Friday, March 27, 2009

California Earthquake Swarm

In the past few days, the Salton Sea area of southern California has been experiencing an earthquake swarm - with a few quakes as large as the mid-4's on the Richter Scale. With this swarm comes an increased probability of a large quake on that section of the San Andreas fault. A large quake in this area could effect Yuma and western Arizona - especially if it ruptured from north to south. The Arizona Geology blog has a good write-up about it.

In other geology news, there is a huge volcanic eruption going on at Redoubt in Alaska. There are good updates at the Eruptions blog and the AVO.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Surficial Geologic and Flood Hazard Assessment of Rainbow Valley

Announcement From the AZGS:

The Arizona Geological Survey’s (AZGS) newest map product, "Surficial Geologic Map and Flood Hazard Assessment, Rainbow Valley, Maricopa County, Arizona", DGM – 71, displays the surface geology of Rainbow Valley on three map sheets at 1:24,000 map-scale; the three sheets encompass portions of 12 USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles.

The accompanying 11-page report includes a _Flood Hazard Assessment_ that pigeonholes map units into high, intermediate, or low flood hazard areas. The three flood hazard areas encompass more than 250 sq. miles of Rainbow Valley and environs: Flood Hazard High (76.29 sq. miles), Intermediate (129.76 sq. miles), and Low (48.25 sq. miles).

Within flood area categories, e.g., Flood Hazard High, units are arranged in order of decreasing frequency of flooding. For example, Qycr – Modern channels of Waterman Wash, has the highest flood frequency of the seven geologic units in the Flood Hazard High zone; Qyaf – Potentially active alluvial fans, has the lowest flood frequency in that same category.

This first flood hazard assessment will provide land-use planners of Maricopa County with a blueprint for directing future development in Rainbow Valley.

Rainbow Valley is a checkerboard of agricultural fields drained by Waterman Wash, which debouches into the Gila River to the north. AZGS mapping shows the valley floor and adjacent alluvial fans comprise a complex of fluvial sediments including channel and sheetflow deposits, terrace and bar deposits, alluvial fans, and sparse eolian sands, ranging in age from modern, through the Holocene or late Pleistocene, to early Quaternary or late Tertiary.

AZGS geologists Philip Pearthree, Ann Youberg, and Todd Shipman co-authored the work. Funding was provided by the Flood Control District of Maricopa County.

DGM-71, maps and report, are available on CD-ROM at the State Map & Bookstore, 416 W. Congress, Ste#100, Tucson, AZ, 85701, for $15.00.

ASU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Special Seminar

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Edmund Medley, Ph.D., P.E., C.E.G.
2009 AEG and GSA Jahns Distinguished Lecturer

Thursday, March 26, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Discovery Hall, Room 250

(Pizza will be served before the lecture)

(But remember - the Arizona AEG meeting also has Dr. Medley speaking on Thursday evening at the usual time and place).

Three recent case histories will be used to provide examples of the broad technical skill sets necessary for the two-way translations of geology and engineering required of Geological Engineers. These case histories include: a summary of the Geological Engineering observations from a reconnaissance commissioned to observe damage resulting from the October 2006 Hawaii earthquake; the very challenging Forbes Cave project in Hawaii, a rare story of a geopractitioner becoming very dirty as a Court- Appointed Expert advising on lava tube cave stability and recovering a buried collection of unique Hawaiian cultural artifacts; and, the Geological Engineering insight required for overall geoengineering characterization of terrain hazards at the Lihir gold mine in Papua New Guinea, located in a geothermally active, collapsed volcanic caldera.

Edmund Medley, Ph.D, PE, CEG, F.ASCE is the AEG/GSA 2009 Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer in Engineering Geology. The Jahns Distinguished Lecturer award was established in 1988 to commemorate Professor Richard Jahns (1915-1983), a noted engineering geologist who had an influential and diverse career in academia, consulting and government. Dr. Medley is a Senior Consultant in the Oakland, California office of Geosyntec Consultants, an international consulting firm reknown for innovative solutions to geoengineering and environmental problems. He has an international reputation for his pioneering research into the engineering and geological characterization of block-in-matrix rocks (bimorcks), complex geological mixtures of rock and soil such as melanges, fault rocks, weathered rocks, tills, and colluvium.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2009 APWA Statewide Conference - Call for Abstracts

Call for Abstracts

2009 APWA Statewide Conference

Phoenix, Arizona

August 17 – August 18, 2009

The Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association invites the submittal of abstracts of presentations to be considered for the 2009 APWA Statewide Conference. The conference will be at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 17 and August 18, 2009.

