Serving professionals in engineering, environmental,
and groundwater geology since 1957


Date: Thursday, July 13th
Location: Steven's Steak House, 5332 Stevens Place, Commerce, California

Time: 6:00 p.m.-Social Hour; 7:00 p.m.-Dinner; 7:45 p.m.-Presentation

Cost: $30 per person with reservations, $35 at the door, $15 for students with a valid Student ID

Reservations: Please call (323) 889-5366 or email

SPEAKER: Darrel W. Schmitz, Ph.D., P.G.
TOPIC: Katrina: Geologic, Disaster, and Personal Perspectives


Katrina was "born" on August 24 as the twelfth storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. After raking southern Florida she became an extraordinary large category 5 (Safer-Simpson scale) storm covering about half of the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina made a second landfall, the first in the northern Gulf, as a category 4 at Burris, Louisiana. She then made an additional landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. The large size and prior strength, coupled with the geography of the shoreline, resulted in a record high storm surge. The storm surge affected coastal areas from Louisiana to Florida while spawning tornadoes in Georgia. Katrina's impacts were disastrous. In addition to the devastation by the storm surge, coastal landforms were altered. Some offshore islands are nearly gone, while new sediment has been deposited in other areas. Landform also appears to have limited the inland distance of the storm surge in some areas. Debris deposited by Katrina's storm surge was found inland to the first marine terrace in coastal Mississippi. Having witnessed the second and most destructive to date hurricane landfall along the Mississippi coast, there are many direct and personal impacts - astounding, amazing, miraculous, and horrendous. Hurricane Camille in 1969 destroyed the Mississippi coast, but even worse destruction occurred from Katrina. Many structures which survived Camille were destroyed by Katrina, primarily due to Katrina's higher storm surge - about thirty feet in western Mississippi. The initial impact along the Mississippi coast was total destruction. Several towns no longer exist. The impact on New Orleans came later from flooding as a result of failed flood walls, that could not withstand the surge forces from Lake Pontchatrain. In northern Mississippi the direct impacts were trivial, compared to those at the coast, but there was damage and power outages over 250 miles from the coast. However, many at Mississippi State had personal impacts. One of our student's parents swam to safety from a top story window - in the storm surge. Another student lost his entire family in Gulfport. Most considered the legend of Camille as the ultimate possible hurricane in terms of its destruction along the Mississippi coast. Katrina has now replaced that legend.


Darrel W. Schmitz received a B.S. in Geology from Mississippi State University, an M.S. in Engineering Science-Geology from the University of Mississippi and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Geology at Texas A&M University. Darrel is currently the Head of the Department of Geosciences at MSU where he is also a full professor of Geology. Darrel Schmitz is a geologist with research interests in hydrogeology. His research interests range from the physical (groundwater movement and geologic controls on groundwater movement) and chemical (natural water composition and contaminant transport) aspects of hydrogeology to related environmental areas of hazardous and nonhazardous waste disposal (siting, seismic considerations, biodegradation, and the properties of earth materials). Recent studies have been conducted in Mississippi, other portions of the U.S. and internationally.

Darrel W. Schmitz is active in state, regional and national organizations including the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, where he has served as Geology and Geography Division Chairman; and the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), where he has held several Mississippi Section offices, including President, and Delegate to the national AIPG convention. He is also a member of the Association of Engineering Geologists (AEG), where he is President and where he has received four Presidential Awards; the Geological Society of America (GSA) for which he was Co-Chair of the 1996 Southeastern Section Meeting; and the National Ground Water Association's (NGWA) Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers for whom he judged and presented the NGWA's awards at the Forty-Fourth and Forty-Fifth International Science and Engineering Fairs. As a member of the Mississippi Geological Society Dr. Schmitz served as an editor for Volume Forty-two of the Transactions of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. He was appointed to the first Mississippi Board of Registered Professional Geologists where he served as Board President. He serves on several committees and is a Past-President of the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG).