ISGS - February 2008 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Home Page of the Illinois State Geological Survey
New ISGS Publication Documents Paleoecology at Illinois Site
Cover of Circular 571
A recently completed study took place at Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve at a site near Brewster Creek in northwestern DuPage County. The study determined that loess deposition ceased at that location about 14,670 years ago and documents paleoecological and environmental changes during the last glacial to interglacial transition. An 8-m long core was sampled from near the deepest part of a kettle basin located in a wetland that archives fossils and sediment deposited during the last glacial to interglacial period dating from about 17,000 to 10,500 calibrated years ago. Twelve radiocarbon ages indicate that the sediment succession (from bottom to top) of silt, marl, and peat corresponds with the major climatic events interpreted from Greenland ice cores. The sediment accumulation rate was found to be nonlinear and was slowest at the base of the major lithologic units. Additional cores of the kettle basin show that the zones of slow sediment accumulation grade shoreward to unconformities that are in places marked by deposits of fine sand and, occasionally, fossil remains such as a recently discovered mastodon.
The pollen record at Brewster Creek differs from that at other sites in the region, indicating significant local variation in vegetation growing under the same climatic regime. During the waning parts of the last glaciation, dominant plant types included spruce, fir, and black ash. Other species, including pine, birch, oak, and elm, became important later during the transition. Spruce pollen persisted until about 10,800 years ago at Brewster Creek, which is about 1,000 years longer than its persistence at other sites in the area, such as Nelson Lake in Kane County. Evidence from fossil ostracodes and diatoms, microscopic lake dwelling organisms, indicates that Brewster Creek initially was a lake with water enriched in sulfate and bicarbonate ions. At the beginning of the transition to the last interglacial period, the lake was depleted in ulfate ion (likely because of bacterial activity) and stayed that way for the remainder of the record. The evidence for the change in water chemistry coincides with a change in lithology from smectite bearing silt to marl. The collective evidence thus indicates that windblown silt, the parent material for most of Illinois' rich soil, ceased to be deposited at the end of the last glaciation, the Older Dryas, about 14,600 years ago. Climatic reconstructions based on ostracodes indicate that temperatures were similar to that of west central Minnesota (mean annual temperature about 5°C) through the transition and increased to about 8°C at the beginning of the last interglaciation; mean annual precipitation increased from about 650 to 700 mm/yr to 850 to 950 mm/yr. Present conditions include a mean annual temperature of 9°C and mean annual precipitation of 950 mm/yr.
These research results are now published in the ISGS Circular 571, 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, by B.B. Curry, E.C. Grimm, J.E. Slate, B.C. Hansen and M.E. Konen, 2008. (Contact: Brandon Curry)
New ISGS Sediment Laboratory Opens
Samples await analysis in the reopened Sediment Lab.
