ISGS - July 2008 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Home Page of the Illinois State Geological Survey
Map of abandoned mines in the De Soto quadrangle
Abandoned Mine Maps Delivered to IDOT
Mapping of abandoned mines has been completed for 13 7.5-minute quadrangles in Jackson, Williamson, Franklin, Hamilton, and White Counties. Maps for those quadrangles, 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, the project sponsor, and are being released to the public at this time. The new maps are for the Carbondale, De Soto, Gorham, Oraville, Pomona, Christopher, Sesser, Ewing, Norris City, McLeansboro, Thackeray, Macedonia, and Enfield Quadrangles. The maps and directories will help government planners, developers, and private citizens to identify areas that have been undermined. (Contacts: Cheri Chenoweth, Jennifer Obrad, and Alan Myers)
Illinois Height Modernization Program Begins
A comparison of commonly available DEM (left) with the quality of DEM we plan to
acquire under this program.
Every engineering project and many land-use planning efforts require accurate height measurement, which, in turn, requires a datum-consistent vertical and horizontal statewide network of survey benchmarks and a statewide high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) of the Earth's surface. Unfortunately, Illinois currently falls far short of both goals and is ranked in the bottom ten in the quality of its elevation data. The National Geodetic Survey (NGS), part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provides funding to states through the Height Modernization program to improve the quality of elevation data using global positioning satellites (GPS) technology in conjunction with traditional leveling, gravity, and modern remote sensing. Thanks to an earmark through Representative Timothy Johnson's office, Illinois joined this program in July 2008.
The long-term goal of the Illinois Height Modernization Program is to establish (1) a datum-consistent vertical and horizontal statewide network of survey benchmarks, and (2) a statewide high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) of the Earth's surface based upon the updated network of survey benchmarks. During the first year of this multi-year project, the program will plan the long-term work, establish an infrastructure for data distribution, begin to recover existing benchmarks and establish new benchmarks, search out and begin to acquire existing DEM data sets from county or other governmental units, and initiate project outreach. The plan for future years, if funded, is to continue to establish benchmarks and to partner with other units of government to acquire new DEM data. (Contact: Bev Herzog)
Two Department of Energy Awards Will Allow ISGS to Develop New Technologies
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) to develop a technology to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants. In the United States, coal-fired power plants emitted about 1,964 million metric tonnes of CO2 in 2005. In the Illinois Basin, 126 power plants emitted about 273 million metric tonnes of CO2 in 2005, of which 98% were contributed by the coal-fired plants. Yongqi Lu, principal investigator and ISGS chemical engineer, will lead the 3-year, $700,000 DOE project. Calgon Carbon Corporation (CCC) has also committed an additional $100,000 for in-kind contributions in support of this project.
The ISGS team of Yongqi Lu and Massoud Rostam-Abadi will collaborate with the CCC and Professor Mark Rood, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to advance an integrated vacuum carbonate absorption process (IVCAP) for post-combustion CO2 capture. The development of the IVCAP was initiated in 2004 by the ISGS chemical engineers Yongqi Lu, Scott Chen, and Massoud Rostam-Abadi with support from the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC). A U.S. patent application (Application No. 60/798,489, May 2007) describing the process is pending.
The DOE award will allow the ISGS to advance the IVCAP to an industrial-scale technology for potential pilot-scale or full-scale testing at a utility site after the conclusion of the three-year project. The team has proposed performing an experimental study (1) to test the proof-of-concept of the IVCAP process, (2) to identify an effective catalyst/additive for accelerating the CO2 absorption rate and reducing the stripping heat, (3) to evaluate a modified IVCAP for combined SO2 and CO2 removal, and (4) to analyze the technological and economic performance of the process for industrial applications.
Seyed Dastgheib, left, and Yongqi Lu, co-principle investigators on the project.
The DOE also selected ISGS to develop technologies to reuse produced water from CO2 enhanced oil recovery, coal-bed methane recovery, and mine pool water by coal-based power plants. The three-year $830,000 DOE award and a $230,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Coal Development and Marketing, will allow the ISGS an opportunity to address the critical water issues facing the energy sector. ISGS chemical engineers Seyed Dastgheib and Yongqi Lu (co-principal investigators) will lead the project. Participants of this project are ISGS staff scientist Massoud Rostam-Abadi, three University of Illinois professors, Mark Shannon (Mechanical Engineering Sciences), Richard Masel (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Charles Werth (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, BPI Energy Inc., and White County Coal, LLC.
Coal power plants are the second largest user of fresh water in the United State. In Illinois, the thermoelectric power sector accounts for about 84% of the estimated 14 billion gallons per day of fresh water withdrawals and one-third of the state's total 1 billion gallons per day of fresh water consumption. Illinois electric power generation capacity is projected to expand 30% by 2030, increasing water consumption by 55 to 160%. The DOE and DCEO awards will be used to evaluate the feasibility of reusing the three types of non-traditional water sources for cooling or process water for coal-based power plants in the Illinois Basin. Tasks will include evaluating the quantity and quality of the produced water, investigating and developing suitable treatment technologies, and conducting detailed economic and benefits analyses. The research will provide critical information for the use of these non-traditional water sources for power plant makeup water, which would allow for increased use of non-traditional waters in the Illinois Basin and nationally. (Contact: Massoud Rostam-Abadi)
Coal Waste Utilization Idea Proceeding in Patent Process
An invention disclosure was filed by ISGS researchers in May 2008 on a subject related to manufacturing lightweight concrete products using coal combustion by-products. The invention has been approved by the Office of Technology Management Commercialization Review Committee for non-provisional U.S. Utility patent application. (Contact: Melissa Chou)
Geologist John Nelson examines a part of the fossil forest.
