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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

USGS Director Marcia McNutt's Statement on the Importance of State Geological Surveys

The following written statement by USGS Director Marcia McNutt was released on November 22, 2011:

For more than 130 years, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been working in partnership
with State Geological Surveys to provide science information that is vitally important to the U.S.
economy, the safety and health of American citizens, and the sustainability and security of their
natural resources. The USGS fully recognizes and supports the need for State geological surveys
to help meet the growing challenges society faces in its interface with the natural world on a
planet undergoing modification from both natural and man-made causes.

The USGS cannot fully implement our mission without the State geological surveys. Over our
long and productive history of partnership, we have established successful ways of working
together to mutually support our citizenry and reinforce the best features of both Federal- and
State-based government, without overlap or duplication. For example, the USGS, with input
from States, provides national standards, benchmarks, and datums, such that individual State
products can be linked at the State boundaries. However, without the contributions of the States,
national maps, data bases, models, and resource assessments would be sparsely populated. This
symbiotic relationship allows the State surveys the latitude to determine which data sets are most important to their constituencies, while knowing that those data sets can be linked within a
regional context, and that the scientific standards are authoritative.

Partnerships such as this are even more important as resources at the Federal and State level
continue to decline. State geological surveys maintain a network of applied geoscience activities
throughout the country independent of the distribution of the Federal workforce. By continuing
to leverage our resources, information and knowledge, we will help the Nation and States
address future economic, sociological, environmental and resource challenges now and for
generations to come.

Marcia McNutt

Monday, November 21, 2011

Geologic sources of natural acid rock drainage in Colorado

Is high, pristine mountain water always clean and pure? Can streams unaffected by human activities and livestock influences be unfit for human consumption, or fish? A new study by the Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) has some surprising answers. The study examines specific areas in Colorado that have naturally poor, surface-water quality due to the area’s geology.
The report, titled “Natural Acid Rock Drainage Associated with Hydrothermally Altered Terrane in Colorado,” identifies a number of streams in eleven different headwater areas of Colorado where surface water is acidic and has high concentrations of metals upstream of any significant human impacts. [Right, this stream, in the East Mancos River headwaters in the La Plata Mountains of southwest Colorado, is naturally acidic with high concentrations of metals simply because of the surrounding geology. Credit, Colorado Geological Survey]

Rocks in these areas were altered by intensely hot water circulating in the earth’s crust, often associated with volcanic activity during Colorado’s geologic past. The “hydrothermal alteration” of the rocks changed their composition by dissolving some minerals and depositing others. In the affected areas, the hydrothermal-alteration process deposited metal-sulfide minerals, commonly pyrite (fool’s gold), in the rocks.

When these rocks are exposed at the surface, they interact with oxygen and the iron sulfide "rusts" to form iron oxide minerals, creating striking yellow, orange, and red colors – similar to the oxidation of metal in an old rusty car. “Acid rock drainage” occurs when the sulfur that is displaced by the oxygen combines with water to form weak sulfuric acid. The acidic water then dissolves minerals from the bedrock, often adding significant amounts of dissolved metals to these headwater streams. Natural acid rock drainage has been active in Colorado for thousands, possibly millions of years.

The CGS collected 101 water samples from headwater areas and identified specific streams in the following areas as being affected by natural acid rock drainage: Silverton area, Lake City area, Platoro-Summitville area, Kite Lake area and East Trout Creek in the San Juan Mountains, the La Plata Mountains, Rico Mountains, headwaters of Lake Creek south of Independence Pass, the Ruby Range near Crested Butte, Red Amphitheatre near Alma, headwaters of the Snake River in eastern Summit County, and the Rabbit Ears Range.

