Cgs monthly Meeting

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Monthly Newsletter Affiliated with Pacific Section AAPG

CGS Monthly Meeting

Tuesday June 16, 2009  

Sponsored By Cotton, Shires and Associates, Inc.
Reassessment of the St. Francis Dam Failure
Presented by:

J. David Rogers, Ph.D., P.E., P.G., C.E.G., C.HG.

Karl F. Hasslemann Chair in Geological Engineering

Missouri University of Science & Technology

Abstract: The St. Francis Dam failed catastrophically on its first full filling near midnight on March 12/13, 1928, killing approximately 432 people, including 126 dependents of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, who owned the dam. The disaster also brought an abrupt end to the colorful career of William Mulholland, architect of the Los Angeles water supply system. The lecture begins with a brief description of the Los Angeles-Owens River Aqueduct, the perceived need for St. Francis, its original construction, the dam’s untimely demise, and the disaster’s aftermath. No less than 13 official boards of inquiry were convened by various agencies. Most of these groups erroneously concluded that the dam failed on its right abutment due to seepage piping along a dormant fault. The lecture also describes the various forensic methods available to test various postulates for the failure, using state-of-the-art technology not available when the dam failed. The physical evidence is examined in light of the purported theories for failure, presenting the methods used to reconstruct the likely failure sequence, utilizing all manner of available information, including survey data and colorized ground photos.
Biography: J. David Rogers received his B.S. in Geology (California State Polytechnic University), M.S. in Civil Engineering (U.C. Berkeley), and Ph.D. in Geological and Geotechnical Engineering (U.C. Berkeley).

Prior to entering academia he worked in the private sector on a wide array of projects involving forensic geology and engineering. His Reassessment of the St. Francis Dam Failure article was recognized with the GSA’s Burwell Award and the National Research Council’s Rock Mechanics Award. His lecture on the St. Francis Dam was selected by AEG and GSA for the Jahns’ Distinguished Lectureship in 1996 and Sigma Xi’s College of Distinguished Lecturers between 1999-2001.

Professor Rogers served on the faculty of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at U. C. Berkeley from 1994-2001 before accepting the Hasselmann Chair in Geological Engineering at the Missouri University of Science & Technology, the only endowed chair in engineering geology or geological engineering in the United States. This summer he is here in southern California as a Trent Dames and Dibner Research Fellow at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, writing a book about the St. Francis Dam failure and its impact on California, the Boulder Canyon Project, and the nation at large.
RESERVATIONS: E-mail or visit the CGS website by the Wednesday before the meeting at 4 pm.  Please include name and menu choice (Chicken, Tri-Tip, Vegetarian Option, or Pork Tenderloin for each person attending. If you don’t make a reservation, it’s possible there will not be a meal available for you the day of the meeting. 

 Upcoming CGS meeting:  


September 15, 2009:



    •  Upcoming Events at the California Oil Museum: See

CGS MEMBERSHIP:  CGS membership is through Pacific Section AAPG.

Be sure to select Coast Geological Society as your local affiliated society. 

To join CGS, please go to:

President: Dave Panaro, Fox Canyon GMA, 805-654-2327,

Past Pres: Bob Ballog, Hueneme HS 805-498-6294/805-402-1173,

Vice-Pres: Mike Nelson, DCOR LLC, 805-535-2058,

Treasurer: Leni Field,

Secretary: Stephanie Lapeyre-Montrose, Stantec, 818-292-7035,


  1. Principal Consulting opportunity available in San Diego. Please see attached letter for more details.

  1. JMAR & Associates has a job opening for a Geophysicist. Please see attached flyer for more information.

  1. DMI-EMK Environmental Services has a job opening for a full-time employee based out of their Ventura office. Please see attached flyer for more information.


  • A Memorial to remember Rea Strange was held last Saturday, May 30th.  Please see attached notice.

  1. No-Cost Employment Announcements (Help Wanted & Job Wanted) are available on our website! Also, business card ads and employment ads available in the newsletter!  Contact

  2. If you forward the email notice to another party, cc: in the email, we will put your party on the monthly notification list.  There is no cost to receive CGS email notifications.

  3. Buy your raffle tickets!  Money generated goes toward scholarships, field trips, etc., to promote the advancement of Geosciences. Check the CGS supported activities on our website (3 Tickets for $1).

  4. Always needed: Sponsors for our meetings! Sponsors get a beautiful colored banner hung at the meeting, and the opportunity to distribute their literature and introduce their businesses, as well as the satisfaction of having supported a great organization!  Sponsorships are $300 per meeting and may be shared between two individual sources. Contact for info.


Meetings are held at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Road, Ventura, CA 93003. The website for the Poinsettia Pavilion is:

The location is off Hwy 101 at the South Seaward Exit, which turns into Foothill Road. Please see the map below for a more detailed view and directions.

Meeting Info: 3rd Tuesday of every month (dark in July & August)


3451 Foothill Road Ventura, CA 93003

(See the MAP at the end of this Newsletter for directions.)

Reservation Deadline: 4:00 PM on WEDNESDAY before the meeting.

E-mail Reservations to: or visit the CGS website

***Please specify your dinner choice: Chicken, Tri-Tip Beef, Vegetarian Option, or Pork Tenderloin. All dinners include salad and side dish (please note side dish varies).

Social Happy Hour - 6:00 p.m., Dinner - 7:00 p.m., Speaker – 8:00 p.m.

$18 – With Reservation, $25 - Without Reservation, $ 10 - For Students and K-12 Teachers

Mailing Address: Website:


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