This issue of Geotimes celebrates the science regularly produced, gathered
and delivered by state geological surveys.
State geological surveys occupy a variety of administrative positions within state
government. A survey may be part of a major state agency such as a department
of natural resources or environmental protection. It may be attached to a university,
or, in rare cases, may exist as a stand-alone state agency. Typically, state survey
staff members conduct a combination of earth-science surveys, field studies and
research that result in significant, new data on natural resources. In one way
or another, all state geological surveys disseminate these new data to a broad
spectrum of customers such as state agencies, local governments, educational institutions,
the private sector and individual citizens. Some surveys also have regulatory
No matter what an individual surveys state-specific mission, mandate or
statutory responsibilities might be, a goal common to all surveys is to put good,
objective science into the hands and heads of decision-makers as they formulate
State geological surveys have different opportunities and ways of obtaining good
science. Some do the science themselves or in collaboration with external colleagues.
Some serve as information clearinghouses identifying, collecting and organizing
relevant scientific work produced by academia, government and the private sector.
Some serve as bridges facilitating direct communication and technology
transfer between non-survey science producers and a variety of customers. Many
surveys do all these things.
However they obtain information, state surveys are also committed to delivering
relevant science to the appropriate public forums and deliberations in a timely,
comprehensible, interesting fashion.
Feature articles in this issue demonstrate the expertise, disciplinary breadth
and creativity that state surveys bring to this effort.
Gary Christenson of the Utah Geological Survey (UGS) focuses on that organizations
work along the Wasatch Front, a growing urban area where recurring natural hazards
include earthquakes, floods and assorted slope failures. UGSs geologic hazard
maps have become an important tool for many of the city and county planners who
live and work in this geologically active region.
Ken Bradbury describes the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Surveys
work on understanding and quantifying fluid movement in the fractured carbonate
rocks that serve as important but exceedingly vulnerable regional aquifers in
northeastern Wisconsin. The work has supported the development of a wellhead-protection
plan for municipal wells in the city of Sturgeon Bay.
David Gosselin and colleagues from the Nebraska Geological Survey present their
work characterizing the geographically variable groundwater geochemistry of Nebraskas
Dakota aquifer. They explain how local groundwater chemistry may be a guide not
only to the origin, movement, recharge potential and mixing of groundwater, but
also to good strategies for managing groundwater.
Effectively and efficiently transferring relevant geoscience information to appropriate
decision-makers is no easy task. However, field trips have an almost universal
appeal. Paul Bauer explains how the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources
conducts annual Decision-Maker Earth Science Field Conferences that appear to
have successfully accomplished this transfer.
Of course, state geological surveys do not and should not have a corner on doing
and delivering good, relevant earth science to decision-makers and policy-makers.
But state surveys do provide models that are working and, I hope, inspiration
for the profession to consider.
James M. Robertson
Geotimes Corresponding Editor