Fossil Forest Saga Continues
Scott Elrick and John Nelson were interviewed by The Weather Channel and Smithsonian magazine during July 2008. The Weather Channel conducted a video interview of Scott Elrick underground at Peabody Energy's Vermilion Grove mine. Elrick explained the geologic story and showed the sites of the fossil forest discovered last year. The video interview was shown nationally multiple times during prime time viewing. Concurrently, John Nelson gave the same underground tour to a writer and photographer from Smithsonian magazine who was covering the fossil forest story. Both Nelson and Elrick also gave extensive interviews to the Smithsonian writer for a multi-page article on the discovery of the world's largest fossil forest. (Contact: Scott Elrick)ISGS Scientists Use New Carbon-14 Dating Method to Understand Half-Century Mystery in Quincy, Illinois
In 1957, Arthur Andrew, a local resident of Adams County, Illinois, noticed a large "elephant tooth" poking from a bluff several miles southeast of Lima near the former bed of Lima Lake. As the Quincy Herald-Whig described on Sunday, April 20, 2008, "Andrew took the tooth home, and the mystery began sprouting. For 51 years, residents of the Lima Lake area have been hearing about the local mastodon tooth and wondering how old it might be." The director of North American Archaeological Institute in Quincy, Steve Tieken, received permission from the tooth's current owner to date this giant creature using the radiocarbon dating method.
Hong Wang, director of the radiocarbon dating laboratory at the Illinois State Geological Survey, took on this project. Together with Stanley Ambrose, anthropology professor, Wang used a pencil-size drill with a diamond bit to grind a half-inch piece of tooth enamel from a corner of the tooth into fine powder. Tooth enamel typically contains different chemical compounds that can be used in the age-dating process. Bio-apatite was selected for dating the tooth because bio-apatite is made up of calcium phosphate crystals that, during the growth of the tooth, trap carbon dioxide within the tooth structure (carbonate). Wang combined the tooth enamel sample with an extremely weak acid (0.1 M acetic acid) for over 20 hours to prepare it for analysis. Afterward, the remaining sample material was mixed with a stronger acid to release the carbon in the bio-apatite. This released carbon was used to date the mastodon tooth. The results of the analysis gave an age of 10,775 ± 35 14C years before present. Surprisingly, this mastodon specimen is the youngest ever dated, suggesting it could represent the "last mastodon standing' on the North America continent. On June 1, 2008, the Quincy Herald-Whig reported this result. Now Lima Lake residents wonder what caused the demise of the furry mastodon. Steve Tieken is currently examining clues such as scratch marks on a vertebrate found next to the mastodon tooth, which may indicate human butchering of the carcass. ISGS scientists have offered to analyze this bone specimen to confirm the age of the mastodon and verify if it is the youngest known mastodon found in North America. (Contact: Hong Wang)New Development Enhances Geophysical Imaging Quality and Helps in Seismic Hazards Assessment
The Illinois State Geological Survey Geophysics Section continues to broaden the spectrum of near-surface geophysical applications, including those utilizing seismic reflection, ground-penetrating radar, and electrical, magnetic, and other geophysical methods for stratigraphic imaging. New developments in data acquisition, processing, interpretation, and modeling have been made. Improved data acquisition systems and methods have led to larger surveys with higher temporal and spatial resolution.
Geophysics section members prepare to gather data.
New techniques for processing and visualization of large amounts of data have enabled more sophisticated stratigraphic interpretation. For example, the seismic group, which is a part of the Geophysics Section, acquires an average of 35 miles of seismic data along secondary roads in Illinois every year. Data are acquired using a multi-channel compressional wave, shear wave, and surface wave land streamers built by the seismic group. The acquired data are processed, and the results are complemented by shallow drill holes, sample collection, and an understanding of actual materials to provide the best possible image of the upper 150m of the shallow subsurface.
A new development to the downhole seismic program was recently made to enhance the quality and efficiency of the acquired seismic data. An advanced self-oriented downhole geophone and new downhole seismic analysis software were adopted. These new developments have made both the acquisition and processing of downhole seismic data almost three times faster than before. With this advance, the seismic group is acquiring data from more boreholes in Illinois.
The measured downhole seismic data (seismic P-wave and S-wave velocity vs. depth) will be used initially to calibrate the seismic reflection data. As a further step in the data analysis, the group intends to integrate the downhole seismic data acquired from each surveyed site and use them to describe the velocity-structure of the major glacial units at the site. This process will result in a new characterization of the glacial sediments based on their seismic velocity, which is a key parameter for other studies such as seismic hazards assessments (Contacts: Yevgeniy Kontar and Ahmed Ismail)
ISGS Participates in Workshop on Post-Earthquake Information Management
Robert Bauer was an invited participant in a workshop on July 22-23, 2008, in Chicago for the University of Illinois Civil Engineering Department project to create a Post-Earthquake Information Management System. The workshop included experts from across the country who are involved in post-earthquake response and recovery. Bauer is involved with the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium of State Geological Surveys in setting up post-earthquake technical clearinghouses in each state following a large earthquake. The July workshop will result in a scoping document on how to proceed in the future to move forward on such a document. One of the suggestions was to use such a system in the clearinghouses or headquarters during the proposed 2011 New Madrid earthquake exercise in the central United States. (Contact: Robert Bauer)
Updated 07/24/2012 SLD