GeoSpectrum is the free electronic newsletter of the geosciences. Originally launched as a newsletter for the American Geosciences Institute in 1995, GeoSpectrum has been reborn as the go-to source of information on AGI's 51 Member Societies. The American Geosciences Institute coordinates and edits the publication, but it is the result of contributed materials from societies, geoscience organizations and others in the community.

To access PDF versions of GeoSpectrum or for more information about submitting to geospectrum, please visit

A New Resource to Increase Accessibility to Geoscience

A picture from the first fully-accessible field trip hosted by the IAGD at the GSA Annual Meeting in 2014.
In the spirit of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, NOAA just launched a new motto "See a Flash, Dash Inside!"  aimed at closing a gap that exists for those who are deaf, and hard of hearing, because the traditional motto "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors" relies on one's ability to hear. In the past several years there has been a dedicated effort to make the geosciences more accessible. The International Association for Geoscience Diversity, helped AGI host its 2014 AGI Leadership Forum which resulted in a consensus statement from the geoscience community; and they hosted the first fully accessible field trip to geoscience students and faculty at the GSA Annual Meeting in 2014. Two fully accessible field trips are available for the 2016 GSA Annual Meeting (trips 417 A & B)


2016 AAPG-ACE, Check it Out!

2016 AAPG-ACE Website. We love the design!
Have you been following #ACE2016? This week AAPG had its Annual Convention and Exposition, and SEPM is hosting their annual meeting there concurrently. You can see what happened by searching the hashtag #ACE2016 on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. AGI's current President, and Texas State Geologist, Scott Tinker, was recognized for his outstanding leadership (we couldn't agree more!).  There are also pictures of the networking reception co-hosted by AWG and SEG, in addition to AAPG. As always, we love to see the pictures from the Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) competition and the field trips exploring the geology of the Calgary area. This year, University of Texas El Paso won the IBA competition, followed by Penn State, and the Colorado School of Mines. We congratulate the winners of this year's competition and all those who competed; there is some tough competition out there! 

Happy #DroneWeek

The cover of EEGS' March Issue of FastTIMES
Happy #DroneWeek Geoscientists! Drones/UAVs are rapidly changing the way scientists conduct their fieldwork. Aside from fun videos of volcanoes erupting, there are many practical applications. Earlier this spring EEGS even devoted an issue of FastTIMES, to the role of Drone Technology in GeophysicsGSA featured a paper on the role of micro drones in geologic fieldwork, and AGU bloggers regularly feature drone footage from applications to landslide assessmentgeological fieldwork and hurricane researchAAPG even has a great piece outlining how drones make geologic research even better.


Did you read the May Geoscience Policy Monthly review?

Promotional Image of Capital, Geoscience Policy Monthly Review
AGI's Geoscience Policy Program published the May 2016 Summary of federal-level legislation impacting the geoscience community. This includes continuing appropriations discussions in both the House and Senate for funding in FY 2017 for agencies that employ geoscientists, studying geoscience systems or fund geoscience research such as NASA, NIST, NOAA, NSF, OSTP and the DOE. There is additional coverage on the status of OCS leases, hydroelectric power, methane emissions, R&D for critical minerals, flooding hazards, and water resources and management. 


Major Funding Changes for AZGS

An AZGS geoscientist studies the Queen Creek Earth Fissures
The Arizona Legislature recently zeroed-out funding for the Arizona State Geological Survey (AZGS) and has moved it into the University of Arizona.  This includes the survey vacating its current facility and moving into a much smaller university facility, and will result in the loss of its store, rock core storage, and other critical assets.. The University of Arizona has guaranteed one year of continued funding, but will be looking to apply its overhead rate on existing grants and contracts, reducing the effective operational budget.  After next year, the AZGS will need to be wholly self-supporting. The AZGS used approximately 0.01% of Arizona's $9 billion budget, annually. A statement released today on the AZGS Facebook Page outlines the way these cuts will affect staffing, data collection and general operations of one of the oldest state surveys in the U.S. (6/22/2016 - Updated) Op-Ed covers the hurried dismantling of the AZGS Library, and in the author's view, a loss of public access. 



Have you seen the press releases for Geologic Map Day? It is fast approaching, and quite frankly this should be your only reaction: So put it on your calendar - October 17th, 2014!

This year's poster, part of the Earth Science Week Kit (available here: features the geology of the Grand Canyon, and how the geosphere interacts with the biosphere. I sat down with AGI Education and Outreach Staffer, Katelyn Murtha. She is a geoscientist who's specializing in geoscience education, and she graduated with her degree in geology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. 

