Geotimes Logo FROM THE EDITOR February 1999

Is it February already? Hmm, why does this issue seem different? Let’s see, there are the “News Notes.” Yes, David Applegate’s “Political Scene” is there and, as always, right on the mark. There’s Lisa Rossbacher’s “Geologic Column” and “International Geoscience” by Jean Weaver. “Comment” is there, this month from John Armentrout. Wait, what’s this — “Core Studies”? Oh yes, that’s the new monthly column from AGI Education Director, Mike Smith. This is the February issue, isn’t it? Why does it seem so different? Wait a minute, where are the research summaries? Where are the abstracts that tell us what’s been happening in other areas of the geosciences?

Well, they’re coming, but not until this July. Regular readers of my monthly musings will recall last month’s note, where I gave the reasons for moving our “Geoscience Highlights” annual issue to the summer. It’s all because of production logistics. At any given time, the Geotimes staff is working on three different issues. You can find us making last-minute changes to galleys in order to send a current issue to the printer, working with our designer to lay out next month’s issue, and compiling departments and copyediting features for the issue two months out. Because of its size, production on February’s highlights issue started in mid-November, about two weeks after the GSA annual meeting. We were totally immersed in it by December 1st. This, of course, meant copyediting and designing articles from about 50 authors instead of the usual two or three at a time of year when both authors and staff were juggling family commitments and work schedules. Many of our authors were also attending the AGU meeting in San Francisco and overseeing final exam weeks or research projects with their students. It was difficult at best. Moving the production schedule to another time of year helps everyone. We hope it won’t disappoint you and remember, by waiting until July, there will be more things to report.

Our first feature this month is from the former editor-in-chief of the magazine, Earth. Tom Yulsman, now an associate professor of journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder, describes some fascinating research into the much-discussed field of paleoclimatology. Marine geologist Timothy Bralower (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and geochemist Gerald Dickens (James Cook University in Australia), along with oceanographer James Kennett (University of California at Santa Barbara) and geochemist Lowell Stott (University of Southern California) have revealed some convincing evidence to support the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM). Using the fossil record — e.g., mass extinctions of deep-sea foraminifera — and oxygen-isotope analysis, these researchers suggest that the LPTM was caused at the end of the Paleocene by massive volcanic eruptions during a time of long-term global warming. This series of events wreaked havoc on oceanic circulation patterns. The result appears to have been warmer, stagnant global oceans, which changed everything. The conclusion of this intriguing story will appear next month.

Our second feature is the fourth installment of Communicating with Congress from USGS geologist and political savant, Joseph Briskey. In this article, Dr. Briskey tells us “Who’s Who on the Hill.” Learned opinions or the most enlightened advice will go nowhere on Capitol Hill if you’re talking to the wrong person. And, the right person could well be in the office next door. These people can facilitate access to key decision-makers. This “personnel map” will help you navigate the rocky shoals of both Washington, D.C., and congressional offices in your state.

Finally, during this time of uncertain oil prices, John Armentrout, a researcher for Mobil Technology Corporation, offers insights into the future of industrial biostratigraphy with his editorial, “A 21st-Century Challenge for Industrial Biostratigraphy.”

Good reading.

Victor V. van Beuren

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