Complexities of the Cordillera: A View from 2016


Boulder, Colorado, USA: Geoscientists from the North American Cordillera and beyond will convene in Ontario, California, on 4-6 April 2016 to discuss new and hot-topic science, expand on current studies, and explore the region's unique geologic features. The technical program and slate of field trips embrace the rich geology of the region, with emphases on such topics as petrology, volcanology, tectonics, paleontology, hydrogeology, and coastal processes. The societal relevance of the geosciences is well apparent in California and the West, and "hot topics" include wildfires, sea-level rise, and earthquake hazards in densely populated areas.

Ontario is located 60 km from the Pacific coast in the "Inland Empire" of the greater Los Angeles basin, and is bounded by the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and Santa Ana mountains. The San Andreas fault is 25 km to the northeast, and other iconic geologic sites, such as the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park, the Peninsular Ranges, and Salton Trough, are one to three hours away.

Meeting hosts include Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges; Western University of Health Sciences; California State University, San Bernardino; and Mount San Antonio College.

Selected Highlights of the Scientific Program

The scientific program is composed of oral and poster presentations organized into 15 themed sessions and general discipline sessions covering an array of geoscience topics. Go to to learn more.


Fire and Geomorphic Evolution

  • Sample presentation: Predicting landscape-scale erosion after large wildfires


Lead author William Elliot ([email protected]), USDA Forest Service. The 2015 Butte Fire in Calaveras County, California, burned more than 70,000 acres. After the fire, NASA and the USDA Forest Service worked together to develop and implement the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) geospatial interface and online database to better understand erosion hazards in the area. Challenges for this project include linking burn severity as seen in satellite images to local soil properties, finding sources of data to support post-wildfire erosion prediction, and evaluating fire severity with fire spread modeling in order to support mitigation efforts.


Investigating Environmental Changes using the Coastal and Marine Sedimentary Record

  • Sample presentation: Tectonic subsidence of California estuaries increases forecasts of relative sea-level rise


Lead author Alexander Simms ([email protected]), University of California, Santa Barbara. Relative sea-level rise is not only a reflection of changes to the amount of water in the world's oceans but also of local landscape subsidence. Simms and coauthors will present a study of four estuaries (Carpinteria Slough, Goleta Slough, Campus Lagoon, and Morro Bay) along the central California coast. They write that restoration projects based on future sea-level rise scenarios must consider not only the geologic setting of the estuaries but also areas of subsidence, even along the tectonically uplifting U.S. Pacific Coast.


Geologic Mapping (Posters)

  • Sample presentation: Updated geologic maps of the Los Angeles and Long Beach 30' × 60' quadrangles


Lead Author Chris Wills ([email protected]), California Geological Survey. This presentation reveals newly released versions of geologic maps that provide a regional geologic framework to better evaluate the potential for hazards to residents and visitors from active earth processes including earthquakes, debris flows and landslides, floods, wildfires, subsidence from groundwater and petroleum withdrawal, swelling soils, flooding, and erosion by storm and tsunami waves. The mapped area covers ~10,000 square kilometers, including much of the densely populated urban and suburban areas of southern California. Most of Los Angeles County's estimated 10 million people reside in the defined areas.

View the complete session schedule by day or search the program by keywords at Click on session titles for a list of presentations, and click on presentations for the individual abstracts.

Complete meeting information:

Field trip details:

Local contact information:


Eligibility for media registration is as follows:

  • Working press representing bona fide, recognized news media with a press card, letter or business card from the publication.
  • Freelance science writers, presenting a current membership card from NASW, ISWA, regional affiliates of NASW, ISWA, CSWA, ACS, ABSW, EUSJA, or evidence of work pertaining to science published in 2015 or 2016.
  • PIOs of scientific societies, educational institutions, and government agencies.

Present media credentials to Lindsey Henslee onsite at the GSA registration desk to obtain a badge for media access. Complimentary meeting registration covers attendance at all technical sessions and access to the exhibit hall. Journalists and PIOs must pay regular fees for paid luncheons and any short courses or field trips in which they participate. Representatives of the business side of news media, publishing houses, and for-profit corporations must register at the main registration desk and pay the appropriate fees.


For additional information and assistance, contact Christa Stratton, GSA Director of Communications, at the address above.

The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 26,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.

Media Contact

Christa Stratton
[email protected]

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