Thursday, December 22, 2011

Steve Conrad, former North Carolina State Geologist

It is our sad duty to report that former North Carolina Director of Land Resources, Steve Conrad, passed away on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. Steve was admitted to the hospital earlier in the week with chest pains and died unexpectedly of an apparent stroke.

He played a critical role in the Department’s and Division’s transition from an entirely natural resources agency into the regulatory environment. Steve was always considered an “honest broker” because he was highly respected and trusted among all sectors. Steve services and awards are too lengthily to list here, but they include such diverse activities as national president of the Association of American State Geologists, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, President of the Board of Directors of the NC State Employees Credit Union [Right, SECU Chairman Jim Barber (left) presents a Resolution of Service to long term SECU volunteer Steve Conrad, 11-1-11. Credit, SECU] and one of the founding fathers of the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the NC Board for the Licensing of Geologists. He was also longest serving North Carolina State Geologist (1964-1990).

His funeral is at Mitchell Funeral Home at Memorial Park, 7209 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh at 11:-00 on Saturday, December 24. His family will receive friends from 1):00-11:00 at the funeral home.

[prepared from materials provided by James Simons, State Geologist & Director, NCGS]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wyoming State Geologist named

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead named Tom Drean as the Wyoming State Geologist. Drean previously worked for ConocoPhillips as the company’s president for Iraq.

“We are excited to have Tom take on this important role for Wyoming,” Governor Mead said. “His background working across the globe is impressive, as is his knowledge of geology and mineral resources.”

As State Geologist Drean will serve on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Wyoming Board of Professional Geologists. The State Geologist leads the Wyoming State Geological Survey. The mission of the WSGS is to promote the beneficial and environmentally sound use of Wyoming’s vast geologic, mineral and energy resources while helping protect the public from geologic hazards.

“I am honored to take on this role and to work with Governor Mead,” Drean said. “Wyoming is such an appealing place for a geologist. The resources here are world class on every front and I want to be a good steward of all of these resources.”

Drean worked for ConocoPhillips for over 26 years. He has held positions in the Middle East, Africa, Australia, South America, Europe and the United States. He has a Masters of Science from Penn State University where his area of study was geochemistry and a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University where his area of study was geology. His first day on the job is today [Dec. 15] and he replaces Wallace Ulrich.

“I want to thank Wallace Ulrich for his work as State Geologist and for his deep passion for Wyoming and its geology,” Governor Mead said.

[news release from the office of Wyoming Governor Matt Mead]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Dirty Jobs" digs Utah dinosaurs

Discovery Channel's Mike Rowe went to the field with Utah Geological Survey paleontologists to film an episode of "Dirty Jobs" for later broadcast. There are four 'sneak peek' video clips from the day digging for dinosaurs, posted online.

That's Utah's State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland in the blue jacket in the clip above.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Kentucky Geological Survey celebrates completion of statewide 1:100,000 geologic maps

The Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky celebrated a major achievement today in the mapping of Kentucky's geology. KGS has published all 25 maps in the 30 by 60 minute geologic map series (1:100,000 scale), making them available to the public. This achievement is unparalleled by any other state, making Kentucky a leader in geologic mapping and map technology.

These detailed maps show surface and subsurface rock types, formations, and structures such as faults. Geologic formations and faults control the occurrence of minerals and fuels, groundwater, and geologic hazards.

"They are an important contribution to society because the information they provide assists in the production of resources, protection of groundwater and the environment, stability of foundations and infrastructure, and avoidance of hazards," says KGS Director and State Geologist Jim Cobb. "Because the maps are available on the Web, they are always accessible to the public at no cost. Hardcopy versions of the maps can be ordered from the Survey's Publication Sales Office."

At a news conference on campus this morning, a super-sized geologic map of Kentucky, 10 feet high by 23 feet wide, was unveiled in the foyer of the Mining and Mineral Resources Building on campus. A symposium on geologic mapping, "Celebrating Geologic Mapping for Science and Society," was held later that day at the Boone Center and featured experts from the University of Kentucky, KGS and other state surveys, the United States Geological Survey, and academic institutions.

Remarks by Dr. Jim Cobb, Director of the Kentucky Geological Survey at UK and State Geologist of Kentucky , on November 30, 2011, to celebrate completion of the geologic map of Kentucky at the scale of 1:100,000:

I could not be more pleased about the celebration we are having today.
I want to thank everyone for being here.

It has long been recognized that knowledge of the earth leads directly to economic development, improvements in public health and safety, lower costs for society, and wise use of our resources.

We have completed all 25 maps covering Kentucky in the 30 by 60-minute series. A 30 by 60-minute map is 35 by 56 miles or about 1900 square miles in area.

These geologic maps contain information vital for society. They are like blueprints of the earth. I believe we are the first state to accomplishment this goal.

The banner hanging on our wall that we unveil today for the public is a composite of all the 25 individual maps.
This banner is a symbol of what has been created. It is data-intensive to the extreme and just getting it plotted onto vinyl material took a huge effort.

There are a few amazing facts from this map that only a computer could calculate. There are three billion, billion with a B, feet of lines represented on this map. These lines were acquired by geologists, walking across all parts of Kentucky to collect this data in the field. Three billion feet is equal to 579,000 miles or 23 trips around the earth, that’s a lot of mapping and a lot walking.

A great amount of science about Kentucky has been learned from geologic mapping and many students and faculty have benefited from being part of this effort.

The colored areas on the map represent 334 mapped stratigraphic units. The stratigraphic units range in age from middle Ordovician to Holocene spanning 460 million years of Earth history.

There are 427,000 lines that trace around each stratigraphic unit.

