How to Contribute a Paper to the Geology of the Cities of the World series

By: Bob Anderson, Cities of the World Coordinator
Edited and adapted for this website by: Sarah Kalika

Notes on developing a Geology of the Cities of the World (C.O.W.) paper and how to start the process

What is the Cities of the World Publication Series?

Cities of the World papers are intended to be a legacy paper for the community which should include practitioners, graduate students, planners and government persons as well as to a limited degree, the public. The publication is not meant to be a coffee table publication.

Do not think that you need to write the entire geology of a major area!  You should decide what is the geographic footprint that the publication will cover. If there is something relatively near by the is important to add you could add it in a regional feature of interest section.

Decide if the publication is going to be targeted for release in the EEG Journal or in the COW series (either in the cloud or as an eBook). If you decide to pursue publication in the Journal you need to contact the E&EG Journal editors for more information on that process. 

Seek outside help and connect with a local geological survey that can provide professional assistance and possibly a publication number. An outside agency will most likely want to do a peer review on the document. Make sure that is done is manner that is not combative. Many agencies will have to run up text and graphics through their management before their material can be used. Make sure that you factor into the writing and editing process as this sometimes can result in serious delay. Patterning with an agency has helped me before as it lent significant credibility to the publication. This has helped me before with my fist volume. This could also be true with other organizations such as GSA.

Length of publication: A long paper usually will not be read; however, individual topics may be read and be a useful general resource for others. You will need at least one or two subject matter experts per topic/section. 

File management: Keep a file of all reviewers and authors edits, comments and responses. Not all the edits, responses and comments will make sense or be appropriate. Keep a response file that shows what your answers are to their comments with your authors responses. These files will be important in case there is a problem with an issue later. Consider using a cloud-based shared folder system such as Dropbox to help keep things going between you, the authors, the reviewers and graphics persons using the latest versions of MS Word, Adobe Acrobat Pro and Google Earth.

Consider these features early in the process: 

Locate cover art with credits of the artists or photographer names of editors and authors and AEG logo. The artwork should be very clear since it may be degraded in the printing process. It should be in full color and at least 600 dots per inch in resolution for all graphics figures, charts and graphs.

Prepare a preface for the paper, written by the Series Editor/Coordinator, geologist of note in the area, or a Geological Survey Chief whose jurisdiction cover the area.