Colorado headwater areas where geology generates natural acid rock drainage, causing poor water quality. For better viewings options for this map, visit

Through detailed geologic mapping, the study characterized the type and intensity of hydrothermal alteration and correlated the geology with surface-water chemistry. Many of the areas exhibiting intense hydrothermal alteration also contain historic mine sites. Frequently, Linkacid rock drainage from natural sources and mine sites combine to cause severe downstream water quality problems. In these situations it is important to distinguish the natural, or background, water quality so that realistic clean-up goals for water quality can be set.
Funding for this study came from the Colorado Geological Survey portion of the Department of Natural Resources Severance Tax Operational Account. Colorado severance taxes are derived from the production of gas, oil, coal, and metallic minerals.

To order the Natural Acid Rock Drainage: Associated with Hydrothermally Altered Terrane in Colorado please call 303-866-2611 Option 0, or visit our online book store at and search for NARD. Price is $30.00 plus shipping.

[This post is taken from the announcement by the CGS]

Friday, November 11, 2011

Search reopened for director of New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources

The search is being re-opened for the position of Director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. Closing date for applications is March 1, 2012, according to Greer Price, Interim Director.

Vacancy Announcement
Director / State Geologist

Search for:

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is seeking a new director and state geologist. The director must develop and articulate a forward-thinking vision of bureau programs in applied research and service and embrace a collegial leadership style. The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is a research and service division of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech). Situated in Socorro, New Mexico, on the campus of New Mexico Tech, the bureau has served as the state geological survey for 85 years. With close to 60 employees, the organization has a long-standing reputation for excellence in research, service, and outreach. Our mission includes basic research on the geologic framework of the state, with an emphasis on applied geosciences and the state’s geologic resources. We are also tasked with the gathering, preservation, and dissemination of geologic information to the professional geoscience community, state and federal agencies, and the general public. As a division of the university, the bureau works in collaboration with the academic and other divisions of the university. The position reports directly to the president of the university.

Anticipated appointment date: By Fall 2012.

Salary: Negotiable.

Sustain and enhance the environment for creative research and service at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology in order to meet the mission of the bureau and the needs of the state of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, and the geoscience community in New Mexico. Provide administrative and scientific leadership in natural resource (energy, water, and minerals) and environmental issues; geosciences data collection and analysis; basic and applied research in the geosciences; and public access to, dissemination of, and archival collection of research results and natural resource data using current and innovative technologies.
Oversee the administrative, personnel, and financial affairs of the bureau. This includes direct supervision of a significant portion of the professional staff, and being proactive in seeking additional non-bureau or external funding to support both new and ongoing programs of the bureau.
Establish policies that maintain a balance between the broad goals of research and service, while working with state government and university leadership to address the diverse funding needs of the bureau. This includes interacting with staff in the development and review of programs and personnel to insure that the bureau fulfills its broad goals. Both planning and implementation must be responsive to the needs of the state of New Mexico and sensitive to the state’s public policy issues.
Foster collaborations and positive working relationships with academic departments and divisions of the university, the state legislature, local government, state and federal agencies, the private sector, and the public. Provide leadership and advice for other government bodies regarding resource and environmental policy, and the economic development and management of natural resources.
Promote and maintain a positive public image for the bureau in both state and national discussions regarding natural resource and earth science issues.
Maintain an awareness of new and important developments in geosciences research and relevant technologies to anticipate the directions of geosciences research and applications, integrating this knowledge with an understanding of the specific needs of the state and incorporating it into long-term planning.
As State Geologist, the director or an allowed designee serves on various state advisory boards.
Maintain avenues for outreach through programs that are targeted at a non-technical audience, including the general public and K-12 educators.
Communicate regularly with bureau staff about budgetary, scientific, and professional issues, including their impact on strategic planning, and maintain an open communication with bureau managers.


Doctorate and at least ten years of professional experience in the geosciences.
A minimum of five years of administrative experience, which must include budgeting, supervision, personnel evaluation, and program development.
National recognition in a field of geosciences research, as demonstrated by a record of refereed publications, professional service, and scientific leadership.
Ability to work within a university setting with a wide constituency, including division staff, academic faculty, administration, the public, government officials, and the private sector.
A successful record of obtaining external financial support for research programs through a competitive and merit-based process.
Demonstrated excellence in oral and written communication to both scientific and public audiences.


