Abstracts – 2019


The Colorado Scientific Society January meeting was rescheduled to April, as the speakers could not access their presentations because of the government shutdown.



Geology and Mining History of the Beulah Marble Deposit

Ken Balleweg, Exploration Geologist

Beulah Marble

Abstract: The little-known Beulah Marble Quarry, located in western Pueblo County in southern Colorado, was the source for the ornate ornamental stone wainscoting prominently displayed throughout the Colorado state capitol building. Three quarries were operated from 1894 through 1900 by the Beulah Marble Company and later the Denver Onyx and Marble company. The marble, also known as Colorado Rose Onyx and Beulah Red, is hosted by the Mississippian Leadville Limestone and consists of elaborately patterned hematitic leisengang-banded limestone. It was formed by multi-stage paleokarst dissolution features localized at the Leadville/Fountain Formation unconformity.

Ken Balleweg


Geographies Unrealized, The Story of Four Cartographic Myths of North America

Donald L. McGuirk, Rocky Mountain Map Society

Mythical North America

Abstract: Maps, as graphic depictions of geography, simplify and facilitate the dissemination of geographic information. However, occasionally, in the process of expanding geographic knowledge, errors of interpretation lead to misrepresentations of the geography portrayed. At times maps have depicted fancies rather than facts; at other times they have shown wishes rather than wisdom, based on alleged facts. This presentation will discuss four such fanciful geographies depicted on North America from 1525 to 1780. These include: the Sea of Verrazano, California as an Island, Mer de L’Ouest (the Western Sea of the French), and The Extension of North America’s West coast.

Donald L. McGuirk



A Cook’s Tour of Colorado’s Glacial Landscape

Dr. Vince Matthews, Leadville Geology
Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Maroon Bells

This is probably not the first time you have seen a similar image of these majestic peaks. Hordes of people ride the bus each summer to gaze upon the iconic Maroon Bells. But, how many of them realize that one reason they are so spectacular is because the bells are framed by a U-shaped glacial valley with faceted spurs and hanging valleys along its sides? And— how many of those realize that the valley was once filled with nearly 2,000 feet of ice? And— how many notice the rock glacier pouring out of the hanging valley below North Maroon Peak? And— how many of those realize that the rock glacier is flowing at 2.2 feet per year?

Throughout most of Earth history, glaciers did not exist on Earth. We are fortunate because we live in a time when glaciers reside on nearly every continent, even though we are in a warmer interglacial stade. Why is this a big deal?

Main Gore Range glaciers, from the Interactive Geology Project at the University of Colorado – http://igp.colorado.edu/
Note: Small glaciers in alpine cirques are not shown. The mountains would have been mainly snow covered, with the tops and ridges peaking out.

Without glaciers to observe elsewhere on Earth, we might not be able to figure out what caused some of our most interesting landforms in Colorado. Suppose alpine glaciers did not exist on Earth today. Would we then be smart enough to propose that some valleys in Colorado had once been filled with ice thicker than the One World Trade Center is tall (1,776′)?

Dr. Vince Matthews

Dr. Vincent Matthews III has had a long and varied career in geology, in industry and academia. He was the Colorado State Geologist and Director of the Colorado Geological Survey from 2004-2012. Vince was the author of Messages in Stone, Colorado’s Colorful Geology (two editions, 2003 and 2009). Though he now resides in Wisconsin, Vince is on the Board of Directors of the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Leadville, CO; he writes a periodic blog via Facebook on “Leadville Geology”, and he is working on a forthcoming book, Land of Ice: A Guide to Colorado’s Glacial Landscape.

