ISGS - July 2007 Activity Highlights
July 2007 Activity Highlights
ISGS staff member Yevgeniy Kontar
Yevgeniy Kontar has been elected Bureau Member of the Geophysical Risk and Sustainability Commission of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG GeoRisk) for a four-year term that began on July 6, 2007. IUGG GeoRisk was established by the IUGG Bureau in August 2000 to study the interaction between hazards, their likelihood, and their wider social consequences as a result of the vulnerability of societies. There is a growing interest in and relevance to the interaction between science and society reflected in the economic, social, and public policy aspects of hazards. This distinction is expressed by the word "risk," which incorporates the concepts of hazards, their consequences, and their likelihood and covers a wider scope than does the word "hazard". Consideration of risk involves some consideration of the people who are at risk. IUGG GeoRisk is maintained by all eight IUGG Associations. (Contact: Y. Kontar)
Jeffery Saunders, (IL State Museum), holds a mastodon tooth found at the Brewster Creek site.
Geologic research and mapping of the West Chicago Quadrangle in northwestern Cook and DuPage Counties has helped researchers, environmental hydrogeologists, and county agencies better understand topics as diverse as the paleoenvironment of an ancient mire that entombed a mastodon about 13,000 years ago and finding the best places to install monitoring wells in an area with groundwater contaminated with low levels of volatile organic chemicals. The basic understanding of the area's geology will be captured on surficial geology and bedrock topography maps of the West Chicago Quadrangle, which are funded by the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program. To assess the geological conditions, an ISGS geologist and his summer intern have been examining sediment cores, sample sets, natural gamma-ray logs, water-well and landfill boring records, and geotechnical reports. Their understanding of the geology has been enhanced by geophysical exploration that included the use of shallow electric earth resistivity, borehole geophysics, and seismic shear transects. The geologic mapping is providing an important context for two very different natural resource and natural history issues.
Contaminated groundwater in the West Chicago Quadrangle is a serious local environmental problem. The geology of the area plays an important role in determining the direction, speed, and changes in concentration of the contaminant along its flowpath. The quadrangle is located in an area where there were at least two stillstands of the Lake Michigan Lobe of the glacier that advanced out of the Lake Michigan basin during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode. The fluctuations of the glacier created a complex succession of glacial, lake, and meltwater stream deposits as well as the formation of the West Chicago Moraine, a ridge composed primarily of fine-grained glacial sediment. The areas with the contaminated groundwater lie within a zone of relatively thin, fine-grained sediment and thick, permeable, sorted sediment. The ISGS is working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to better delineate the details of the geology in the areas affected by the groundwater pollution. ISGS geologic maps and cross sections will be important components to understanding the problem and suggesting potential solutions.
Some of the interesting details of the area's paleoenvironment, learned from this study, are reported in The Late Glacial and Early Holocene Geology, Paleoecology, and Paleohydrology of the Brewster Creek Site, A Proposed Wetland Restoration Site, Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve and James "Pate" Philip State Park, Bartlett, Illinois, which is in the final stages of review. In this study, an ISGS geologist collaborated with scientists from the Illinois State Museum, the University of Minnesota, Northeastern University, and Northern Illinois University to reconstruct conditions of a drained wetland prior to its reflooding and restoration. Since completion of the report, removal of drainage tiles has resulted in reflooding of the area and an immediate rebound by wetland plant species repopulating the area. During tile removal, three mastodon teeth were discovered, along with an in situ rib thought to be from the same animal. Collagen from one of the teeth dated at about 13,300 calibrated years before present. Among the many discoveries in the study, the most interesting geological finding was that windblown silt ceased its rapid deposition at the onset of the last interglacial period about 14,500 calibrated years ago. This change is revealed in the change from deposition of sediment containing wind-blown clay minerals derived from the High Plains to marl containing little windblown sediment. (Contact: B. Curry)
IDOT-Supported Coal Mine Maps Delivered
Mapping of abandoned mines in twelve 7.5-minute quadrangles in La Salle, Grundy, Livingston, Marshall, Woodford, and Putnam Counties was completed. The mapped quadrangles are La Salle, Marseilles, Ottawa, Starved Rock, Seneca, Tonica, Minonk, Pontiac Northwest, Blackstone, Flanagan North, La Rose, and Varna Quadrangles. The maps, accompanied by directories containing detailed information on the mine histories and sources of information, have been delivered in both paper and digital formats to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the project sponsor, and will be released to the public. These maps and directories will help government planners, developers, and private citizens to identify areas that have been undermined. (Contacts: C. Chenoweth and J. Obrad)
Several Energy Outreach Activities Completed
A professional development workshop for teachers was conducted in conjunction with the Rock Island Regional Office of Education (ROE) on June 14-15, 2007. The two-day workshop focused on Illinois Basin geology, energy resources, and carbon sequestration. Twenty-five teachers were in attendance, and each teacher received a set of sequestration posters. Further, the ROE science representative and ISGS staff discussed creating an upper-level professional development workshop for teachers on climate change and carbon sequestration for summer 2008.
