AEG’s 61st Annual Meeting/XIII IAEG Congress

The 61st Annual Meeting/13th IAEG Congress was held in San Francisco, California from the 17th to the 21st of September 2018. The theme of the congress was “Engineering Geology for a Sustainable World.” The Congress was well supported with 806 delegates from 51 countries across the world and included 6 SAIEG members. The programme was packed with 4 days of presentations, as well as a day of field courses, of which there were 12 to choose from.

Many of the delegates took the opportunity to visit some of the most fabled geological sites of the USA. A few of us covered some 3000 km starting with a visit to the 1000-year-old Sunset Crater, which is a cinder cone that is the youngest of the San Francisco Peaks, an extensive stratovolcano complex. This was on the way to viewing some grand superposition at the Grand Canyon National Park. A little further east, after travelling along the Historic Route 66, we descended into the Grand Canyon Caverns, which are the largest dry caves in the USA.

On the way to Las Vegas, we marvelled at the spectacle of the Hoover Dam from the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, and the tuff that these celebrated structures are built on. After a bad night at the roulette table, we visited some phenomenal geological sites in Death Valley National Park, which is a graben that at its lowest elevation is some 86 meters below sea-level. Before ending the trip in San Francisco for the conference, we enjoyed scenic views of this glacially-carved valley through the cretaceous granodiorites of Yosemite National Park.

The week of the conference also marked a significant milestone for young professionals, as it hosted the first official meeting of the Young Engineering Geologists (YEG) committee members. The committee arranged a full schedule of activities throughout the week for younger members that were attending the conference. The meeting emphasised the importance of growing the international network of younger professionals, and I encourage all younger members of SAIEG to assist in becoming part of this initiative.

Despite the expectation that San Francisco would live up to the reputation of the 2010 Christchurch congress (which coincided with the magnitude 7.1 earthquake), the only obvious activity was that from horrified YEG’s when the SAIEG president gate crashed their events every night.