2023-05-13 Vince Matthews — Global Scramble for Natural Resources

Vince Matthews, former director of the Colorado Geological Survey and now a consulting geologist in Wisconsin, spoke on the Global Scramble for Natural Resources. This was a ZOOM broadcast Saturday, May 13, 2023.

The Lecture

During the 1990s, the world’s most populous nations—China and India–were unleashed from Communist and Socialist regimes, respectively. The first decade of the 21st Century saw China’s GDP grow at more than 10 percent per year and India’s at 7-9 percent. Both are drastically increasing their use of all natural resources. Although they have resources of their own, they are insufficient to meet their internal demand.

Because the world’s mineral and energy resources are being strained to supply these exploding economies, the price of nearly every natural-resource commodity dramatically escalated beginning in 2003. Not only did the price of commodities increase, but the competition to simply obtain a share of these natural resources became intense. From cement, to petroleum, to fertilizer, to strategic metals; the scramble for a piece of the worldwide commodities pie is in a state the world has never known. The U.S. is being, and will be, significantly affected by this new world disorder.

As America looks increasingly to alternative energy sources, we face an increase in imports to achieve our goals.  Many of the current alternative energy technologies use a variety of imported mineral commodities, especially “rare earths.” The country’s increasing vulnerabilities to foreign sources of strategic mineral commodities were slow to be recognized.

The Speaker

Dr. Vince Matthews received B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was awarded “Outstanding Alumnus” recognition from both institutions. His career includes holding executive positions with four natural resource companies and teaching at eight institutions of higher education, two of them tenured positions.

About ten years ago Vince retired as Director of the Colorado Geological Survey. In retirement, he has served as Interim Executive Director of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, served on the Special Scientific Committee on the Health Effects of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development in the Appalachian Basin, presented Zoom talks on a variety of topics to geological societies and universities, led field trips in the Rocky Mountains, completed the manuscript for a book entitled, Land of Ice: Jaunts into Colorado’s Glacial Landscape, and was recruited to teach “Earth Resources and Sustainability” at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire last fall semester.

2023-03-18 David Williams—Secrets of Seattle’s Geology: Connections of the human story and the geology story


Street Smart Naturalist

The Lecture.  Unlike many regions in the country, the Seattle area is constantly reminded of its geologic past, present, and future. Whether it is our landslides, our glacier-carved topography, or our volatile volcanoes, this area’s geologic history is young, dynamic, and accessible. In this talk, David explained why we can blame California for some of our geo hazards, how coal influenced our economic development, and why it’s harder to travel east/west than north/south throughout the area.


Denny Hill, Seattle, 1910

The Lecturer.  David B. Williams is an author, naturalist, and tour guide whose award-winning book, Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound is a deep exploration of the stories of this beautiful waterway. He is also the author of  Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology, as well as Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City. Williams is a Curatorial Associate at the Burke Museum and writes a free weekly newsletter, the Street Smart Naturalist.

Book sale/signing.  David B. Williams brought a supply of his award-winning books for sale before and after the lecture.

2023-02-18 Chris Goldfinger — The Next Great Cascadia Earthquake – How Did We Get Here?

Dr. Chris Goldfinger, explored the relation of offshore turbidites to the paleoseismic record of the Cascadia subduction zone.

During this presentation, Chris described that submarine paleoseismology is a multidisciplinary science that allows us to reconstruct earthquake histories extending back thousands of years. He provided information on the use of a variety of techniques, many originally developed for petroleum exploration, to study earthquake-generated submarine deposits (turbidites). By correlating these deposits over broad areas and examining their sedimentological characteristics, we gain insight into recurrence intervals, fault rupture lengths, event clustering, long-term strain histories, paleo-slip characteristics, and interactions between faults. He compared turbidite deposits associated with recent major earthquakes (e.g., 2004 Sumatra, 2016 New Zealand) with seismological records of those events is an important part of understanding ancient earthquakes.

He explained in Cascadia, a 10,000-year onshore-offshore record, developed in large part using submarine paleoseismology, has identified periods of earthquake clustering and quiescence. The pattern – clusters of 4-5 events separated by gaps of 700-1200 years – is unlikely to be randomly generated. Cascadia is broken into at least four segments that have differing recurrence intervals, decreasing from ~ 430-500 years in the north to ~ 240 years or less in the south. However, several lines of evidence suggest that inter-event time is not a good predicter of earthquake magnitude. Long turbidite records for Cascadia and the northern San Andreas Fault also reveal that the two faults have very similar event histories about 75% of the time, suggesting these major faults can trigger one other.

The Lecturer

Dr. Chris Goldfinger, emeritus professor at Oregon State University (OSU), is a marine geologist and geophysicist with a focus on great earthquakes and structure of plate boundary fault zones around the world. Chris has been involved in over 45 oceanographic cruises over the last 30 years, using many geophysical tools (deep submersibles, sidescan sonar, seismic reflection, etc.). He is currently working on great subduction earthquakes along the Cascadia, NE Japan, the Caribbean, and Sumatran margins, as well as the northern San Andreas Fault, where he uses the evidence for earthquakes found in deep-sea sediments.

Chris received his PhD from OSU in 1994. He is a Fellow of GSA and was the recipient of the 2016 GSA Kirk Bryan Award for Quaternary Geology. Windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge and aerobatic flying are some of his favorite sports, as well as sailing to the south Pacific.

Chris suggested watching “Earthstorm” featured on Netflix for more on these topics.