There are 21,200 mapped fault segments and 99,000 miles of coal outcrops.

If I refer to this accomplishment in the singular, as in this map, it is because all 25 individual maps once in the computer become a single map even though we have published all of them separately. In the computer environment and on the Internet it is one seamless geologic map.

This map has utility for economic development, mineral and energy production, and environmental protection for Kentucky.
It is used by geologists, engineers, citizens, landowners, developers, and planners to locate resources, protect ground water and the environment, avoid natural hazards, and design infrastructure such as roads, bridges, industrial parks, and buildings.
Of equal importance to the field geology that was done, is the computer and programming work that converted the lines on the map to digital data that can be served over the Internet.

The real value of this accomplishment is not in this banner or in the printed paper maps; it is in the digital data derived from the maps that we serve over the Internet 24/7. The computers we use to serve this data consume 7 terabytes of storage.
We record an average of 500 daily users and so far 326,000 downloads of map information. If we count each download as an individual publication as we would have in the past with traditional paper publications, this is a best seller.

We have developed an AP so that anyone anywhere in Kentucky with a smart phone can readily see the geology at their location identifying geologic formations, sinkholes, faults, landslides, mineral deposits and other features.
Land-use planning maps that were created from this map are used in county planning offices and are in 1300 class rooms in 500 schools. This map has benefits for every county in Kentucky.

There has been a team of dedicated field geologists, cartographers, digitizers, programmers and IT personnel; men and women whose efforts have culminated in the accomplishment we celebrate today. We owe a great deal to all who took part. Today’s celebration is a thank you to all of them for what has been accomplished. This is a testament to what can be achieved through federal-state-university research partnerships.

There are many people important to this celebration that deserve recognition. I cannot possible name them all but the late Wallace Hagan, the 10th State Geologist of Kentucky, started the modern geologic mapping program in 1960 and partnered with then Director Thomas Nolan of the U.S. Geological Survey to achieve the original mapping that was the foundation for our current work. Doc Hagan had a great vision for what geologic mapping could accomplish that was shared by the USGS.
Also, Don Haney the 11th State Geologist of Kentucky, my predecessor, continued the partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and began the digitizing and computerization of the original maps. Don is here today.

I also want to acknowledge the great efforts of the nearly 200 field mappers, 188 of them from the U. S. Geological Survey who conducted the original mapping program. We have a number of original field mappers, cartographers, paleontologists, and scientists with us today. Thank you all for the contributions you made!

I want to acknowledge the 60 digital mappers, and programmers at KGS who digitized the data and converted the maps for computer use, especially Warren Anderson and Tom Sparks who oversaw these efforts.

We also want to acknowledge the Commonwealth of Kentucky who supported the mapping. State government is today one of the largest users of this information for many of the land and resource management programs in the state.

The accomplishment we celebrate today would not have been possible without the support and participation of the U. S. Geological Survey. We thank them for their support. Also the Association of American State Geologists and the 49 other state geological surveys are a big support for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program in Congress.

KGS is a research institute of the University of Kentucky and being a part of this university and this campus with all of its capabilities and facilities has made our job much easier. We are proud to be a part of UK and could not have accomplished this achievement without the support of UK.

The National Geologic Mapping Act was passed and signed into law in 1992. It created the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program at the U.S. Geological Survey and the StateMap component of that program that has supported a large part of our recent mapping efforts. The U. S. Geological Survey was also our partner in the original mapping that laid the foundation for this new accomplishment.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters.

I have a few final announcements
I want to again thank our speakers for being here to celebrate this achievement.
I want to thank Dr. Jim Tracy, UK Vice President for Research, our boss, who has been tremendously helpful to the Kentucky Geological Survey.
I am pleased to introduce the members of the State Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee who are also members of the KGS Advisory Board.
• Karen Thompson
• Roger Rectenwald
• John Tate
• Mark Mangun
• Doug Reynolds
• Greg Yankee
• Ron Gilkerson
• Marco Rajkovich

It is also my pleasure to introduce fellow state geologists who are here today.
• Don McKay, State Geologist of Illinois
• Bill Shilts, former state geologist of Illinois and current Executive Director of the Illinois Prairie Research Institute
• John Steinmetz, State Geologist of Indiana
• Harvey Thorleifson, State Geologist of Minnesota
• Larry Wickstrom, State Geologist of Ohio
• Don Haney, State Geologist Emeritus of Kentucky, I would like to point out that Dr. Haney was one of the principal workers who got the National Geologic Mapping Act passed by Congress.

I want to acknowledge our guests from the U.S. Geological Survey:
Of course Suzette Kimball Deputy Director who was previously introduced.
• Kevin Gallagher, Associate Director for Core Science Systems.
• Randy Orndorff, Center Director for Geology and Paleoclimate and the previous coordinator of the StateMap program.
• Doug Howard, Associate Program Coordinator for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program and the current coordinator of the StateMap program. We work with Doug a lot.

I would like to acknowledge the Head of the KGS Geologic Mapping Section Dr. William Andrews.

I want to give very special credit to Terry Hounshell, the KGS cartographer, who created this banner; he created the ½- scale map and all the 30 by 60 minute geologic maps. He is a skilled cartographer and artist as is evident from his maps.
I am proud of this accomplishment and all the efforts and contributions by so many. But to put this into perspective it is a milestone because data are still being collected and will be added to this map. The beauty of the computer age is that new data can be added easily. Needs and questions will undoubtedly change in the future so the data that goes into a map such as this will also change. The work continues.

Additional remarks were offered by President of the University of Kentucky, President Eli Capilouto, Deputy Director Suzette Kimball of the U. S. Geological Survey, and Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters.