President’s Column – April 2002

Title: Reader’s Corner

Author: John Robinson

Publication: The Outcrop, April 2002, p. 3

During the past holiday season, I read Simon Winchester’s new book: The Map that Changed the World—William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology. The book is a biography of William “Strata” Smith, the orphaned son of a blacksmith, who became obsessed with creating the first geological map. Smith discovered, by tracing the appearance of fossils in each layer, that he could predict the stratigraphic succession from place to place. Of course we all learned of Smith’s accomplishments in school, but Winchester weaves an intriguing story of Smith’s life, which includes periods of observation, discovery, prosperity, financial collapse, debtor’s prison, homelessness, a wife going mad, and 10 years of self-imposed exile. In 1831 his map was finally published and he was ultimately rewarded as the first recipient of the Wollaston Medal from The Geological Society. Winchester was trained at Oxford and had a short-lived career as a minerals geologist. He weaves into the story some of his own periods of geologic discovery as he revisits some of Smith’s “type localities.” I found it to be an inspiring story of perseverance and achievement that we all can learn from.

New CBM Volume or Speaking of New Books

RMAG is pleased to present a third thematic volume dealing with coalbed methane resources entitled Coalbed Methane of North America II—2000 and Beyond. The exploration and development of coalbed methane resources has expanded rapidly in the last decade to become a major component of the energy mix of the Rocky Mountain region. The development of these resources requires application of our best technical skills to drill, complete, produce, and market. A focused, multidisciplinary effort will be needed to further develop this type of hydrocarbon and deal with the regulatory and environmental challenges it presents. Thanks to the authors who contributed their time and effort to submit the results of their research to this book. Although the authors presented some of these results at the RMAG Coalbed Methane Symposium, it takes considerable effort to put those same ideas on paper in manuscript form and see it through the review process. Thanks to guidebook editors Steve Schwochow and Vito Nuccio for compiling and editing the papers into a cohesive package of information. In 1991, Steve was Editor-in-Chief of Coalbed Methane of Western North America I. That guidebook sold out rapidly and we expect this volume to be an equally popular reference.