2016 VGFC: Cenozoic geology along the York & Piankatank Rivers

2016 Conference

Cenozoic Geology and Paleontology along the York and Piankatank rivers

Karen Layou, J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College

Rowan Lockwood, College of William & Mary

Rick Berquist, Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources

Pete Berquist, Thomas Nelson Community College

Friday, October 7 – Saturday, October 8, 2016

hosted by the Department of Geology, College of William & Mary

This year’s field trip will focus on Cenozoic geology and paleontology along the York and Piankatank rivers in the eastern Virginia Coastal Plain.  The field trip, which will be based at William & Mary, will be led by Karen Layou, Rowan Lockwood and Rick Berquist.  We will examine the Haven Beach marsh deposits that are being overstepped by the beach as a result of active marine transgression.  We will also visit Holland Point on the Piankatank River to see a dated oyster reef at the base of the Elsing Green Alloformation.  The Mitchem pit is also on the itinerary.  Here, we will see Tabb-Sedgefield spit sands over bay-bottom muddy sands of Sedgefield (or the newly named Elsing Green Formation) with assemblages of Mercenaria and numerous other shells.

Last but not least we will visit the York River State Park fossil cliffs where we will see the intriguing contact between the Yorktown-Eastover formations.  We may even have a drilling demonstration at the Visitor’s Center for those who are interested.

2016 Conference

Origins of Life symposium at Library of Congress

The Emergence of Life: On the Earth, in the Lab, and Elsewhere, a symposium taking place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on September 15 in the John W. Kluge Center, Room 119, in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, 1st St. SE between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street.

A description of the event: “The emergence of life is among the most compelling questions in astrobiology. This symposium brings together scientists, humanists, and authors to explore what we know about the origins of life, how we came to know it, and what it means. Organized around the spaces in which we explore the origins of life — in terrestrial nature, in the laboratory, and on other planets — participants will include biologists, geochemists, physicists, historians, philosophers, and authors, each discussing a different aspect of or approach to an origin of life. Each session will feature commentary by a noted journalist and/or author.”

The event is free and open to the public, with no RSVP required. For further information, visit:



USGS Mendenhall: tropical cyclone landfall records

Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Seminar

Terrence McCloskey, USGS – St. Petersburg, FL

When: Thursday, August 18, 2016 – 12 Noon

Where: Via WebEx and National Center, Room 3A409 (Chief Geologist’s Conference Room)


Paleotempestology: Using organic geochemical proxies to improve the resolution of tropical cyclone landfall records

Due to the brevity of the historical record, the long term activity pattern of tropical cyclones along the western margins of the North Atlantic is not well understood. Paleotempestology attempts to mitigate this lack by using geologic methods to extend landfall records thousands of years into the past. A primary objective is to identify climatic mechanisms driving the large, low-frequency changes in activity levels observed in nearly all millennial-scale landfall records. Increasing the spatial coverage of long-term records and the sensitivity of event detection are important challenges in improving our understanding of these activity regime changes. This project aims at using organic geochemical proxies capable of detecting smaller/more distant storms in order to improve the completeness of local records. Doing so requires several preliminary steps, including proxy development, the identification of event signatures, the assessment of event layer preservation/alteration over time, and deconvolving the environmental history of each study site. We address these issues based on work conducted in the Pearl River marsh, LA and Waccasassa Bay, FL.

DGMR session on 2011 Virginia earthquake


Join DGMR for the 5th anniversary of one of the most dramatic earthquakes to have impacted the Commonwealth.  Expand your knowledge about seismicity in Virginia and the impact of the 2011 event with featured presenter Dr. Martin Chapman, Virginia Tech seismologist (Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory). Afterwards, ask questions to a panel of geologists about earthquakes in Virginia.

Refreshments provided!

 When:  Tuesday August 23rd from 2-3:30pm

Where: DOF Training Room, 900 Natural Resources Drive, Charlottesville, VA

Contact: DGMRinfo@dmme.virginia.gov

PGS: Sputnik Planum (Pluto)

The April 21, 2016, meeting of the Potomac Geophysical Society (PGS) will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Crowne Plaza – Tysons Corner hotel, 1960 Chain Bridge Road, 22102.  This location is within one-half mile of the Tysons Corner Metro station, near I-495, and has free parking available.  Our private meeting room is located in the back of the Tuscan Grille restaurant on the second floor of the hotel.  The optional dinner cost will be discounted to $30 for members in good standing (have paid dues), and $35 for non-members, and is inclusive of iced tea, coffee, tax and gratuity.  Members and guests may attend the presentation after dinner for no charge; we estimate that the presentation will begin at 8:15 p.m.  For attendees who arrive early, the social will be held in O’Malley’s Pub on the first floor of the Crowne Plaza hotel.  Drinks may also be purchased in the private meeting room on a cash basis.

Social: 6:00-7:00 p.m. O’Malley’s Pub, first floor Crowne Plaza

Dinner: 7:00-8:15 p.m. Tuscan Grille, second floor Crowne Plaza

Meeting & Presentation: 8:15-9:30 p.m. Tuscan Grille, second floor Crowne Plaza

Dr. Harold Geller, Observatory Director, George Mason University

“Sputnik Planum: A geologically active impact basin on Pluto”

Talk Abstract:

Dr. Geller will give an overview of the New Horizons mission to Pluto. After providing the audience with the history of the New Horizons mission, Dr. Geller will discuss the latest findings about Pluto including the layering on Pluot’s surface; the cold and hazy atmosphere; and, the geology of an active impact basin known as Sputnik Planum.

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Harold Geller is Observatory Director at George Mason University (GMU). He is a Solar System Ambassador for the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He won six Telly Awards for online educational videos with Astrocast TV. He received the 2008 GMU Faculty Member of the Year Award. He has been Associate Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy; adviser to the Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement; President of the Potomac Geophysical Society; tour guide at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; producer of educational multimedia CD-ROMs; faculty at Northern Virginia Community College; doctoral fellow of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; and weekend manager of the Einstein Planetarium.  He is author of books, edited volumes, and has published over 85 papers in education, astrobiology, astrophysics, and biochemistry. Dr. Geller has been quoted in the media including USA Today, Washington Post, Huffington Post, WTOP News Radio and News Channel 8.

Martin Schmidt on geologic history of Maryland

Talk on 4/8/16 at Gem, Lapidary & Mineral Society of DC:

Martin Schmidt, the McDonogh School

This talk is an overview of the geology and geologic history of Maryland, with a zoom-in on the geology of the Washington DC area.  It will also introduce attendees to a freely available web map that will allow them to investigate the geology of places in Maryland by rock classes, rock types & rock ages, along with streams and their watersheds, state & local park locations, MD & U.S. physiographic provinces, and detailed landforms in MD.

Hawaiian erosion talk at USGS Reston

The Last Land: How humans changed erosion in Hawaii  

Jonathan Stock, Research Geologist and Director,

USGS Innovation Center



Thursday – April 7, 2016

12 Noon

Room 3A-409

National Center, Reston