Indiana University Research & Creative Activity January 1998 Volume XX Number 3


Indiana Geological Survey:
Serving the Citizens

In the year 1837, the legislature established the post of geologist for the state of Indiana and allotted funds for a survey of the state's geological resources. The first geologist, David Dale Owen, had a clear sense of what was needed. In his 1838 report, he stated, "I have considered it my duty, while surveying a country as new as ours . . . to search out the hidden resources of the State, and open new fields of enterprise to her citizens."

His successors, who now lead the Indiana Geological Survey, have carried on Owen's practical research, though the focus has changed. In the Industrial Age that followed the Civil War, the Geological Survey helped citizens exploit geologic resources for industry. Current efforts focus on stewardship of the state's energy, mineral, and groundwater resources, ensuring safe drinking water and clean air, and mitigating the risk of geologic hazards for the citizens of Indiana. The Geological Survey's association with Indiana University began in 1919, when William M. Logan, a member of the IU faculty, was appointed to head the state's Division of Geology. This appointment effectively brought the Survey's headquarters to the Bloomington campus and brought about an ongoing alliance with the university's Department of Geology. In 1993, the Geological Survey was formally transferred from the state Department of Natural Resources administration to IUB as an institute under the Office of Research and the University Graduate School. Survey

Norman Hester is a professor of geological sciences at IUB, state geologist, and the current director of the Survey. "The purpose of the Survey is to provide service to citizens," Hester explains. "We serve our state in three areas: information, education, and applied research." The Geological Survey's cartography and map service is probably the best-known aspect of its information service, offering base maps of the state and of each county and countless specialized maps and atlases detailing geologic structures and mineral resources. The Survey has many other information services, including accurate and easily accessible files on petroleum wells and coal mines throughout the state and a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite System), which is available without cost to assist government agencies and academic units in marking exact geographic locations.

In the area of education, the Geological Survey provides a variety of workshops and field trips for professional geologists, earth science teachers, and the general public. The Survey shares a building with IUB's Department of Geological Sciences, and the many mineralogical displays there are of particular interest to school classes and other youth groups. The Survey provides guided tours of the building and makes available to educators, at no cost, a set of Indiana minerals and a corresponding map, chart, and time graph. In addition to specialized publications, the Survey offers popular pub-lications and posters of interest to the amateur fossil and mineral collector and maintains a World Wide Web site (http://www.indiana.edu/~igs) with information about the Survey and Indiana geology.

The third, and perhaps the most important aspect of service by the Geological Survey, is applied research. "In recent years," Hester says, "we've directed a lot of our effort into environmental studies. With a growing population and expanding industry, the state has concerns about groundwater protection and air-quality standards. We have scientists on staff identifying low-sulfur coal, and others are investigating the best limestone for flue gas scrubbing to remove sulfur dioxide generated by burning coal" (see page 9). Another concern of the Survey is the quality of aquifers in northwestern Indiana. An ongoing project evaluates major and trace elements in groundwater wells in LaPorte, Porter, and Lake counties, along the Lake Michigan rim.

The Geological Survey participates in other, more traditional, applied research in collaboration with industry or other government agencies. These partnerships bring in about $1.5 million annually. "The partnerships," Hester explains, "are vital to us. In conditions of budgetary constraint, they make possible virtually all our field work." Funding comes not only from industries dealing with resource exploitation, such as utilities or mining companies, but also from government agencies as diverse as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Evansville Building Commission for earthquake hazard research, and from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency programs for groundwater protection that are administered by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Another aspect of collaboration is the Geological Survey's alliance with Indiana University. "We at the Survey can draw on the skills of faculty in the Department of Geological Sciences," Hester says. "Often they have specializations that our own staff doesn't have." Both parties benefit from the superb library, jointly maintained by the Survey and the department. Scientists at the Survey sometimes teach courses in their specialties for the department, thus enriching the university curriculum. The university gains in another way as well: the Survey frequently hires graduate students in the Department of Geological Sciences as part-time research assistants or technicians. The students thus gain both employment and hands-on experience.

For the future, the Geological Survey is likely to continue its mix of information, education, and research in an effort to meet the needs of the private and public sectors of the state. Applied research on the composition and exploitation of mineral resources will exist along with the issue-driven research that protects citizens from natural and man-made hazards.--William Rozycki





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