ISGS - August 2008 Activity Highlights
ISGS - August 2008 Activity Highlights
Elrick and Howard examine a fossil stump (right).
Interest in Fossil Forest Continues
Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) geologists, Scott Elrick and John Nelson, joined paleobontanists, Bill DiMichele of the Smithsonian Institute and Howard Falcon-Lang of the Royal College of London, in visiting numerous surface and underground mines in the Illinois Basin. The visit was part of a long-term research project to examine the paleoenvironment at the time of the Desmoisian-Missourian boundary of the Pennsylvanian System. This trip was the first of many future planned excursions over the next 5 years and will include the use and study of ISGS cores in addition to joint research opportunities with other ISGS Coal Section staff. DiMichele and Falcon-Lang were actively involved with ISGS personnel in the highly publicized recent fossil forest discovery in Danville, Illinois. (Contact: Scott Elrick)
ISGS Staff in Teaching Roles
Mei-In Melissa Chou has been selected to advise a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Engineering. The student has been nominated for an award sponsored by the National Science Council, ROC, and, when the award is released, Chou will advise the student for a one-year study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Chou is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and a member of the Graduate College.
Massoud Rostam-Abadi has been appointed to serve on the doctoral committees of two graduate students in Environmental Engineering. Rostam-Abadi is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a member of the Graduate College.
Mahomet Aquifer System Investigation: 2008
The field investigation of the Mahomet aquifer system, comprising the Mahomet aquifer and overlying shallower aquifers, continued during summer 2008. The investigation included drilling test holes, installing observation wells, and acquiring geophysical data.
Fourteen sites were drilled in 2008. Of these, eight are located in Champaign County, three in Piatt County, and one each in McLean, Ford, and Vermilion Counties. All of the boreholes were drilled using the wireline method. The core that was collected was described in the field by Illinois State Geological Survey geologists and subsequently boxed for transport to the Quaternary laboratory for more detailed description and analysis. A natural gamma log of the deepest borehole at the site was obtained to complement the descriptive log of the borehole and to assist the geologists with determining the number of observation wells to install at the site and the depths at which the wells screens should be set.
Twenty-four observation wells were installed at 13 sites. Because aquifer material was not encountered at a southwest Champaign County site, a well screen was not installed. However, the borehole was cased with 2-inch polyvinyl chloride pipe so that downhole geophysical data could be acquired. This site is near the confluence of the Pesotum and Mahomet Bedrock Valleys.
A single observation well was installed at four of the 13 sites, two observation wells at seven sites, and three observation wells at two sites. The observation wells were developed 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. With the completion of this drilling program, nine additional observation wells completed in the Mahomet aquifer are available for water-level measurements. The other 15 observation wells are completed in aquifers, many of these probably in the Glasford Formation.
Seismic data were collected from 14 miles of transects in southwestern Champaign County near Sadorus and in northeastern Champaign County near the Middle Fork County Forest Preserve. Resistivity data were collected by ISGS geophysicists from four miles of transects at the Middle Fork Forest Preserve. Additionally, downhole seismic data were acquired by ISGS geophysicists from several of the observation wells. (Contacts: Bill Dey and Andrew Stumpf)
CO2 Sequestration Field Efforts Continue
Jennifer Lewicki from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Ivan Krapac from the Illinois State Geological Survey installed an Eddy Covariance Tower at the Illinois Basin-Decatur site the week of August 11, 2008. The tower contains a complete weather station to monitor vertical and horizontal wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, solar and photosynthetic radiation, rain, and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. Data collected from these instruments will allow the CO2 atmospheric flux downwind of the CO2 injection well to be monitored. This information will be used to monitor for potential CO2 seepage at the site and is one of many techniques being used in the monitoring, mitigation, and verification (MMV) program.
Bracken Wimmer and Abbas Iranmanesh continue to collect groundwater and gas samples from the enhanced coal bed methane (ECBM) and oil recovery (EOR) pilot projects. These samples are used to monitor groundwater quality to determine whether CO2 injection operations are affecting shallow groundwater quality. To date, the water quality data indicate that project activities have not had an impact on local water quality. Monitoring gas concentrations in project wells will determine the performance of the coal seam with respect to CO2 injection.
