supply, and impacts by extreme storms.

Presenter: Asbury (Abby) Sallenger, USGS

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2:30 p.m., Ballroom C

Human Health

Joint Technical Session: "Developments in Aeolian Research: Bridging the Interface between Soil, Sediment, and Atmosphere II"

USGS scientists will present on the dangerous effects of dry region dust emissions on human and environmental health. The potential effects of climate change, coupled with increased development of dryland areas such as Las Vegas, highlight the need for further research on the ecological and health effects of dusts from geologic sources such as dry lake beds. The pair of talks, "Dust from playas in the Mojave Desert (USA): Controls on metal contents and emission" and "Bioaccessibility of Toxic Elements In Dusts from Dry Saline Lakes In the Mojave Desert (USA)," will address the geologic and hydrologic processes that result in the presence of potentially toxic heavy metals within dry lake bed dusts, and how the dusts may affect humans and wildlife.

Presenters: Rich Reynolds and Suzette Morman, USGS

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 1:30 p.m., General Assembly Theater Hall B

"Living on a Dusty Moon"

While stardust is the stuff of fairytales, moon dust is the stuff of science.  The renewed interest in establishing a manned base on the moon demands information on the effects of moon dust on human health. The dust had substantial impacts on space suits and other equipment used in the first lunar missions, and was also well-known as a source of substantial eye, skin, and respiratory irritation to astronauts. USGS scientists will discuss recent research on the potential impacts of lunar dust on equipment and human health, and the development of a lunar soil simulant that can be used to model these impacts.  

Presenters: Doug Stoeser, USGS in collaboration with NASA, and Geoff Plumlee, USGS

Thursday, Oct. 9, 8 a.m., Room 310AD

"New Contributions from the National Groundwater Quality Program"

The USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program is instrumental to public safety because it consistently examines the quality of ground and surface water while encompassing a broader range of scales, contaminants, and environmental settings than any other large-scale sampling program to date. Data on chemical releases, environmental characteristics, and land use have been assembled and combined with sampling results to construct models for predicting contaminant occurrence in groundwater throughout the Nation. NAWQA has also helped to focus national attention on several ground-water contaminants affecting public water supplies, including potential contaminants that had not yet received much national attention such as road salt, ground-water recharge facilities, and atmospheric deposition.

Presenter: Jack Barbash, USGS

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 5:15 p.m., Room 352DEF

"Health Impacts of Coal-Derived Substances in Drinking Water"

The health effects of coal combustion are well known; however, much less is known about the potential impact of ingesting toxins leached from coal into drinking water.  The author will discuss research in the Balkans and high rates of kidney and pelvic cancers found in U.S. states that have low rank coal deposits and rural populations using groundwater.

Presenter: William H. Orem, USGS

Sunday, Oct. 5, 8:45 a.m., Room 330B

Water Census

"Back to the Future-Basic Training"

While training for a return to the moon, astronauts have provided insight on water availability here on Earth.  To prepare for future moon exploration, newly recruited astronauts spend a week in northern New Mexico learning basic field techniques in geology and geophysics.  Since 2004, USGS has been involved in the instruction of such field methods.  As part of their training, astronaut teams have collectively acquired gravity and magnetic data in the Taos Valley.  The data collection also helps map buried structures that influence ground-water flow and accumulation.  Thus, astronaut candidates learned lunar exploration techniques while at the same time providing insights into the availability of fresh water for residents of this dry area.

Presenter: Patricia Dickerson, University of Texas at Austin

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 10:45 a.m., Room 310D

"Water Quality in Selected United States Aquifers, 1993-2005"

The USGS collected 1,048 samples from wells and springs in 12 aquifer systems across the US including the Basin and Range, Biscayne, Castle Hayne, Edwards-Trinity, Floridan, Ozark Plateaus, Piedmont and Blue Ridge, Prairie du Chien, and Valley and Ridge.  Pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and nutrients were among the constituents analyzed. Water quality was highly variable.  The author will describe what was detected, and the land use and aquifer characteristics that result in higher contamination.

Presenter: Bruce D. Lindsey, USGS

Sunday, Oct. 5, 1:30 p.m., Room 342BE

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