ISGS - November 2007 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Home Page of the Illinois State Geological Survey
ISGS work new the I-355 tollway south extension.
Interstate-355 Extension Opens
Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) staff members played a large
role in the environmental studies for the I-355 tollway south extension
from I-55 to I-80, which opened on November 11, 2007. Beginning in 1989,
various proposed alignments were evaluated for the potential for
hazardous waste, and the results of those studies were used in alignment
selection. The studies continued through 2002, when specific parcels
to be acquired were assessed for potential environmental hazards in a
cooperative agreement between the Illinois Department of Transportation
and the Illinois Toll Highway Authority. In addition, significant
delays in construction were caused by the presence of the Hines
Emerald dragonfly, a federally endangered insect that inhabits seeps
along the tollway route in the lower Des Plaines River valley. ISGS
has been involved in several phases of habitat planning for the
tollway, beginning with an early 1990s study on the impacts on
dragonfly habitat from the potential reduction of seep discharge
caused by the loss of infiltration from new impermeable roadway
surfaces. Routing and design alterations were suggested at that time.
ISGS is currently involved in the mitigation of the tollway's impacts
on the dragonflies by studying the hydrology and geochemistry of the
current dragonfly habitats to help design new dragonfly habitat
(Contact: Anne Erdmann) Learn more about it
Fall Geological Science Field Trips Attract More than 200 Participants
ISGS field trip participants view the Piasa Bird.
Approximately 220 people attended the ISGS fall Geological Science Field Trips in September and October 2007. The field trips highlighted the geology and natural resources of Pere Marquette State Park and surrounding areas and included five stops within Jersey and Madison Counties.
The first stop on the field trip was to the Kimaterials Inc. Lohr Quarry in Madison County. There participants viewed an active limestone quarry operation and collected both Mississippian-age fossils and a variety of mineral specimens including quartz-filled geodes. The second stop was at the National Great Rivers Museum and the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, located south of Alton. The museum visit included information and displays about the historical and cultural significance and the ecological, transportation, and commercial importance of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers. The third stop was Piasa Park at Alton, where the participants learned about the area's early limestone industry and the legend of the Piasa Bird. The fourth stop was the abandoned Keller Quarry, located adjacent to the Grafton Visitor Center. At this stop, the participants learned about the early history of Grafton's building stone industry and the importance of geological resources in the development of communities along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. A number of the field trippers found and collected samples of the famous Gravicalymene celebra (one of the most famous trilobites in the Midwest). The final field trip stop was Pere Marquette State Park. The survey geologist led a hike along the famous Goat Cliff Trail and pointed out evidence of ancient faulting and folding of rocks as well as the relationships between the park's geology and its biodiversity. The field trip ended at McAdams Shelter, a scenic overview along Goat Cliff Trail that provided a vista that included the Illinois and Mississippi River floodplains and a magnificent sunset as the day came to an end. (Contact: Wayne Frankie)
ISGS Mercury Control Technology Receives Funding from Illinois Clean Coal Institute
Transportable bench sorbent activation process (SAP) unit
Illinois has mandated a 90% cut in mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants by mid-July 2009. ISGS and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have developed a patented technology, the sorbent activation process (SAP), to help reduce the operating cost of activated carbon (AC) injection processes for mercury control. The technology involves the on-site production of AC from the same coal as that burned by the utility. The ISGS engineering team has designed, fabricated, and is currently testing a transportable SAP unit to demonstrate the technology at several utility sites. The SAP unit can produce 1 to 4 pounds of AC per hour and can be attached to a sorbent test device, which will allow the performance of the AC products to be tested in the slipstream of an actual flue gas.
The SAP is the result of more than five years of research and development efforts supported by EPRI. In October 2007, Illinois Clean Coal Institute (ICCI) awarded ISGS a grant to evaluate the performance of the SAP at a utility site burning Illinois coal. EPRI and ISGS are seeking support from industry to test the SAP at several other utility sites during 2008 and 2009. ISGS engineers are currently performing optimization tests with the SAP unit at the ISGS Applied Research Laboratory.
