The News Klippe

SEPTEMBER 2000

EAST TENNESSEE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY

and

TENNESSEE SECTION of the
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL GEOLOGISTS

In this issue...
ETGS/AIPG September Meeting
September Presentation

May Presentation Summary
The Gray Site - East Tennessee's "New" Pleistocene Treasure
Follow-up: ETGS Postcard Campaign:
          Recruiting East Tennessee Professional Geologists
Summer Field Trip Rock and Roll: Geology by Bicycle
New ETGS Officers - Volunteers & Nominations Sought
Contact Information

 

ETGS/AIPG SEPTEMBER MEETING

Monday, September 11, 2000
11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Ryan's Family Steak House
401 South Tulane Avenue
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

 

September Presentation

SHOW YOUR BEST SLIDES!

We are asking all members and guests to bring their "10 Best" Geology Slides or Photographs, or if you can't find 10, any number will do. Because the speaker for our September meeting has been called away unavoidably, we are planning an interactive photo presentation to be given by any and all meeting attendees who would like to share past geology experiences. So dig through your dusty "rock" boxes and pull out those field trip, field camp or petrogrphic memories and share them with the crowd.

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MAY PRESENTATION SUMMARY

by Tony Tingle

The last meeting of ETGS/AIPG took place last May. ETGS would like to Thank John Kubarewicz of Bechtel Jacobs Company/RSI for his presentation on Stewardship after Cleanup of the Oak Ridge Reservation. John discussed post-remediation long-term stewardship (LTS) and the issues addressed by LTS. The presentation provided an overview of LTS as it applies to the Oak Ridge Reservation and included the role of existing geologic data in the process. Stewardship activities, remediation end states, assumptions, and projected costs. A full abstract of this presentation can be found in the May 2000 News Klippe.

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THE GRAY SITE
EAST TENNESSEE'S "NEW" PLEISTOCENE TREASURE

by J. Brad Stephenson

NOTE: This article summarizes material published previously in The Knoxville News-Sentinel and The Oak Ridger. The summarized articles are listed below, and links to online reports may be found on the News and Events page of the ETGS web site. Discussions are underway to arrange a presentation and/or field trip for ETGS in the coming months.

During May, Tennessee Department of Transportation personnel made a discovery of significance for the state and the Southeast. While working to widen State Route 75 in the Gray community (near Johnson City), they uncovered a major deposit of Pleistocene fossils.

ETGS member Dr. Michael Clark, a geomorphologist with the University of Tennessee (UT) stated that the Gray Site "is the biggest thing that I know of in the…literature. And this indicates just how little we know of the subsurface. Nothing indicated that this was here." Of particular significance, ETGS member Harry Moore, head of TDOT's Region I Geotechnical Section, reported that portions of 10 to 12 tapir skeletons have been found. Pig-like animals, tapirs traveled with ground sloths and roamed forest glades and margins. Tapir fossils have been discovered at numerous locations throughout Tennessee.

Fossilized remains have been also been discovered of mastodons (and/or mammoths), horses, giant ground sloths, a carnivore (probably a cat), an alligator and/or crocodile, a beaver, turtles, frogs, a wading bird, an insect wing, a shellfish (probably a freshwater clam), and gastropods. In addition, seeds, berries and leaves have been recovered. Coniferous vegetation has been found, although most of the plant material appears to be derived from broadleaf species, such as oak.

The fossils are preserved in soft clay, probably deposited in an ancient lake or sinkhole. According to Paul Parmalee, Director Emeritus of the Frank H. McClung Museum, the presence of tapirs and an alligator suggests a relatively warm climate. Carbon dating of material from the Gray Site is being conducted independently by the Division of Archaeology and the University of Tennessee.

State officials have decided that most of the site will be preserved. Although the new portion of State Route 75 will be completed, efforts will be made to remove as many fossils from that area as possible before construction resumes. Approximately 100 yards of the new highway is affected. The remaining 3 to 4 acres will be preserved for long-term study, and a public viewing area may be built.

