ISGS - August 2009 Activity Highlights
ISGS - Monthly Report of Activities
Major New Funding Arrives for Height Modernization Program
Thanks to the efforts of Congressmen Timothy Johnson and Aaron Schock, the Illinois State Geological Survey has received nearly $725,000 to continue the Illinois Height Modernization Program through the National Geodetic Survey (NGS). This new funding more than doubles the funding received for the initial year of the program.
Nearly every engineered design of structures needs current and accurate elevation data about the immediate site and its surroundings. However, vertical reference benchmarks are scarce, and vertical datums and topographic information are inconsistent throughout Illinois. This lack of consistent data affects all engineering projects, natural resource studies and modeling, and even routine surveying. To accurately and efficiently predict the extent and depth of flooding, coastal erosion, or natural disasters; monitor landscape changes due to artificial improvements; plan for roadway improvements; develop evacuation routes; and minimize environmental impacts, it is critical to have one current, consistent vertical datum on which field surveys and a statewide digital elevation model can be based. An NGS report concluded that "the potential for financial benefits was found to be staggering" for height modernization. Unfortunately, Illinois was ranked in the bottom ten states regarding the quality of its elevation data.
First-year funding supported a survey of available elevation data, including its quality and plans for collecting additional data. A data server was acquired, and a Web site has been developed for the project. The first new, high-quality set of benchmarks are being installed and surveyed; these are being tied into the network Wisconsin developed under the same NGS program. Second-year funding will allow the ISGS to expand on the initial level run, collect digital elevation data through remote sensing, and establish two continuously operating reference points for GPS systems. (Contact: Beverly Herzog)
New Geologic Maps Completed for ISGS STATEMAP Effort
In September 2008, the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) received matching funds from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program's (NCGMP) STATEMAP component to produce seven 1:24,000-scale geologic maps. STATEMAP receives funds through an annual competitive grant process by which the State offers to match every Federal dollar. Mapping areas are selected based on issues or needs to address critical earth science problems. STATEMAP's mandate is to produce accurate geologic maps and three-dimensional framework models that help problem solvers and decision makers, both public and private, to understand how and where geology affects land-use decisions. The surficial and bedrock geology mapping provides the base data used to produce derivative maps to show the locations of potential geologic hazards (landslides, mined-out areas, karst, possible flood zones) and potential earth resources (water, coal, oil, aggregates). The seven geologic maps were completed and delivered to the USGS on August 31, 2009. These maps are available for download from the ISGS Web site: http://www.isgs.illinois.edu/maps-data-pub/statemap.shtml. (Contact: Dick Berg, Steve Brown, or Donald Keefer)
New Findings on Silurian Petroleum Reservoirs Generate Interest in the Sangamon Arch in West-Central Illinois
Geologist Yaghoob Lasemi started working on the reservoir characterization of the Mt. Auburn trend in late 2007, in conjunction with a long-term Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) research project on the Silurian through Devonian succession of rock units in the Sangamon Arch and surrounding areas. The Silurian succession of the Mt. Auburn trend in west-central Illinois is composed of hydrocarbon-bearing carbonate rocks. Production is chiefly from dolomitized carbonate reservoirs in the upper part of the Niagaran deposits. Detailed studies using available subsurface data, including well cuttings, cores, and geophysical logs, have revealed that the uppermost Niagaran Racine Formation (equivalent to Moccasin Springs Formation of southern Illinois) is the only petroleum producer in the Mt. Auburn trend. A prominent unconformity subdivides the Racine Formation into two depositional sequences comprising several producing dolomite horizons. The reservoirs include mainly dolomitized skeletal carbonate facies in the upper sequence and coral patch reef/reef-related facies in the lower sequence. These facies were deposited along a southwest-trending, gently sloping ramp margin roughly parallel to the Mt. Auburn trend and graded basinward into muddy open marine carbonates.
Reports of initial petroleum production in the area indicate that the rocks of the lower sequence may have greater hydrocarbon reservoir potential than the upper sequence. However, in much of the Mt. Auburn trend, few wells have tested the lower sequence, and hydrocarbon production to date has been chiefly from the carbonate reservoirs in the uppermost part of the upper sequence of the Racine Formation. Although most of the wells drilled thus far in the Mt. Auburn trend have tested only the upper sequence, this study indicates that the lower Racine sequence also has excellent potential for additional discoveries.
