From the President - December 2020

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From the President

Jim Tucker

What a year!

The end of the year is always a time to look back, and 2020 is a year we will be glad to have over.  It’s hard now to remember the first quarter, although I don’t think I slept through it.  I’m writing this while visiting our daughter on the coast.  Growing up in Corpus Christi, I always appreciate time at the beach and this is the nicest time of year here (the secret is out).  Even when breezy and overcast, like today, the beach walking is fine, even if the Gulf is not as inviting.

Jon Blickwede, immediate HGS Past-President is Chair of the Nominations Committee, along with his two predecessors.  Please consider standing for candidacy to the Board, or talk to a colleague who you think can contribute to any of the Board functions and operating the Society.  And as always, send me any suggestions for members of our committees.

Later this week we will celebrate Thanksgiving, the US one anyway.  Clearly the Pilgrims in New England had more effective public relations than the earlier (unsuccessful) colonial efforts in Virginia, and the much earlier Spanish efforts from Mexico to New Mexico and Texas.  Most of us spend our time on much older earth history, where the record is also incomplete, which is often what makes it most interesting.  More history at the end of this column.  But being thankful anytime is good.

You may be reading this after the 1 December National Academy of Sciences webinar (11-2 CST) on Pathways to the Future Just, Equitable, Diverse, and Inclusive (JEDI) Energy Workforce.  Outside of the catchy acronym, this sounds like it will focus on the needed future workforce skills, a subset of the STEM (sciences, technology, engineering and math) emphases of the past few years in primary and secondary education.  I imagine the discussion will follow the topics in the recent publication Future Directions for the US Geological Survey’s Energy Re-sources Program  (free PDF available at ).This society has long had programs for precollege youth on the range of earth sciences, and how they are involved in our lives.  Ideas are being collected via discussion at: This is valuable, but does not necessarily encourage enough students to continue in geosciences, so we all need to do what we can to encourage the interest that is already out there.. 

The current workforce, including many HGS Members, continues to be in a hiring slump, particularly with the merging, consolidation and bankruptcies affecting many of our employers.  The HGS is developing an Employment Committee that will focus on connecting Members with jobs, and coaching in the skills for this workforce.  Please contact me if you are interested.

Back to the historical matters, you may remember the successful campaign last year to raise funds to purchase the Lyell notebooks for the University of Edinburgh, so they may be placed for public access.  These materials are beginning to come out, and may be viewed at: 

Through Lyell's Eyes - library blog
Charles Lyell Website


They plan a series of web presentations during January and February, and we will publicize them on the HGS communications outlets.

And ending on another historical note, 10 January will be the 120th anniversary of the Spindletop discovery near Beaumont, opening up the Gulf Coast for petroleum exploration.  We will have an HGS meeting the evening of 11 January with lots of information on this discovery and its history.  Sign up via the HGS website.

Volunteer for something this month, and Be Safe.