Sawatch Range ice cover, Dr. Vince Matthews


Colorado Scientific Society Past Presidents’ Dinner

Kilauea’s 2018 Eruption – New methods and perspectives for monitoring volcanic eruptions

Don Becker, USGS videographer, and Jeff Sloan, USGS UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)
Thursday, April 18, 2019

Eruption at Kilauea
USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Response Supporting the Kilauea Volcano Activity

In May 2018, the USGS deployed equipment and trained personnel to provide UAS remote sensing data acquisition over the impacted area of the Mount Kilauea eruption in Hawaii. The UAS response team flew over 1,300 flights totaling more than 300 hours of aerial geospatial and gas emission data collection utilizing nearly 40 different UAS operators from across the nation for a period of four months A USGS volcanologist guided mission planning in coordination with the UAS operations team lead to ensure tight integration of the team’s efforts and the needs of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), the National Park Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local emergency managers. The initial missions included providing visible and thermal imagery to monitor lava flows moving through residential areas and threatening critical infrastructure and to construct up-to-date digital elevation models of areas where lava flows had dramatically changed the topography. Measuring concentrations of hazardous gases were also a critical concern to emergency managers so the UAS payload was modified to collect gas data utilizing three different sensors. The Team was routinely asked to provide 24×7 surveillance including separate UAS operations (requiring three shifts) to cover FEMA and HVO data requests to provide situational awareness missions for emergency managers to assess spillovers and new lava channel breakouts.

Drone over Kilauea

Jeff Sloan works in the USGS UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems; i.e., drones) program and showed how they were used at Kilauea. Several different drones were on display at the meeting.

Lava fountains
Don Becker’s Presentation about Kilauea’s 2018 Eruption

Don Becker, USGS, is a video producer with the Office of Communications and Publishing and is the manager of the USGS Video Archive and who has made films for the USGS for 43 years. Don has filmed in nearly every U.S. state, Canada, and Africa. He was sent to Hawaii by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for a two-week period to film and document the USGS scientists working the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and earthquake-damaged HVO building near the Halema`uma`u crater. Don has in the archive nearly all the USGS footage of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption, which lasted from around the end of April to early September 2018. Don will show footage acquired from the on-scene HVO scientists along with what he filmed, including spectacular, rare footage of an earthquake at the Jaggar Museum at the summit, and will present a brief history of the eruption using footage from the ground, helicopter, and UAS.

Don had the experience of a lifetime seeing an actual volcano eruption in progress, something that he had hoped to do since childhood. His first view of the erupting Fissure 8 in the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) was on an early morning helicopter overflight. He filmed the eruption from several angles from the air, then proceeded to film down the length of the 6-mile lava flow to the ocean entry. After landing on a remote road so he could get out of the helicopter to make room for animal rescue folks who quickly needed to use the helicopter to remove dogs from a house being overrun by the lava flow, he resumed the flight back to the forward operating base. He then went out with a ground crew to Leilani Estates and filmed the crew, fissure 8, and the lava flow from the ground. He did this same routine for several days, and then also spent several days at the summit filming the Halemaumau crater. While at the summit, he rode through several magnitude 5.4 earthquakes that were caused by rockfalls in the crater left empty by the drainage of the lava into the LERZ. Don then spent time filming with the UAS crew who were using their aircraft to document the physical changes to the Halema`uma`u crater and they were simultaneously recording level readings with a gas sensor on the aircraft. He got wonderful footage of the crew doing their setup and flights. During his time on Hawaii, Don got to experience filming the lava flow at night, which was an amazing sight. Don filmed a one-on-one interview at the summit Volcano House with Don Swanson, USGS, a Research Geologist at HVO, formerly of the Cascades Volcano Observatory where he worked intimately with the eruption of Mount St. Helens. The interview was interrupted on multiple occasions due to large earthquakes. Lastly, Don was asked to film the inside and outside of the HVO building, damaged during the many earthquakes. At that time, the earthquakes were on an approximate 24-hour schedule, so when he was done at the HVO, he set up a camera just outside the Jaggar museum, on a tripod with the legs stretched far out so it could not tip over. As you will see, the resulting footage was spectacular; the next earthquake caused the sidewalk to open up and the rock wall begin to crumble. Don’s hope is that you enjoy seeing the fierce beauty in the volcano eruption that caused so many local homeowners to lose everything that they owned and their lives to be changed forever.