|FROM THE EDITOR||August 1999|
There’s a crisis afoot, a crisis that is having a major impact on how
we live. We’re running out of accessible sources of domestic aggregate.
And, without ready access to sand and gravel, nothing gets built or maintained.
The aggregate industry has been watching this alarming trend for years. After all, it’s been pretty easy to see. For years many communities have enacted laws against the expansion of existing quarries and the development of new sources. By setting these tight restrictions in concrete, cities have cut off the very material needed to add to and maintain their infrastructure of streets, buildings, and private homes. Is this a bad thing? The answer is different depending on the person you ask. Quarry owners would say yes, especially if they can’t meet a community’s demands for inexpensive, readily available building materials. But homeowners might say no, especially if they see a quarry encroaching on their neighborhood. No matter how you look at it, most communities in the foreseeable future will see new construction and general maintenance slow and cost more.
This month we learn about the quarantine on our national aggregate industry through an in-depth interview with Brian Fowler, president of North American Reserve in Laconia, N.H., conducted by Larry Drew, a resource geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Drew’s pertinent questions and Fowler’s poignant answers highlight the unusual situation we’re facing.
Unusual is also a good word to describe our other feature, “Uintacrinus: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma.” David Meyer, Clare Milsom, and Andrew Webber have tackled one of the real mysteries of crinoid paleontology, the ecology of the stemless Uintacrinus. Studying spectacularly well preserved specimens from the Niobrara Formation of Kansas and the Mancos Shale of Colorado, Meyer and colleagues feel that this briefly appearing yet far-reaching animal was not pelagic as described earlier this century. Comparing it to modern crinoids, they see a more grounded existence for this unusual invertebrate.
And in this month’s “Comment,” Stephen Stow, Ethics Director for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Chair of the American Geological Institute’s (AGI) committee on geoscience ethics, describes the results of his ad hoc committee’s work. Its guidelines for ethical professional conduct in the geosciences can be found on page 13.
In “Political Scene,” AGI Government Affairs Director David Applegate describes the interesting debate between the science community and Congress over the Freedom of Information Act and its potential effect on the publication of research results. In “Core Studies,” AGI Director of Education Michael Smith and colleagues show that research on how students learn earth science lags behind similar research for other science disciplines.
And finally, I would like to mention two staff changes at Geotimes. I am pleased to announce that starting with this issue, Kristina Bartlett has taken on the mantle of Managing Editor. For the past year and a half Kristina has distinguished herself as a writer of News Notes, an editor of AGI’s bimonthly newsletter, GeoSpectrum, and a prolific staff writer for the institute. Her background in journalism and her strong interest in science provide a strong foundation and will give her solid footing to produce this multifaceted publication. We all wish her well. And, I’m sorry to announce that Devra Wexler, Associate Editor, will be leaving the magazine to work on the publications of a sister society before returning to graduate school. Devra’s enthusiasm, writing and editing skills, and love of geology will be missed.
Victor V. van Beuren