Future excavation at the site will require permission from the Tennessee Division of Archaeology. Director Nick Fielder has assembled a research team, including scientists from his division, as well as the University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State University (ETSU), the Tennessee Division of Geology, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the McClung Museum. Others involved with the multidisciplinary research may include geologists, biologists, archaeologist, zooarchaeologists paleobotanists, palynologists, paleontologists, and paleobiologists. (Fielder is a native of Oak Ridge. He has worked for the Division of Archaeology since 1976 and has served as Director since 1983.)

The discovery has resulted in a great deal of community interest in geology and paleontology in the Gray area. Geologists from ETSU planned to host an exhibit booth at the state fair in Johnson City in August to explain the significance if the site to the public. T-shirts featuring the site are also appearing in the area.

While the publicity may help raise public awareness of paleontology and the importance of protecting such geological resources, it also highlights a weakness in current state law. According to Dr. Clark, discoveries such as the Gray Site are poorly protected by existing regulation. Although human remains enjoy better legal protection, plant and animal fossils are relatively vulnerable to indiscriminant pilfering. Clark and Fielder note that this situation can only be improved by action on the part of the State Legislature.

References
The Oak Ridger (by the Associated Press)
      July 06, 2000       Road crew discovers fossilized ancient bones
Knoxville News-Sentinel (by Fred Brown, brownf@knews.com)
      July 06, 2000      Major fossil find Scientists excited about skeletons found in Gray
      July 07, 2000      Armed guards protecting fossil find Vandals will be prosecuted, state says
      July 08, 2000      Tennessee's Treasure Trove
      July 14, 2000      More fossils found at newly named Gray Site
      July 15, 2000      Future fossil digs at Gray Site will require state permission
      July 23, 2000      Gray areas of prehistory: Fragile fossils raise call for specialists, tougher laws
      July 23, 2000      Gray areas of prehistory: Epoch find at road site unearths portal to creatures past
      July 24, 2000      The Roll of Time: Gray's fossils add to state's rich unearthed heritage
      August 2, 2000   Scientists to seek bones at fossil site

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FOLLOW-UP: ETGS POSTCARD CAMPAIGN
Recruiting East Tennessee Professional Geologists

by J. Brad Stephenson

As discussed last spring (see the May issue of The News Klippe, postcards were mailed to 369 Tennessee Professional Geologists (PGs) in East Tennessee. The purpose of the cards was to provide a brief introduction to the society and invite the recipients to our meetings. Because of space limitations on the cards, recipients were directed to a special page on the ETGS web site for more detailed information: http://www.discoveret.org/etgs/postcard.htm.

The total financial investment by ETGS (less than $100) has been recovered through dues received from seven new members who have joined the society as a result of the mailing. More significantly, ETGS stands to benefit for years to come from the background and experience of these new members. We welcome them and look forward to their participation in the organization.

As always, members are encouraged to invite a friend or coworker to our meetings. Every new member adds strength to our society! ETGS thanks Jim Morgan and ARCADIS Geraghty & Miller (http://www.arcadis-us.com) for their generous support producing the postcards.

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ROCK AND ROLL: GEOLOGY BY BICYCLE
Summer Field Trip


Stratigraphy along the Virginia Creeper Trail between Whitetop Station and Damascus,
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Virginia
Field Trip Leader: Tony Tingle

by J. Brad Stephenson

ETGS organized a stratigraphic bicycle tour on the Virginia Creeper Trail (VCT) on Saturday, June 3, 2000. The VCT starts in Abingdon and ends at Whitetop Station-a total length of 33.4 miles. It began as a Native American footpath and became part of the Virginia-Carolina Railroad system in 1907. Now it serves as a multi-use recreation trail.

Seventeen eager cyclists (including four "junior geologists") gathered at Blue Blaze (our shuttle service) in Damascus-a three-hour trip from the Knoxville area. After the bikes were loaded onto the waiting trailers, we piled into two vans for the trip up winding mountain roads to Whitetop Station. It was literally all downhill from there: the 17-mile ride back to Damascus lasted approximately 5 hours, and required almost no pedaling.