A notable diversity of both background and experience.
Service on state, national, and/or international committees and professional associations.
Knowledge of geology of New Mexico and/or the American Southwest, including an understanding of regional natural resource issues and how they relate to economic development.
Experience interacting with state and federal agencies and funding institutions.
Ability and experience dealing effectively with public policy issues in a way that demonstrates a balanced approach toward industry and environmental concerns.
Experience with outreach programs that are specifically targeted at communicating technical geosciences data to the public at large.

To Apply:

Applicants should submit a resume with supporting materials (including three letters of recommendation and a signed cover application) to: Human Resources, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801 (no e-mail applications).

For full consideration, application materials must be received by March 1, 2012.

For more information about the application process, please contact:
JoAnn Salome in Human Resources at 575-835-5955 (

For more information about the position itself, please contact:
L. Greer Price, Search Committee Chair, at 575-835-5752 (

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Paul Sims (1918-2011) former Director of the Minnesota Geological Survey

We have learned that Paul K. Sims, USGS Scientist, and from 1961 to 1973, the Director of the Minnesota Geological Survey, passed away October 29 due to a stroke. Minnesota State Geologist Harvey Thorleifson notes that Paul is remembered there with great respect, for among other things, has immense contributions he made to the progress of this Minnesota Geological Survey and to the understanding of Minnesota geology. [right, photo credit Colorado Scientific Society]

The following is from the Colorado Scientific Society, where Paul served as President in 1957:

Illinois Geological Survey, 1943-1944. University of Minnesota, Professor and Director of Minnesota Geological Survey, 1961-1973. U.S. Geological Survey, 1946-1961, 1973- . Worked particularly on the Precambrian of the Colorado Front Range, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and on ore deposits, as iron in New Jersey, lead-zinc in the Metalline district of Washington, and gold in the Archean of South Pass area of Wyoming

Educated at University of Illinois and Princeton University

Meritorious Service Award, U.S. Department of Interior, 1985. Goldich Medal of Institute of Lake Superior Geology

Member, Society of Economic Geologists (President 1976). Fellow, Geological Society of America

Saturday, October 15, 2011

David Wunsch appointed Delaware State Geologist

Dr. David Wunsch has been appointed State Geologist and Director of the Delaware Geological Survey, effective November 1.

David is currently Director of Science & Technology at the National Ground Water Association and previously served as State Geologist of New Hampshire. He also worked at the Kentucky Geological Survey and was a Congressional Fellow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Michigan Geological Survey finds new home at Western Michigan University

State legislation signed Oct. 11 by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder transfers the Michigan Geological Survey from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to Western Michigan University. It will become part of the University's Department of Geosciences, which already is home to the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education. [right, Michian Basin. Credit, WMU]

The transfer has been under discussion since 2009. The transfer of data and collections already is taking place and will likely be completed within a year. The transfer legislation calls for the regulatory role of the survey to remain with the DEQ, while the state gains essential geological information and the expertise needed to:
  • develop oil and gas supplies
  • protect groundwater resources
  • identify geological hazards
  • provide educational opportunities for students and the general public
Dr. Alan Kehew, a professor of geosciences and an expert on glacial geology of Michigan, has been appointed as the director of the Survey.

[taken in part from the WMU news release]

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Michigan Geological Survey law passed

The Michigan Legislature has passed a bill transferring a variety of duties from the Office of Geological Survey in the Dept. of Environment Quality, to a new Michigan Geological Survey based at Western Michigan University. The OGS would be constituted as the Office of Oil, Gas, and Mining.

This is widely viewed as a positive step for the geologic profession in Michigan. The OGS is heavily dominated by their regulatory duties and has limited ability to carry out traditional geological survey activities.

The Governor of Michigan is expected to sign the bill this week.