On December 4, 2007, representatives from ISGS, EPRI, Ameren, Apogee Scientific, Inc., Western Kentucky University, Calgon Carbon Corporation, and ICCI will visit the Applied Research Laboratory to observe the operation of the SAP unit. The group will then travel to Ameren's Meredosia Power Plant where the SAP unit will be tested in April 2008. (Contact: Massoud Rostam-Abadi)
Sources and Fate of Nitrate in the Illinois River Determined
Sampling the Illinois River
The Illinois River is a main tributary of the upper Mississippi River and has one of the largest fluxes of nitrogen in the Mississippi River Basin. The Illinois River watershed drains about 44% of Illinois, which is dominated by row crop agriculture. The sources and fate of nitrate (NO3-) in the Illinois River from Chicago to the Mississippi River were investigated using chemical and isotopic analyses. The major nitrate sources were assumed to be treated wastewater from the Chicago area primarily and synthetic fertilizer from the agriculturally dominated land between Chicago and the Mississippi. Samples were collected on a seasonal basis from 14 sites along the Illinois River and selected tributaries. Samples were also collected from treated wastewater plants, tile drains, and precipitation.
Total nitrogen concentrations in the river were as high as 11.7 mg of N/L near the Chicago area and generally decreased with distance from Chicago, as discharge from groundwater, tributaries, and tile drains added to the river. Nitrate concentrations decreased most during the summer, when flow rates were low, field tiles were usually dry, and tributaries showed little to no nitrate concentration.
The isotopic composition of the nitrate in the Illinois River showed variations seasonally and with the overall flow rate of the river, reflecting different dominant source inputs and denitrification trends. During the winter and early spring, when flow rates were high, the isotopic composition was dominated by nitrate from fertilizer nitrogen and soil nitrogen sources. During late summer early fall, when flow rates were low, the isotopic composition indicated that the dominant nitrate input was from treated wastewater. Most of the data suggested that denitrification predominantly occurred in the groundwater prior to discharge into the Illinois River. However, during low flow conditions, a positive shift in the isotopic composition between the upper and lower portions of the river was observed, reflecting denitrification or fractionation due to significant biota uptake in the broad shallow reaches of Peoria Lake, a manmade lake in the central part of river system. This finding is significant because in stream denitrication has typically not been observed in larger river systems. (Contact: Keith Hackley)
An AAC block containing 73% Class C fly ash from a scale-up production run.
Commercial-Scale Test of Fly-Ash Concrete Completed
Researchers at the Illinois State Geological Survey have successfully completed commercial-scale production of autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) using Class C fly ash from the Baldwin power plant. The compressive strength testing of the final blocks was conducted at a laboratory of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The AAC blocks produced with Class C fly ash without additives met commercial quality standards. Further testing to evaluate the effect of silica sand additive on compressive strength of AAC blocks is in progress. (Contact: Melissa Chou)
State Works on Earthquake Prepareness Plans
An ISGS engineering geologist participated in an Earthquake Planning Workshop in Springfield. The workshop was facilitated by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) in cooperation with numerous state agencies involved in emergency response for 32 southern counties of Illinois. The workshop reviewed major areas of direction and control, communications, staging and reception, damage assessment and mitigation, logistics and resource management, transportation and debris removal, temporary restoration of critical infrastructure, and force security and protection specific to Illinois' ability to respond and recover after a catastrophic earthquake along the New Madrid Fault. The workshop identified gaps, unmet needs, and planning actions that require a collaborative effort of various agencies to resolve.
The ISGS staff member presented background information on the potential earthquake impacts in the central United States and provided maps of earthquake events throughout the state along with a map showing the 39 southern Illinois counties and how their soils will amplify earthquake ground motions. These workshops and resulting plans greatly enhance the State of Illinois' ability to protect both civilians and responders in the event of a catastrophic earthquake and are the foundation for the State's earthquake preparedness efforts. (Contact: Robert Bauer)
New Class of Carbon-Based Adsorbents Developed
ISGS chemical engineers, along with faculty and students from the University of Illinois Department of Chemistry and Environmental Engineering, have developed a process for synthesizing a new class of carbon-based materials. The energy and environmental applications of these carbon products are currently being investigated. An invention disclosure describing the process, products, and potential uses of these novel carbons has been prepared for submission to the Office of Technology Management at the University of Illinois and to Electric Power Research Institute. (Contact: Massoud Rostam-Abadi)
Updated 07/23/2012 SLD