ISGS - December 2007 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Home Page of the Illinois State Geological Survey
Geologist Scott Elrick points to part of the fossil forest.
Fossil Forest Story Named One of Top Science Stories of 2007
ISGS geologists received another bit of publicity from their fossil forest discovery near Danville, Illinois. Discover Magazine honored this discovery by including them in the "Top 100 Science Stories of 2007" in the January 2008 issue. A small summary article and interview with Scott Elrick are contained in the magazine article. (Contact: S. Elrick)
Staff Member Completes Term as Chair of Professional Association
Beverly Herzog completed her two-year term as Chair of the Association of Ground Water Scientists and Engineers (AGWSE) and Vice President of the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) at the Ground Water Expo in Orlando, Florida, on December 6, 2007. NGWA has more than 14,000 members, most from North America, and AGWSE is its largest division, with more than 9,000 members. In addition to the AGWSE and NGWA boards, Herzog served on the board of the National Ground Water Research and Education Foundation and more than fifteen committees or work groups, several of which she chaired.
Bev Herzog, left, and Vicki Kretsinger hold the NGWA award.
In presenting Herzog with a plaque from NGWA "in appreciation for your devoted leadership," Past Chairman Vicki Kretsinger noted, "It has been a pleasure to serve with Bev on the various NGWA/AGWSE Boards. She has always had an abundance of energy, accomplished things quickly and efficiently; she has always been thoughtful and made it known to NGWA staff and others that their efforts and contributions were very much appreciated. Most of all, I appreciate Bev's down-to-earth approach and her 'let's get to the punch line' attitude. Bev has helped boost NGWA's image with policy makers, especially as related to NGWA's interest in ground water sustainability. A number of years ago, Bev helped design a survey that was submitted to the states, especially the state geologists, on the subject of current and future understanding of groundwater resources availability and monitoring needs. These results were then brought to congressional staff members and initially presented as information without an 'ask' for federal funds. Bev has been instrumental in the step-by-step approaches taken to build relationships that are leading to more specific requests for financial support to accomplish nationwide monitoring and groundwater resources evaluation goals. We have continued to persuade congressional staff members of the importance of groundwater... The AGWSE Board greatly appreciates her tireless efforts and continued contributions as a Board member, then Secretary, and Chair." (Contact: B. Herzog)
Carrier Mills Quadrangle, bedrock geology.
Banner Month for ISGS Map Production
Ten maps were published in the Illinois Geologic Quadrangle Series this month, including geologic maps for the Bandana and Karnak Quadrangles and bedrock geology maps for the Carrier Mills, Crab Orchard, Crab Orchard Lake, Herrin, Johnston City, Marion, Mt. Pleasant, and Pittsburgh Quadrangles. These quadrangles are in southern Illinois, primarily in Williamson, Massac, and Franklin Counties. More than seventy maps are currently in production. (Contact: J. Domier)Chemical and Isotopic Database for McHenry County Study on Groundwater Quality and Land Use Completed
This investigation was conducted to evaluate the effect of changing land use on groundwater quality. McHenry County possesses unique features for such a comparison. During the last few decades, McHenry County has been the fastest growing population in Illinois. Originally an agriculturally based county, many areas have transitioned into urban environments with fast-growing housing demands; however, croplands still dominant the rural areas. The majority of water resources in the county comes from shallow sand and gravel aquifers, which are vulnerable to surface-borne contamination. For the study, approximately 38,000 groundwater quality records from McHenry County were retrieved from the Illinois State Water Survey and the McHenry County Health Department. GIS software was used to analyze this large database. In addition, 30 groundwater samples were collected from private wells (both drilled and dug) for chemical and isotopic analyses. These data were analyzed to identify the distribution and sources of elevated nitrate concentrations and to evaluate the effect of changing land use on shallow groundwater quality.
Geologists examine a groundwater sample.