USGS Director lays out critical need for State Geological Surveys

Marcia McNutt, Director of the USGS, told the AASG mid-year meeting attendees that the USGS needs to weigh in on the unprecedented challenges facing state geological surveys. She specifically called out the threats to shut down the Louisiana Geological Survey, saying if there was any state that has the needs for dynamic geological survey, it's Louisiana. AASG is meeting at the GSA annual meeting in Minneapolis.

Marcia said she and her senior management team is working on a strong public statement about the role and and importance of State Geological Surveys.

Monday, October 10, 2011

State Geologists honored at GSA

Three State Geologists were inducted as Fellows of the Geological Society of America last night at the annual meeting in Minneapolis - Vicki McConnell of Oregon, John Steinmetz of Indiana [left], and Harvey Thorleifson of Minnesota [right], who is also General Chair of the meeting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Charles Gardner, 1937-2011, former State Geologist of North Carolina

We are sorry to report that Charles Gardner, State Geologist of North Carolina from 1990-2002, died on September 22, after a very short illness with metastic melanoma.

Charles was also Head of the Division of Land Resources for the state. His obituary reports that upon his retirement in 2002 Charles was awarded the “Order Of the Long-Leaf Pine”, by the Governor.
Charles also served as President of the American Association of State Geologists and of the American Association of State Dam Safety Officials.

Charles wanted said of him: “He stood in awe of the beauty of nature”

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Earth abides - we need Geological Surveys

Geological Surveys across the nation are in fiscal distress or peril. An op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer makes the case for restoring state funding to the Ohio Geological Survey, by describing the economic benefits the Survey provides back to society.

An economic analysis conducted on the Survey on 2010 data shows that "the products, services and data provided by the Survey contribute an estimated $575 million to the Ohio economy -- in the recession and before the shale frenzy had gripped the state."

The case made for Ohio, is readily applicable to every other geological survey in the nation.

In response to the Ohio op-ed, well known blogger/writer Andrew Alden ( observed that "Businesses and their jobs come and go, but Earth abides, and we need agencies with the state's minerals, lands and waters on their agenda."

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Vermont Geological Survey building out of commission for months from flooding

The Vermont Geological Survey is housed in the Waterbury State Office Complex that was washed out last week by Hurricane Irene flooding.

Vermont State Geologist Larry Becker shared this update with us this morning:

Thanks for thinking of us at the Vermont Geological Survey.

For now we will be working from our homes at least with e-mail and then when our work computers are loaded with software to reach shared drives and software. When the shared drive access works we will have connections to our geologic information. We are out of our building for several months and probably more with occasional access through security to retrieve stuff. 2000 people in the Waterbury State Office Complex are in the same boat.

Email just became available this morning so thanks to everyone making contact. It a testament to the care and support that is the hallmark of our organization [AASG].

Everyone is safe and I was able to drive out to this morning to the main road and found a way to work yesterday.

We have a house sized building that is for the survey but inundated in the basement and also about a foot of water on the first floor. Upstairs is fine so we have moved computers and papers that can be salvaged up there. Some furniture can be saved but everything else will be trashed and moved out to dry out the building.

One good thing is that we are near the end of a geothermal related scanning project so all the key geo reports maps etc are out of the office and now in digital. Our situation shows the importance of going digital!

The state complex in Waterbury is closed for two weeks to a month with no power. The 500 people in the agency we are in will be working from home or temp offices so some of the ancillary services that support us such as access to GIS software will have to wait until servers can be reached from new locations.

A big issue for us is that we lost our plotter in the basement. Insurance will cover it but in the short term I have asked for extensions on grant deliverable dates until we work out access to a plotter over a network.

Thank you for offers of support. I think we are ok for now but I will keep you informed. Our administration is doing the best to get us up and running and I am fully at the table with other divisions during the response.

[the video below is from Vermont tv station WCAX]

Friday, September 02, 2011

Geologic mapping milestone celebration in Kentucky

Celebration of the completion of the 30 by 60 minute geologic map series for Kentucky, is scheduled for December 1, 2011.

The Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky is celebrating a major achievement in the mapping of Kentucky’s geology. KGS has published all 26 maps in the 30 by 60 minute geologic map series and made 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. These maps are a tremendous contribution to society. The information provided by them assists enormously in the production of resources, protection of groundwater and the environment, stability of foundations and infrastructure, and avoidance of hazards. Because the maps are available on the Web, they are accessible to the public at no cost, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hardcopy versions of the maps can be printed on demand.

These maps are a product of the Kentucky Geological Survey and the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The contribution of this USGS program to the completion of these maps is significant. Also significant was another geologic mapping partnership between the Kentucky Geological Survey–U.S. Geological Survey from 1960 to 1980 that produced the original geologic maps that laid the framework for this series. The new map series is a testament to the work that can be accomplished through federal-state-university partnerships.

The celebration is being held on December 1, 2011. A super-size geologic map of Kentucky, 10 feet high by 23 feet wide, will be unveiled at a special ceremony and news conference at 11:00 a.m. in the foyer of the Mining and Mineral Resources Building at the University of Kentucky. A symposium on geologic mapping, Celebrating Geologic Mapping for Science and Society, will be held at the University of Kentucky Hillary J. Boone Center from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Participants will include experts from the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, state geological surveys, industry, and academic institutions. For more information, please go to, or contact Mike Lynch at or (859) 323-0561.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Preliminary damage report of Trinidad, Colorado M5.3 earthquake

The Colorado Geological Survey posted a preliminary damage report on last week's M5.3 earthquake near the town of Trinidad:

At 11:46 PM MDT on August 22, 2011, a Mw 5.3 earthquake was recorded by U.S. Geological Survey seismometers and located the epicenter approximately 9 miles (+/- 7.8 miles) WSW of Trinidad, Colorado. Early reports by local news media indicated that significant damage to buildings had occurred in the towns of Segundo and Valdez, 15 miles west of Trinidad on Colorado State Highway 12. Prior to the Mw 5.3 event, three smaller events were also recorded in the same vicinity, the largest being an Mw 4.6 event at 5:30 PM MDT.

On the morning of August 23rd, the Colorado Geological Survey dispatched geologists to the area to document the damage related to the largest earthquake in Colorado within the last 44 years. Locations with observed structural damage included (from most severe to least): Segundo, Valdez, Cokedale, and Trinidad.
[right, the front of this brick building in Segundo Colorado collapsed, sending debris onto State Highway 12. Note the crushed mailbox. Figure 8 in the report.]

Vermont Geological Survey flood damage from Hurricane Irene

Vermont has been particularly hard-hit with unprecedented flooding caused by the torrential rains associated with Hurricane Irene. The village of Waterbury, home of the Vermont Geological Survey, has been flooded out by the Winooski River. We hear from our colleagues in New England that the VGS staff and their families are all well and most have had power restored to their homes. However, the building that houses the VGS has suffered flood damage, although the full extent of that damage is not known at this time. Staff have been unable to survey the situation due to roads being washed out. [right, Vermont rivers and lakes. Credit,]

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prehistoric Life of North Dakota Coloring & Activity Book

A prehistoric life of North Dakota coloring and activity book has recently been published and is now available as Educational Series 32. The cover art and illustrations in the book where done by Becky Gould, Survey paleontologist, and John Hoganson, State Paleontologist, provided the text. The book is arranged in chronological order beginning with marine Paleozoic fossils found in oil well cores and ending with illustrations of animals that lived in North Dakota during the last Ice Age.

The book follows the story line of the Corridor of Time fossil exhibit in the North Dakota Heritage Center and will be consistent with the fossil exhibits planned for the new Geologic Time Exhibit Gallery being constructed as part of the Heritage Center expansion.

