Friday, December 21, 2012

Transfer of the Colorado Geological Survey to the Colorado School of Mines

Last week, the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to transfer the Colorado Geological Survey from the Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources to CSM.  Assuming that the Legislature approves the MOU, the transfer will administratively take effect February 1, 2013.  The physical move will not occur until classes are out in late Spring.

State Geologist Vince Matthews [top] is retiring December 31, 2012, after 8 years as Survey director. Karen Berry [bottom],  who has served as Acting Deputy Director for the past year and a half, was appointed Acting State Geologist and Director of CGS from January 1 through April, 2013. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kansas Geological Survey to measure water levels across High Plains aquifer

In early January, crews from the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, will be in western Kansas measuring groundwater levels in more than 500 wells to help determine trends in the region's aquifers.

The crews will start in the vicinity of Colby on January 2, Goodland on January 3, Syracuse on January 4, and Liberal on January 5 and will cover multiple counties in those areas.
In particular, the KGS monitors the massive High Plains aquifer system [above], which consists largely of the Ogallala aquifer and is the primary source of municipal, industrial, and irrigation water for much of western and central Kansas.

Past monitoring has shown that groundwater levels have dropped significantly in parts of the High Plains aquifer where water usage has risen substantially over the past 60 years and below-average precipitation in recent years has increased the rate of decline.

"The entire state is feeling the effects of the current drought, and this is and has been particularly true in the High Plains aquifer region of Kansas," said Brownie Wilson, KGS water-data manager. "Given that much of the aquifer normally has extremely low rates of natural recharge, the lack of precipitation increases the pumping demands, which in turn accelerates groundwater level declines in some areas."

As part of a cooperative program with the Division of Water Resources (DWR) of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the KGS will measure 512 wells in western Kansas. The same wells are measured annually, with landowner permission, to track changes in the depth to the water table over time.

Altogether the KGS and DWR will measure 1,407 wells in 47 western and central Kansas counties. DWR staff from field offices in Stockton, Garden City, and Stafford will measure 895 wells in a regional network covering parts of western and central Kansas. Most of the wells monitored in the program have been measured annually for at least two to three decades, and some since the 1960s.
"We collect data that will help us better understand the state of the aquifer and also help people make decisions about water use," said Brett Wedel, manager of the KGS's water-level-data acquisition efforts. "The data are useful to landowners, local groundwater management districts, state and federal agencies, businesses, and private organizations."

Ninety percent of the measured wells draw water from the High Plains aquifer, a network of water-bearing formations that underlies parts of eight states and includes the extensive Ogallala aquifer, the Great Bend Prairie aquifer in west-central Kansas, and the Equus Beds aquifer north and west of the city of Wichita. The rest of the wells are drilled into deeper systems, such as the Dakota aquifer, or shallow alluvial aquifers found along creeks and rivers.

The majority of the wells are within the boundaries of one of the state's five Groundwater Management Districts (GMDs) organized by area landowners and water users.

Results from monitoring in January 2012 indicate that between January 2011 and January 2012 water levels declined, on average, throughout all of western Kansas. For the fifth consecutive year, the greatest declines were recorded in the southwest corner, the area hardest hit by persistent drought conditions.

In southwestern Kansas GMD 3, where wells are monitored mainly in the Ogallala aquifer and selected areas of the Dakota aquifer, the average water level dropped a little more than 4 feet during 2011, more than twice the average annual rate of decline between 1996 and 2011.

Much of the district's greatest decline occurred in a triangular area from Garden City to Liberal to northeast of Dodge City. GMD 3 includes all or part of Grant, Haskell, Gray, Finney, Stanton, Ford, Morton, Stevens, Seward, Hamilton, Kearny, and Meade counties.