The Sediment Laboratory of the Illinois State Geological Survey reopened officially during fall 2007 after 5 years of being closed. Hue Hwa Hwang, the Sediment Lab director, has been working on rebuilding the lab that in the past had offered substantial technical service to both scientific and engineering communities. The Sediment Lab is now offering particle size analysis of sediment samples to both ISGS staff and the public. As a result of the cooperation between Hwang and laboratory staff member, Adrian Gurga, the Sediment Lab has completed 194 particle size analyses of samples from November 2007 through February 2008. Most of the samples are of glacial and postglacial sediments drilled with the ISGS CME 75 in support of geologic mapping funded by the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (STATEMAP) and the Central Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition. Hwang has strived to optimize data quality of the particle size analysis by establishing internal laboratory standards. The standard deviation for sand, silt, and clay fractions of ISGS internal reference standards is better than 1%, which is an excellent achievement for the hydrometer method used for particle size analysis. Laboratory staff will continue to work toward improving the service capability and quality of the Sediment Lab in order to meet the needs of both ISGS programs and public demand. (Contact: Hue-Hwa Hwang)
Several Requests Received for Limestone Information
Zak Lasemi responded to a number of requests regarding high-calcium limestone resources in Illinois. Lasemi, Massoud Rostam-Abadi, and Yongqi Lu also met with representatives from a major lime company to discuss high-calcium limestone resources and the reactivities of various limestones; the high-calcium limestone is sought for use in desulfurization in existing and potential coal-burning power plants. Limestone also may be used to capture a significant amount of mercury during the scrubbing process. As a result, there has been a great deal of interest in obtaining geological information about high-calcium limestone resources in central Illinois. Although Pennsylvanian age limestones are mined in a number of quarries in central Illinois, the limestone beds are relatively thin, and production barely meets the demand for road construction limestone. Agricultural limestone also is produced in these quarries as by-product fines during the crushing of limestone that could be suitable for desulfurization. Nevertheless, in 2007, quarries could barely meet increasing demands for agricultural limestone by the farming industry in central Illinois. Exploration of the availability of high-quality limestone in the south and southwestern parts of the state is extensive. As part of ongoing ISGS projects, maps are being developed to show the distribution of high-calcium limestone resources in Illinois. Another project, currently funded by the Illinois Clean Coal Institute, is investigating the suitability of limestone fines (agricultural lime) from quarries as a source of sorbent for desulfurization in coal-fired power plants. (Contact: Zak Lasemi)
Test Drilling and Geophysical Logging Show Community Water Development Potential
The ISGS, along with Heneghan & Associates, Jerseyville, and Kohnen Concrete Products (drilling contractor), Germantown, test drilled and geophysically logged four locations based on the results of an electrical earth resistivity (EER) survey performed during summer 2007. The survey was a follow-up study from a 1960 EER survey completed by Merlin Buehle that located the existing wells and well field for the Village of Kane. The previous study identified a coarse-grained, alluvial (floodplain) sand and gravel channel running parallel to the existing floodplain and river. However, low data density from the 1960 EER study limited exploratory drilling to a north-south line from the existing wells. The recent study developed an EER grid that covered a 60-acre parcel in order to further delineate the channel deposit that was identified from the 1960 survey. Based on those results, four locations were selected for test drilling. The two surveys had very similar results except for a line of EER stations immediately north of the existing wells. There are several possible explanations for the sharp contrast in data between the two surveys, but, at the moment, the exact reason for the difference has not been determined. One possibility is the presence of drainage tile.
The test drilling and logging indicated that the alluvial aquifer was indeed limited and contained rather well-defined boundaries, which corroborated the results of the 1960 and 2007 surveys. Gamma and resistivity logs provided strong correlation with the surface data, and, considered with the test drilling, confirmed a bedrock channel along with the coarser-grained material. Unfortunately, the bottom 5 feet of unconsolidated material was a dense till/diamicton rather than coarse sand and gravel. Overall, the favorable locations reflected at least double the thickness of sand and gravel over that found at the less favorable locations. The bottom elevation of the alluvial deposit was higher, and the texture was finer, at the less favorable locations based on the EER surveys.
