Dr. James McCalpin to speak about slope stability at ski areas, March 26

Slope stability in ski areas will be the featured topic on March 26 when the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists presents Dr. James P. McCalpin in CEE's Van Leer Building, Room 340.

McCalpin's 2:00 p.m. talk is free and it is open to the public, but RSVPs are recommended by contacting AEG Southern Section Chair. Matthew Howe.

Dr. McCalpin will speak from the perspective as the founder of Geo-Haz, Inc., a  Colorado-based business that provides a wide range of services in earth science consulting, research, and education. In his 20+ years with Geo-Haz, McCalpin has completed 140 geologic hazard projects in 40 countries, analyzing seismic and other hazards to developments ranging from residential subdivisions to ski areas, from dams to nuclear power plants.

According to McCalpin, the “fatal flaw” of many ski area designs is in the anticipated destabilizing
effects of tree clearing and snowmaking on quasi-stable hillslopes. An added complication is the
fact that most Colorado ski areas lie on ancient landslide terrain, because the lower sideslopes of
normal glaciated valleys are too steep for skiing.

Only where post-glacial landsliding has “knocked down” the U-shaped valley wall, can beginner skiers get down the mountain to the base area on the valley floor, without killing themselves.

James McCalpin has been named the 2013 Jahns Distinguished Lecturer. The Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG) and the Engineering Geology Division of the Geological Society of America (GSA) jointly established the Richard H. Jahns Distinguished
Lectureship in 1988 to commemorate Jahns and to promote student awareness of engineering
geology trough a series of lectures offered at various locations around the country. Richard H.
Jahns (1915 – 1983) was an engineering geologist who had a diverse and distinguished career in
academia, consulting and government.