ISGS - November 2010 Activity Highlights
ISGS - November Monthly Activities
Geologists Have an Angle on Past Glaciations in Illinois
Drilling in Champaign, Illinois, to study the hydrogeology of the Mahomet aquifer
A 245-foot-long borehole was drilled in Champaign, Illinois, by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) as part of ongoing research to study the geology and hydrogeology of the Mahomet aquifer. Continuous core was collected from the land surface into bedrock, and geophysical tests were performed in the borehole to characterize the subsurface materials.
One objective of this drilling was to test new technologies that incorporate magnetic and gravimetric sensors to measure the orientation (azimuth and dip direction) of boreholes. Sediments record the direction of the Earth's magnetic field as they are deposited. This magnetic memory can be measured in the lab and correlated to the Geomagnetic Polarity Time Scale to obtain a precise, absolute age for the sediments. The ISGS is the first to utilize these technologies to acquire oriented cores from unconsolidated sediment, and this study may provide a blueprint for future researchers aiming to conduct paleomagnetic measurements on sediment that is deeply buried and not exposed at the land surface.
The borehole was drilled at an angle of 10 degrees to utilize these downhole tools, which were developed by Reflex Instruments and supplied by IDS (International Directional Services LLC). Mining companies and geotechnical consultants prefer these tools over other orientation systems because they allow continual in-hole measurements that therefore reduce the drilling cost per foot. These tools allow geologists to carefully reorient samples of the core in the lab, which in turn, will allow geophysicists at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Rock Magnetism to determine the age of the sediments encountered during drilling
Initial results of this drilling program confirm the recent findings of a study of the Mahomet aquifer that was jointly undertaken by the ISGS and Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), suggesting that certain sand and gravel deposits, important to the carrying capacity of the aquifer, are not present at this site. However, shallower sand and gravel deposits were encountered during drilling that may serve as a water source for the surrounding area. The dual-agency Mahomet aquifer study is funded by the Illinois American Water Company. Additional data obtained from this drilling activity further supports findings from a current study of the Mahomet aquifer that has provided a better understanding of the subsurface geology that could impact the future management of water resources.
Finally, the core was subsampled for additional measurements that will determine the physical, chemical, and biological properties of these subsurface materials. Scientists from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois will study the microbial communities present in these sediments. It is hoped that the results will provide an improved understanding of the microbial communities present in anaerobic (oxygen-poor) environments that can be applied to the development of bioenergy and the bioremediation of toxic chemicals and radioactive materials. (Contact: Andrew Stumpf)
Fulbright Senior Specialist Returns from Egypt Assignment
Christopher Stohr was on remote assignment to Beni Suef University (BSU), Beni Suef, Egypt from October 15 to November 5, 2010, as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. The purpose of Stohr's visit was to present lectures and lead a workshop/short course on remote sensing and engineering geology, observe waste and environmental sites around Beni Suef, and make an environmental/engineering geology and natural hazards map of "new" East Beni Suef, an area of potential industrial and economic development.
Stohr provided lectures on
• the failure of an industrial chemical landfill (Earthline, Wilsonville, Illinois) in the midwestern United States, explaining how the failure was studied and what lessons were learned about engineering geology exploration and laboratory testing. Special emphasis was given to the use of remote sensing for engineering geology exploration at a hazardous waste site and the contents of waste drums.
• the use of close range photogrammetry and remote sensing for georeferenced outcrop descriptions. Discussion referenced limestone mining, sand and gravel extraction, archaeology, and geologic mapping for groundwater resources.
• the use of downhole geophysical logging for mapping Quaternary deposits. This topic was of greater interest than expected.
• the glacial geology of Illinois, including a description of glacial processes and a chronology of events.
For the Workshop/Short Course, "Engineering Geology and Remote Sensing," Stohr discussed sources and types of imagery, enhancement and classification of imagery, and applications of remote sensing for engineering geology. Examples included "Aerial Photo Interpretation of Landslides along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (work with Wen-June Su), "Thermal Infrared Imagery for Detecting Carbon Dioxide Leaking from Geologic Sequestration" (with Bracken Wimmer and others), and LiDAR applications in Illinois (with Donald Luman).
Work was begun on an environmental/engineering geology and natural hazards map of "New" Beni-Suef City (east of the Nile River). The area south of East Beni Suef encompasses dwelling and industrial sectors and is surrounded by desert. Because urbanization of this area has been expanding, remote sensing is being used with limited available engineering and geologic information to select the most favorable places for expansion of this new city (e.g., proposing the favorable places for waste disposal, buildings, and factories and avoiding hazardous areas).
Stohr visited several waste disposal sites near Beni Suef governate and
Lake Qarun and Wadi Rayyun in the adjoining Faiyum governate to observe
and discuss problems. During the visits, Stohr and the BSU professors
discussed how some of the waste management problems were met in the
United States as well as strategies under consideration in Egypt. These
sites were visited or observed:
• sewage waste composting site
• medical waste incinerator
• village damaged by catastrophic flooding
• foundation problems from sewage treatment and discharge
• municipal solid waste landfill
• cement plant waste dump
• agricultural and sewage discharge to Lake Qarun and Wadi Rayun
• Ain El Shaeer Springs, which discharges warm alkaline water
The Dean of Commerce, as well as other professionals, described the problem of airborne cement kiln dust as the worst problem facing the area. Waste cement is dumped and insufficiently contained by earthen cover only to be wind eroded during the khamsin winds to become an air pollutant.