A one-day workshop on Illinois Basin Geology and Geological Sequestration for the Professional Development Institute (PDI) was presented in Decatur, Illinois, on June 26, 2007. Fifteen teachers were in attendance and received sets of sequestration posters. PDI is a foundation dedicated to providing professional development opportunities for the Decatur Public School System. Further, the PDI representative and ISGS staff discussed the future creation of an advisory board to plan Phase III educational outreach and professional development programs for the Decatur Public Schools. Decatur is the location of ADM, the company that the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC) will be working with for its Phase II deep saline injection pilot and the proposed Phase III project. (Contacts: S. Greenberg and R. Vaiden)
Four ISGS staff members assisted the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Coal Development at its 2007 Coal Education Conference, June 19-21, giving conference presentations and helping to lead tours of coal mines in southern Illinois. Approximately 100 teachers, from grade school through high school levels, attended the four-day conference to learn about coal and obtain continuing education credits by incorporating coal-based lessons into their teaching plans. ISGS staff presented talks to the teachers on coal formation, Illinois Basin stratigraphy and mapping, coalbed methane, and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and provided posters, maps, demonstrations, and other visual aids. Staff also helped lead tours and answer questions during visits of surface and underground coal mines and coal-fueled power plants in southern Illinois. (Contacts: D. Morse and S. Elrick)
An ISGS chemical engineer attended the U.S. Department of Energy's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships' 3rd Annual Carbon Capture and Transportation Working Group Workshop hosted by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The engineer presented ISGS annual (2006-2007) research activities related to CO2 capture, separation, and transportation topics. The presentation included updated emission sources, forecast of baseline mid-term energy and CO2 emissions, ideal solvent analysis and selection, and a novel CO2 capture process developed at the ISGS (U.S. patent application pending). At the workshop, several representatives from utility and non-utility industries were invited to discuss their CO2 capture and separation perspectives. (Contact: Y. Liu)
ISGS staff drill a Mahomet aquifer monitoring well.
Investigation of the Mahomet Aquifer System Continues
The Mahomet aquifer and the shallower aquifers that overlie it constitute the Mahomet aquifer system, the principal groundwater resource of east-central Illinois. The ISGS recently completed test drilling at two sites west of Champaign. Both sites are located over the Mahomet aquifer. Using the wireline method, the initial borehole at each site was drilled through the entire thickness of unconsolidated sediment and a few feet into the underlying bedrock. The continuous core that was collected from the initial boreholes was described in the field by ISGS geologists and boxed for transport to the Quaternary laboratory for more detailed description and analysis. A natural gamma geophysical log of the first borehole at each site was obtained. These geophysical logs complement the descriptive logs of the boreholes and greatly assist the decisions made regarding the number of observation wells to install at the site and depths of the screens. Three observation wells were installed in separate boreholes at the first drill site. Two of the wells were installed in the Mahomet aquifer, one near the top of the aquifer and the other near the base of the aquifer. The third well was completed in a sand unit within the Glasford Formation. At the second drill site, two observation wells were installed in separate boreholes: one near the top of the Mahomet aquifer and the other near the aquifer's base. The observation wells were pumped to ensure good hydraulic connection to the adjacent aquifer. The water level in these wells will be measured periodically, and water samples will be collected for analysis. In support of the drilling at the second site, a seismic survey was conducted along a line from about three miles east of the drill site to nine miles west of it.
The data acquired will support ongoing geological and hydrogeological research of the Mahomet aquifer and shallower aquifers. These data will improve the understanding of the physical and hydraulic characteristics of the sediments within the Mahomet Bedrock Valley as well as groundwater availability and flow in the area. With continued development of east-central Illinois' groundwater resources, such understanding is integral to addressing water supply issues, as is currently being accomplished through the Governor's Water-Supply Planning Initiative. (Contact: D. Larson)
Manufacturing Autoclaved Aerated Concrete from Class C Fly Ash
A truckload (25 tons) of Class C fly ash generated by Dynegy's Baldwin power station in southern Illinois has been shipped to OSA, Inc. in Ringgold, Georgia. Test runs have been initiated for commercial-scale production of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC). The scale-up results from a preliminary test were very promising. The tested formulation was very different from previous formulations used by the AAC industry, and, to our knowledge, this is the first time Class C fly ash has been used for AAC production. A patent application for this innovative process is under consideration. All forms of AAC use less cement in their manufacture than is needed to make regular cement blocks and wall products, but AAC made from Class C fly ash uses much less cement than AAC made with sand or Class F fly ash. This reduction is important because the cement production process is one of the larger contributors CO2 emissions. Using Class C fly ash in AAC can reduce greenhouse gases and energy consumption during the manufacturing process. Additionally, heat insulation capabilities of AAC products are superior to traditional products, reducing the required energy in buildings constructed with AAC products. The use of AAC products may qualify for CO2 reduction credits that can be traded in the marketplace under the proposed cap and trade regulations. (Contact: M. Chou)
Limestone Information Provided
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of requests concerning the availability of high-purity limestone in Illinois for use in wet flue gas desulfurization in coal-fired power plants. The requests come from electric utilities, coal companies, and private consultants who are seeking information on the availability of limestone with 90% or better calcium carbonate content. Interest has been expressed in existing quarries and mines as well as potential reserves that could be worked for future extraction. Requests for information also come from other states, especially regions located along the Mississippi River, as barge transportation is relatively cheaper than transportation by truck or rail. There are a number of quarries and underground mines that extract high-calcium limestone in western and southern parts of Illinois that are conveniently located along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, thus making transportation more economical. The availability of high-calcium limestone in the central and northern part of the state is limited, and the material has to be transported in from other areas. (Contacts: Z. Lasemi)
Updated 07/23/2012 SLD