Northern California Geological Society

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Northern California Geological Society

The NCGS is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Pacific Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Meetings are organized once a month. The Society's objectives are to promote the scientific and educational aspects of geology, to foster fellowship and cooperation among earth scientists, to increase the public's understanding of earth science applications in our daily lives, to recognize the responsibilities of geoscientists to society, and to promote honesty, integrity, and professional ethics in the geoscience community.

It all started in May 1944, at Foster’s Bar in Rio Vista.  A group of mud men, roughnecks, and geologists were whooping it up at this popular establishment which provided an assortment of the fine spirits that were in short supply during the War Years.  Foster’s, it seems, was deemed by most to be the best watering hole in the Sacramento Valley.  And it was here that charter members such as John Thomas, Erwin Clark, G.C. Beckman, and Al Solari of Standard Oil; Don Pinnell of Amerada; Eddie Simpson of Superior; Lowell Redwine and Bill Beatty of Honolulu; and Milton Loy of Schlumberger founded the Northern California Geological Society.  Frank Bell was elected the first Chairman and a basic organizational policy was drawn up. Initially, NCGS meetings were held in Sacramento at the Little Theater-College, or occasionally in Lodi and Rio Vista.  The membership list from this era showed 56 members.  NCGS membership grew to 74 by February, 1946.  The society’s first big event was a field trip to the north slope of Mt. Diablo in the late 1940’s, accompanied by a field guide prepared by Earl Dillon, Cliff Church, Charlie Cross, and Al Solari.  In the late 1940's most geologists had left for the Cuyama and San Ardo oil fields, and the NCGS moved its headquarters to San Francisco.  Through January 1954, the NCGS had no affiliation with AAPG because it lacked a constitution and formal by-laws. Most NCGS business was focused on the cost of Distinguished Lecturers, publication sales, and keeping track of member addresses. By September 1961, membership had reached 115.In 1963; the NCGS began working with the newly-founded American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) to introduce this organization to the San Francisco and Sacramento areas.  The late 1960’s were lean years in membership and attendance. A bright spot, however, was the overwhelmingly successful Geological Seminar on the North Slope of Alaska held February 2-3, 1970, in Palo Alto.  No formal chronicle of NCGS activities has been written since Kotick’s 1976 Geologic Note in the AAPG Bulletin.  In recent years the society membership has undergone a major shift in professional affiliation from petroleum geology to the environmental field.  One thing, however, has not changed, and that is the unanimous interest of its members in the geosciences, both pure and applied. And as one can infer from this narrative, field trips were and still are a key focal point of the organization.  Recently, the organization has added family nights, picnics, and an invitation to Bay Area earth science teachers to join it in exploring Northern California’s geologic treasures.

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