Presentations in workshops and geological conferences, a geological report on the Silurian reservoirs for the U.S. Department of Energy Lower Paleozoic Final Contract Report, and publication in the August 3 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal entitled "Oil Potential Seen in Silurian Reef-related Reservoirs in Illinois' Sangamon Arch" have generated renewed interest for exploration and development in the unexplored areas of the Sangamon Arch and should encourage secondary recovery enhancement of the producing horizons in the area. A number of petroleum geologists and operators from Illinois and other states have contacted or visited the ISGS in the past few weeks for discussions or consultations and have expressed interest in developing prospects for further exploration in the Sangamon Arch area. (Contact: Yaghoob Lasemi)
Igneous Dike Found
The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) Geophysics Section received word from Peabody Energy of successful test drilling into an igneous dike that was predicted by the ISGS based on ground magnetic work in 2006. A previous test drilled prior to the magnetic survey and only a few hundred feet to the east had not encountered igneous material. Geologist Brett Denny contributes expertise in mineralogy to this ongoing project. (Contact: Timothy Larson)
Several Papers Presented on Carbon Sequestration
Hannes E. Leetaru organized a joint AAPG/SEP/SEG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Society of Petroleum Engineers/Society of Exploration Geophysicists) Hedberg Conference on Carbon Sequestration in Vancouver, Canada, August 16-19, 2009. The registration list included scientists from thirteen countries. Robert Finley, Sallie Greenberg, and Hannes Leetaru of the Illinois State Geological Survey made presentations at this meeting. (Contact: Hannes Leetaru)
East-Central Regional Water Supply Planning Effort Conducts Major Outreach Efforts
As part of a campaign for public education and outreach, the Regional Water Supply Planning Committee undertook three major activities. First, with members of the Regional Water Supply Planning Committee and the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium, Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) hydrogeologist Edward Mehnert attended outreach meetings to help describe the water supply planning report and answer questions from the public in Gilman (August 4, 2009), Decatur (August 6, 2009), Paxton (August 12, 2009), Lincoln (August 18, 2009), and Danville (August 26, 2009). The evening outreach meetings have been poorly attended, but a few more meetings are planned. The report of the Committee is available on-line at www.rwspc.org.
Second, with the Chair of the Regional Water Supply Planning Committee, Mehnert attended a study session of the Champaign City Council on August 25, 2009, and he answered questions from the Council and the public about the properties of the Mahomet aquifer and about water resource planning. Finally, Mehnert and two members of the Committee participated in the radio show Focus 580 (WILL-AM 580, Urbana). Water resources planning in east-central Illinois was discussed for approximately 60 minutes on August 3, 2009. The show is archived at http://will.illinois.edu/focus580/interviews/2009/08/03/. (Contact: Edward Mehnert)
Two Field Trips Conducted in Chicago Area
On Saturday, August 8, 2009, Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) coastal geologist Michael Chrzastowski was a presenter on full-day public field trip across the Illinois Beach State Park watershed. The trip, attended by 35 people, was led by the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission.
Michael Chrzastowski led a half-day field trip along the Chicago lakefront on August 31 for students in the Environmental Science Program at DePaul University. The tour focused on the work of Daniel Burnham and his planning vision for a contiguous park system along the Chicago and Evanston shoreline. Attending the field trip were 28 students, faculty, and staff. All participants received a copy of ISGS Guidebook 36, "Make No Little Plans": Field Trip Guidebook for the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association 2008 National Conference. (Contact: Michael Chrzastowski)
Clay Minerals Short Course at the ISGS
Professor Steve Altaner of the University of Illinois Department of Geology presented a week-long short course on clay minerals at the Illinois State Geological Survey. The goal of this course was to summarize the mineralogy and chemistry of the most common clay minerals and the key physical properties of clay minerals, including environmental and societal applications; origin and occurrence of clay minerals in soil, sediment, and sedimentary rock, including examples from Illinois; and x-ray diffraction identification of clay minerals, including mixed-layer clay minerals. Twenty-eight people attended the course. For many it was the first time they were exposed to the topic of clay mineralogy and x-ray diffraction identification of clay minerals. The short course was excellent, and much positive feedback from the participants was received. (Contact: Zakaria Lasemi)
Advice Provided on Wetlands Projects
On August 26, 2009, James Miner and Keith Carr of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) Wetland Geology Section met with two representatives of the Geneva Park District regarding a fen creation and proposed pond clarification project. The geologists advised the park district about the functioning and likely outcome of the fen creation project and reviewed the options for the pond.
On August 26, 2009, Steven Benton, Geoff Pociask, and Charles Knight of the ISGS Wetland Geology Section met with representatives of Illinois Department of Transportation Central Office and District 7, Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the Louisville U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a site in Lawrence County, Illinois, to discuss the practicality of using the parcel for a wetland mitigation bank. The ISGS scientists will continue monitoring the site to determine if the hydrology of the parcel is suitable. (Contact: Jim Miner)
Boy Scouts Provided Badge Help
On August 8, 2009, Illinois State Geological Survey geologist Daniel Adomaitis led a field trip to the Braidwood State Fish and Wildlife Area to help fulfill the geology requirements for several troops of Cub, Bear, and Webelos Scouts. The outing included a presentation that allowed the scouts to gain their geology belt loop, geology pin, and geologist's Webelos pin. Troops from Downers Grove, Lemont, Lisle, and Woodridge attended, and the total number of attendees was 82. (Contact: Daniel Adomaitis)
ISGS Active in Earthquake Preparedness
Illinois State Geological Survey engineering geologist Robert Bauer supplied the Illinois Emergency Management Agency's (IEMA) statewide assessment report for the Illinois Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) exercise this year. ARES was looking for a realistic statewide earthquake scenario and will use the damage estimate from the 7.7 New Madrid event given in the IEMA report, which contains damage information per county for the southernmost 34 counties, for the ARES exercise. Additionally, Bauer will be working with ARES for its inclusion in the Survey's earthquake response plan.
Donald McKay and Bauer participated in the meeting of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium State Geologists. The meeting was held August 13-14, 2009. The group reviewed the efforts of each of the participating eight states to produce an Earthquake Response Plan in association with state emergency managers. The review included the estimated involvement of each state's emergency managers in the National Level (New Madrid earthquake) Exercise being planned for May 2011, the cooperation with the state emergency managers' public information officers for development of messages following an earthquake, and potential future work and research of the organization. (Contact: Robert Bauer)
Updated 07/09/2012 SLD