ISGS - May 2008 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Home Page of the Illinois State Geological Survey
Geologist Zak Lasemi, left, and Rob Norby exampin a fossil in a rock at the Tuscols Quarry.
Annual Review of Illinois Industrial Minerals Completed
Geologists at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) completed the annual review of Illinois industrial minerals for the Society of Mining Engineers' Mining Engineering magazine and the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Minerals Yearbook. Two extended abstracts were also published in the abstract volume of the 44th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals.
Of the industrial minerals mined or manufactured in Illinois, those that have the highest value include crushed stone, cement, sand and gravel, and industrial sand. Crushed stone and sand and gravel aggregate materials combined continue to account for more than 60% of the value of Illinois' nonfuel industrial minerals. Dolomite, mined from the Silurian and Ordovician carbonates in northern Illinois, accounted for most of the total stone production.
In terms of value, industrial minerals continue to be Illinois' leading mineral resource commodities, totaling $1.22 billion. According to the USGS mineral industry profile, Illinois ranked 16th among the 50 states in total value of nonfuel mineral production. By value, crushed stone was the state's leading industrial mineral, accounting for about 47% ($573 million) of the total, followed by portland cement, 25% ($308 million); construction sand and gravel, about 14% ($176 million); and industrial sand, about 8% ($102 million). Lime, fuller's earth (absorbent clay), tripoli (microcrystalline silica), and other nonfuel minerals, in decreasing order, accounted for most of the remaining 5% ($63 million). Economic analysis indicates that, because of their large impact on construction and transportation infrastructure, every dollar=s worth of industrial minerals consumed in Illinois contributes $550 directly and indirectly to Illinois' gross state product.
Road maintenance and improvement are major sources of demand for the state's crushed stone, sand and gravel aggregate, and cement. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois has the third-largest network of state and local roads and the sixth-largest interstate highway system in the country. The state also has more than 26,000 bridges, 8,227 of which are in the state highway system, which is heavily used. A significant number of bridges need repair or replacement, as do many stretches of the interstate highway system and many state and secondary highways and roads. Large amounts of construction aggregates are required to keep interstate highways in top condition, maintain major highways, and improve congested urban and rural highways.
Illinois is experiencing a dramatic increase in demand for high-calcium limestone, mainly in response to environmental regulations set by state and federal governments that made it necessary for coal-fired power plants to be equipped with limestone-based scrubber systems to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) and mercury emissions. Stringent pollution control requirements have accelerated installation of limestone-based desulfurization (FGD) systems in coal-fired power plants. This trend toward increasing numbers of FGD units is expected to continue. Because of the importance of high-calcium limestone as a scrubbing agent, it is essential to address issues associated with the transport, availability, and suitability of high-calcium limestone resources for use in FGD power plants. Nearby sources of suitable limestone raw material must be found to feed existing and new scrubber installations and to aid in the selection of proper resources for desulfurization systems in the future. The ISGS is continuing to map and characterize Illinois high-calcium limestone resources that are suitable for controlling sulfur dioxide and mercury emission in coal-fired power plants. (Contact: Zak Lasemi)
ISGS Hosts 54th Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference
Attendees climb a cliff during one of the stops on the trip.
The Illinois State Geological Survey hosted about 115 geologists for the 54th Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference, The Deglacial History of Northeastern Illinois. The conference was based in DeKalb, Illinois. Led by Brandon Curry, the field trip included stops that featured topics ranging from Paleozoic cave fills containing fossils of the earliest conifers; beds of sand and gravel that were folded and faulted by overriding glacial stresses about 18,000 years ago; and the Aurora mastodons at Phillips Park, including three remarkably well-preserved skulls and toothed jaws that have recently been radiocarbon dated. One specimen is currently the youngest known ancient elephant to have roamed the spruce forests of Illinois about 14,000 years ago. The trip included discussions of multiple deglacial floods that affected the geomorphology and sediments of the Illinois River valley. The group looked at evidence of the oldest known torrent of 19,000 years ago—a large, linear gap across the Marseilles Moraine located between the towns of Oswego and Yorkville. The gap is underlain by 30 feet of lake sediment containing fossils of tundra plants, which provided material for the radiocarbon dating of the event. Also featured was a stop at a DeKalb mound. Thought to be the deposit of an ice-walled lake, this landform and other DeKalb mounds located throughout northeastern Illinois have yielded fossil tundra plants that have been radiocarbon dated. The results are providing new details and new insight into the deglacial history of northeastern Illinois. For example, stable isotopic ratios (18O/16O) indicate that the lakes were filled with water derived from the Gulf of Mexico as opposed to glacial meltwater. Wedron Quarry was also visited to allow field trip participants to examine the type section of the Wedron Group, the unit that comprises glacial tills and related deposits of the last glaciation. Featured at this stop was a discussion of the glacial stresses that resulted in evidence of strain during sedimentation. An introduction to the geology of northeastern Illinois and discussion of the geology of the field trip stops were published as ISGS Open File Series 2008-1. (Contact: B. Brandon Curry)
ISGS crew man the drill rig at the ADM
CO2 Sequestration Updates
Significant progress was made at all three carbon sequestration sites this month, as part of the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium Project, Phase II. The final carbon dioxide (CO2) injection well and a deep monitor well at the coal site in Wabash County were drilled, cored, logged, and cased this month. Springfield Coal core samples from the new injection well were placed in desorption canisters depending on maceral type. Springfield Coal core from the second well was preserved for use in a display. In June the wells were perforated, coal permeability was measured with water injection pressure transient tests, and the wells were logged with Schlumberger's cased hole resistivity tool. The CO2 injection is expected to commence in late June. Water and gas samples were also collected from the enhanced coal bed methane pilot.
