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How to Contribute a Paper to the Geology of the Cities of the World series
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Note on developing a Geology of the Cities of the World (C.O.W.) paper and how to start the process:

I have thought about what you were saying about starting up and recruitment of a C.O.W.    Such an effort can be awkward if you are uncomfortable talking to an audience.  A right-hand person may not have time when the project first starts.  In that case recruit someone else to help with distributing the work load and writing the paper in a single voice.  You and you coauthors and reviewers should know that the papers are not meant to be either something published by the I.A.E.G. or the Seismological Society of America S.S.A. and not published for use in teaching at a Junior College.   They are not the primary audience!  The publication is 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.    

 I have a few thoughts that I would like to share with you about getting started and recruiting help.   As you can see, I am just pecking away. 


First, I suggest that you read a few of the C.O.W.s.  The ones I would recommend are the Sacramento, Pittsburg or the San Francisco C.O.W. for starters. All three are on the AEG website at  They are well done and vary according the city as to what and how much they cover on a topic.  The outline of a general C.O.W. paper is being sent as a second MS Word file.  If you find that a publication already exists on your subject area and it is still reasonable you may not want to write up your city.  There are plenty other cities to consider.  Please take on a different city then.  Just let me know first so that there would not be two COWs started at the same time for the same city.  There are probably a few ideas that you may want to consider in the outline; however, I suggest that you at least cover the topics below after you have determined who is the audience for the paper. Please ask your Association of Engineering Geologists (A.E.G.) or other professional societies and organizations in your area what they would want in your area manuscript.  It is their (and your) paper!


Do not think that you need to write the entire geology of a major area like Sacramento!  Sacramento was special since we have the Mother Lode near us to the east and Sacramento would possibly not exist (at least as it is) without it, we also have the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southwest and south and we have natural gas field to the south, west and north northwest.


Second, 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.


Third, you should 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 Dr. Abdul Shakoor at Kent State University. The publication is a AEG/GSA effort.  You need to know early on what their requirements and method for are submitting your manuscript. They tend to have a different time schedule than we do.   Note additional topics may include some taken from the existing outline in the COW pages or elsewhere. 


Outside help If you can swing it and hook up with a local geological survey, they could help 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.  That is not helpful to anyone.  My 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.  Sometimes this 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 the G.S.A.


Length of publication


Just remember that 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 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.  DO NOT LOSE THESE FILES.  These files will be important in case there is a problem with an issue later.  I suggest that you use an FTP such as Dropbox to help keep things going between you, the authors, the reviewers and graphics persons.  I used a 1 terra byte Drop box allotment in developing the Sacramento COW and had plenty of room left over.  I suggest that you do this only on your own computer using the latest versions of MS Word, Adobe Acrobat Pro and Google Earth.


Topics suggested to be addressed:


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.

Preface for the paper Series Editor/Coordinator (me) or geologist of note in the D.C. area or a Geological Survey Chief whose jurisdiction cover the area.


Table of Contents Divided into Sections or Chapters.  Should include a listing of figures, charts and graphs with page numbers.


Forward Include what the publication is about (remember it is a legacy document and who the target audience is); 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 It also should provide.  Written by you and your editing team/lead authors team.


Abstract As you know, when you are 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 That person will also take the heat.


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.  One on Quaternary Geology and one on 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).  I am very interested in the regional setting and local terrain.  Why was Washington sited where it is?  Remember folks like me will not know much of the material in detail if at all about you discuss.


Bedrock geology including structural geology and stratigraphy. You should include both local and regional geologic map and cross sections of quaternary geology and bedrock, including structures and stratigraphy.  I would like to see something definite about the geologic history of the region including 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 new airport and the area along the Potomac river maybe?


Environmental issues include soil air water and use of brownfields 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.  You may want to look at the Sacramento C.O.W. section about this general topic and think about what applies to your area.


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 preparing the Washington D.C. area for construction through the building of the subway system for instance the roadway from the new airport into the Washington central business district (C.B.D.) and what your audience is interested in without becoming a field guide.


Infrastructure and its relationship with geology and soils here you could mention the various building materials used in projects in and around Washington.  You also may refer back as appropriate to the geology sections.  What has been done to mitigate natural hazards, what has been done to 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 or monuments or the national cathedral, water falls, 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.  You can read the Sacrament closing section to see how we did it.  I am sure that your C.O.W. manuscript will be somewhat different.  Just look at how we closed it and do not get caught up in the details.


Acknowledgements Including peer reviewers, graphic artists, companies, editors or other contributors, supporters


Short biographic statement about the authors with email of their choice and a headshot color photo should be included for each author.  You can look at the biographies in the back of the Sacramento C.O.W. and use one as an example.


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 cations and credits for those who contributed the graphics, charts and figures


Appendices as appropriate.  We placed the text and images of the paleontology section here since it would have disrupted the flow of the paper.  It also allowed us to enlarge some of the fossil images, so they can be clearly seen.


ISBN - Eventually an ISBN number as the publication is made into an eBook or a doi if it is published in the Environmental and Engineering Geology Journal (E.E.G. Journal).  We also included a geologic history of the Sacramento area from the Paleozoic to the Holocene in an appendix along with our general map highlighting faulting to the east including parts of the Mother Lode.




Once you 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.


you can start to advertise and place a call out for “Help Wanted” volunteer professionals and students to help prepare, write and review the Geology of Washington D.C. and its Surrounding Region.  Include a general description of the project, indicate that is not an academic exercise and that it is a legacy project that has 27 papers already completed from 10 countries.  You will want to ask to speak at any meeting that you go to talk about your project and what help you need as well as the time schedule.  You may want to leave a one-page flyer that people can take home and think about it.


You will also need a timeline for starting, assigning persons and or a team to write a section by topic. Identify who are the editors or lead authors of the project as well as assign someone to be the point of contact for additional information or joining the project.  It is suggested that you write up a flyer and speak at different geological society groups in the area looking for folks to help.  I have found 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 of connections/ friendships between the team members (I have picked up two friends this way).


If you are hesitant to speak up at meetings you can ask a knowledgeable person on your team to speak up and help.  I was sick for several weeks in 2017 and again in 2018, right at the end of the Sacramento development effort my wife was sick for seven weeks.  My right-hand person, kept things going with some help from others and myself.  He was the driving force to finish the project. He helped me to no end.  Without him, the Sacramento C.O.W. would never had been completed in time for the IAEG/AEG meeting.  You will need help.  Do not feel timid to ask for it.  I would in the meantime ask someone else to be your right-hand person or be the lead on the project.


I hope I have not discouraged you.  It took the Sacramento and San Francisco C.O.W. teams about two years to write, review, revise and re review the C.O.W.s. Please, do not be discouraged if your paper takes a similar length of time to be finished.  Just keep you folks steadily working on (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.  I have tried to layout some activities and notes for you to develop a successful publication.  I am sure that somethings may not be clear to you.  If so, please email me or call me at 1 (916) 598-3045.   My email address is   If I can be of support, I will try.

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