Price is $2 from the North Dakota Geological Survey

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reprieve for Louisiana Geological Survey

Louisiana State Geologist Chacko John passed along the good news that at least for the time being, the Survey will not take the major budget cuts that threatened them. Less drastic cuts may be forthcoming mid-fiscal year, but worries that the Survey would be completely phased out are somewhat lessened.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rick Chormann named State Geologist of New Hampshire

We're a little late in announcing that Frederick "Rick" Chormann was appointed State Geologist and Director of the New Hampshire Geological Survey. Rick had been Acting State Geologist following the resignation of David Wunsch, who went to the National Ground Water Association.

Source of Virginia's M5.9 quake

The Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources issued this statement on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that occurred today, shaking large areas of the Eastern U.S.:

Virginia experienced a widely-felt earthquake at 1:51 p.m. eastern daylight time on Tuesday, August 23, 2011. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was located near Mineral, in Louisa County. With a preliminary magnitude of 5.9, this is the
largest Virginia earthquake in historic times. A few small aftershocks have been reported.

The epicenter falls within the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, a cluster of dozens of earthquakes that have occurred within the past 120 years, centered about halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville. Several known faults are present in the area: the Chopawamsic Fault, the Lakeside Fault, and the Spotsylvania Fault. These are old faults, related to plate tectonic events that closed and then reopened the Atlantic Ocean about 150 million years ago. Even though these faults are quite old and considered to be inactive, occasional earthquakes continue to occur.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Foreign invesment in U.S. natural resources

Colorado State Geologist Vince Matthews is quoted extensively in a feature article in High Country News about foreign investment in western U.S. extractive resources (the article requires paid subscription):

Lately, Matthews has been traveling around the state telling chambers of commerce, groups of geologists, community leaders and just about anyone else who will listen that he's worried.

Sitting in his downtown Denver office, wearing a suit and tie that would look at home on a Houston oil executive, Matthews says that China and India, with their huge populations and economies growing at rates not seen since the Industrial Revolution, are ravenous for natural resources. Handing me graphs and charts to prove it, he says that their hunger is already washing across the West, driving up the pressure to develop natural resources. He talks about a Chinese businesswoman he knows in Denver, who frequently asks him how her relatives and clients can get hold of a Colorado mine or mineral deposit. And he reminisces about a visit to the Los Angeles port at Long Beach, where he saw ship after ship loaded down with scrap metal, headed for China.

Even when these countries aren't directly investing in or buying U.S. resources, their appetite for them around the globe is raising prices and spurring new development here in the West, Matthews says.

[Right, map of foreign investments in extractive resources. Map by the Rural West Initiative, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University. Credits: Rio Akasaka and Geoff McGhee]

Monday, August 01, 2011

What? No Geological Survey in Louisiana?

The planned shutdown of the Louisiana Geological Survey over the next three years and conversion of the operation into an contract mill, is drawing incredulity and derision from the petroleum industry. An article in the August issue of AAPG Explorer notes that if Louisiana follows through on its plans, the state will be the only one in the continental U.S. without a state geological survey.

The article notes that the Survey has been a driving force for the independent oil and gas industry, which they call the 'backbone' of Louisiana's success in oil and gas exploration.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Colorado State Geologist warns of natural resource depletion

Colorado State Geologist Vince Matthews[right, credit CGS] warns that “We’re depleting natural resources all over the world," and are increasingly at risk of shortages of energy and minerals. Vince spoke at the recent 3-D Seismic Symposium in Denver and his talk is reported in the June issue of AAPG Explorer magazine (p12).

He's quoted as saying "a total of 50 percent of all copper mined and 50 percent of all oil consumed has taken place since 1985." In addition, international companies, many nationally owned, are buying up U.S. reserves of energy and minerals which may mean that we wake up one day and discover we don't own them any more.

Colorado looks to Raton Basin for geothermal electricity

Paul Morgan, with the Colorado Geological Survey says that if sedimentary basin geothermal energy can be developed in the Raton basin, it can be done in many other basins and "a lot of the uncertainty of geothermal can be removed."

