Annual Public Meeting

Learn about the RCTC and the geological history of our region

Update: Fred made a video of his talk and posted it on Youtube.

Join us for some food, socializing, elections, and a year-in-review of our accomplishments. (Pot luck style! Bring some food to share!)

Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy photo of Fred Zelt IMG_1115.jpeg

At 7:00 PM, our featured speaker will be retired geologist Fred Zelt (bio below). Fred will bring his knowledge and passion to the RCTC with his talk, "The Geology of the Rachel Carson Trail".

The Rachel Carson Trail traverses numerous steep hills and valleys in the landscape between the Allegheny and Ohio rivers. Glacier-related Pleistocene reorganization of the upper Ohio River drainage caused significant deepening of river valleys, incision of tributary streams, and the steep margins of the intricately-shaped valleys the trail traverses.

After discussing the geology and landscapes of the region, the talk will explore the geology of several of the nooks and crannies of this complex landscape. Locations to be discussed include the upland of northwestern North Park near the western trail terminus, deep and steep-sided cold valleys of Pine Creek tributaries at Crouse Run and Rocky Dell, ancient perched river terraces near the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale and Natrona Heights, and bluffs of Harrison Hills Park near the eastern trail terminus.

Coal underfoot on the trail near Bailey Run reflects a mined seam that has a special place in the sweep of history, from Tarentum salt making to innovations that paved the way for the American oil industry. Attendees will have the opportunity to practice their rock and fossil classification skills, using samples from the 300 million year-old rock layers that crop out along the trail.

Participants are invited to bring rock and fossil samples for Fred to examine, identify and discuss.

About Fred Zelt

Bethel Park native Fred Zelt started learning from rock outcrops at 17 years old, earned geology degrees at MIT and Princeton (Ph.D.), and served for 30 years as a researcher, explorer and executive with ExxonMobil including assignments in Houston, Norway, England and New Orleans.

In retirement Fred returned to Pittsburgh, took up bicycling, pedaled across the USA, created a STEM and Cycling curriculum, created Earth Science Excursions, LLC and has led more than 70 geology-themed hikes and bike rides throughout western Pennsylvania as a volunteer with Pittsburgh nonprofit Venture Outdoors and Pennsylvania Master Naturalists.His informal YouTube videos about the geology and landscapes of western Pennsylvania have accumulated several thousand views.

In 2023, Fred led the first geologic study of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and published the results in Geological Society of America Field Guide 66, along with geology guides to Ohiopyle State Park and the Pennsylvania Erie lakeshore. In June, Fred plans to pedal the Great Allegheny Passage on a high-wheel bicycle (aka penny farthing).

Fred and Donna have been married for 42 years, have four adult children and six grandchildren.