Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monitoring the Stimulus

Monitoring is an important aspect of practice for engineering geologists, geologists, engineers, and other geoscientists. It is often a key component of our designs and solutions and as most owners know, it can be a bit pricey at times.

Now my goal is to keep this blog politically neutral, though I will happily discuss issues of potential interest to Arizona AEG members, other AEG members, and the rest of the people who follow this blog. I missed the speech by President Obama to a joint-session of Congress the other day and I missed the Republican response. It seems that a part of the Republican Response by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal included specific mention of the inclusion of 'volcano monitoring' in the Stimulus bill that we've heard so much about. Apparently he mentioned it as a waste of tax-payer money.

This has raised a bit of an uproar from people in the geologic community. This response at the Magma Cum Laude blog takes Governor Jindal to task on the issue. This response by the Green Gabbro blog discusses how volcanic hazard monitoring does create jobs and stimulate the economy (in addition to being a good idea). There are many more responses linked at the Magma Cum Laude blog. I can't help but wonder if Governor Jindal considers hurricane monitoring a waste of tax payer money.

Anyway, I found this unfortunate example of science becoming political (an all too common thing these days) that may be of interest to those following this blog.

Edit: I just heard from a friend of mine who works at the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory (HVO). His response - 'Governor Jindal has done more volcanic hazard awareness in 15 seconds than the USGS has done in 15 years'. Perhaps it was all a bit of reverse psychology.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AZGS Publishes New Earth Fissure Maps

The AZGS has published new and updated earth fissure maps.

New maps include:
  • Luke Study Area (updated)
  • Picacho Study Area (three seperate maps)
  • Heaton Study Area
  • Wintersburg Study Area

The AZGS has also made the geologic map of Arizona available digitally.

Texas Attempts to Dilute Science Curricula

An intersting email from AIPG:

Dear AIPG Section Officers and Members:

There are new science curricula ESS (Earth and Space Science) about to be adopted in Texas. A panel of colleagues was brought together to write the earth science curriculum, and it is about to be adopted by the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). Amendments have been introduced to include non-scientific elements into the curriculum. All details, including links to the curriculum, names and addresses of the SBOE members, and messages from our professional colleagues in Texas are under

The purpose of this message to you in all parts of the US is to request that you send a letter and email to each of the eight members of the Texas SBOE. The letter can be short and to the point. In essence, the SBOE should be asked to 1) support the ESS standards without revision, 2) not support any of the proposed amendments passed on January 22, and 3) not support any new amendments that may be brought forward.

AIPG has communicated with the Texas SBOE and colleagues in Texas. They are asking for support from across the nation. Please take a few moments to send a letter and an email to each SBOE member to keep the earth science curriculum objective. It's crucial to Texas and consequently the nation that science curricula remain objective.

Finally, please send a copy of any and all correspondence you send to the SBOE to

Thanks and warm regards,

Bill Siok
William J. Siok, CPG,
Executive DirectorAmerican Institute of Professional Geologists
1400 W 122nd Avenue, Suite 250
Westminster, Colorado 80234
PH: (303) 412.6205, FX: (303) 253.9220

Earth Science Week Update

American Geological Institute
Vol. 7, No. 2: February 2009


* Climate to Be Theme of Earth Science Week 2009
* Make Connections With Geoscience Partners Network
* NASA Webcasts Target Grades 3-8 Teachers
* AGI Reports on Geoscience Education, Workforce
* Young Earth Scientists to Gather in China
* Ward’s Natural Science an Earth Science Partner

Climate to Be Theme of
Earth Science Week 2009

AGI is pleased to announce the theme of Earth Science Week 2009:
"Understanding Climate." Being held October 11-17, Earth Science Week 2009 will promote scientific understanding of a timely, vital topic: Earth’s climate.

Begin planning now for activities and resources designed to help students and citizens answer key questions. How do geoscientists determine the causes of weather patterns? What is the difference between weather and climate? How has our climate changed in the past - and how is it changing now?

AGI hosts Earth Science Week in cooperation with sponsors as a service to the public and the geoscience community. Each year, local groups, educators, and interested individuals organize celebratory events. Earth Science Week offers opportunities to discover the Earth sciences and engage in responsible stewardship of the Earth.

The program is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, the AAPG Foundation, and other major geoscience groups. To learn more about Earth Science Week, related resources, and ways to participate, go to

Make Connections With
Geoscience Partners Network

To facilitate partnerships between educators and others in the geoscience community, AGI is launching the Geoscience Partners Network (GPN). Soon you’ll be able to use a powerful online tool - the GPN Map on the Earth Science Week website at - to identify geoscience partners near you, access relevant information, and network with colleagues to forge meaningful partnerships.

Want to organize a field trip or a classroom visit? Teachers can make the most of Earth Science Week and other educational opportunities by working closely with professional scientists, university professors, local employers, nonprofit representatives, environmental educators, and government leaders in the geosciences.

