ISGS - January 2007 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Home Page of the Illinois State Geological Survey
Large Software Donation Received
The ISGS has been awarded a three-year grant of software worth over 15 million dollars from Landmark Graphics, a subsidiary of Halliburton Corporation. This software will benefit the Oil and Gas, Coal, Industrial Minerals and Resource Economics, and Groundwater Sections. The software is necessary for the ISGS to complete the carbon sequestration research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The software will enable the ISGS to simulate the movement of carbon dioxide through subsurface formations and help ISGS scientists better understand the sequestration potential of different strata. In addition, the software will be used for subsurface mapping, reflection seismic interpretation, and teaching students about applications in petroleum geology. (Contact: Hannes Leetaru)
Denitrification in the Shallow Groundwater of a Tile-Drained Agricultural Watershed
Non-point source pollution of surface water by nitrogen is considered a major cause of hypoxia in coastal waters. Because Corn Belt watersheds have been identified as major sources of nitrogen in the Mississippi River basin, the fate and transport of nitrogen from Midwestern agricultural watersheds need additional research. Over a 3-year period, nitrogen was monitored in the surface water and groundwater of a tile-drained Corn Belt watershed in central Illinois. Using geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, microbiology, and groundwater modeling techniques, researchers found that nitrogen was transported past the tile drains and into shallow groundwater. Denitrification in shallow groundwater was estimated to be equivalent to 0.3 to 6.4% of the applied nitrogen or 9 to 27% of nitrogen exported via surface water. These estimates varied by water year and peaked during a year of normal precipitation after 2 years of below average precipitation. Analysis of data collected over 3 years of monitoring indicated that shallow groundwater in watersheds with fine-grained soils may be a significant nitrogen sink compared with the fate of nitrogen exported via surface water. These results were recently published in the Journal of Environmental Quality. (Contact: Ed Mehnert).
Watershed Assessment for Ecosystem Restoration
An ISGS team is participating with the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) and the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) in assessments of Illinois River basin subwatersheds for ecosystem restoration opportunities. The assessments were requested by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR to support the Illinois River Basin Comprehensive Plan written by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District in partnership with IDNR. The Illinois River basin drains nearly half of the state, contains or receives the wastewater from most of the population of the state, and is a nationally significant passageway for migratory birds. Despite significant ecological degradation over the past two centuries, the river was identified by the National Research Council as one of three large floodplain river systems in the lower 48 states with the potential to be restored to anapproximation of its outstanding biological past. The current focus of watershed assessment is on direct tributaries to Peoria Pool. The goal is to identify projects to reduce sediment loading to the Illinois River.
The watershed assessments are intended to be rapid (about 1year), and
lead to identification of critical restoration areas. The compendium of
data will also constitute baseline information for the long-term
monitoring of watershed condition and project success. ISGS is providing
a geological perspective by
• analyzing stream channel planform change by comparing historic and recent aerial photographs to identify styles
and locations of channel change, to identify fundamental processes, and to make preliminary links between
landscape change and channel change;
• mapping surficial geology to identify sediment sources, materials properties, and long-term geomorphic evolution
of the watersheds;
• compiling comprehensive, interdisciplinary, existing data into watershed-focused databases. Each database is
shared with ISWS and INHS partners and analyzed by ISGS for existing watershed conditions and changes in
land cover and land use; and
• contributing to analysis of channel geomorphic measures and aerial (helicopter) video imagery obtained by ISWS.
The ISGS team is just starting a dendrochronologic analysis of gully formation in Partridge Creek. The analysis could be an important contribution to interpretation of post-glacial landscape evolution in west-central Illinois. The age of trees and their growth history could provide information on geomorphic processes and variations of recent climate. (Contact: Drew Phillips)
Intelligent Filter Press Process Meeting
Two ISGS scientists met with their project manager at the Illinois Clean Coal Institute (ICCI) to discuss the details of a recently completed final report for the large-scale intelligent filter press (IFP) process. The process will potentially help coal mining operation to recover cleaner fine coal with low-moisture content at a time when coal processing plants handle increasingly larger quantities of fine-grained materials generated either during mining, transportation, or processing. At the meeting, the possibility of future funding for testing the performance of the IFR at a coal preparation plant was also discussed. ISGS researchers will submit a proposal in response to an ICCI request for proposals to be issued in March 2007. (Contact: Latif Khan)
Wetlands Staff Assists Forest Preserve District of Will County
An ISGS wetland scientist attended a meeting held at the Forest Preserve District of Will County regarding revision of the current remediation plan for tritium leaks at the Braidwood Dunes Savanna. Discussion centered around projected impacts to the preserve from pumping a nearby pond, which is expected to recover a plume of tritium-contaminated water. An alternative remediation strategy will be prepared by Exelon. Also in attendance were representatives from Exelon, Forest Preserve of Will County, Nature Preserves Commission, Conestoga-Rovers and Associates, and Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. A follow-up meeting in January will be held to present the new strategy. (Contact: Jim Miner)
Presentation Made at Ice Age Conference
An ISGS geologist made a presentation at the Ice Age III Conference at Southeastern Illinois Junior College on December 16, 2006. His talk was entitled "Tectonic Structures of Southeastern Illinois: Recent Earthquakes and the Phenomena of the Hicks Dome (Pope and Hardin Counties) Meteorite Impact or Volcanic Vent". More than 100 people attended the lecture, which was sponsored by the Saline County Tourism Board. (Contact: Brett Denny)
Geologist Attends Quaternary Geology Field Course in Argentina
Participants of Field Course of the Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology
of Tierra del Fuego.
An ISGS geologist attended the IV Field Course on the Geomorphology and Quaternary Geology of Tierra del Fuego, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina from November 12 to 24, 2006. Thirty-six participants attended the field course, which included emeritus faculty, senior scientists, and graduate students from English-, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of North America, South America and Europe. The course was sponsored by the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG), CADIC-CONICET (Regional Center of the National Research Council of Argentina at Ushuaia), Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia en Ushuaia, Bariloche Foundation, Nehuén Foundation (Neuquén, Patagonia), Argentine Geological Association, Sociedad Argentina de Antropología (SAA), and other institutions. The objective of the course was to introduce the participants to the geology, geomorphology, biology, and human occupation of southernmost South America. The course involved participation in field and laboratory activities that were offered simultaneously in Spanish and English.
Sites visited on the field course traversed the whole of the island from San Sabastián Bay southward to the Beagle Channel. The island is composed of late Paleozoic to Tertiary bedrock that has subsequently been modified by the actions of water, ice, wind, and crustal deformation. Over the last 1.4 million years, this landscape has been exposed to at least five glacial advances and intervening interglacial periods that developed the landforms present today. Deposits of the pre-Illinois, Illinois, and Wisconsin Episode glaciations and their associated interglacial observed in Tierra del Fuego have a similar character, structure, and morphology to time-equivalent sediments in Illinois. Although Illinois and southern Argentina are hemispheres apart, geological processes during the Quaternary that produced significant climate change can be measured on a global scale.
The opportunity to attend the field course was offered during Dr. Jorge Rabassa's visit to the Illinois State Geological Survey during spring 2006 as an UI International Council Visiting Professor. During Dr. Rabassa's professorship, collaborative research opportunities were identified to study similar geologic materials and processes found in both Argentina and the Midwest. Isotopic characterization and radiocarbon analyses are areas of expertise that the ISGS could provide colleagues at the Argentina National Research Council to better define paleoenviroment conditions in southernmost South America. (Contact: Andrew Stumpf)
Updated 07/23/2011 SLD