Hannes Leetaru, John McBride, and Marcia L. Couëslan worked on developing geophysical parameters for acquiring new seismic reflection data at the Decatur ADM site. They also are writing an interim topical report on the results from the reprocessing of the ADM seismic data. Preliminary interpretations suggest that there is no faulting adjacent to the injection site. The quality of the seismic data near the ADM plant was poor and was probably caused by vibrations from the plant itself. (Contacts: Ivan Krapac and Hannes Leetaru)
Collaborative NSF Research on Effects of Dam Removal Begun
Richard Cahill, representing the Illinois State Geological Survey, and Shane Csiki and Bruce Rhoads, from the Department of Geography, University of Illinois, are investigating the potential impact of dam removal on stream systems. This project started in 2008 and is being funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Many dams are deteriorating, and funds are no longer available for maintenance. This situation is particularly true for dams that do not create impoundments exceeding the bankfull stage (channel capacity) of a river channel during normal flow conditions. It is important to understand how these dams influence stream morphology and sediment storage in order to better predict how future removals may affect streams.
The project goal is to explore how run-of-river dams affect stream morphology and sediment storage. The study focuses on four run-of-river dams in the Till Plains Section of the Central Lowland Physiographic Province within Illinois. Specific objectives are (1) to assess the impact of run-of-river dams on the river channel above and below each dam, (2) to assess similarities and differences of these impacts among the set of dams, and (3) to compare the effects caused by run-of-river dams to those caused by impoundment dams.
The research will be conducted in four phases. In the first phase, hydrologic information will be collected from nearby gauging stations, and the watershed area above each dam will be calculated. In the second phase, data on channel bathymetry and sediment characteristics will be collected upstream and downstream of each dam. The degree of sedimentation above the dam will be determined through coring. The third phase involves particle size analysis of the collected sediment and bed samples, cesium-137 (137Cs) analysis of cores for determination of sediment deposition rate, calculation of the above-dam sediment characteristics using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for mapping of the stored sediment, and quantitative analysis of spatial patterns. The fourth phase involves comparisons among the data to evaluate conditions across the dams being studied in this project and to compare this study's findings with findings for impoundment dams. It is in this final phase that the data from the stream gauging stations and dam operational histories will be used to help explain the effects these dams have caused on streams. (Contact: Rich Cahill)
STATEMAP Products Completed
Each year the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) participates in the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, which provides federal funds for detailed two-dimensional geologic mapping to state geologic surveys. The U.S. Geological Survey administers the program, and funds are distributed to state geological surveys on a competitive basis. The program also includes a federal component, FEDMAP, and an educational component, EDMAP. The ISGS encourages universities to participate in the EDMAP component and welcomes their cooperation with ongoing ISGS mapping projects.
Overall, the ISGS ranks ninth among other state surveys in federal dollars received under this program, having received more than $2.45 million for geologic mapping in the state's high-priority areas since the program's inception in 1993. The high-priority areas include the metropolitan Chicago area, where there is great demand for groundwater resources; southern Illinois, where mapping has focused on identifying economic mineral resources such as coal, high calcium carbonate, and other minerals; and the St. Louis Metropolitan East area, in order to meet the societal needs of the greater St. Louis region. Prioritization of the map areas for the STATEMAP program involves dialogue with the Illinois Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee, which includes representation from local, state, and federal government, private industry, and higher education.
The ISGS recently completed seven new geologic maps of the following 7.5-minute quadrangles at a scale of 1:24,000: Wheeling, New Athens East, New Athens West, Herod, Brussels, Winfield, and Nutwood. New geologic mapping has just begun in the following quadrangles: Zion, Aurora South, Paderborn, Redbud, Altenburg, Goram, and Shetlerville. A new proposal will be submitted in November 2008 to map in the following quadrangles: Waukegan, Highland Park, Naperville, Yorkville, Plano, Foley, Hamburg, Karbers Ridge, and Oregon. Additionally, St. Clair County will be proposed as a compilation project, based on completed detailed maps.
