The gathering, hosted by University of Washington researchers, is expected to draw more than 6,000 geoscientists and will feature presentations on a broad array of topics. They include:
- How geology has affected the evolution of Pacific Northwest salmon species.
- Evidence of global climate change.
- The impact of population growth on water availability and quality.
- How Northwest geology has shaped the region's wine industry.
- The history and future of the relationship between geoscience and religion.
Some of the material presented will be the result of very recent research, said Derek Booth, director of the UW's Center for Water and Watershed Studies and general chairman of the meeting's Seattle organizing committee.
"At a meeting, comments and feedback come as you're first presenting your research, so it's a chance to offer ideas and preliminary conclusions before they've gone through a formal review process," Booth said. "The majority of material presented at these meetings eventually makes it into the peer-reviewed literature, but that process often takes years."
The meeting will be Nov. 2-5 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. Booth, a research associate professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, said the meeting is expected to be the largest the GSA has held outside the Denver area, where the organization is based.
The 115-year-old society is the longest-established professional geological organization in the nation, and this meeting has drawn the largest number of submitted papers in GSA's history. Written abstracts, short capsule descriptions of research that scientists plan to present at the meeting, can be previewed at http://gsa.
While geology research is the organization's traditional focus, Booth said, GSA also has adopted commitments to public outreach, K-12 education and applications of the research to broader society. Notably, the Seattle meeting will include an evening forum, open to the public and moderated by Kathy Troost, a UW research scientist in Earth and space sciences, that focuses on earthquakes in the Cascade region of the Northwest.
There also will be scientific panels on earthquake hazards in the Puget Lowlands, mainly north of the Lake Washington Ship Canal; the geologic history of the Pacific Northwest; basalt formations in the Columbia River basin; and the structure of the Earth's crust in Cascadia -- an area that includes Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.
The panel on the geology of salmon, led by David Montgomery, a UW Earth and space sciences professor, will focus on how changes in geology, climate change and habitat loss has affected the region's salmon population. The session on the geology of wine, led by Lawrence Meinert, a Washington State University geology professor, will examine the impact of soils, bedrock, hydrology and climate on the wine industry.