The abstracts should be 300 words or less in length and fit on a single page. Please submit in Microsoft Word or equivalent format, and identify an alternate presenter as appropriate. For each author and presenter include:

Author/Presenter, Title
Phone number
e-mail address

Abstracts must be received as noted below no later than March 27, 2009. You will be notified by April 24, 2009 as to whether your abstract has been selected.

Please e-mail (preferred) the abstract to Chris Simko at, or send the abstract to:

2009 APWA Statewide Conference Program Committee
c/o Chris Simko
Stantec Consulting
8211 South 48th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85044-5355

Possible Topics:

Presentation sessions are 50 minutes in length, including a brief question and answer period. Topics related to adapting infrastructure projects and public works activities to the changing economic environment are strongly encouraged; however, all topics involving public works and of interest to the Chapter membership will be considered. The subjects can be oriented to management, funding and financing, motivation, career, or technical issues. Presentations involving panel discussions are also encouraged.

The 2009 APWA Statewide Conference will include an hour-long “open microphone” session on Tuesday, August 18 wherein representatives of public agencies can provide a 5-minute overview of their major concerns, challenges, and successes. If you would like to reserve a spot during this session, please submit a request by e-mail to No abstract is required and the first 10 responses received will be given priority.

Continuing from the success of last year, the 2009 Statewide Conference will also include a “Field Operations Track” on Tuesday, August 18. The Field Operations Track will run concurrently with the Conference breakout sessions.

Topics for the field operations group tracks may include such subjects as safety, training, pavement management, sidewalk maintenance/code enforcement, surface treatments, landscape maintenance, street sweeping, wash maintenance, striping, vector control, traffic signal maintenance, lighting, signal pre-emption, bus priority, video detection-v-loops, pedestrian crossings; valve maintenance, reservoir maintenance, disinfection, pipe material issues, manhole construction/adjustments, Blue Stake requirements, water and wastewater treatment plant control, odor control, etc.

Friday, March 20, 2009

JTFAP Engineering and Geology Practice Guidelines

Members of AEG have likely been barraged by emails relating to the Joint Task Force on Areas of Practice (JTFAP) draft Engineering and Geology Practice Guidelines. Much of what is flying around is negative, and I'm sure there are some positive comments as well. Earlier this week some members of the AEG Arizona Section met to discuss the document. The momo copied below is the result of the meeting and has been submitted to AEG in comment to the document. Enjoy! (or not)

To: Becky Roland, Mark Molinari, and Bruce Hilton
From: Ken Fergason
Date: March 19, 2009
RE: Joint Task Force Areas of Practice (JTFAP)
Draft Engineering and Geology Practice Guidelines
Arizona Section Meeting


Heather Hespeler, R.G., AEG Member, Arizona Section Secretary
Mark Edwards, G.I.T., AEG Member
Jason Williams, R.G., AEG Member
Jeff Rodgers, R.G., AEG Member
Scott Neely, P.E.
Peter Kroopknik, R.G., AEG Member
Ken Fergason, R.G., AEG Member, Arizona Section Chair

Concerned members and professionals of the Arizona Section of AEG met to discuss the JTFAP Draft Engineering and Geology Practice Guidelines document (document). The consensus of the group is that AEG should not endorse this document in its current form. The primary objection of the group is the inclusion of the Areas of Practice Matrix (matrix, pages 11 and 12). The matrix encourages misuse and misinterpretation of the document and will serve as a de facto executive summary that will likely be used out of context of the text of the document.

The other major objection to the document in its current form is the lack of clarity regarding its intent. The group recommends inclusion of a one- to two-sentence Statement of Intent at the beginning of the executive summary. The lack of clarity of the document’s purpose resulted in our group questioning the ‘real’ purpose of the document. We simply want to know who the intended audience is, why this document exists and what benefit members of AEG receive from its existence. In its current form, the document fails to provide these answers.

Below is a bulleted list of other issues the group had with the document.

  • The document seems to be a solution in search of a problem.

  • The document is focused on Professional Civil Engineers, Professional Geotechnical Engineers, Professional Engineering Geologists, and Professional Geologists – particularly the matrix. This causes confusion for the vast majority of states where all four of these professional registrations are not present – only California seems to have all four registrations. The document needs to better reflect other states which only have registration for engineers and geologists or only engineers. This also produces confusion regarding what seals are necessary for what documents – for example, does any report that contains a geology section require a stamp from geologist (regardless of how large, small, or significant)?

  • The specialties and other professionals excluded from this document don’t make much sense and raise further implications regarding the intent, benefit, and audience of the document. These exclusions include Geological Engineers, geohydrology/hydrogeology, environmental engineering/geology, and engineering geophysics (several of which are mentioned in some way in the matrix regardless of their exclusion).

  • The group unanimously feels that the matrix should be removed from the document and that without the matrix the document is much more palatable. The group also has disagreement with many of the details within the matrix summarized below.

  • Why are PGs excluded from landslide subsurface investigation?
  • Why are PEGs and PGs excluded from subsurface exploration for portions of projects involving earth/structure interaction?
  • Why are PEGs and PGs excluded from ground deformation analysis? How is ground deformation defined in this context? For example, is ground subsidence ground deformation?
  • Why are PEGs and PGs excluded from man-made fill disposition assessment?
  • Why are PGs excluded from slope stability analysis?
  • Why are PEGs and PGs excluded from many of the construction observation and documentation entries?

    The exclusions mentioned above are often in contradiction to the text of the document. The matrix creates absolute distinctions which are also in contraditiction to the document.

  • The final sentence in the first paragraph of Section 4.2 states “In developing this guidance document, the JTFAP has not attempted to establish individual practice standards or specifications.” This begs the question “then why is the matrix included” and it is especially puzzling that the matrix immediately follows this statement. Another apparent contradiction of the matrix is its title: Overlapping Areas of Practice Matrix. As presented, the matrix draws lines between areas of practice rather than indicating overlapping areas.

  • If AEG decides to move forward with the document, how will final approval of the document be reached? A majority vote of membership? Of the BOD? The group advocates membership vote for eventual approval/disproval of the finalized document.

  • The 30-day comment period is inadequate and the group feels that a longer review time is appropriate – especially considering that the document was originally posted at the AEG website which is very user un-friendly. This caused the document to be largely ignored until other AEG members advocated distribution via a PDF document attached to email messages.

  • The document should be aware of who will use it, how they will use it, and will they use it as intended. If satisfactory answers to these questions don’t exist, then it seriously questions whether the document should exist.

In summary, the group does not feel that the document should be endorsed in its current form. The strongest objection is the presence of the matrix, which the group feels should be removed. The group also feels that the intent and benefits of the document should be better clarified throughout the document and that a statement of intent should be included in the executive summary.

If you have any questions regarding this memorandum, please contact me and I look forward to sharing the group’s concerns with the document at the upcoming mid-year Board of Directors meeting.


Ken Fergason, R.G.
Arizona Section Chair, AEG

Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference

Floodplain Management Association Annual Conference
September 8-11, San Jose, CA
The Fairmont Hotel

Investing in Floodplains for Future Generations: Innovation in Land Use Strategies, Green Infrastructure, Technology and Community-Based Partnerships

You are invited to participate in this year's premier conference in Floodplain Management in the U.S.!

Join experts and policy makers in addressing the most urgent and critical issues in floodplain management including new funding for floodplain infrastructure; solutions for leveraging local, state and federal resources; cutting edge tools for floodplain mapping, analysis and sustainable development; and innovative partnerships with community-based organizations. As the premier conference in floodplain management in the U.S., this event brings over 500 attendees from around the world and a world class exhibition program, offering extraordinary networking and professional development opportunities.

Review the Presentation Guidelines and upload your presentation by visiting the on-line
Abstract Submittal Web Page or our Conference Page. Deadline: May 29!

Technical Program

The technical component of the conference will include oral presentations, workshops and posters highlighting programs and projects in a number of areas including the following:
  • Financing Floodplain Management Projects
  • Innovative Mapping and State of the Art Tools and Technology
  • Green Infrastructure Design
  • Sustainable Floodplain Development
  • Flood Management Solutions
  • Multi-Objective Floodplain Management
  • Watershed Management Approaches
  • Geomorphic Processes and Stream Restoration
  • Water Quality & Stream Sustainability
  • Climate Change
  • Alluvial Fans
  • Coastal Floodplains
  • Floodplain Mapping and Database Management
  • Mitigation Planning
  • Disaster Preparedness and Response
  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Economic Partnerships and Cost-Sharing
  • Working through Community-Based Organizations
We look forward to another outstanding conference!

Iovanka Todt, Executive Director
Floodplain Management Association

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Next Meeting - March 26th, 2009

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, March 26, 2009 at Pizzeria Uno in Tempe. The hosted social hour begins at 6 PM (thanks to Geomechanics Southwest, Inc.), dinner is usually around 7 PM and the talk will begin shortly after dinner. The presentation topic is "Something to Chew on- Rock is More Nutritious than Dirt" presented by Dr. Edmund Medley, Ph.D., PE, CEG, F.ASCE. Dr. Medley is the 2009 Jahn's Lecturer and we are thrilled to hear him speak. Hope to see you all there!

Please RSVP, Heather Hespeler( by Monday, March 23rd.

Geoenvironmental Engineering Conference

Second Call for Abstracts

April 15, 2009 - Submission of Abstracts
April 30, 2009 - Acceptance of Abstracts
June 1, 2009 - Submission of Power Point Presentations


Conference website:

Loretta Li, Ph.D., P.Eng.

GEE2009, Conference Chair
Associate Professor

Department of Civil Engineering

The University of British Columbia

6250 Applied Science Lane

Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4

Tel. 604 822-1820

Fax: 604 822-6901

Geothermal Energy in the West Conference

Geothermal Energy in the West
March 26 & 27, 2009
Los Angeles, CA (Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles)

For attorneys working with renewable energy, here is an excellent opportunity for up-to-date information on geothermal energy. Our panel of leading lawyers, agency officials, developers and utility managers will provide expert analysis on:
  • Provisions of the stimulus package for geothermal developments
  • Lease issues including BLM's new leasing policies
  • Permit requirements and key recent de velopments to streamline process
  • New water rights, water use, lease, markets and injection issues
  • Using tax credits, tax equity and other financing issues
  • Selling to the California market and green designations
  • New technologies
  • Transmission issues, and more

Sign up soon.

Program Chairs: Edwin F. Feo, Esq. of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP, William H. Holmes, Esq. of Stoel Rives LLP, and Kevin R. McSpadden, Esq. of Vulcan Power Company

Intended Audience

Attorneys, industry executives, public officials, and consultants interested in geothermal development as a low carbon emission technology and as a way for meeting renewable portf o lio standards


Register here or call us at (800) 854-8009

Credits Available:

  • CA MCLE 13
  • NV CLE 12.5
  • OR CLE 13.75
  • WA CLE 12.75
  • Call about others

I hope to see you there.

Kate JohnsonPresident

Thursday, March 12, 2009

AEG/AHS Student Night Reminder

I just want to remind everyone about the AEG/AHS Student Night that is coming up on April 2nd at the University of Arizona Student Union. You can get all the information at the following link:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Required Reading RE Alternative Energy Development

Last year when I was attending the AIPG/AHS annual meeting here in Flagstaff the best talk I saw was titled "You Say Alternatives Are the Answer...Let's Talk: Resource Constraints on Alternative Energy Development" by James. R. Burnell, the Minerals Geologist with the Colorado Geological Survey.

The talk was fascinating and well presented, and now it's available in print form. A full-length, peer-reviewed article of the same title is pubished in the March/April 2009 issue of The Professional Geologist (a publication of AIPG - scroll down to page 33 for the start of the article). This article should absolutely be required reading for all people involved in policy about alternative energy development. I've copied the Abstract below.

Resource Constraints on Alternative Energy Development
James R. Burnell, MEM-0205


Public support is growing for the development of energy generation from renewable sources. An aspect of renewables that is possibly unknown by many, however, is the hardware needs for these technologies. The infrastructure requires mined materials, including imported strategic and critical minerals. Silica, copper, gallium, indium, selenium, cadmium and tellurium are required for the dominant photovoltaic technologies. Silver and aluminum are necessary for “concentrating solar power” technology. Zinc, vanadium, platinum group metals, and rare earth elements are key components of power storage, hybrid vehicle, and fuel cell applications. All these materials must be mined. At present, the U.S. is woefully dependent upon import sources for most of these materials and demand is already squeezing the prices. Domestic sources must be found and developed if energy independence is to be achieved using alternative sources.

For the record, I generally consider myself something of an 'environmentalist' and support a what could be classified as a 'liberal' approach to alternative energy development, but I'm also a realist and pragmatist, and science-based assessments such this are critical to the issue.

Opening a Can of Worms - Curriculum Reform at ASU

Yesterday I opened a can of worms by sending a letter to folks over at ASU regarding their plans for curriculum reform and informing other professional organizations who may be interested. This was in immediate response to plans I had heard for them to eliminate the Geology BS degree at ASU. It was also in part an attempt at re-engagement with ASU in respect to curriculum. I had provided input to the department as they created the School of Earth and Space Exploration out of the department of Geological Sciences and the department of Astronomy (there may have been others as well) back in 2005. During the planning stages I had some great interaction, but once the department was formed and a new director hired, I heard nothing. My attempts at contact were unanswered - the professors I had dealt with previously were responsive but no longer in places of authority and it appeared that the those in authority were too busy with other things. Before long I simply gave up as I was also busy with other things. Anyway, I digress.

The letter I sent was lengthy and essentially provided suggestions for curriculum as well as research directions important to the practice of geology. As a public university (regardless of how poor the state funding is at the moment) I feel that ASU has a responsibility to the people of Arizona to provide education needs for the state. From the perspective of practicing geologists, ASU has been falling short for some time and the trend heading in the wrong direction. I hope to work with ASU reverse this trend.

Lee Allison (the State Geologist) posted an email response to me from Tom Sharp, the Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and I've copied what he posted below:

Let me clarify what we are doing with our degrees. Currently we have a B.S. in Geological Sciences and a B.S. in Earth and Space Exploration. We are going to make the degree in Geological Sciences a concentration within the Earth and Space Exploration B.S. Although this is technically doing away with the BS in Geological Sciences, in reality is is simply putting it under the umbrella of Earth and Space Exploration. Under that umbrella, the degree is more rigorous and has an engineering component.

There will be several other Earth and Space Exploration tracks that students can select including astrophysics, earth and space exploration (earth and space science combined with engineering), and instrumentation. Already, our geology majors are sharing classes with Earth and Space majors and engineers. I think that we should consider a concentration in engineering geology.

We are also creating a new degree, which is a environmental earth science. This is not as rigorous as our geology degree, but we feel that there is a market for such a degree and that it might help grow all of our programs.

One of the issues that I am also dealing with right now is field geology. With all the budget cuts and a change in student fee accounting, we are having difficulty paying for field trips and field classes. We all agree that these are critical, but we have to be creative about how to finance these. We will be setting up a foundation account specifically to support field studies and requesting that alumni and local industry contribute to make sure that we can keep a strong field program going in spite of cuts in state funding.

His response is a little reassuring but mostly troubling. I hope that the new degree track will indeed be more rigorous and that it will return to a strong geology degree. But, I think that generally re-aligning degrees in this manner often lowers the bar rather than raises it. I fear that if the bar is lowered any further that it could adversely impact the practice of geology in the state of Arizona. However, this does seem to be the beginning of a dialogue - potentially a very productive dialogue, so I do have hope.

