Paleontological Society of Washington: Fraser on climatic and biotic interchange

The Paleontological Society of Washington

7:00 pm, Wednesday, September 21

National Museum of Natural History, Constitutional Ave. entrance

The roles of climate and biotic interchange in the assembly of mammal communities

Danielle Fraser

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Climate, speciation, extinction, and invasion are thought to structure patterns of species diversity. I use phylogenetic community assembly metrics to understand mammal responses to long-term climate and faunal changes during the Cenozoic (66 Ma – present). My research is a critical step in answering “What factors have led to the emergence of communities as we know them today?” and in generating predictions for the impact of human-driven extinction on modern community assembly.

Non-Smithsonian visitors will be escorted to the Q?rius auditorium at 6:50 and 6:55 p.m. Society members will host the speaker for dinner at the Elephant & Castle (1201 Pennsylvania Ave.) prior to the meeting. Members may meet at the restaurant or inside the Constitutional Ave. entrance of the NMNH at 5:00 and walk to the restaurant as a group.

GSW 1509: EarthScope evening extravaganza

The 1509th meeting of the Society will be on
Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vedran Lekic, The University of Maryland at College Park:
Peering into the Earth with an EarthScope
10 minutes

Scott Burdick, The University of Maryland at College Park:
Subducted slabs and mantle plumes beneath North America from body wave tomography
25 minutes

Tolulope Olugboji, The University of Maryland at College Park:
Mapping the crustal structure of the conterminous USA using surface waves.
25 minutes

This will be the first meeting for the fall.

Refreshments at 7:30 PM; Formal program at 8:00 PM
John Wesley Powell Auditorium, 2170 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC

Ocean Film Showcase @ NMNH Sept. 10

The National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Department of State, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the D.C. Environmental Film Festival, and BLUE Ocean Film Festival would like to invite you to the Our Ocean Film Showcase at the National Museum of Natural History on September 10th.

Organized in conjunction with the international Our Ocean conference that will be hosted by Secretary John Kerry in Washington in September, this showcase will feature a curated selection of ocean-related documentary films and include panel discussions with prominent figures including National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle and Dr. Enric Sala, and State Department’s Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Cathy Novelli. The showcase aims to look at the state of our ocean environment.

Please find the RSVP below. We kindly ask that you share this with your distribution networks.

Our Ocean Film Showcase – Film Festival and Discussions

September 10, All-Day 
Baird Auditorium, Ground Floor
National Museum of Natural History

Life on Earth depends on the ocean.  A healthy ocean is central to human wellbeing.  The ocean feeds billions of people, employs millions of workers, and generates trillions of dollars in the world economy.

Yet, as vast as our ocean and its resources are, they are not infinite.  And today the ocean is under tremendous pressure from human activity – including unsustainable and illegal fishing, marine pollution, and climate-related impacts.

The Our Ocean Film Showcase will feature a curated selection of thought-provoking ocean documentary films and include panel discussions with filmmakers and leading figures who are working to better understand how to sustain a healthy ocean.

RSVP for this event»


Geology of Alexandria, VA field trip

Geologic Field Trip – Alexandria, Virginia and Vicinity


Date: Monday, October 10, 2016, 9 AM – ?

Leader: Tony Fleming, author of the 2016 Geologic Atlas of Alexandria, VA (

Who: geologists, geotechnical engineers, building and planning staff, environmental professionals

Meeting Place: Ford Nature Center, 5750 Sanger Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311


Alexandria features a strongly dissected fall line landscape with some of the most varied geology and topography in the Potomac Valley, ranging from complexly deformed crystalline bedrock of the Piedmont in the west to many steep, active hillsides developed on the eastward-thickening wedge of early Cretaceous Potomac Formation further east, along with a host of upland and lowland river terraces, debris fans, and associated hillside deposits. This trip will highlight a variety of geologic features and scientific problems of local and regional interest to geologists and geotechnical engineers working in the greater mid-Atlantic region.


Stops and topics featured on the trip include:

– Structure of the Paleozoic bedrock and the nature of the regionally significant erosional unconformity on the bedrock surface, which appears to have unusually high local relief at places in the City.


– The character, facies relations, deformation, hydrogeology, and geotechnical properties of the early Cretaceous Potomac Formation as seen at its updip end. The Potomac Formation is well exposed throughout the highlands in the western two thirds of the city and will be a major focus of the trip because of its geomorphic, hydrogeologic and geotechnical significance. We will see good examples of the informal members defined in the atlas, as well as the major aquifer system it hosts, and for which western Alexandria is part of the regional recharge area.


– Nature and evolution of the landscape from the late Tertiary through Recent. The City contains more and larger river terraces than most other parts of northern Virginia, including several widespread “upland” gravels whose ages remain poorly defined yet are of fundamental importance to our understanding of issues like seismic risk and incision history of the landscape;


– Tectonics, faults, and modern seismic hazards. Ample evidence indicates that comparatively young fault zones project into the City from both the north (DC/Rock Creek fault system) and the south (Stafford fault system), but defining and mapping their locations with a reasonable degree of precision in this heavily urbanized area is a real challenge. We will visit some of the localities where faults have been documented or are strongly suspected, and revisit subsurface data presented in the atlas for some of these “suspect” places.


Alexandria contains all of these features within a compact area, which will greatly reduce travel time between stops and allow for maximum time in the field. In addition to illustrating the strata and features depicted in the city atlas, the intent of the trip is to stimulate lively discussion among this group of regional experts and professionals. I look forward to your participation.


Please contact the field trip leader ( if you plan to attend or have any questions, and feel free to forward this announcement to colleagues who may be interested in the outing.

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.