Paul is interviewed in the June issue of the AAPG Explorer magazine on geothermal energy. [right, Colorado heat flow map. Credit, CGS]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Opening for Wyoming State Geologist

Applications for the Wyoming State Geologist are being invited:

The State of Wyoming is seeking applicants for the cabinet level position of State Geologist/Director of the Wyoming State Geological Survey, located in Laramie, Wyoming. The State Geologist is the chief administrator of the Wyoming Geological Survey, as well as a member of various boards, commissions and groups in Wyoming. Résumés accepted through September 15th, 2011.

For further details and a full job description, contact Colin McKee, Wyoming Governor’s office:

Phone: 307-777-7434 or


An EEO/ADA employer

Thursday, July 21, 2011

3D geologic mapping by geological surveys

The Illinois State Geological Survey and British Geological jointly published a compilation of articles on 3D geologic mapping and modeling being done in geological surveys worldwide. [right, Lake County, Illinois, showing data, cross sections, surficial and 3D geology]

Ref: Synopsis of Current Three-dimensional Geological Mapping and Modeling in Geological Survey Organizations
, ISGS Circular 578, 2011, 92p.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NY Survey deals with largest landslide in state history

A landslide taking place since May, 2011 is now considered to be the largest recorded landslide in New York State [right, progression of landslide, May 10-31, 2011]. Over 82 acres of earth are moving, albeit slowly, but steadily. Unlike the movie version of landslides in which rocks and boulders and fast-moving earth quickly destroy everything in its path, most true landslides are slow-moving. Early measurements taken the U.S. Geological Survey indicate the hillside moving downward at the rate of about 1 millimeter an hour along a mile-long fault. This is considerable when you take into account that the foundation of several homes located along the site are being moved as well.

However, in recent weeks, some parts of the slide have actually accelerated. Over a three-day period in June, a shift of 150 feet downhill was recorded. Dry weather should help slow the slide as water is removed from the soil, but rain and snow from upcoming seasons can continue to destabilized the area.

In the News:
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[reprinted from the NY State Geological Survey website]

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Arkansas earthquake story on NPR

Arkansas Geological Survey's Scott Ausbrooks is one of the experts interviewed in a 13-minute special segment on National Public Radio yesterday. The segment is titled, "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's Earthquake Ballad." The producers" shared the community's voices with musician Will Oldham, aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy, who contributed an original song, "Mother Nature Kneels," based on their stories." You can listen to the audio or read the transcript online.

[right, recent earthquakes in Arkansas. Credit, Arkansas Geological Survey]

Thursday, July 07, 2011

North Carolina solution to landslides - kill the landslide mapping program

North Carolina and Tennessee have spent $20 million in the last 6 months to repair damage to major roads from landslides, rockfalls, and mudslides. So what is North Carolina's response? The Legislature voted to eliminate the landslide mapping program at the North Carolina Geological Survey, nominally as a budget saving effort.

However, news reports describe opposition to the landslide mapping program home builders, real estate interests, and local and state officials, who fear that disclosure of landslide risk will discourage buyers, especially those from out of state. [right, demolished remains of a residence at the location of a fatal debris flow on Dec. 11, 2003 near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Much of the demolition took place during the effort to rescue the victim buried in the back of the house. The embankment failure that originated in the scarp in the background mobilized into a debris flow. Credit, NCGS]

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Interim Director of New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources

L. Greer Price will be the interim director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources until a replacement is hired for retiring State Geologist Peter Scholle. Peter will stay on as an Emeritus member of the Bureau and New Mexico Tech, and will continue to be active in AASG. [that's Greer on the left]

Friday, July 01, 2011

Profile of retiring Delaware State Geologist John Talley

Delaware State Geologist John Talley [right. Credit, UDel] has just retired and the University of Delaware published a nice review of his career and accomplishments.