Planned to launch in the months prior to Earth Science Week 2009, the GPN Map will pinpoint local contacts near you for AGI Member Societies, state geological surveys, agencies such as USGS and NASA, universities offering geology programs, parks, museums, and other groups. To recommend an organization for inclusion, please contact AGI’s Jason Betzner (

NASA Webcasts Target
Grades 3-8 Teachers

NASA Langley Research Center, working in cooperation with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Virginia Department of Education Region 2 Math/Science Coalition, is offering a series of professional development webcasts for teachers of grades three through eight.

Airing 4-5:30pm EST, upcoming webcasts on Earth system science topics will include:

* Solar Radiation and the Atmosphere (March 19),
* Tides (April 16), and
* The Story of Ocean Heat Storage (June 18).

NASA is a longtime Earth Science Week partner. The webcasts can be viewed on the NASA Digital Learning Network at

AGI Reports on Geoscience
Education, Workforce

Trends in Earth science education are a major focus of "Status of the Geoscience Workforce 2009," a report recently released by AGI’s Workforce Program. The first chapter, "Trends in Geoscience Education from K-12 through Community College" ( details U.S. students’ access to Earth science education.

For example, most states include Earth science in the curriculum for grades six to eight, according to the report. The number of states requiring Earth science has increased only slightly in recent years, however, from five in 2002 to seven in 2007. For the past 26 years, the share of high school students taking Earth science courses has not exceeded 25 percent.

Based on original data collected by AGI as well as from federal sources, professional membership organizations, and industry, the report describes the supply and training of students, workforce demographics and employment projections, and trends in geosciences research funding and economic indicators. Produced with support from the AGI Foundation, the entire report is available online (

Young Earth Scientists
To Gather in China

The Young Earth Scientists for Society (YES) network, an association of geoscientists under age 35 representing geological societies worldwide, in collaboration with the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE), is organizing an international conference for young earth scientists, policy makers, advisors and decision makers.

The YES Congress will be held at the China University of Geosciences, in Beijing, China October 25-28, 2009. The conference will discuss global climate, environmental, and geological challenges and establish an interdisciplinary global network committed to solving these challenges.

Abstracts for oral presentations, poster presentations, and roundtable symposia are due by March 30. To learn more, visit

Ward’s Natural Science
An Earth Science Partner

Ward’s Natural Science, an Earth Science Week partner, provides a wide range of geoscience education materials, from classroom and field equipment to lab activities designed specifically for teaching Earth science.

Earth science materials available through Ward’s include geology apparatus and collections, fossil reproductions and specimens, meteorology equipment, lab activities, models, rock and mineral specimens, books, charts, maps, posters, audio-visual materials, and computer software. A supporter of education for nearly 150 years, Ward’s offers additional information and a free newsletter at

The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 45 geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 120,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society’s use of resources and interaction with the environment. For contact information, please visit

Friday, February 20, 2009

Engineering and Geology Practice Guidelines

From AEG National:

The Joint Task Force on Areas of Practice (JTFAP) has completed their corroborative efforts and preparation of the Practice Guidelines document for engineering and geology. This is a joint effort among AEG, ASCE, and AIPG over the past years. Consistent with the JTFAP Charter and direction provided by AEG's Directors, this document will not be published until our members have had the opportunity to review and comment.

That review period begins on February 20, 2009 and ends on March 22, 2009. Comments will only be received by members of AEG. If you are acquainted with others whom have expressed interest or you otherwise feel may have interest in providing comments, those comments will need to be provided through the AEG member.

Comments will be reviewed and may be incorporated into the final document. Arrangements are being made to strive toward a joint publication among the three representative organizations and perhaps others. We look forward to your comments and a final publication that will serve our community of geologists and engineers with practice guidance that furthers both professions and the joint practice between both disciplines.

To access the document, log on to with your Username and Password. If you have forgotten these, you can contact Cathy Wilson at 303-757-2926 or for the information. Once you are logged on, please click on the “JTFAP Draft Document” link in the middle of the Welcome Page.

Comments on the document will only be accepted through the email response link on the page. By completing the response form, you will help the Committee review all member comments in an efficient manner.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and comments.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Does the Stimulus Do for Arizona?

I imagine that the atmosphere around your offices is similar to mine - quite a bit of discussion of the stimulus plan (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). Lots of wondering of when it will get here, if it will help out, and will we get work out of it. While those questions are beyond my ability to answer, some information is emerging.

The State Geologist, Lee Allison, refers me to a Senate website that outlines how the stimulus plan is anticipated to help Arizona.

