ISGS - May 2011 Activity Highlights
ISGS - May Monthly Activities
Tuscola quarry field trip during the 2011 47th forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals
47th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals
The 47th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals was held May 15-17, 2011, at the I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign, Illinois. About 70 people, including guests, attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Bedrock Geology and Industrial Minerals Section of the Illinois State Geological Survey. Participants included geologists, mineral resource specialists, and consultants from federal and state geological surveys and private industries. Some participants also came from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Turkey. The meeting included a three-day pre-meeting field trip to southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois and a one-day post-meeting field trip to northeastern Illinois. A field trip to local quarries (Tuscola Stone Quarry in Tuscola and Fairmont Quarry near Danville) was also held on the afternoon of May 17. The pre-meeting field trip included a stop at the Holcim (US) cement plant, one of the largest in the world, in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Other stops included visits to quarries in southern Illinois to examine operations extracting high-calcium limestone, construction aggregates, microcrystalline silica, and fluorite. Participants visited the Garden of the Gods on the third day and ended the trip at Podolsky Oil Company in Fairfield, Illinois, where a large collection of minerals from Illinois and elsewhere were put on display for the participants. The post-meeting field trip focused on the geology of Chicago's stone industry and how the geology of the region has controlled the industry's historical development and led to what today is one of the largest production centers and markets of aggregate resources in the United States. Additional stops highlighted the modern aggregate industry and included one of the largest quarries in the country exhibiting spectacular examples of a Silurian reef. (Contacts: Zak Lasemi and Don Mikulic)
Attendees examine an outcrop during the 55th Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference.
55th Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference
David Grimley and Andrew Phillips were the primary leaders of the ISGS-hosted 55th Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene Field Conference held in southwestern Illinois on May 20-22, 2011. The 1.5-day, 10-stop field trip was attended by about 85 Quaternary geologists, archeologists, soil scientists, and many students. The principal theme was the origin of the Ridged Drift in and around the lower Kaskaskia River basin and the former existence of a possible Illinois Episode ice lobe. Other themes were Illinois Episode glacial and sedimentary processes, the history and environment of paleo-slackwater lakes, climate records during the middle to late Pleistocene and the Holocene, archeological history, sodium-affected surface soils, and integration of geophysical studies with research and mapping. A featured event was the Saturday night banquet at which Brad Koldehoff of the Illinois State Archeological Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, presented a talk on ancient Native American settlements and culture in the southwestern Illinois region. Koldehoff was particularly appreciative of recent collaborations with the ISGS that improved the understanding of the geologic and geomorphic context of archeological sites. (Contacts: David Grimley and Andrew Phillips)
Luminescense Specialist Joins Survey
Sébastien Huot of the Université du Québec á Montréal, Canada, joined the Illinois State Geological Survey team in May 2011 through an international laboratory exchange program. Huot specializes in luminescence dating and gamma-ray spectrometry. He received his Ph.D. in 2007 from Denmark under the supervision of Andrew Murray and is now a postdoctoral research fellow in Michel Lamothe's luminescence dating laboratory at the Université du Québec á Montréal. Sébastien helped ISGS researchers establish the long sequence of luminescence measurements on quartz grains with a reference check on feldspar contamination so that individual aliquots can be rejected if contaminated by trace amounts of feldspar grains. Because optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of glacial sediments is an important application for ISGS geologists, Sébastien helped them establish the procedure for analyzing partially bleached samples, which is to analyze fewer than 20 instead of more than 1,000 quartz grains for each aliquots. For gamma spectrometer methods, he helped ISGS scientists lower the background radiation by 60 times and reduce "dead counting time" from 0.5 to 0.01%, which fundamentally increases the counting efficiency. This efficiency is very important because the lab measures a very low abundance of uranium, thorium, and potassium isotopes in geological sediments. The OSL dating procedure has moved one large step forward in providing accurate dating of Illinois' sediments. (Contact: Hong Wang).
National Earthquake Drill
During the week of May 16, 2011, the National Level Exercise was held. The exercise was developed around the scenario of a catastrophic earthquake on one of the three New Madrid faults and a triggered earthquake in the Wabash Valley seismic zone. Interestingly, a number of the eight states originally planning to participate were engaged in real-world responses to flooding and extensive tornado damage and had limited participation. During the week-long exercise, the Illinois State Geological Survey conducted daily awareness conference calls among the eight state geological surveys and U.S. Geological Survey staff located in each of the four FEMA regional offices and deployed in the field. These calls provided a broad perspective of the response and coordinated activities across the multistate region that would experience damage from large earthquakes. During that same week, Robert Bauer provided information for a press release from the Prairie Research Institute and provided an interview to a Farm Week reporter about the exercise and the benefits of earthquake preparedness, which also helps with preparedness for responses to other hazards. (Contact: Robert Bauer)
Assessment of Coal Bed Methane, Crawford County
David Morse is assisting Pioneer Oil Company of Lawrenceville, Illinois, to assess the amount of coal bed methane (CBM) in the Seelyville Coal in Crawford County, Illinois. Core was drilled by Pioneer in an area where they have an active CBM field. The Illinois State Geological Survey is desorbing the coal to determine its gas content and also, from the gas chemistry and isotopic analyses, will determine the origin (biogenic or thermogenic) of the gas. A company in Denver received part of the core and collected water from existing wells to study the microbes in the coal and find ways to stimulate even more CBM from formation. The coal desorption is on track to have the highest gas content measured to date in Illinois. (Contact: David Morse)
Updated 08/06/2012 SLD