“John’s leadership and his incredible record of making connections with state and local governments, nonprofits, and other groups have made a lasting impact on DGS and its mission,” said Nancy Targett, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the administrative home of DGS.

DGS Senior Scientist Peter McLaughlin will serve as interim director until a replacement is hired.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New AASG officers elected at annual meeting

The following were elected as officers of AASG at the annual meeting in Dubuque, Iowa on June 15, 2011. [right, incoming AASG President Vicki McConnell acknowledges the contributions of outgoing president Jim Cobb, at the AASG Annual Meeting]

AASG Executive Committee

President Vicki McConnell (OR)
President-elect Harvey Thorleifson (MN)
Past President Jim Cobb (KY)
Vice President Bob Swenson (AK)
Secretary Joe Gillman (MO)
Treasurer Jon Arthur (FL)
Honorary Members Rep. Don Hoskins (Honorary, PA)

Other Elected Positions
Statistician Rick Allis (UT)
Historian Michael Bograd (MS)
Editor Mike Hohn (WV)
Associates Representative Jerry Weisenfluh (KY)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interim Director and State Geologist appointed in Delaware

Peter P. McLaughlin, Ph.D, PG, has been appointed to serve as Interim Director and State Geologist of the Delaware Geological Survey effective July 1, 2011. Pete has been a Senior Scientist at the DGS since 1999. He was previously employed as a Senior Exploration Geologist with Exxon Exploration Company.

Orndorff, Siok, honored by AASG

Randy Orndorff and Bill Siok were honored at the AASG Annual Meeting in Dubuque Iowa for their contributions that support state geological surveys and AASG.

Randy [top right, photo by Bob Marvinney] served as head of the USGS STATEMAP program in the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program for most of the past decade and was applauded for his leadership, collaboration, and vision in managing this flagship cooperative project.

Bill [bottom right, photo by Bob Marvinney] is Executive Director of the American Institute of Professional Geologists and was lauded for the AIPG authored white paper on the role and value of state geological surveys. The white paper is being used by many state surveys to help explain their contributions to stakeholders and decision-makers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wrap-up of the 103rd AASG Annual Meeting

We just finished our 103rd AASG Annual Meeting hosted by Bob Libra and the Iowa Geological Survey. Incoming AASG President Vicki McConnell (OR) [right, with USGS Associate Director Kevin Gallagher, on the Mississippi River] offered a brief assessment of the meeting:

AASG President Jim Cobb (KY) had set the theme for the meeting Importance and Future Roles of State Geological Surveys. We explored how a variety of surveys are structured and what has and has not worked for successful placement within universities, natural resource or other commissions, and state agencies. We also reviewed how we are communicating our information and our we might improve our impact to our stakeholders and our bosses be they Governors, advisory boards, Commissioners, or Chancellors.

We were updated on ongoing and emerging issues that affect some or all SGS: conventional and unconventional energy exploration and extraction, geothermal resources and data, geological hazards, strategic minerals, and topographic mapping to name a few. We heard briefings from several representatives of mission areas in the USGS as they develop their 10 year strategic plans and we will have opportunities to comment on their drafts.

Here are a few actions and additional information that came from the meeting:

· Bill Kelly (retired, NY) has volunteered to begin compiling a Surveys labs and services database. This information will be posted on the AASG website for Surveys to consider when contracting for services. An ongoing example is that Kentucky GS contracts with the Illinois GS for use of their drilling rig.

· The Associates have offered to compile a database of funded and active projects across State Geological Surveys. This could be a primer to review when surveys are exploring broadening their funding base.

· The AASG Environment Committee, Energy Committee, Minerals Committee, Hazards Committee, and Water Committee will review the relevant subject areas in the USGS draft Strategic Plans and submit recommendations to the AASG Executive Committee to compile for submission to the USGS.

· The Ohio Geologic Survey recently commissioned an economic analysis of their activities and products. State Geologist Mac Swinford has agreed to share the final document with AASG for general reference and possibly as a template for other states to consider.