Lee has also been blogging extensively about this event. In an earlier post, he points to AGI's (American Geological Institute) breakdown of 'geoscience-based' funding. This includes money to organizations like the USGS, US Army Corps of Engineers, NRCS, EPA, Bureau of Reclamation, BLM, DOE, and others that have a potential to fund other projects in Arizona (I've already heard rumors of potential funding for dam and levee projects through NRCS and USACE). I've also heard that there is money for national parks improvements.

So, it looks like things will be picking up at some point in the future. Of course the question of when remains.

EDIT: A little more information from Arizona Geology

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 2009 AEG meeting

Dear AEG Members, Professional Colleagues, Students, and Friends:

The Arizona Section of AEG is pleased to announce that our next meeting will be held on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at Pizzeria Uno in Tempe. The hosted social hour begins at 6 PM, dinner is usually around 7 PM and the talk will begin shortly after dinner. The presentation topic is "The Automated Train (AT) Project at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport" presented by John Niedzielski, P.E. and Jessica Humble, P.E., G.I.T. of Gannett Fleming, Inc. Please see below for the abstract and biographies. Hope to see you all there!

Please RSVP to me, Heather Hespeler, by e-mail by Monday, February 16th.


The Automated Train (AT) Project at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a passenger train system that will connect airport terminals and other ancillary facilities. The system will reduce the congestion on the internal roadway system throughout Sky Harbor International Airport. The AT will ultimately consist of a nearly 5 mile long transit corridor that will carry a dual guideway for driverless AT vehicles. The project consists of a predominately elevated guideway system with seven stations. The system connects three terminals, two parking areas, a rental car center, and a ground transportation center with a light rail transit interface. The project will be developed in two stages. Stage 1 is approximately two miles in length with three stations that includes both aerial and at-grade sections. Stage 2 is approximately three miles in length with four stations. This presentation will cover Stage 1 of the program, a 2 mile system with three stations that connects Terminal 4, the East Economy Lot, and the existing Light Rail station at 44th and Washington Streets. Stage 1 of the passenger train system has many unique components and engineering challenges, including construction of the Terminal 4 station adjacent to a busy terminal and concourses, a guideway crossing over an active taxiway, and several retaining walls, a bridge, and a tunnel associated with the 44th Street widening. Geologic issues for the site include dealing with the dominant site soil, Sand, Gravel, Cobble (SGC) deposits from the Salt River. Stage 1 of the Automated Train project at Sky Harbor International Airport is currently in various design and construction phases and is set to open in late 2013.


John Niedzielski, P.E. John is a Senior Geotechnical Engineer with 24 years of experience providing geotechnical engineering services on local, state, and federal government projects involving highways, commuter rail, local and county streets, bridges, airports, sewers, water mains, treatment facilities, pumping stations, water and oil tanks, power plants, and other public and private works. He has also worked extensively on commercial, institutional, and industrial building projects. His experience includes design and analysis of foundations and retaining structures; preparing subsurface investigation programs; preparing and administering drilling contracts; designing pavement; providing construction support services; performing slope stability analyses; preparing specifications; and developing cost estimates. John has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Toledo and studied for a master’s degree at the Ohio State University. John moved to Arizona in 2003 from Michigan where he was very active in ASCE as a committee chairman and Board of Director. He is the Geotechnical Group Manager at Gannett Fleming, Inc. in Phoenix and is currently serving as Geotechnical Task Manager on the Automated Train project at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Jessica Humble, P.E., G.I.T. Jessica is a Geotechnical Engineer with 7 years of experience and is responsible for performing field investigations, site characterizations, and geotechnical analyses and preparing reports for water resource, transportation, transit, and mining projects. Her experience includes design and analysis of foundations and retaining structures; preparing subsurface investigation programs; providing construction support services; and performing slope stability and rockfall analyses. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in Geological Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla) and a master’s degree in Geological Engineering from Colorado School of Mines. Jessica has worked for Gannett Fleming, Inc. in Phoenix since her career began in 2003. She is a Geotechnical Engineer on the Automated Train project at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Jessica is an active AEG member and currently serves as a Director for the AEG Foundation. She led the efforts to start the Arizona Section of AEG (formerly the Phoenix Chapter) in 2005. Jessica is the proud mother of a 16 month old daughter, Retta.

AEG/AHS Student Night 2009

For All Arizona Students and Professionals in Groundwater,
Environmental, & Engineering Geology,
Geotechnical Engineering and Geological Engineering Fields

Hosted By: AEG and AHS

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Student/Professional Meeting



Schedule of Events:
5:30 – 7:00 Career Fair and Mingling
7:00 – 7:45 Dinner
7:45 – 8:45 Student Presentations
8:45 – 9:00 Award Presentations

University of Arizona, Tucson
Student Union Memorial Center
Third Floor
Catalina and Tucson Meeting Rooms

Hosted By: Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists
Arizona Section
Arizona Hydrological Society
Phoenix and Tucson Chapters

More Detailed Information:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Water Resources Reseach Center 2009 Annual Conference

Best Practices for Stakeholder Engagement in Water Resources Planning
The University of Arizona
Student Union Memorial Center Ballroom
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Water Resources Research Center 2009 Annual Conference
In collaboration with the Morris K. Udall Foundation and Arizona Water Institute

The Water Resources Research Center at The University of Arizona is pleased to announce that registration is open for its 2009 Annual Conference. Please help us spread the word; post our announcement on your websites and bulletin boards, include it in your newsletters, and pass the information along to others.

