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Pick and gavel to Gail Norton
of American State Geologists (AASG) presented its 2002 Pick and Gavel Award
to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton in Washington on March 19. Norton was
sworn in as the 48th Secretary of the United States Department of Interior in
January of last year.
Norton is a lifelong conservationist, public servant and advocate for bringing common sense solutions to environmental policy, Vicki Cowart, state geologist of Colorado and president of AASG, said during the ceremony. Through her creation and implementation of our national public policy, Norton both affirms and supports geosciences.
Vicki Cowart (left) presented Gail Norton with AASG's Pick and Gavel Award. Photo by Don Hoskins, Pennsylb\vania State Geologist (ret).
Norton also hails from Colorado and admitted during her speech that she and her husband weighed down the back of their car with quartz for their new home in Virginia. It preserves a bit of the West for us, she said. I guess you could say Im somewhat in awe of those of you who are geologists.
The AASG award recognized Norton for encouraging partnerships among states and DOI agencies. Cowart applauded the Secretary for her support of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program. The cooperation over the last decade among federal, state and university partners has succeeded in delivering state-of-the-art digital geologic maps to the nation, Norton added.
Prior to becoming Secretary of the Interior, Norton served as Colorados Attorney General in Washington, as Associate Solicitor of the U.S. Department of the Interior and as Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
China's top ten honors American geologist
The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technologys top ten
list for scientific reports last year heralded nine Chinese achievements and
one American discovery. Geologist Tim Kusky of St. Louis University shared fourth
place with Jianghai Li of Peking University for identifying the oldest
marine crustal debris in China.
In fact, the oceanic rocks Kusky and colleagues reported on last May in Science might be the oldest known complete ophiolite complex in the world, dating back to the Archean, 2.5 billion years ago (Geotimes, July 2001). Ophiolites are record books for geologists identifying the history of plate tectonics. As the ocean floor subducts into the mantle, traces of its existence can get pushed onto the continent as ophiolites.
Kusky, a member of the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union, searches for ophiolites and other good examples of the geologic record around the world in places where the rocks are still a mystery. Tim is resourceful and energetic, says Kevin Burke of the University of Houston. He goes in the field to remote and inaccessible places and is rewarded because, with remarkable rocks, if you dont go in the field youre not going to find the unusual rocks. In geology there are few places where the part of the record is really good. Tims energy in traveling widely has led him to these places.
Tim Kusky of St. Louis University searches the globe for ophiolite samples. Photo courtesy of St. Louis University
Kusky grew up in Albany, N.Y., listening as a teenager to adults converse about plate tectonics. I lived close to Kevin Burke and saw a lot of people who taught geology and heard discussions like you do when youre a kid playing with other kids while the grown-ups are having their party.
At the time, Burke taught at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany. Tim was in high school with my eldest son, Burke explains. The Kusky family ran a bowling alley and my son used to work on the pin-setting machine with Tim. The high school had one general course in earth science, but no geology. Kusky talked a teacher into making a course for him and another friend of his.
Then, as an undergraduate at SUNY in Albany, Kusky started working on problems in plate tectonics, I thought that something didnt seem right about existing models of Precambrian tectonics and I began getting very excited, he says. After graduating magna cum laude, he earned his masters degree in 1985 and the same year published four papers and six abstracts.
Working in the Bay of Islands with his advisor Bill Kidd, Kusky saw his first ophiolite. I was initially amazed that such large blocks of crust that formed on the sea floor could be thrust onto the continents, Kusky says. I was also excited about all the things we could learn about the sea floor spreading process, and the evolution of the interior of the Earth by learning more about ophiolites.
Since Newfoundland, Kusky, 40, has worked on relatively modern or Phanerozoic ophiolites, including several in the Appalachians and Alaska. He has spent nine months in the field working on the Cretaceous Semail ophiolite in Oman and in the United Arab Emirates, including a trip earlier this year.
For his Precambrian studies, Kusky has investigated Proterozoic ophiolites in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the East African orogen. At the same time Ive been working in Archean greenstone belts in Canada, southern Africa, Asia and Australia and have been impressed by the many similarities between younger ophiolites and some Archean greenstone belts, he says.
However, it was not until Jianghai Li and I started working on the Dongwanzi ophiolite that I recognized all of the components of the ophiolite suite in a single Archean greenstone belt.
Kusky was surprised to receive the honor from China. There is a lot of very good scientific and technical research going on in China, he says. It has helped open some doors that were previously nailed shut. For instance, we have now been given some fairly detailed maps that not too long ago would have been impossible to obtain. We are also working on more open exchanges of visitors, data and collaboration that we were not able to do before.