Parts of a typical Cities of the World Publication

  • Table of Contents should be divided into Sections or Chapters. Should include a listing of figures, charts and graphs with page numbers.
  • Foreward (written by the editing team) should include what the publication is about (remember it is a legacy document and consider the target audience); a description of the region covered including any nearby features of interest; a statement that the publication is one of a series of publications; and why it was done. 
  • Abstract when preparing a publication, the Abstract, Forward and Preface may change depending what you are doing or have done. It is your legacy paper. Change it as you and your team see fit; however, the publication is not developed under strict democratic approaches. Someone must lead and be the last word on issues and disputes. 
  • Introduction/History of the region Do not spend a lot of time on this topic. It should provide a general background to a reader not familiar to the region.
  • Regional Geology, Tectonics and the Geologic Setting This chapter is usually broken up into two pieces: Quaternary Geology and Bedrock Geology.  Usually Regional Geology, tectonic and the geologic setting of the city and adjacent area is discussed first in this chapter followed by quaternary geology as a section in the chapter followed by bedrock geology section. Surface geology and soils including geomorphology and geography (map of surface geology and soils). Many members are interested in the regional setting and local terrain. For example, if you're writing about Washington, DC, consider why was Washington, DC sited where it is?  Bedrock geology (including structural geology and stratigraphy) should be discussed. Include both local and regional geologic map and cross sections of quaternary geology and bedrock, including structures and stratigraphy. Include the geologic history of the region, eroded mountain range and major (nearby) fault systems and their effect on the geology and geomorphology. This should also include the approximate location of features of interest in this time as well as pre-historic features) Think of, for instance in Washington, D.C.: the Washington Monument, National Cathedral, White House, the zoo and/or other sites of interest or concern like the airport and the area along the Potomac River. 
  • Include a Chapter on Environmental issues: include soil, air, water, and use of brownfield redevelopment properties here or in a redevelopment section under infrastructure
  • Natural Resources such as, but not limited to, both surface and groundwater, mineral resources, soil resources, hydropower, natural gas, building materials and soils for agriculture. 
  • Natural Hazards such as flooding, collapsing or expansive soils, karst problems (if any) faulting and seismicity, subsidence of soils, strong ground motion problems and effects to structures, landslides etc.
  • Geotechnical Issues and Solutions should be discussed, presenting summaries from recently completed infrastructure improvements or high rise building projects.  Infrastructure and its relationship with geology and soils is always an important topic.  Make sure to mention the various building materials used in projects and any technology used (deep piles, special shoring, dewatering technology, etc).  Consider including what has been done to mitigate natural hazards and improve life in the region (canals, ports or harbors including small boat harbors, reservoirs for multiple uses, etc).
  • Geopolitical and economic issues What benefits do the soils and or geology contribute to the local/regional economy and why?
  • Features of interest Should be tied to geologic features or conditions.  Parks, monuments, cathedrals, waterfalls, contact between different geomorphic or geologic units/provinces and the like.
  • Closing statement This should wrap up your manuscript and leave the reader with a sense about the city. 
  • Acknowledgements Include peer reviewers, graphic artists, companies, editors or other contributors, financial supporters
  • Short biographic statement about the authors including authors email and a color headshot photo should be included for each author. 
  • References Remember one of the most used parts of the publication will likely be the references. This means you need to have a good amount of citations in the text including captions and credits for those who contributed the graphics, charts and figures.
  • Appendices as appropriate In past C.O.W. papers, text and images of the paleontology sections were placed here since it would have disrupted the flow of the paper. This method also allowed us to enlarge some of the fossil images, so they can be clearly seen.  Additional items in this section could include mineral / rock thin sections, borehole logs, and laboratory analytical information, if applicable to parts of the document. 

ISBN Eventually obtain an ISBN number as the publication is made into an eBook.  AEG Headquarters can assist with this detail.  

Getting Started:

To help you get organized, write down:

  • what it is that you are doing;
  • why you are developing the publication;
  • that the publication has not already been done or is different or complements a white literature publication on a similar subject for the similar area;
  • who the audience is;
  • what level of reader comprehension you are targeting;
  • what it covers and what the proposed timeline with specific targets times for parts of the publication including peer review time;
  • how it will be published;
  • the cost to the development team and/or the AEG; and,
  • when the project is to be completed.

The next step is to Obtain help! Advertise and place a call out for “Help Wanted” volunteer professionals and students:  This call for help can be published in the AEG News, weekly AEG Insider email to help prepare, write and review the publication. Include a general description of the project, indicate that is not an academic exercise and that it is a legacy project that has at least 27 papers already completed from 10 countries. You will want to ask to speak at any meeting that you attend to talk about the proposed publication. You may want to prepare and leave a one-page flyer that people can take home to think about it. We have found that once people see that you have a project underway, and are serious, some will want to help/participate. One of the biggest parts of writing the publication will be introducing people and building connections and friendships between the team members.

Establish a Timeline You will need a timeline for starting and assigning people or teams to write sections of the publication. Identify the editors or lead authors of the paper and assign someone to be the point of contact for additional information.  The two most recently published papers (Sacramento and San Francisco C.O.W.) took about two years to write, review, revise and re-review the papers. Do not be discouraged if your paper takes a similar length of time to be finished. Just keep your folks steadily working on it (not as easy as it sounds).

You should have a general idea of what you want and how to put it together, otherwise the project can flounder. One of the most difficult tasks is simply to start. Followed by getting your editing/ lead author team running and working. The next part is keeping the research and writing going and resolving issues. A major challenge is to know where and how to stop! Keep this mind. The rest is not too bad.

For more information and personal assistance, contact Bob Anderson or AEG Headquarters