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.

J.P. McCalpin earned his BA in Geology from University of Texas (’72) and MS from University of Colorado (’75), specializing in geomorphology, Quaternary geology, and rock climbing. He did postgraduate work at University of Alaska, which led to employment in the Alaska Branch of USGS in 1976, and later the Branch of Western Environmental Geology (Menlo Park) in 1977, where he was first introduced to the “new field” of paleoseismology. In 1977 he imported these paleoseismic methods to Colorado and its Rio Grande rift, while mapping and trenching the Sangre de Cristo fault for his PhD at the Colorado School of Mines. After graduation he served as County Geologist for Jefferson County, Colorado in 1982, and then joined the faculty at Utah State University where he taught geomorphology and engineering geology from 1982-1991.

In 1991 he left academia and founded GEO-HAZ Consulting, devoted to applied geological consulting for geologic hazards, primarily seismic and landslide hazards. A related project was publication of the reference book Paleoseismology in 1996, in collaboration with many early US paleoseismologists. The book won the AEG Holdredge Award in 1999 and the GSA Burwell Award in 2000, and is now in its 2nd edition (in English, 2009; in Russian, 2012). In his 20+ years at GEO-HAZ Dr. 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. Since 2001 he has taught a summer field course in neotectonics and paleoseismology, using the only permanent paleoseismic teaching trench in North America. He enjoys collaborating with international earthquake scientists, and especially with their newer generation of students interested in geologic hazards and in geo-constraints to sustainability and quality of life.

2013 Jahns Lecture abstracts:

  • Paleoseismology; Has it Reduced Seismic Hazards, and if not, How Do We Change Course?
  • The Many Uses of Trenching in Assessing Geologic Hazards in Engineering Geology
  • The Mountains Are Falling Apart; A Spectrum of Mass Failures from Landslides through Deep-Seated Gravitational Spreading (Sackung), to “Unfolding” of Folds
  • Ski Areas and Their Slope Stability Problems; The Colorado Story
  • LiDAR Reveals the Bare Earth: LiDAR Geomorphology and its Applications to Engineering Geology


McCalpin can be contacted at GEO-HAZ Consulting, Inc., P.O. Box 837, 600 E. Galena Ave., Crestone, CO 81131.

Office Phone: 719-256-5228  |  Or by email  |  Website: www.geohaz.com