Temporal analysis of historical groundwater data revealed that total dissolved solids, chloride, and nitrate concentrations in groundwater has increased since the mid-1960s, indicating deterioration of groundwater quality in the previous century's last decades. This timing coincides with rapid population growth in McHenry County and the use of road salt. Spatial analysis revealed that the highest concentrations in all three categories were found in shallow wells less than 100 feet deep, strongly suggesting that the contaminant sources were surface-borne. Chemical and isotopic data from our groundwater samples indicate that the type of land use controlled the type and concentrations of ions present. For example, groundwater samples from urban areas had higher sodium and chloride concentrations, which we attributed to the application of road salt. Samples from rural and near-livestock facilities had higher nitrate and total nitrogen concentrations, which we attributed to the application of fertilizer on croplands. Based on isotopic results, the predominant sources of nitrate in shallow groundwater samples collected from both rural and urban areas were fertilizer and soil organic matter due to the widespread fertilization of croplands surrounding isolated urban areas in McHenry County. Overall, the results of this investigation revealed that (1) groundwater quality in McHenry County has deteriorated significantly since the mid-1960s due to the increasing application of road salt and fertilizer and that (2) land use in an area such as McHenry County, where sand and gravel dominate the near surface geology, can rapidly and adversely affect the local groundwater quality. The study results were published as ISGS Open File Series 2007-6. (Contact: H. Hwang)
Left to right, Yev Kontar, ISGS, Ramesh Singh, Indian Institute of Technology, Frank R. Rack, ANDRILL, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The ISGS Geophysics Section is involved in state, national, and international programs related to geologic risks and natural and human-induced geohazards. The impacts of geohazards continue to increase around the world. The growth of human societies and their escalating complexity and a changing climate will cause the risk associated with geohazards to be even greater in the future. The ISGS Geophysics Section is contributing to the understanding of these issues in several ways. One response includes the Section's participation in the new International Natural and Human-induced Environmental Hazards and Disasters Research Program which would focus on environmental hazards related to geophysical trigger events. This program is supported by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Near Surface Geophysics Focus Group, which was formed two years ago and now has approximately 2,000 members. Many of them are interested in applying geophysical methods to the assessment of natural hazards. In response to this concern, a new AGU focus group, the Natural Hazards Focus Group, was organized recently during the AGU Fall 2007 Meeting in San Francisco, California (December 10-14, 2007). More than 14,600 AGU members attended the fall meeting.
The ISGS Geophysics Section significantly contributed to the activities of the Near Surface Geophysics and Natural Hazards focus groups by conducting both oral and poster presentation sessions (OS12: Land-Ocean-Atmospheric Processes Associated with Natural and Man-Made Hazards). They organized and convened the sessions on the impact of natural and human-induced hazards, and speakers addressed topics from around the world, from the midwestern United States New Madrid Seismic Zone of Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky; the Aleutian Islands of Alaska; Long Island Sound, New York; and western Canada to Puerto Rico, India, Korea, Okinawa Island of Japan, Norway, and Papua New Guinea. (Contact: Y. Kontar)
NEHRP soil types superimposed over the bedrock elevation map for Winnebago County.
Earthquake Preparedness Information Provided to Winnebago County
ISGS engineering geologists produced a report and several maps for consultants to Winnebago County to use for their county hazard mitigation plan. Using existing maps of thickness of materials resting on bedrock and the layers of materials present, the geologists produced a map that indicated how much these materials will amplify earthquake ground motions. This map was specifically designed to be used in a computer loss estimation program that will provide estimates for damage to buildings and infrastructure from earthquakes. The report outlined the techniques used to generate the map. (Contact: R. Bauer)
ISGS Assists Illinois Tollway Authority in Wetlands Preservation
Members of the Survey's Wetlands Section staff met with officials of the Illinois Tollway Authority and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and private consultants. The meeting participants discussed the monitoring by ISGS of pollutant reduction in bioswales that will be created during the reconstruction of the northern portion of I-294 for the treatment of roadway runoff. (Contacts: J. Miner, C. Knight, K. Carr)
Updated 07/23/2012 SLD