Feed Your Brain - Lunchtime Enlightenment

Feed Your BrainGrab your lunch at a nearby convention center vendor and enjoy a little lunchtime enlightenment.

Each lecture will be live streamed. You may tune in 15 minutes before each talk by clicking on the respective Livestream logo below.
Times listed on the Livestream website are one hour different (MST) than on this web page (PST). Both are correct, but in different time zones. 


noon - 1:30 p.m., WSCC, Ballroom 6A

GSA Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony

Isabel Montañez

Presidential Address by 
Isabel P. Montañez

“Mind the Gap”: GSA’s Role in an Evolving Global Society


GSA's Gold Medals

GSA Awards Ceremony

Please join GSA President Isabel Montañez and GSA President-Elect Robbie Gries to honor and greet the 2017 GSA Medal & Award recipients. At this year’s combined event, Montañez will deliver her Presidential Address. Vicki S. McConnell, Executive Director of GSA, will provide a presentation on the state of the Society, and Jack Hess, GSAF President, will provide a GSA Foundation update. All are welcome; no reservations, tickets, or meeting registration required.



12:15 - 1:15 p.m., WSCC, Ballroom 6A

The Protean City: Reshaping the Seattle Landscape

David B. Williams

David B. Williams

Since settlers first arrived in Seattle, the city’s citizens have altered the landscape with an unrivaled zeal. We have regraded hills, which required moving more than 11 million cubic yards of sediment; reengineered tide flats, which led to the making of more than 2,200 acres of new land; and re-plumbed the second largest lake in the state, which completely altered its drainage. The goal of these projects was to provide better locations for business and easier ways to move through the challenging topography.

Seattleites are still at it, though now we also understand that earthquakes and rising sea levels have the potential to change us as much as we have changed the land.

Based on his book, Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, David B. Williams’ talk will explore the myriad ways that Seattle has reimagined and reengineered its landscape.

Williams is a naturalist, author, and educator whose award-winning book explores the unprecedented engineering projects that shaped Seattle during the early part of the twentieth century. Previous books include The Seattle Street Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City and Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology, which was nominated for a Washington State Book Award in 2010. He has written for Earth, Smithsonian, and National Wildlife and maintains the website GeologyWriter.com.



12:15 - 1:15 p.m., WSCC, Ballroom 6A

Michel T. Halbouty Lecture

Afghanistan Resources: Rapacious Extraction, Ruined Environments, and Chaos Continuation?

John (Jack) Shroder

John (Jack) Shroder, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Afghanistan Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha

The rich minerals, hydrocarbons, and waters of Afghanistan have been known for more than half a century, yet some have only belatedly realized that trillions of resource dollars might enable hard-pressed Afghanistan to rebuild the war-destroyed infrastructure. This could enable withdrawal of the foreign militaries, a strong desire of those who struggle greatly against the Taliban and ISIS insurgencies. Other critics think Western powers and multinational companies are in this Longest War not to help Afghanistan recover normalcy but rather to exploit the beleaguered country and run off with cheap resources. The reality is that a corrupt and kleptocratic governmental elite of only marginal technical capability has been incapable of providing transparency in the mineral tender processes or adequate licensing and royalty production for the extractive industries. Pressure from the International Monetary Fund and others to open up the mining in haste, without placing sound vision, a proper legal framework, or well-functioning management institutions have greatly limited any success. Simultaneously, armed mining oligarchies have dug in to extract profits in league with the insurgencies to use minerals as revenue generators. Wise ideas and plans for transparent mineral extraction and development of resource corridors have run aground on bureaucratic incompetence and lethargy. In the “Wild-West” mining environment of Afghanistan, rampant excitement over get-rich-quick schemes has drawn in companies with variable foreign-government support, as well as Afghan insiders looking to make quick profits. China and India are expected to benefit most, along with a host of the new mining oligarchs and insurgents, but not the legitimate government of the country unless suggested strong changes are successful. A second wind for the mining sector has been promoted recently, however, by a revolving door of ministers of mines to get the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum correctly focused, coupled with the possible moderate success of the new Afghanistan Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. It remains to be seen whether or not the resources can be extracted with minimal environmental damage to help the local people, or they should be left untouched to keep the profits away from the mineral mafias.



12:15 - 1:15 p.m., WSCC, Ballroom 6A

Forensic Geology: The Applications of Geology to Police and Law Enforcement

Laurance Donnelly Donnelly wtih Police Helicopter

Laurance Donnelly, Chair, International Union of Geological Sciences, Initiative on Forensic Geology

Forensic geology (also known as forensic geoscience or geoforensics) is the application of geology to policing and law enforcement, which may potentially be applicable to a court of law. Forensic geologists provide advice and support in relation to: serious crimes (homicide and sexual assaults), organized crime, counter terrorism, kidnapping, humanitarian incidents, environmental crimes, wildlife crime, precious minerals, illegal mining, metals and minerals theft, fraudulent crimes, fakes and search.

Generally, forensic geologists may support the police by; (a) providing the analysis of geological (trace) evidence, (b) crime scene examinations or (c) conducting ground and water searches.

Geological (trace) evidence involves the collection of evidence from a crime scene, offender or item, followed by analysis, interpretation, presentation and explanation of geological evidence. This may be used to help determine what happened, where and when it occurred. Geological evidence can vary considerably and may include for example; rock fragments, soils and sediments, which occur naturally on the ground, artificial (anthropogenic) man-made materials derived from geological raw materials (such as bricks, concrete, glass or plaster board) or micro-fossils. These may be transferred onto a body, person or the clothing of a victim or offender. This evidence may then be used to see if there could be an association between different items or objects.

Forensic geologists also search for locating objects buried in the ground, concealed or discarded in water including; homicide graves, mass graves related to genocide, weapons, firearms, improvised explosive devise components, drugs, stolen items, money, coinage and jewelry.

In the past decade or more years there have been at approximately 227 recorded international forensic geology events, 9 text books have been published and numerous technical papers, conference proceedings and popular press articles. Professional workings groups have been established specially aimed at promoting and developing forensic geology around the world, such as the International Union of Geological Sciences, Initiative on Forensic Geology (IUGS-IFG). Together, these all demonstrate the global wealth in activity and interest in forensic geology.

This presentation provides an overview of forensic geology. It draws on operational case work experiences and provides information on the logistical aspects of working with the police. It should be noted, in context with the theme of this presentation, images of crime scenes and human remains will be included.