Following an orientation to the local geology at Whitetop Station, Tony Tingle lead us back down the mountain. The trip included nine stops for geology and one for ice cream. Tony prepared an excellent trip log with maps. The trail-log text should be posted on the field-trip page in the near future.

Trip photos are also posted on the field-trip page. Anyone with additional photos to submit should contact Brad Stephenson (jbrad@ispchannel.com). For additional information on the Virginia Creeper Trail, check the following web sites.
http://www.cccyclery.com/vacrep.htm
http://www.his.com/~jmenzies/urbanatb/rtrails/creeper/creeper.htm
http://www.abingdon.com/tourism/lodging.htm (camping and lodging information)

ETGS thanks Tony Tingle for scouting the outcrops, developing the trail log, and leading and excellent trip. Appreciation is also expressed to Carla Sparks for assisting Tony with the trip planning and trail-log preparation. Finally, thanks to Seaira Stephenson for coordinating trip registration and making the arrangements with the outfitter.

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NEW ETGS OFFICERS
Volunteers & Nominations Sought

by J. Brad Stephenson

Although ETGS is not a large, complex organization, the efforts of a few dedicated individuals are necessary to maintain the Society and its various functions. Critical leadership positions must be filled to carry ETGS into the new year. According to the bylaws of ETGS, officers may serve no more than two consecutive, one-year terms. Therefore, the Secretary/Treasurer and President offices will be filled with new people for 2001. Other officers-Vice President, etc.-may be reelected to their current positions or chosen for a different office.

Traditionally, elections have been held in December, with the incoming officers beginning their service at the January meeting. In actuality, that has required the new folks to spend the month of December frantically "learning the ropes," producing a newsletter and planning a meeting that falls right after the holidays.

In an effort to lighten the load on next year's officers-and thus to encourage willing volunteers to participate-I propose that we hold elections a little earlier this year-ideally during October. The current officers would still serve through December, allowing time for a smooth transition to the new folks. Surely this would be easier than suddenly dumping all responsibility on the new officers right in the middle of the holidays. If successful, this timing could be repeated in future years.

With this in mind, please consider volunteering your time and talent to support your society in the coming year. The primary leadership roles are listed below with brief descriptions of their associated responsibilities. These positions are designed to function together as a team, distributing the work and minimizing the load that any individual must carry. Moreover, as an ETGS officer, you will be able to draw on the resources of past officers and the membership to get the job done.

The following positions must be filled for 2001.

If you are willing to volunteer or nominate someone to fill one or more of these positions, please do so at the September or October meeting. If you cannot attend, you may volunteer or make a nomination by phone or e-mail to any of the ETGS officers listed at the end of this Newsletter. Voting will take place at the October or November meeting.

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CONTACT INFORMATION

EAST TENNESSEE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY (ETGS)
Post Office Box 6193
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-6193
http://www.discoveret.org/etgs

President J. Brad Stephenson P.E. LaMoreaux & Assoc 865-483-7483 jbrad@ispchannel.com
Vice President Brian Murray SAIC 865-481-4748 brian.s.murray@cpmx.saic.com
Secretary/Treasurer Seaira Stephenson Scientific Sales 865-483-9332 sstephenson@scisale.com
Newsletter Editor Tony Tingle The IT Group 865-690-3211 geofolks@worldnet.att.net
Webmaster Carla Sparks Tenera Energy 865-560-0354 (ext. 118) csparks@tenera.com
Membership Director Jim Morgan ARCADIS Geraghty & Miller 865-481-3000 jmorgan@gmgw.com
Educational Extension J.J. Hollars SAIC 865-481-4741 james.b.hollars@cpmx.saic.com

 

TENNESSEE SECTION of the
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL GEOLOGISTS (AIPG)

http://www.aipg.org

President, Chris Maner, Tenn Dept of Env and Conserv (TDEC), cmaner@mail.state.tn.us

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