Large-scale environmental transformations in western Montana: from glacial lake Missoula to 21st century restoration science

Geomorfološko društvo Slovenije in Slovensko geološko društvo vas vljudno vabita na predavanje dr. Sarah Halvorson z Oddelka za geografijo Univerze v Montani, ZDA.

Dr. Sarah Halvorson je do konca junija 2016 na raziskovalnem delu v Sloveniji, in sicer v okviru programa Fulbright, v katerega je že 51. leto vključena tudi Slovenija. Dr. Halvorsonova je štipendijo pridobila na podlagi prijave skupnega projekta s prav tako Fulbright štipendistko dr. Ireno Mrak (Univerza v Montani: oktober 2012–februar 2013). Halvorsonova je institucionalno povezana z Visoko šolo za varstvo okolja v Velenju in Geološkim zavodom Slovenije, svoje raziskovalno delo pri nas pa usmerja v politike na področju klimatskih sprememb. Njeno bogato raziskovalno delo je sicer vezano predvsem na širši območji Himalaje in Skalnega gorovja v ZDA.

Naslov predavanja:

Predavanje bo v četrtek, 10. 3. 2016, ob 17. uri v dvorani Zemljepisnega muzeja Geografskega inštituta Antona Melika ZRC SAZU, Gosposka 16, Ljubljana.

This lecture will weave together key elements of environmental history and contemporary environmental concerns in Western Montana. The lecture will first touch on the history of Glacial Lake Missoula and the humongous floods that resulted in profound and incredible environmental processes and landscape change. Next, the discussion will turn to the era of massive landscape transformation that was associated with industrialization – primarily gold and silver mining – in the upper basins of the Clark Fork River. This era of mining produced wealth that was evident in what was once the richest city in the United States (Butte, Montana). This era also brought mine waste and a range of public health problems and environmental hazards that persist today. Following these points, the lecture will delve into the contemporary efforts to clean up the legacy of the past and what is considered one of the most polluted landscapes in the country. Part of the remediation and hazard mitigation effort has focused on the establishment of a Superfund Complex and specific interventions to address water and environmental contamination. A significant amount of attention has focused on addressing the problem of arsenic in the groundwater which is the primary source of drinking water in Missoula Valley. This serious issue of arsenic poisoning was discovered in the late 1980s, yet a solution to the problem came about only recently in 2010 with a landmark decision to remove a hydropower dam that was trapping mining sediments in its reservoir. The lecture will conclude with a few highlights about the emergence of a whole new science – post-dam river restoration – that has emerged out of this troubled and degraded landscape. Today river restoration in Western Montana involves cutting edge environmental policy and fluvial geomorphology as well as radically new thinking about removing more dams in the American West, one of the most “dammed” landscapes in the world.

Karel Natek, predsednik GMDS in
Matevž Novak, predsednik SGD