Utah Discovery One of the Top Geothermal Events of 2012

Seeking Alpha, a financial and stock tracking website, released "Geothermal's Big 12 Events of 2012" by Herman Trabish, on December 18, 2012.  Included in the list at number 7 was the Utah Geological Survey (UGS) discovery of a major sedimentary geothermal resource in the Black Rock Desert Basin as part of the new data collected under the Department of Energy-funded AASG State Geological Survey Contributions to the National Geothermal Data System project.  UGS released this news at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Geothermal Resources Council in early October, 2012.  
Text from the article: 
"Seven: Utah Geological Survey testing discovered a new type of high-temperature energy reservoir in the Utah-Arizona-Nevada Black Rock desert basin that showed a potential equivalent to California’s Geysers, the Calpine Corp. (CPN) fields that produce a third of the world’s geothermal energy."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pennsylvania's interactive GIS map adds geologic data

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has added new state geologic information to the interactive geographic information systems map.

“Visitors to our website can now see layers of information on the map such as bedrock geology, earthquake locations and magnitude, and outstanding geologic features,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said.

“With themes chosen and plotted on the map, you can scroll over and pick specific locations to get more information about geology, our state parks and forests, and recreational opportunities available throughout Pennsylvania,” Allan said.

Other geologic information includes state park geologic guides, maximum elevations by county and glacial boundaries.

Some of the state’s outstanding geologic features include:
  • Chimney Rocks in Blair County, an outcrop of finger-like spires of limestone;
  • The boulder field at Hickory Run State Park in Carbon County; and
  • The 50-foot Alpha Falls in Lawrence County where a small stream exits from a “hanging valley” into the deeper Slippery Rock Gorge.

The map can be accessed at and already includes a variety of information about state parks and forests.

[Excerpted from the DNR news release]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Colorado Map of Potential Evaporite Dissolution and Evaporite Karst Subsidence Hazards

Large areas of Colorado are underlain by Mesozoic and/or Paleozoic evaporite deposits. The purpose of Colorado Geological Survey’s (CGS) Colorado Map of Potential Evaporite Dissolution and Evaporite Karst Subsidence Hazards is to describe the geologic conditions where near-surface evaporite rocks occur in Colorado and the general description and hazard potential of ground subsidence that can occur from rock dissolution in evaporite terrain.

This on-line publication includes a statewide map in Adobe PDF format at a plate size of 54" by 42" size (1:500,000 scale), an illustrated 28-page map discussion report in Adobe .pdf format, and GIS digital data prepared as ESRI shapefiles (.shp).

The data in this publication includes those areas of Colorado underlain by near-surface evaporite bedrock and point locations of sinkholes and subsidence features where they have been discerned.  This mapping project was funded by the CGS Critical Geologic Hazards Program. Funding for this program comes from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Severance Tax Operational Funds, from severance taxes paid on the production of natural gas, oil, coal, and metals in Colorado.

Charlie Mankin, "the type locality of state geologists"

“We use a term in geology, ‘type locality,’ which means standard of reference, and Charles was the type locality of state geologists.”  - current Oklahoma State Geologist Randy Keller, as quoted in the Norman Transcript.   [Right, Charlie testifying to Congress. Credit, C-Span]

The news story also quoted OU President (and former U.S. Senator) David Boren, “Charles Mankin’s record of service to the Oklahoma Geological Survey will never be surpassed. With half a century of leadership of the Survey, Dr. Mankin has left a lasting influence in the field of energy in our entire country.  The university family will never forget his dedication to generations of students.”

Upon his induction into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame, The Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society called Mankin an “enrichment to the state and nation.”

Charlie served as Director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey from 1967 to 2007.

Services will be 3 p.m. Monday, November 19, at First Christian Church, 220 S. Webster Ave. in Norman. Arrangements are by Havenbrook Funeral Home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Charles Nankin, former State Geologist of Oklahoma

We do not have any details yet, but  we are sorry to report that Dr. Charles Mankin, former long-serving State Geologist of Oklahoma,  quietly passed away Monday morning. 