Another troubling aspect is the last comment regarding field geology and field trips for their geology classes. Field trips and field geology are absolutely essential to the practice of geology. However the funding issues work out, a geology program without field trips is like a restaurant without food - pointless. I hope that solutions can be found for this very troubling development.

I may post the text of the full letter at some point, but for now I think I've rocked the boat enough.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

NEPA & EIS Compliance in Arizona: Seminar on March 18

NEPA and EIS Compliance
March 18, 2009
Phoenix, AZ (Wyndham Phoenix Hotel)

This year's seminar on NEPA/EIS in Arizona looks at important new questions for all legal, real estate and environmental professionals. Will there be more litigation in this clim ate? The NEPA process is implicated in a lot of different ways, and our distinguished faculty will look at NEPA's scope and the extent to which it is involved in small federal actions; the impact of the transfer of Colorado River water rights; and the use of NEPA or tribal master agreements for energy projects on tribal lands. Also featured here is a current, practical, how-to on the ten most important things you need to know about today's EIS process. Sign up quickly.

Program Chairs: Carla A. Consoli, Esq. of Lewis and Roca LLP and G. Van Velsor Wolf, Jr., Esq. of Snell & Wilmer LLP

Intended Audience
Attorneys, environmental and real estate professionals, governmental representatives, planners and consultants


Register here or call us at (800) 854-8009

Credits Available:

  • AZ CLE 6.5

  • CA MCLE 6.75

  • AICP CM 6.5 inc 1.5 Law CM

  • Call about others.
I hope to see you there.

Kate Johnson

AEG National Meeting Call for Abstracts

AEG - Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists will host its 2009 Annual Meeting in beautiful Lake Tahoe - Sept. 21 to 26, 2009

You are invited to submit a one-page abstract by April 1st.

For abstract submission instructions, visit the AEG website at: or use the following links for more information:


AEG Awards Committee Solicitation for Nominations for 2009

The AEG Awards committee is soliciting nominations for the three awards for which our committee is responsible. The Awards are: Claire P. Holdredge Award, Floyd T. Johnston Service Award, and the Douglas R. Piteau Outstanding Young Member Award. Please consider making a nomination. There are many deserving members, but they must be nominated for consideration. Send nominations to the Committee Chair (Roz Munro) for the Awards Committee to evaluate. The AEG Awards Committee consists of: Rosalind Munro (Chair), Jessica Humble, and Kenneth Neal.

1. The Claire P. Holdredge Award is presented for a publication within the previous five years by an AEG Member that is judged to be an outstanding contribution to the Environmental & Engineering Geology Profession. Nominations for this award are made by the membership at large to the Awards Committee. Please submit a nomination with the name(s) of the AEG publication member(s), the title of the publication, and the publisher information.

2. The Floyd T. Johnston Service Award is presented to an AEG Member for outstanding active and faithful service to the Association over a minimum period of nine years to coincide with Floyd's tenure as Executive Director. Contemporary Board members are not eligible until one year after leaving office. Nominations for this award are made by the membership at large to the Awards Committee. For nominations to be valid, they must be endorsed by three members having different AEG Section affiliations. Please submit a nomination with the nominee endorsed by the required three members from different AEG Sections.

3. The Douglas R. Piteau Outstanding Young Member Award is given presented to an AEG Member who is age 35 or under (who is not 36 until January 1 in the year following the Annual Meeting at which the Award is given) and has excelled, either singly or in combination, in the areas of Technical Accomplishment, Service to the Association, and/or Service to the Environmental & Engineering Geology Profession. Please submit your nomination, or a nomination by your AEG Section. Each AEG Section may choose and publicize the name of an individual deserving of the Award and nominate that individual to the Award Committee.

All Award nominations must be submitted to the AEG Awards Committee by March 31st . All nominations for the Awards must be supported by descriptions of the individual’s accomplishments and/or service to the industry or publication’s merit (as appropriate to the award). The AEG Awards Committee, at its discretion, selects the final candidates from the nominees for each Award. Then the AEG Awards Committee forwards the Award selection recommendations to the President for confirmation.

Please send or email your nomination to the Awards Committee Chair at the address below.

Rosalind Munro, Chair

(323) 889-5366
MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Inc.
5628 E. Slauson Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90040