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Outreach

Piedmont College Students Introduced to USGS Studies in the San Francisco Bay Region


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Students from Piedmont College and their professors
Above: Students from Piedmont College and their professors Deborah Dooley (first row, second from left) and Viviane Daigle (middle row, fifth from left) pose for a group photograph on the USGS campus in Menlo Park, California. [larger version]

"Coarse scan" of some of the Piedmont College students
Above: "Coarse scan" of some of the Piedmont College students, produced by the USGS laser scanner at its lowest-resolution setting. Each dot (some colored red to highlight the people) can be linked to geographic coordinates. The data can be rotated for viewing from virtually any angle. [larger version]

A field trip to coastal cliffs and marine terraces, a demonstration of state-of-the-art laser scanning used for topographic surveys, and a video and discussion about San Francisco Bay ecosystem research were among the presentations offered by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to a group of students from Piedmont College in northeastern Georgia. The 16 students were visiting California in a traveling class led by geology professor Deborah Dooley and psychology professor Viviane Daigle. During their week-and-a-half-long trip, which began in Los Angeles and ended in San Francisco, the group spent half their time exploring topics in environmental geology—focusing on how people interact with the natural environment—and the other half exploring topics in environmental psychology—how people interact with the built environment.

The Piedmont College group reached the San Francisco Bay region about halfway through their tour, and on Saturday, May 12, they were treated to a field-trip double-header: In the morning, geologist Mike Rymer of the USGS Earthquake Hazards team in Menlo Park showed them a landslide in the town of La Honda that has destroyed several homes and threatens more. Mike, who lives near the affected area and has coauthored publications about the landslide (see the latest at URL http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1397/), recounted the landslide's history and explained how various features of the still-active slide are related to local geology.

Monty Hampton, a USGS emeritus geologist with the Western Coastal and Marine Geology team in Santa Cruz and Menlo Park, accompanied the students on the landslide trip and then led them to Half Moon Bay, where he told them about the evolution of the bay, the adjacent coastal terraces, and the mountains farther inland. He also discussed the area's geologic hazards, including erosion, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

A few days later, on May 16, the students came to the USGS center in Menlo Park, where their visit began with a short tour of the campus. At the campus Map and Publication Sales office operated by the California Geological Survey (CGS), engineering geologist Anne Rosinski of CGS outlined the geologic hazards that affect the residents of California and described the many products that CGS produces to help mitigate hazards; USGS cartographer Mitch Adelson explained how the USGS makes the topographic maps that are a major draw at the sales office. Later that morning, the group met with research civil engineer Brian Collins of the Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team, who described his use of a high-resolution laser scanner to conduct detailed surveys of a landslide in Daly City. The results of that study were published quickly and used almost immediately by city officials (see Sound Waves article, "High-Resolution Topographic Data and Cross Sections of Recent Coastal Landslide"). The scanner, just back from a trip down the Grand Canyon to survey sensitive archeological sites, produced a sample scan of some of the group members.

After enjoying a sunny lunch at the café on campus, the group met with hydrologist Brent Topping of the USGS Water Resources Discipline, who had lined up several of his colleagues to describe their San Francisco Bay ecosystem studies. Biologist Francis Parchaso, hydrodynamic modeler Lisa Lucas, and Brent started the afternoon with "Delta Revival: Restoring a California Ecosystem," a 22-minute USGS video about how scientists from many disciplines are working together to guide the restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta east of San Francisco Bay. The fast-paced video, with many shots of boat-based fieldwork, sparked numerous questions for discussion. Next came visits to several laboratories: In one lab, biologist Dan Cain explained how he studies metal accumulations in insects as a tracer for environmental quality. He also took the students to a "cold lab," where they viewed aquatic snails and clams used in experiments on how quickly organisms take up metal from surrounding water and sediment. The final stop was the analytical laboratory of hydrologist Tom Bullen, who described his studies of chromium in ground water.

The afternoon passed quickly, and soon it was time for the visitors to board their buses back to San Francisco. The teachers expressed appreciation for the many USGS presentations and spoke of repeating the California trip in the future.

Related Sound Waves Stories
High-Resolution Topographic Data and Cross Sections of Recent Coastal Landslide
June 2007

Related Web Sites
Map showing Features and Displacements of the Scenic Drive Landslide, La Honda, California, During the Period March 31, 2005 - November 5, 2006 - USGS Open-File Report 2006-1397
USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)

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Research
cover story:
Newly-Discovered Fossil Sponges

Outreach Public Lecture: Alchemy in the Abyss

USGS at Florida's Marine Quest

College Students Introduced to USGS Studies

Meetings Potential Impacts of Future Sea-Level Rise

Onshore-Offshore Geologic Map Workshop

Publications High-Resolution Map Merges Tampa Bay Bathymetry and Topography

70 Years of Coastal Cliff Retreat in California

July Publications List


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