The address for Charlie's widow, Betty, is 3631 60th Ave. NE, Norman, OK  73026

Monday, November 05, 2012

AASG all over the GSA annual meeting

The State Geologists are everywhere at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The AASG booth in the exhibit hall drew a crowd as soon as it opened on Sunday afternoon.  [Right,  NC State Geologist Ken Taylor and FL State Geologist Jon Arthur answer questions at the AASG booth]

State Geologists are in leadership roles on GSA committees and with many of the affiliated societies meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting.

TX State Geologist Scott Tinker gives the Michael T. Halbouty Distinguished Lecture on Tuesday in the Convention Center.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Record levels of tidal gages in Delaware from Hurricane Sandy

The Delaware Geological Survey has just posted on their website a summary of tidal and stream gage data, and other information recorded during Hurricane Sandy. Many of their tidal gages hit record levels. The site can be viewed at:

[Right, Hurricane Sandy approaches East Coast of US. Credit NASA]

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Alaska database of Prudhoe Bay samples

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys has released a database of "drilling procedures, sample descriptions, boring logs, borehole locations, and archive inventory for 32 near-shore marine sediment Vibracore samples" collected from West Dock Causeway, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The sediment data is in the Geologic Materials Center 407 Data Report, 23 p., released October 15, 2012.

[Excerpted from the  PTTC Tech Centers e-Central e-Alert - October 30, 2012]

New geologic map of Idaho

The Idaho Geological Survey is pleased to announce that a new Geologic Map of Idaho was released on Geologic Map Day of Earth Science Week.

NJ Survey shut down by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey particularly hard.  NJ State Geologist Karl Muessig reports that

NJ State offices are still closed.  The Survey building has no power.  Lots of downed trees & wires are hampering recovery operations.  Tomorrow they hope to officially re-open but reporting to an emergency location with power.

Governor Christie is asking President Obama to have the Army Corps of Engineers to help rebuild beaches with protective dunes, which could generate lots of debate about the geomorphic consequences of those kinds of changes.    [Right, USGS map of probabilities of coastal erosion along NJ coast from Sandy]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Maine's Bob Marvinney interviewed on M4 earthquake

Maine State Geologist Bob Marvinney describes the geologic and seismic setting for the October 16 magnitude 4.0 earthquake that struck in the Waterboro area.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Alabama's Nick Tew is president-elect of AGI

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) welcomes three new Executive Committee members: Berry H. (Nick) Tew, Jr., President-Elect; Dorian Kuper, Secretary; and Jacqueline Huntoon, Member-At-Large. The new members of the AGI Executive Committee will be installed at the Friends of AGI Reception during the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Berry H. (Nick) Tew, Jr. [right, credit, AGS] is the State Geologist of Alabama and Director of the Geological Survey of Alabama. He is a professional geologist licensed by the Alabama State Board of Licensure for Professional Geologists, and member of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for Petroleum
Geologists. Tew has served as President for the Association of American State Geologists (2008-2009) and the North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature (2008-2009). He is currently the AGI Executive Committee Secretary (2010-present).

[excerpted from the AGI announcement]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DOE award to Nevada State Geologist Jim Faulds

The U.S. Dept. of Energy Geothermal Technologies Program gave it's first award for outstanding Peer Review to Jim Faulds, Director of the Nevada Bureau of Mines & Geology.   The award was announced and presented at the Geothermal Resources Council annual meeting in Reno last week.

Jim is Principal Investigator of the project, Characterizing Structural Controls of EGS-Candidate and Conventional Geothermal Reservoirs in the Great Basin: Developing Successful Exploration Strategies in Extended Terranes.

The award recognizes Jim for receiving the highest rating given by external peer reviewers to 130 DOE funded projects at the annual reviews.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

William "Bill" Hambleton, 1921-2012, former State Geologist of Kansas

William “Bill” Hambleton passed away on Oct. 4 in Lawrence, Kansas.  He was 91.  A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence.  Bill was state geologist of Kansas and director of the Kansas Geological Survey from 1970 to 1986.  He was an important influence on many of the staff at today’s Kansas Geological Survey, and contributed greatly to the Survey, the University of Kansas, and the state of Kansas.  His obituary is on-line at