Katelyn arrived at AGI and she knew that one of her big tasks would be creating materials for Geologic Map Day this year. Over the course of three months she, and a team of scientists and educators from AGI, the United States Geological Survey, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Park Sevice (NPS), ESRI, and AGI member organizations, the Association of American State Geologists and the Geological Society of America

"We picked the Grand Canyon I think it is iconic to America, and to American Geology, because you can clearly see the layers of Earth as you look from any horizon," Katelyn said. "For children to really understand the process of geology, and the time of geology, the Grand Canyon is one of the best examples." 

One of the challenges they had was how to keep the poster accessible to everyone, but how to take a geologic wonder as big as the Grand Canyon and how to focus it and relate it to this year's Earth Science Week theme, "Earth's Connected Systems." The goal of this year's theme is to deepen our understanding of the interactions of Earth systems – geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. 

"The focus of this poster is not just the geology, but also the groundwater and the experiences that the visitors may have at the Grand Canyon. Just by looking at it you can see the faults and the strata, so that represents the geosphere in the poster, but there is also an activity on the poster about how humans interact with the groundwater. The visitors represent the biosphere aspect of Earth's Connected Systems." Katelyn explained.

If you don't have access to the kit there are still ways to celebrate Geologic Map Day! People using social media can use the hashtag #MapDay14 to show us how they're celebrating Geologic Map Day. Katelyn further recommended that, "People should be able to contact their state geologists, a local geology club or a university to get access to geologic maps of their area. I encourage you to find a local geologic map for an area that you're familiar with, and with friends, parents and guardians and go out and try to see what you're standing on." 


AGU: Postcards from the Field - Sharing Science in Action

Fieldwork is an important, and often fundamental, part of many scientists’ careers. It’s also a great way to share research with broader audiences. The locations, the travel, the equipment, the joys and tribulations of research conducted all over the world—these are elements of science that everyone can get excited about, especially if you have a good photo.

What better way to do this than to ask scientists to send us a (virtual) “postcard” of where they’ve been and what they’re doing—a postcard we could share on our Tumblr?

We put out a call for submissions, along with guidelines, on our blog The Plainspoken Scientist during the 2014 field season, and the submissions started pouring in. We’ve received “postcards” from Greenland and Nepal, Tenerife and the middle of the Pacific Ocean. These scientists are studying everything from ice cores to lava flows,  fossils to water-carbon fluxes.

The diversity of images, locations, and research is breathtaking and is an amazing window into the multi-faceted world of Earth and space science. It also provides insight into the wonderful (and sometimes-awful) world of fieldwork, as the photos and stories document scientists relaxing in front of beautiful mountain sunsets and struggling with GPS equipment on a treacherous shoreline in the pouring rain. More importantly, these postcards help meet the goal of AGU’s Sharing Science program, by giving AGU the opportunity to support members in communicating their science, and demonstrates why it matters, with other audiences, and to put their research in context.

AGU will be making a calendar of some of these great entries that we’ll distribute at our Fall Meeting, in San Francisco, CA,  but we also look forward to continuing to collect and share these photos and stories on our Tumblr to illustrate the challenges, triumphs, and diversity of science in the field.

See all the postcards here! – Olivia Ambrogio , Ph.D., AGU Engagement & Outreach Specialist


This was a guest post written for the GeoSpectrum blog by AGI Member Organization, AGU! I sat down with AGU staffer Olivia over coffee because I thought their field postcards tumblr was one of the most exciting community engagment activites I'd seen this year, and I needed the back story!

Geospectrum focuses on Geoscience and Public Policy

Geospectrum focuses on Geoscience and Public Policy

In honor of Geo-CVD (Geosicences Congressional Visits Day), happening over the next two days, I'll post about geoscience and public policy. 

First of all, Geo-CVD is a great opportunity for geoscientists to meet with their legislators in Washington, D.C.  Here is information on it from AGI, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the Seismological Society of America. Participants are spending their first afternoon at a workshop honing their communication skills. They learn how Congress works, how to conduct congressional visits, and about relevant legislation, federal agencies, and programs. By the end of the workshop, participants are given time to craft and practice their message one-on-one with geoscience policy staff. A constructive visit from citizen geoscientists about the importance and value of geoscience, and geoscience-related engineering, research and education is the most effective way to inform and impact federal science policy!

The American Association of Petroleum Geology  (AAPG) shared a truly unique story with Geospectrum, which is that of a geoscientist (and former AAPG member) turned Colorado State Governor, John Hickenlooper, on coming to the table with different sectors and regulators; and working together to create a solution to a problem in the form of legislation. You can read the full story here

As a former AGI Public Policy Intern, and I cannot stress what a tremendous experience it was to be involved with the legislative process. There are plenty of ways for geoscientists to get involved at all stages of their career. There are public policy internships available from AGI and AGU. The AGI internships are supported by AAPG and the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG). 

There are also Congressional Science Fellowships for those more advanced in their academic or professional career from: AGI, AGU, GSA, SME, and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). 
Let us know how you've been involved by emailing and we may feature your experience on the blog!