Since the initial EER study was conducted, the land containing the wells has been sold. The new owner has expressed less interest in developing new community wells on the property. The engineering firm and community are working with the landowner to reconsider allowing the community to expand its well field. This change in attitude is much more prevalent in the past five years than previously. Competition for resources, ethanol production, and the price of corn and soybeans have forced small communities such as Kane to consider buying larger tracts of land; in the past, farmers and landowners were much more willing to give up a few acres for wells. (Contact: Tim Young)
Information Provided about Waste Gypsum Conversion Process
ISGS scientists have seen an increase in the number of requests for information about an ISGS process for producing value-added products from waste synthetic gypsum. The ISGS conversion process produces two value-added products, fertilizer and high-quality calcium carbonate, from waste gypsum. The requests come from electric and related companies in the United States and abroad that generate large quantities of waste gypsum during their routine operation. The companies are seeking to use the process to produce value-added products that can be used for wet flue gas desulfurization. The ISGS research and development project that developed the conversion process occurred during 1996 to 1999 with support from the Illinois Clean Coal Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy. (Contact: Melissa Chou)
Illinois Coal Bed Methane Cores Donated to ISGS
BPI Energy, the major developer of coal bed methane in Illinois, donated cores, logs, and data from their exploration efforts to the Illinois State Geological Survey. The cores, from approximately 12 wells from various areas of southern Illinois, are being described by Coal Section members. Several cores are continuous for several hundreds of feet and provide valuable documentation of the variations of Pennsylvanian stratigraphy, particularly coals, in the Illinois Basin. (Contacts: Scott Elrick, John Nelson, and Dave Morse)
Map of Lee County Sand Distribution Nearing Completion
Xiaodong Miao is working on a map showing the surficial eolian and outwash sand distribution of Lee County. Sand and gravel deposits are found in southwestern Lee County (part of the Green River Lowland) and are also in the northeastern part of the county. The deposits are largely the direct or indirect result of the glacial process. Sand in Lee County has two major origins: windblown eolian sand and water-lain glacial and fluvial outwash sand. Eolian sand, previously classified as Parkland Sand, consists of topographically distinct dune sand and relatively flat sand sheet in interdune areas. Eolian sand is very well sorted and medium to fine grained, containing no gravels. Soil formed in eolian sand is excessively well drained due to its sandy texture. In contrast, thick glacial and fluvial outwash sand and gravel classified as Batavia Member of Henry Formation was deposited by meltwater from the ice front that built the Bloomington Morainic System in Lee County. Therefore, outwash sand can vary in grain size and often coexists with gravel.
The geological significance of this map is the distribution of eolian sand versus outwash sand. The sands are not mutually exclusive at some localities because eolian sand is generally above glacial and fluvial outwash sand in the Green River Lowland. Classifications of eolian versus glacial and fluvial sands are based on data from topography, parent materials of soil reported in U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Survey, water and related well records, and grain size. Previous differentiation of eolian and outwash sand has been at the statewide scale. The ISGS county map now in preparation gives much more detailed information. It improves the understanding of the distribution and use of this sand and gravel resource and enhances the scientific understanding of the eolian and the glacial and fluvial processes.
With this new map, the sand distribution of the entire Green River Lowland (Bureau, Henry, Lee, Rock Island, and Whiteside Counties) can be finalized. A similar map of Bureau County has been completed, and the surficial geology of Henry, Rock Island, and Whiteside Counties has been mapped by Richard Anderson, Augustana College. Collective information from these mapping projects will provide a clear picture of sand distribution in the Green River Lowland. (Contact: Xiaodong Miao)
New Field Work Adds to the Knowledge of the Mahomet Aquifer
The Mahomet aquifer and the shallower aquifers in the Glasford Formation that overlie it are the focus of a continuing field investigation. As part of the project, six observation wells have been installed at four sites. Two of wells are in the Mahomet aquifer; the other four are in Glasford Formation sand and gravel aquifers. Continuous core was collected at two of the sites; drill cuttings were collected from the drilling fluid at other sites. The deepest borehole at four of the sites was logged using gamma-ray logging. As of the end of 2007, a total of 17 additional observation wells have been installed in the Mahomet aquifer and the overlying aquifers in the Glasford Formation. In addition to the drilling and installation of observation wells, resistivity data have been collected along a quarter-mile line at the River Bend Champaign County Forest Preserve in Mahomet.
