Department to host geological society meeting

Western Carolina University’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources will host more than 700 professional geologists and geology students during the 61st annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America, which will be held Saturday, March 31, through Monday, April 2, in Asheville.

Blair Tormey, WCU geology program lecturer, is vice chair of the GSA’s Southeastern Section and leads the local committee that has been organizing the meeting for the past two years. “This is the first time the Geological Society of America has met in Asheville, and we are on track to be one of the highest-attended Southeastern Section meetings ever,” Tormey said.

Meeting activities, headquartered at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, will include technical sessions starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, April 1, and continuing through 5:30 p.m. on April 2, as well as field trips, workshops and exhibits. “Academic topics will range from surface and groundwater issues to the tectonics and geologic history of the Southeast,” Tormey said. “Applied geology themes will range from geological engineering and mining to Southeastern geologic hazards such as earthquakes, landslides and sea-level rise.”

The meeting will feature a pair of keynote addresses on April 1. Richard M. Wooten, senior geologist with the North Carolina Geological Survey, will speak on “Landslide Hazard Mapping 2005-2011: Findings and Lessons Learned,” and David A. Budd, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will address “Are Self-Organizing Processes an Overlooked Component of Sedimentary Diagenesis?”

David Kinner, director and assistant professor for WCU’s geology program, said many WCU students will attend the meeting and some will co-present posters along with geology faculty members. WCU student presenters will include Alanna Weir, Chandler Harrison, Justin Wiggins, Jacob Sinclair, Mandesa Carringer, Paul Martin, Kaitlyn Reda, Ryan Nelsen, Taylor Zimmerman and Derek Tahquette. WCU faculty members involved in presenting the posters with the students are Blair Tormey, Cheryl Waters-Tormey, Dan Jones, Jerry Miller, Lionel Villarreol and Ben Tanner.

Other meeting presentations will be given by Tormey, Kinner, Miller and Mark Lord, and by Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines researchers Rob Young and Adam Griffith. Miller, Lord and Kinner will chair a meeting session on “Hydrological Processes and Problems in the Southern Appalachians” and Waters-Tormey will co-chair a session titled “Transcurrent Motion in the Southern Appalachians: Comparing Kinematics and Timing across the Orogen.” Katie Peek from the PSDS will co-chair a session on “Coastal Response to Sea Level and Climate Changes” and Jones will serve as the meeting’s audio visual coordinator while Tanner coordinates student volunteers.

More information about the GSA Southeastern Section meeting in Asheville is available on the meeting website or by calling WCU’s Department of Geosciences and Natural Resources at 828-227-7367.