Western faculty, students to present research at national geological meeting

CULLOWHEE – Several faculty and students from Western Carolina University’s department of geosciences and natural resources management will present research at the 115th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, to be held Nov. 2-5 in Seattle.

Rob Young, associate professor of geology at Western, will discuss the geologic factors behind a Florida lawsuit filed by oceanfront property owners alleging that manmade inlets and associated jetties are responsible for substantial erosion along the Brevard County (Fla.) shoreline. Young also will present a paper analyzing the impact of his longtime mentor, Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University, on U.S. coastal engineering and management.

Young will team up with Western students Lucas Conkle, Christopher Bochicchio and Anthony Khiel to discuss an on-going effort to determine the age and origin of Southern Appalachian heath balds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and to resolve whether the peculiar treeless areas of the mountains are the result of climate change.

Jerry Miller, the Whitmire Distinguished Professor of Environmental Sciences at Western, will share some of the findings of his research into whether an increase in mining operations can be linked to mercury contamination of rivers in the country of Guyana.

Mark Lord, assistant professor of geology, will present details of his work examining geologic characteristics left behind by the last significant glacial event to occur in the southeastern Saskatchewan area of Canada.

Western’s faculty and student researchers are among approximately 7,200 geoscientists expected to attend the conference in Seattle, making it the largest annual meeting in the history of the Geological Society of America.