A groundwater monitoring well was installed at the Archer Daniel Midland plant, Decatur, Illinois. This well will be used in the monitoring, mitigation, and verification (MMV) program for the deep saline reservoir pilot that is part of the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Phase III CO2 geologic sequestration program. The 200-foot-deep well was drilled close to the proposed CO2 injection well to provide geologic information needed to plan the drilling of the injection well. The monitoring well was installed in limestone bedrock and will provide groundwater quality data that will be used in the UIC permit application that requires monitoring of the lowest underground source of drinking water at the site. The well will be developed, and groundwater samples will be collected in the near future.
Illinois State Geological Survey geochemists continue to model the groundwater and brine water quality data collected from the enhanced oil recovery huff-n-puff pilot located in the Louden oil field near St. Elmo, Illinois, the third CO2 sequestration site. The chemical composition of the brine samples continue to change since the termination of CO2 injection. The acidity of the solutions is still increasing. The concentrations of iron, manganese, and potassium initially increased in brine samples collected from the CO2 injection well and are now decreasing. The possible effect of sorption/desorption reactions on the fluid composition are being modeled. The effects of sorption reactions can play an important role in determining fluid composition and, because of the relatively rapid kinetics, are likely to be one of the first aspects of fluid chemistry affected by the introduction of CO2. Sorption onto hematite, possibly available in the subsurface as a cement or grain coating, can be used to explain the decrease in sulfur and the increase in manganese concentration after the introduction of CO2. The change in concentrations is a reflection of the decrease in pH caused by the introduction of the acidic gas. As the pH decreases, the suite of ions that is preferentially on the hematite surface shifts. There is also some dissolution of iron into solution, but these predicted values need to increase more for the model to match the field data. (Contact: Rob Finley)
ISGS staff work the land streamer.
For the past five years, members of the Geophysics Section of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) have been developing a new method for rapidly collecting seismic reflection data using the land streamer. Similar in concept to geophone streamers towed behind boats for normal ocean surveys, this streamer is towed behind a car on land. Although the ISGS team developed the technique for mapping along country roads in Illinois, the technique is applicable in many other areas as well. This spring, an ISGS staff member took the land streamer east to assist the Delaware Geological Survey and University of Delaware in their investigation of the regional Cretaceous aquifer. Although the sediments were much thicker than those previously imaged in Illinois, the land streamer system worked well, and images were able to visualize sediments several hundred meters deep. Delaware Geological Survey scientists are pleased with the level of detail the land streamer reveals. (Contact: Steve Sargent)
Earthquake Preparedness Planning Continues
The ISGS participated in the meeting of the federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) New Madrid Catastrophic Planning project in Champaign, Illinois. This meeting of the Mid-America Earthquake Center, FEMA, George Washington University, Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), CUSEC State Geologists, and U.S. Geological Survey reviewed the progress and direction of a New Madrid earthquake scenario impact on eight states. The eight states of interest are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. An ISGS engineering geologist serves as the CUSEC State Geologists' representative for the FEMA planning. Since January, the ISGS has been working with representatives from the eight states in the area to each produce two maps showing how the soils resting on bedrock would behave during an earthquake. Maps showing soil site class for amplification and liquefaction susceptibility were completed and formatted for use in an earthquake loss estimation computer program. The estimation for this project will show impacts in each of the four FEMA regions in the area. This information will also be used as the basis for a New Madrid earthquake exercise in a few years for the eight-state region.
An ISGS engineering geologist made two hour-long presentations at the New Madrid Fault Region Earthquake Preparedness Conference, sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension Office and held in Metropolis, Illinois, on May 6, 2008. The presentations covered the history and impact of earthquakes in the central United States. Handouts included Internet links to various publications related to preparedness and mitigation for homeowners and facilities. The talks and handouts were presented to the 150 participants at the meeting. In conjunction with this meeting, the staff member was interviewed by two different television stations in Paducah, Kentucky, about preparedness and about the April 18, 2008, earthquake in Illinois.
An ISGS engineering geologist also made a presentation to the Illinois Community College Board in Godfrey, Illinois, on the history of earthquakes in the central United States and their impacts. The presentation covered historical events and expected types of damage. Handouts were distributed that included information on evaluating potential earthquake impacts on college campuses and information concerning mitigation techniques. (Contact: Robert Bauer)
Coal Collaboration Discussed at Two Meetings
Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) scientists were invited by the Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology (ICSET) in Western Kentucky University to meet with the Director, Professor Wei-Ping Pan, and assistant directors for discussions about possible collaborative research development. The ISGS group also toured the ICSET facilities: the Combustion Research Facility equipped with an eight-story-high boiler unit, the Thermal Analysis Laboratory, and the Analytical Laboratory.
Additionally, ISGS scientists completed bench-scale production test runs making fired bricks containing spent equilibrium-catalyst (e-cat) solid waste material. The fluid catalytic cracking process in an oil refinery uses a metal catalyst coated on silica-alumina clay or zeolite (catalyst support material). The catalyst can convert heavy hydrocarbons to light hydrocarbons, but a small fraction of the catalyst is continually replaced with a fresh catalyst to maintain activity. In North America, more than 400 tons of this spent e-cat are generated daily, most of which is disposed of in municipal landfills and on-site facilities. MCAT Services LLC, an Illinois-based processing plant, is currently recovering metals from the spent e-cat received from oil refineries. The residue from their metal recovering process was used in a brick making evaluation at the ISGS. Successful bench-scale results have been completed, and the next step is to conduct testing at a larger scale. A one-ton lot of spent e-cat sample was shipped to a brick plant for the scale-up production test runs. (Contact: Melissa Chou)
Updated 07/24/2012 SLD