The Geological Society of America (GSA)


The James B. Thompson, Jr. Distinguished International Lecturer Award is awarded by the Geological Society of London (GSA). I thus thought it prudent to give a little background on the organisation, partly for your information but mainly for mine; being a Brit, born and raised on a tiny, wind-swept island in the NE Atlantic Ocean, I know little of ‘Fancy Dan‘ organisations from across the pond…

Like many professional geoscience societies, the Geological Society of America (GSA) is a nonprofit organization. Their vision is to “be the premier geological society supporting the global community in scientific discovery, communication, and application of geoscience knowledge” and who mission is to “advance geoscience research and discovery, service to society, stewardship of Earth, and the geosciences profession”. Its main activities are sponsoring scientific meetings and publishing scientific literature, particularly the journals Geological Society of America Bulletin (commonly called “GSA Bulletin“) and GEOLOGY (never sure why this is typically capitalised…). A more recent publication endeavour is the online-only journal Geosphere; in my personal view, online-only journals like this are the future…In February 2009, GSA began publishing Lithosphere. GSA’s monthly news and science magazine, GSA Today, is open access online. GSA also engage in outreach and broader geoscience education activities by funding and running activities such as the James B. Thompson, Jr. Distinguished International Lecturer Award. In fact, the GSA offer a host of awards that recognise a range of professional activities and achievements, including the Bromery Award for Minorities, the Doris Curtis Outstanding Women in Science Award, and the Donath Medal (Young Scientist Award).

Geological field excursion to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (April 30th 1897), following the George Huntington Williams Memorial Lectures delivered by Sir Archibald Geikie at John Hopkins University. There’s something about this picture that I can’t quite put my finger on…

The society was founded in New York in 1888 by Alexander Winchell, John J. Stevenson, Charles H. Hitchcock, John R. Procter and Edward Orton. It began with 100 members under its first president, James Hall. Over the next 43 years it grew slowly but steadily to 600 members until 1931, when a $4 million endowment from 1930 president R.A.F. Penrose, Jr. jumpstarted the GSA’s growth. Since 1968, it has been headquartered at 3300 Penrose Place, Boulder, Colorado, USA, since 1968. The society has six regional sections in North America, an international section, and seventeen speciality divisions. The GSA is now a truly global professional society, with >26,000 members spread across >115 countries.

It is reassuring to hear that, as the need arises, GSA issues Position Statements “in support of and consistent with the GSA’s Vision and Mission to develop consensus on significant professional, technical, and societal issues of relevance to the geosciences community. Position Statements provide the basis for statements made on behalf of the GSA before government bodies and agencies, and communicated to the media and the general public.” In 2006, GSA issue one such Position Statement on Global Climate Change:

  • The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries. Furthermore, the potential implications of global climate change and the time scale over which such changes will likely occur require active, effective, long-term planning.
  • Current predictions of the consequences of global climate change include: (1) rising sea level, (2) significant alteration of global and regional climatic patterns with an impact on water availability, (3) fundamental changes in global temperature distribution, (4) melting of polar ice, and (5) major changes in the distribution of plant and animal species. While the precise magnitude and rate of climate change cannot be predicted with absolute certainty, significant change will affect the planet and stress its inhabitants.

Good stuff GSA.

Author: Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson

I am Professor of Basin Analysis @imperialcollege. I ❤️ 🏃🏿, 🚴🏿 and @basinsIC (⛏). I obsess about the tectono-stratigraphic development of sedimentary basins. Why? Because I'm hopeless at everything else.

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