Finally, Stohr met with Dr. Mohamed Youssef, President of BSU; Dr. Hany Hamdi, Dean of the Faculty of Science; and Dr. Gouda Abdel-Gawad, Chair of the Geology Department who asked about developing a memorandum of understanding with respect to student exchange, collaborative research, and perhaps teaching. Discussions are currently under way between BSU and the University of Bergen, Norway. The BSU operates its own field camps and trips in the Red Sea Mountains and in the Sinai Peninsula. (Contact: Chris Stohr)
National Science Foundation Workshop on Rift Initiation and Evolution
The multitude of active faults in the Illinois rift system poses a significant hazard to people of Illinois and state infrastructure. That is why Dr. Yev Kontar, staff member of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), contributed to the National Science Foundation (NSF) GeoPRISMS Implementation Workshop on the Rift Initiation and Evolution (RIE) Initiative, which took place on November 4-6, 2010, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The RIE workshop addressed four broad questions: (1) Where and why do continental rifts initiate? (2) How do fundamental rifting processes (such as tectonics, magmatism, erosion, transport, and sedimentation), and the feedbacks between them, evolve in time and space? (3) What controls the structural and stratigraphic architecture of rifted continental margins during and after breakup? (4) What are the mechanisms and consequences of fluid and volatile exchange between the earth, oceans, and atmosphere at rifted continental margins and between the lithosphere and the mantle? The workshop participants discussed 15 white papers including a collaborative research project entitled, "Is the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone related to the ancient Reelfoot Rift?". Multi-institution study of the Reelfoot Rift's deep structure will provide insight into the processes that shaped North America and continue to control rifting worldwide, and a research consortium was organized for this study. (Contact: Yevgeniy Kontar)
pXRF Short Course
Shane Butler, Zak Lasemi, Randy Hughes, William Roy, Nathan Webb, and Rich Cahill of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and Amanda Butler and Sarah Wisseman of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) attended a two-day short course on the use of a portable x-ray fluorescence machine (pXRF) with Bruce Kaiser, a representative from the Bruker Corporation on November 4-5, 2010. The attendees of the short course gained hands-on experience with the machine to become familiar with it and understand its capabilities by focusing on topics such as x-ray theory and technology, fundamentals of x-ray interaction physics, sample analysis, analysis software operation, analysis of unknown materials, and quantification and limitations. Bruce Kaiser also provided software for the participants to use for data analysis. The machine is capable of detecting elements from magnesium to plutonium and is a non-destructive analysis technique. (Contact: Zak Lasemi)
Since November 15, 2010, Ed Mehnert has served as Technical Coordinator for the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) in the FutureGen2 screening process. Mehnert has participated in four phone conferences with the Subsurface Technical Evaluators who need geological data for sites in Illinois. Mehnert is working with Rob Finley (a member of Subsurface Technical Evaluation team), Scott Frailey, Bryan Huff, Hannes Leetaru, Chris Korose, Pius Weibel, and Phil Jagucki (Soil Conservation Service). The Pacific Northwest National Lab is leading the screening process. (Contact: Ed Mehnert)
Lois Yoksoulian and William Roy at ISGS have begun initial experiments with organic-rich shale and high-pressure, high temperature vessels for a collaborative project with Dr. Sue Rimmer of the Department of Geological Sciences at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. This study is being undertaken to observe the behavior of dispersed organic material (bituminite) in high-pressure, carbon dioxide (CO2)-rich environments within the New Albany Shale, one of the three identified low porosity/permeability seals located above the Mt. Simon Sandstone, a proposed CO2 storage reservoir in the central Illinois Basin. It has been shown experimentally that hydrocarbons can be dissolved and extracted from coal using supercritical CO2. The purpose of this project will be to determine whether conditions caused by CO2 sequestration activities will result in the dissolution of the bituminite in the New Albany shale.
In situ pressure, temperature, and formation water conditions of the New Albany Shale will be simulated within the vessels to match those of the Illinois Basin-Decatur Project. Analyses of total organic carbon, mineralogy, and maceral composition of the New Albany Shale will be performed before and after the pressure vessel experiments and results compared. The structure of bituminite is best described as an anastomosing network of organic material intrinsic to the cohesiveness of organic-rich shales. Because of this, the dissolution of this material may have an effect on the porosity and permeability of the rock. If the CO2-New Albany Shale interaction causes dissolution of the bituminite, the efficacy of the New Albany Shale as a seal should be carefully evaluated. (Contact: William Roy)
Conducting mitigation, validation, and accounting (MVA) efforts, Abbas Iranmanesh and Bracken Wimmer of the ISGS collected brine samples from oil production wells from the Mumford hills site (Griffin, Indiana). Fresh water samples from groundwater monitoring wells have been collected as well. Iranmanesh is reviewing the unified guidance "statistical analysis of groundwater monitoring data at RCRA facilities" provided by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (March 2009). Concepts and statistical methods recommended by this guidance will be used to evaluate the groundwater monitoring data from compliance wells at the ADM site. This evaluation will be performed using recently purchased statistical software, "Sanitas version 9.1." (Contacts: Abbas Iranmanesh and Bracken Wimmer)
Updated 08/01/2012 SLD