March is usually a busy month for my wife and myself. With Lou Ann as a minister, Lent occurs in March with Wednesday services and other Holy Week activities. The Geological Society of America Northeastern Section holds their annual gathering also in March. Not that Lou Ann travels with me, but I was hoping she would have made the trip north to where this blog is being written. What would you answer if I would ask where is the highest elevation in New England and is the second highest point east of the Mississippi River? The peak is in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and also has a cog railroad that many of you traveled up on a vacation. The answer is Mount Washington.
No, I am not really on top of the mountain (but I would love to spend a night up there), but the conference is being held at the Mountain Washington Omni Hotel in Bretton Woods. When they said the resort is at the base of Mount Washington, they weren’t lying. What a view from the back porch of the hotel!! Yes, although there wasn’t much snow laying on the ground when we arrived, it is snowing now with several inches expected. Attending these annual meetings is educational as presenters provide updates on research, talking about the science theories of years past and new technologies. You get to also see fellow geologists that you only see at these gatherings.
What made me think about writing a blog like this one? Actually when a fellow geologist friend and myself left the area to head north, I asked him, “If we were to travel in the old days by horse and buggy, I would how long it would have taken to go 545 miles to Bretton Woods? Yes, alittle exaggerated, but just think about traveling in those days. One of the papers I heard from a Pennsylvania geologist here was about the first geologic investigation of the Keystone state. The geologist started in Philadelphia, traveled to Harrisburg, then to Philipsburg and ending in Erie. Imagine, not only taking a horse and buggy that distance but locating rock exposures, drawing the exposures and staying overnight. Wow, quite impressive and I don’t think that is for me.
By attending such a meeting as this, you have a chance to compare the field practices of those early explorers to what we use today. In the early days, they didn’t have topographical maps. They may have had very crude map showing the mountains, but not much else. Today we have the use of GPS, 3-D relief maps, highways with a 65 mph speed limit including nice rock exposures and cars. These pioneering geologists did not have the regional view to correlate rocks, did not really know where the rich coal deposits were nor the important mineral resources or Marcellus gas.
From the 38 themed sessions scheduled at the conference, a lot of information is made available. Each session lasts up to 3 hours and has presenters every 15 minutes. Yes, this is what I said! You have 15 minutes to deliver your information, maybe answer a question. This meeting occurring in New Hampshire means that many of the papers are centered on New England geology, but you may be able to take some information back home to use in Pennsylvania. Finally, the Geological Society is celebrating its 125 years so the conference is running with that theme. The good news about this annual meeting is that the 2014 meeting will be held in Lancaster, so maybe I will take a horse there to make it feel like old times.
Before I came to New Hampshire, I had several programs to present. The first program was on the world-famous Peach Bottom Slate for the Harrisburg Area Geological Society. About 45 geologists attended the program. You know how they say presenting a program in front of your peers is always the hardest to do. I find that true also, since everyone has a common interest. However, you realize shortly into the program that you are in control and let the script roll. Have fun with the audience as I do. I judge my audience on how much they laugh at my jokes because science is truly boring unless you spice it up. The program went well, but during the question period afterwards, I got intimidated. There was a retired state geologic survey employee in the audience who I knew, but never really talked to him. He said he had a question and a statement. I got myself propped thinking that he was going to question something I said. His question was one about the Susquehanna River which I did not really have a answer for, but told him that. His statement was that I need a great job presenting the program, so I was relieved.
My other program was a PointPoint program on the Susquehanna River for “Date Night” at Shank’s Mare Outfitters in Long Level. I have done other programs for this special night over the years and Liz Winand always attracts an interesting group of people for across the region. This night wasn’t any exception. There were couples from Lancaster and YorkCounty, some having an interest in geology and others just enjoying the night along the river. A great group as always with good questions and yes, they laughed at my jokes.
Finally, let me know if there are any topics you would like for me to write about. I usually write a blog as an educational piece, giving either historic or geologic information for the readers to enjoy. I have received comments back on numerous blogs with stories of your own or complimentary comments about the blog. Thank you for those, but do not hesitate to let me know what you would like to see on this page.Read More