Whatever significance others may be placing on the new year—merely the beginning of the end of the 20th century—the January 2000 issue marks the end of an era for Geotimes. It is the first issue in nearly four years without Victor van Beuren at the helm as editor. Victor left the American Geological Institute in December, and we will miss his wry wit and genuine love for the magazine. Since taking over in October 1995, Victor oversaw considerable change in the magazine’s content and appearance. Recognizing the need to keep up with rapidly advancing magazine production values and technologies, he steered Geotimes through a major redesign and put more color on its pages. To better serve Geotimes readers, Victor strengthened the popular News Notes section and added columns that address education, computers, new media, international geoscience and industry. (The acting editor is especially grateful to Victor for agreeing to a monthly column and annual issue on geoscience policy.) Also during Victor’s watch, Geotimes launched its paperless counterpart on the Web, Geotimes.org, which gives readers online content and an easy way to subscribe from the Web.
American Scientist magazine recently published a list of the 100 books that shaped a century of science. Author John McPhee nominated the American Geological Institute’s Glossary of Geology to that list, saying its editors “set the standard.” In an era of increasing specialization and multiplying subdisciplines, the Glossary’s great contribution has been to maintain a common language—a standard—among geoscientists. Encouraging geoscientists to come out of their disciplinary shells and discover shared interests has been Geotimes’ mission and Victor’s passion. He envisioned Geotimes as a tool for the entire geoscience community, where researchers describe their work in conversational language, allowing the oceanographer to share in the excitement of seismological research and the soil scientist to learn about advances in glaciology.
Victor also saw Geotimes as a forum where members of the community express their opinions on controversial and important issues that affect both science and society. This month’s issue reflects that vision with a topic near and dear to Victor’s heart: fossils. In Comment, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology president John Flynn describes how a growing fossil market threatens his science. With fossil sales going online, the market is expanding rapidly, as is the potential that important fossils will become collectors’ items and be lost to science.
Our second feature takes paleontology down to the microscopic level.
Ron Martin of the University of Delaware describes how the fossils of foraminifera
and those of their fellow microscopic invertebrates hold clues to past
environmental changes. No longer just a tool for finding petroleum, micropaleontology
is fast becoming an integral tool for environmental geology.
In this month’s cover story, Jean Whelan of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution describes research showing that oil reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico may be recharging with ancient oil transported from beneath the ocean floor. The work geoscientists from several universities and companies are conducting at Eugene Island Block 330 in the Gulf of Mexico has implications for worldwide oil resources. Their findings call for a major effort to collect data on the global extent of rapid recharge phenomena.
As Victor would say: Good reading! We wish him the same.
Kristina E. Bartlett