President’s Column – March 2004

Title: The Many Faces of the RMAG: Part 1: The Written Words
Author: Donna S. Anderson
Publication: The Outcrop, March 2004, p. 3, 9

March is the month that the RMAG traditionally recognizes its committees by hosting a networking happy hour for all committee chairpersons (March 24 this year). The RMAG has somewhere between 30 and 40 committees, depending on how you count them. Each committee has at least one chairperson; many have two or three co-chairs. The number of people, excluding chairpersons, on each committee ranges from none to 10 or more. A number of people serve on several committees, which is a good way to get over-committed, or should we say over-committeed? Including chairpersons and committee members and excluding an unestimated number of duplicates, the fuzzy arithmetic suggests that RMAG has about 150 volunteers that serve on various committees, or less than 10% of the membership. Over the next few months I will feature and promote the work of various committees and their members. All of these people donate their time as a labor of, what should I say, love?

This month, I will discuss the publications committee, a long-standing group that produces the written words of the RMAG. The publications committee is responsible for the monthly newsletter (Outcrop), quarterly journal (The Mountain Geologist), books, digital archiving of past publications, and the biennial membership directory. The chairperson is the coordinator of an active group of people and usually comes up with a few initiatives of his/her own to carry through to the future. Bob Cluff headed the committee last year. The current 1st Vice President, Mark Sonnenfeld, will succeed this year’s chairman, Bob Raynolds, in 2005.

Outcrop newsletter co-editors Jane Estes-Jackson, Terri Olson, and Kris Peterson assemble, sometimes write articles, cajole authors into contributing articles, and proof the Outcrop copy every month. A few years ago a proposal was made to go completely digital with the Outcrop, as a cost-savings measure. Interestingly, the editors at the time (including me) independently offered to resign if the hardcopy newsletter was discontinued. The Outcrop touches the hands of every member of the RMAG every month. We felt that the newsletter has great value remaining as a hardcopy publication. For the digitally inclined, the Outcrop is archived on the RMAG website.

The Mountain Geologist (MG) is the quarterly journal of the RMAG, with co-editors Susan Landon and Mark Longman (on his second round of editorship). It circulates to all 2000+ RMAG members, plus about 200 institutional subscribers. The MG editors evaluate, review, and edit papers. In the past two years, they have increasingly faced the need to solicit papers and create theme issues of the MG due to a shortage of manuscripts. In effect this amounts to creating a book every year or less, a big job, as discussed below. You, dear reader, could help immensely if you would take the time to write a paper for The Mountain Geologist.

Annually to biennially, the RMAG publishes books on topics of interest to the membership. Books contain from 13 to 20 papers focused on a theme. Nearly all papers end up being invited, or perhaps arm-twisting is a better description. As you all know, authors are busy with work; few, if any, get extra time to write a paper. Motivation likely includes the drive to make a professional contribution. Some authors know that writing a paper is a good way to demonstrate expertise and initiate discussion. Others just like to write. From the editors’ standpoint, creating a book means: 1) having an idea; 2) soliciting and assembling manuscripts; 3) reviewing and editing; and 4) getting through the publishing process. Editors also are responsible for obtaining sponsors to help defray publishing costs in order to keep book prices affordable to the membership. Last year saw the first digital book, Piceance Basin Guidebook 2003, edited by Kris Peterson, Terri Olson, and me. In addition, John Robinson and Keith Shanley have been editing a book on Jonah Field. Co-published with AAPG, the book should be ready for the April AAPG national meeting in Dallas. The newest initiative is a book on basin-centered and conventional gas in the Rockies (see call for papers in this Outcrop).

The publications committee has also been dedicated to creating digital archives of past RMAG publications. Most recently, Bob Cluff, Michele Bishop, and Elmo Brown have spearheaded an effort to scan past guidebooks and issues of the MG at a high quality, using full-color and grayscale scanning as opposed to black and white only, as has plagued scanning quality of other society publications. Look for a rollout of this project in mid-year 2004.

On a final note, the biennial membership directory is due out again this year. Hal Kellogg has been heading this effort for the last decade and is looking for a replacement to work with him on the upcoming directory. Much of the structure for creating the directory (a joint effort with the Denver Geophysical Society) is in place. The missing link is a need for someone with database skills to take over Hal’s role in that regard. If you want to help in any way, contact Bob Raynolds by email:

An active group? Dedicated? Fun to be around?

You bet!