Betsy Rieke, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science and Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, will present the opening keynote address on her experiences with major water negotiations. Planners, stakeholders and engagement professionals will share their knowledge and experiences in the field. We will also hear about new technologies and innovations applied in a range of water planning processes. As luncheon speaker, Grady Gammage will share his thoughts on the challenges facing Arizona’s water planners and stakeholders.

New to our conference this year, posters are invited that present lessons learned about stakeholder engagement in water resources planning. See CALL FOR POSTERS on the conference web site noted below. A dedicated poster session will allow time for exchange with presenters. In addition, there will be an opportunity for participants to choose one of three interactive workshops to share experiences and craft new ideas.

Anyone with an interest in water resources planning is encouraged to join us for this informative and engaging event.

Early bird registration – $55.00 (after February 16 cost will be $65.00)

Student registration – No Charge (must register)

Fee Waivers are available thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. For information contact Jane Cripps or Susanna Eden

Ample parking at no additional cost!


This link also provides Call for Posters, Agenda and conference information.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Susanna Eden

2009 Southwest Geotechnical Engineers Conference

34th Southwest Geotechnical Engineers Conference
Event Announcement
Phoenix, Arizona
May 11 - 14, 2009

Hosted by the
Arizona Department of Transportation & Federal Highway Administration

Preliminary Agenda:
Monday, May 11 - 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm - Registration/Reception/Exhibits
Tuesday, May 12 - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm - Technical Sessions/Exhibits
Wednesday, May 13 - 8:00 am to 5:00 pm - Technical Sessions/Field trip/Exhibits
Thursday, May 14 - 8:00 am to 12:00 pm - Technical Sessions

Wednesday, May 13 will be specifically used to demonstrate the practical application of geophysical methods for geotechnical subsurface investigations. Due to the limited time frame of the conference, the technology demonstration will be limited to seismic refraction and resistivity techniques. The following rough agenda is envisioned for that day:

● 2 or 3 state DOT case histories;
● Field trip to demonstrate equipment supplied by the various manufacturers;
● Presentation of data reduction and interpretation using the current state of practice;
● Presentation of state of the art seismic equipment and processing.

Conference Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Phoenix
2532, W. Peoria Avenue
Phoenix, AZ., 85029
Phone: (602) 943-2341; (800) 972-3574
Fax: (602) 331-9351

Block of Rooms: A block of rooms at the Crowne Plaza Hotel has been reserved at a rate of $96.00 per night, plus tax, under the Southwest Geotechnical Engineers Conference. Reservations should be made no later than April 17, 2009. Please identify yourself as an attendee of the 2009 Southwest Geotechnical Engineers Conference when making your reservations. Early reservation is strongly recommended. Hotel check-in time is 3:00pm and check-out time is 12:00 noon.

Registration Fee: $150.00 which includes a reception on Monday evening, and breakfast, breaks and lunch on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Travel to/from Airport: Both shuttle and taxi services are available. Shuttle charge is $23.00, one-way (; Taxi charge is $45.00, one-way. Please contact the persons listed below, or visit the hotel website (link), for more information on these services.

Planning Information:
Norman Wetz
Arizona DOT
(602) 712-8093; (602) 526-4099

Daniel Alzamora
(720) 963-3214; (303) 594-5210

Registration for the Conference will be through the
Arizona Technical Training Institute (ATTI)

AEG Survey

Please take the time to do this - it really helps AEG better serve its members.
We have just launched a new survey that will be instrumental in helping us make the best decisions when we update the Association’s strategic plan at our April 17 workshop. AEG’s strategic plan serves as the foundation for decisions related to the allocation of our time and resources. To adapt to a rapidly changing environment, we are committed to assessing and revising the original plan (established in 2004) on a regular basis. Member input has proven to be essential to the development of the best possible plan.

We are asking you to play a major role in this process in two ways. First, please take the survey yourself as soon as you possibly can. Second, please emphasize to all of your colleagues at the section and chapter level how important it is for them to participate. As an added incentive, the survey concludes with a contest to suggest a slogan for AEG. We think this will be both fun and add extra insight into how AEG is perceived by its members. First prize in the contest is a free AEG membership.

Please know that all survey answers will be confidential; all data will be reviewed and summarized by an outside facilitator. Please take 10 minutes of your time now to complete the survey. All you need to do is hit this link: