Lunchtime Lectures

Sun.–Wed., 12:15–1:15 p.m.
Colorado Convention Center, room 103/105

GSA's Lunchtime Lectures series offers four one-hour presentations (one for each day of the meeting) by high-profile speakers on broad topics relevant to today's world. Bring your lunch and prepare to be challenged and inspired!

GSA Lunchtime Lecture 1

Marcia McNuttMarcia McNutt:
Reflections on My First Year as USGS Director

Sunday, 31 Oct., 12:15–1:15 p.m.

GSA Fellow Marcia McNutt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 22 October 2009, to serve as Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior. As USGS Director, McNutt is responsible for leading the largest water, earth, biological science, and civilian mapping agency in the United States in its mission to provide the scientific data that enable decision makers to create sound policies for a changing world.

McNutt previously served as president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Moss Landing, California, USA. She has participated in 15 major oceanographic expeditions and served as chief scientist on more than half of those voyages. Her research includes studies of ocean island volcanism in French Polynesia, continental breakup in the Western United States, and uplift of the Tibet Plateau, and she has published 90 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

McNutt earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Colorado College and a doctorate in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Along with being a GSA Fellow, McNutt is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded the Macelwane Medal by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in 1988 for research accomplishments by a young scientist and AGU's Maurice Ewing Medal in 2007 for her significant contributions to deep-sea exploration.

GSA Lunchtime Lecture 2

Timothy Kileen

Timothy L. Killeen:
Challenges and Opportunities across the Geosciences and Beyond

Monday, 1 Nov., 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Timothy Killeen is assistant director for geosciences at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), having taken on this role in 2008 through an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment. Prior to joining the NSF, Killeen was director of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for eight years. Killeen still serves as senior scientist in NCAR’s High Altitude Observatory, where his research interests include the experimental and theoretical study of Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Before NCAR, Killen was professor of atmospheric and space science at the University of Michigan. During his tenure, he served as director of the University of Michigan’s Space Physics Research Laboratory and as the university’s associate vice president for research.

Killeen was born in Cardiff, Wales, and received a B.Sc. in physics and a Ph.D. in atomic and molecular physics from University College London. Killeen is past president of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), a former AMS Councilor, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He has served as president of AGU’s Space Physics Section and on numerous NASA, NSF, AGU, and university committees. He was also co-chair of the NASA Sun-Solar System Connection Strategic Roadmap Committee and is a past editor-in-chief of the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics.

GSA Lunchtime Lecture 3

Thomas Ahlbrandt

Thomas Ahlbrandt (Michel T. Halbouty Lecturer):
The Global Petroleum Revolution: A New Era

Tuesday, 2 Nov., 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Why have the predicted global oil and natural gas shortages and demise of civilization by 2010 related to these vanishing supplies not occurred? Why is natural gas, thought to be a critical shortage a decade ago, now plentiful in the U.S. and globally so much so that gas prices are falling? There has been a global revolution in petroleum and engineering sciences to explain a new paradigm which has completely altered how and where we find and develop petroleum. Most hydrocarbons have remained in the source rock (where thermally mature), yet developing them relies on new technologies not available until the last decade. The conventional (or static) approach to exploration is rapidly changing to the dynamic (petroleum system) approach, and this transformation is the most profound shift in the petroleum business in a century. Molecular level studies of petroleum now abound requiring wholly new techniques and evaluation parameters to determine economic viability. This in turn requires new research and educational pathways, and conversely some geosciences research areas will likely atrophy in the light of a new set of paradigms. Are we really in the sunset of the petroleum age or a new era?

Thomas Ahlbrandt is currently vice president of exploration at Falcon Oil and Gas in Denver, Colorado, USA, for which he manages unconventional oil and natural gas exploration in Hungary and Australia. He previously served as CEO and chairman of the board at PetroHunter Energy Corporation, and was the World Energy Project chief for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Denver.

While at the USGS, Ahlbrandt managed a group of 41 employees and led the 2000 USGS World Petroleum Assessment. The USGS assessment was the first of its kind to provide a rigorous geologic foundation for estimating undiscovered energy resources around the world. This analysis is summarized in American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Memoir 86, Global Resource Estimates from Total Petroleum Systems (2005).

In addition to 22 years with the USGS, Ahlbrandt has 21 years of industry experience in exploration and research with ExxonMobil, BP-Amoco, Amerada Hess, and several independents, including MRO Associates; he was a founding partner of Petrostrat Exploration. He received his B.A. (1969) and Ph.D. (1973) degrees in geology from the University of Wyoming. During his career, Ahlbrandt has discovered conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources domestically (Rocky Mountain region) and overseas.

Ahlbrandt also serves as vice chairman of the United Nations Committee Ad Hoc Group of Experts on the Supply of Fossil Fuels. A report prepared by this group to harmonize the classification of reserve and resource terminology for oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium was adopted by the U.N. in 2004.

Ahlbrandt's contributions to geology have been recognized with numerous industry and association awards, including the Meritorious Service Award of the Department of Interior (2006), the AAPG's Distinguished Lecturer (2002–2003) and Distinguished Service awards (2002), Outstanding Scientist by the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists (1999), and Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Wyoming (2000). He served on the AAPG Executive Committee as chair of the House of Delegates and as a U.S. representative for the World Petroleum Council from 1997 to 2003.

GSA Lunchtime Lecture 4

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Timothy H. Dixon (Moderator):
Haiti's Catastrophic Earthquake of 12 January 2010: Lessons Learned

Wednesday, 3 Nov., 12:15–1:15 p.m.

Panelists: Roger Bilham, University of Colorado; Eric Calais, Purdue University; Carol Prentice, U.S. Geological Survey;

On 12 Jan. 2010, Haiti suffered a catastrophic earthquake, killing more than 200,000 people and devastating the capitol, Port au Prince. Previous seismic, geologic, and geodetic studies had highlighted earthquake risk in the region, but the country was ill-prepared, in part reflecting the extreme poverty of the region. In this forum, experts who have worked in the area will review the geologic and seismic background to the 12 Jan. event, describe recovery efforts to date, and suggest steps that can be taken to mitigate future hazards in this and other earthquake-prone countries.

Timothy Dixon is a professor at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and director of the Space Geodesy Laboratory. His research focuses on the application of space geodetic and remote sensing data to understanding Earth's surface and subsurface processes, including earthquakes, crustal deformation, coastal subsidence, and groundwater extraction. Dixon is also the recipient of the GSA Geophysics Division's 2010 George P. Woollard Award.

Roger Bilham is a professor of geosciences at the University of Colorado and Fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Bilham holds degrees in both physics and geology, and his research interests include tectonics and seismic hazards. He is the author of "Lessons from the Haiti earthquake" (2010, Nature v. 463, p. 878–879).

Eric Calais is a professor of geophysics at Purdue University and serves as science advisor to the United Nations' Disaster Risk Reduction Program in Haiti. He co-chaired the United Nations Haiti Earthquake Task Force after the Jan. 2010 earthquake and serves as an expert consultant for the World Bank and other international organizations. Calais' research uses GPS geodesy and deformation modeling to understand the geodynamics of tectonic processes at plate boundaries and plate interiors.

Carol S. Prentice is project chief for the U.S. Geological Survey's San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake Hazards program. Her research focuses on active faults in northern California, the Caribbean, and Asia, and on paleoseismology in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad. Prentice traveled to Haiti on 24 Feb. 2010 for four weeks of field work as part of the Earthquake Disaster Assistance Team program, a new initiative between the USGS and the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. She has been a GSA Fellow since 2008 and served on the Board of Directors of the Seismological Society of America from 2005–2007.


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