The STATEMAP mapping team includes Joe Devera, Bret Denny, Mary Seid, Mike Barnhardt, Andrew Stumpf, Drew Phillips, Dave Grimley, Brandon Curry, and Steve Brown. (Contacts: Steve Brown, Dick Berg, and Don Keefer)
Seismic Software Grant Received
Seismic Micro-Technologies Inc. has awarded the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and the University of Illinois a software grant valued at $595,000. The Kingdom software allows the ISGS to interpret two- and three-dimensional seismic reflection data. The software will be used by the carbon sequestration project team to help plan optimum locations for new carbon sequestration projects. Additionally, it will be used to interpret approximately 30 miles of newly acquired seismic reflection data at the proposed Mattoon FutureGen site. The Kingdom software is also used for interpreting reflection seismic for characterizing shallow aquifers. The data obtained with this software also will be used in teaching students and interns how to interpret seismic reflection data. (Contact: Hannes Leetaru)
EPRI Selects ISGS to Participate in Mercury Sorbent Characterization Study
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) has brought together experts from academia and industry to perform a comprehensive study addressing the impact of various physical and chemical properties of sorbents for mercury control in existing coal-fired power plants. Illinois State Geological Survey has been selected to participate in this study. Other participants include American Norit, Calgon Carbon Corporation, URS Corporation, and ADA Environmental Solutions.
Activated carbon injection (ACI) upstream of a particulate control device is the approach that will most likely be used in the near-term for mercury control. In the past few years, full-scale sorbent injection tests have been conducted at various power plants to establish the feasibility of mercury removal and to determine the range that is attainable. The sorbent characterization study will allow ISGS and other participants to carefully characterize various properties of sorbents tested during the full-scale demonstration of the ACI and correlate these properties to mercury performance at various power plants. The team will also prepare a document that will serve as a guide for the utility industry to select an appropriate sorbent for a given power plant. (Contact: Massoud Rostam-Abadi)
Preparing for a Significant Central U.S. Earthquake
Robert Bauer was an invited speaker at the conference, Preparing for a Significant Central U.S. Earthquake, Science Needs of the Response and Recovery Community, held August 13-14, 2008. Bauer presented information on the products and capabilities of the science and engineering communities for earthquake response in the central United States. The information included plans for interaction between the state emergency management agencies and the state geological surveys. The agencies and surveys intend to set up technical clearinghouses in each state to help guide collection of perishable data and the interaction among states in a multiple-state response. Each state agency is first responsible to its state governors and citizens. Then, scientific and engineering data are shared with a regional collection center operated by the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis along with the U.S. Geological Survey. The regional perspective of damage compiled by the Center should be helpful in providing guidance for the federal response. Conference attendees included about 200 participants from all state and federal response levels for natural disasters in the United States (Contact: Bob Bauer)
John Nelson describes an exposed palleosol.
Coal Talk Draws Local Interest
A talk, "Coal Geology and Mining in Illinois", was presented to the Kaskaskia Watershed Association at its annual meeting in Vandalia, Illinois, on August 18, 2008. The presentation examined the coal geology of Illinois, coal mining and operations, and planned and unplanned subsidence related to coal mines. This topic was of particular interest because the watershed area includes Shelby, Fayette, Montgomery, and Washington Counties, which contain large blocks of minable coal that are targets for possible new mine development. (Contact: Dave Morse)
A pallett of bricks awaits firing.
Illinois State Geological Survey scientist Mei-In (Melissa) Chou has completed the final report of Phase II of a project (2006-2008) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Cooperative Agreement with the West Virginia University Research Corporation–Combustion By-products Recycling Consortium (CBRC). The 28-page report, titled Manufacturing Building Products with Fly Ash and Advanced Coal Combustion By-products, showed that fired bricks made with various combinations of fly ash, bottom ash, and flue-gas desulfurization solid materials met ASTM specifications. The addition of bottom ash to the mix formulations increased the redness of the brick color and improved the bricks' engineering properties. The study results have led to two meetings with representatives of a utility plant and associated brick plant to plan for commercialization of fired bricks containing fly ash. The commercialization plan includes a scale-up production demonstration of the technology that examines the benefits of blending bottom ash with fly ash in brick formulation. (Contact: Melissa Chou)
"L-R, Melissa Chou, Joe Chou, and Roger Babb, President, OSA.
A new concrete manufacturing process has been developed at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). OSA Inc is one of the companies interested in licensing the technology. The president of the company visited the concrete laboratory at the ISGS on August 25, 2008, and met with Melissa Chou, Joe Chou, and David Morse. The benefits of using this new manufacturing process were discussed. The new process plant will require a tenth of the initial capital investment and reduce more than half of the cement needed by a regular process plant. A U.S. patent application describing the process was recently filed through the University of Illinois (Contact: Melissa Chou)
Updated 07/23/2012 SLD