Preliminary analysis of the results showed the presence of three units within a depth of 150 feet. These units seem to correlate with alluvial sand and silt, glacial outwash, and glacial till. transect. The units were seen in the core that was collected at a site along the Mahomet Forest preserve transect. Resistivity data were also collected along two transects at Lodge Park, Piatt County Forest Preserve, north of Monticello, to identify a suitable site for installation of observation wells to measure hydraulic head in Illinoisan age (Glasford) sediments and the pre Illinois Mahomet aquifer. Seismic data were collected along a transect over the Pesotum Bedrock Valley. Analysis of these data better characterized the sediments infilling the valley and the bedrock surface along the seismic profile. Two observation wells were installed at a site near the center of the seismic transect. The borehole sediment description and the downhole gamma log data helped with interpretation of data from the seismic profile. Although the Pesotum Bedrock Valley is filled predominantly with fine grained sediment, the additional data suggest a more complex geology. Many different sediment types, representing several glacial episodes and at least one pre-glacial episode, were recovered from the borehole. These materials were lumped into three general units to aid in interpretation of seismic data. Unit 1 includes glacial till and several sand and gravel layers. Unit 2 includes mainly hard glacial till of uniform texture. Unit 3 consists of layers of gravel, sand, and silt and clay that directly overlie weathered bedrock. Aquifer materials found in the lower part of unit 3 are at about the same elevation as the Mahomet aquifer. The geologic and hydrogeologic relationships between the Pesotum Bedrock Valley and the Mahomet aquifer will be further explored. (Contacts: Bill Dey and Andrew Stumpf)
54th Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference to Visit Sites in Northeastern Illinois
More than 150 people have indicated interest in attending the upcoming Friends of the Pleistocene field excursion May 16 to 18, 2008. Registration information, due April 1, 2008, may be found on the ISGS Web site. The field trip is being led by Brandon Curry (ISGS) with assistance from ISGS colleagues, Michael Konen and Ivan Camilo Higuera Diaz (Northern Illinois University), Roy Plotnick (University of Illinois Chicago), and Jeffrey Saunders and Eric Grimm (Illinois State Museum) among others. The trip will include stops at the Mastodon Gallery (Phillips Park, Aurora), ice walled lake plains in Burlington and Wadsworth, glaciotectonic outcrop sized folds and faults, proglacial deltaic sediment, flood cut channels, and karstified Ordovician dolomite (filled with fossiliferous Pennsylvanian debris!). The field trip will be tracked in live time on the field trip busses with GPS, and the route progress will be shown on the bus TV monitors. Background maps will include shaded relief maps made from LiDAR and DEM data draped with recent maps of the surficial geology. Midwest FOP field conferences began in 1950 and have occurred in 53 of the last 58 years. The conferences provide a field forum for Quaternary scientists to present and discuss current research in Quaternary geology. (Contacts: Brandon Curry and Steve Brown)
Engineers Without Borders Seeks Help from ISGS Geologists
Two members of the Chicagoland Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders visited the ISGS to give a seminar about the work the Chapter is doing with residents of Cuetzala de La Reforma, Guerrero, Mexico, to help them increase the sustainability of their water supplies. Riyaz Shipchandler, a Process Engineer at the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center in Chicago, and Ken Kastman, Vice President and Principal Engineer with URS Corporation in Chicago, described the work that has been done over the last year and some of the problems that remain to be resolved. The water supply for the village, which is located near the top of a mountain, consists of springs, only one of which runs throughout the dry season. Water is rationed at 40 liters per family per day during the dry season. The ISGS scientists were able to provide the Engineers Without Borders team with many valuable comments, suggestions, and insights regarding the hydrogeologic setting of the area, the kinds of additional data that should be collected, and sources of information or assistance. (Contact: Dave Larson)
Two Funding Proposals Accepted by USGS
Sam Panno (Illinois State Geological Survey) and Craig Lundstrom (University of Illinois) were awarded a grant by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Hazard Program for $80,762.00 for a one-year project entitled "Major earthquakes recorded by the initiation and/or regrowth of speleothems in midwestern U.S. caves." Additionally, the U.S. Geological Survey announced an award of $228,592 for continued geologic mapping under the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program. This is the second highest award amount out of 45 proposals nationwide. (Contact: Steve Brown)
Updated 07/23/2012 SLD