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Ten years of mapping Utah

Ten years of mapping Utah
Grant C. Willis

July 2003 marks two important anniversaries for the Utah Geological Survey (UGS): the 20th anniversary of the UGS Geologic Mapping Program, and the 10th anniversary of UGS participation in the STATEMAP component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). In early 1983, then UGS Director Genevieve Atwood, UGS Senior Geologist Hellmut Doelling, and long-time advisor Lehi Hintze (Brigham Young University) recognized that geologic map production was not meeting the growing needs of a burgeoning population. They convinced the Utah State Legislature to fund three new mapping positions that formed the core of the survey's mapping program. As a green college graduate, I was fortunate to be hired into one of those positions.

The world of geologic mapping has experienced many changes in the past 20 years, many spurred by increasingly powerful computers that can process the huge images and digital databases that comprise a modern geologic map. In the early 1980s, orthophotoquads and the 7.5-minute quadrangle and 30-minute by 60-minute topographic map series were a vast improvement over the hand-drawn topographic maps and plane-table mapping methods used in the decades before. Today, nearly every step is done on computers through digital photogrammetry, vectorization of raster images, digital cartography and digital printing. The one part that has not changed much since the days of John Wesley Powell and Grove Karl Gilbert (more than 100 years ago) is field mapping. Fortunately (most geologists would agree), every geologic mapper must still hike the outcrops, measure and describe the strata and endure the frustration, and thrill, of resolving all of those structural and stratigraphic quandaries.

The major uses of geologic maps have changed significantly as well. A few decades ago, most geologic maps in Utah were completed to study resources — mostly metals, oil and gas, coal, and uranium. Today, major uses include geologic hazards assessment and mitigation, groundwater and paleontological resource studies, academic research, recreation, and land-use planning; even though resource studies remain important. Major land managers in Utah — the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, State of Utah and city and county governments — are among the largest users of geologic maps for land management decisions, and drive the production of geologic maps in digital formats for use in Geographic Information System databases.

Ten years ago, UGS started its first mapping project supported through STATEMAP. This program, with funding shared by the state and federal governments, has grown to become the central component of UGS geologic mapping effort. Through this program, UGS has mapped 25 7.5-minute quadrangles and eight 30-minute by 60-minute quadrangles; has completed digital maps or compiled maps of eight other 30-minute by 60-minute quadrangles; and currently has several other projects in progress. In addition, we produce many maps through cooperatives with other government agencies, university professors and students (some through the education component of the NCGMP), and through our own mapping efforts. Today our primary geologic mapping goals are to complete coverage of all 30-minute by 60-minute quadrangles (46 quadrangles) in the state at 1:100,000 scale. We also hope to complete detailed 1:24,000-scale maps of specific 7.5-minute quadrangles prioritized by population growth, infrastructure development, geologic hazards such as earthquakes and landslides, water resource issues, and sensitive, scenic, unique or rare geologic resources.

Willis has been the Mapping Program Manager for the Utah Geological Survey for the past eight years and has been a mapping geologist for the survey for the past 20 years.
Recent geologic maps from the Utah Geological Survey:

M-179DM. Digital geologic map of Utah by L.F. Hintze, G.C. Willis, D.Y.M. Laes, D.A. Sprinkel, and K.D. Brown. 2000. Scale 1:500,000. CD-ROM. $19.95.

M-180 and M-180DM. Geologic map of the Moab and eastern part of the San Rafael Desert 30-minute x 60-minute quadrangles, Grand and Emery Counties, Utah, and Mesa County, Colorado by Hellmut H. Doelling. 2001. Scale 1:100,000. Three plates. Printed $29.95. CD-ROM $24.95.

M-181. Geologic map of the Moab 7.5-minute quadrangle, Grand County, Utah by Hellmut H. Doelling, Michael L. Ross, and William E. Mulvey. 2002. Scale 1:24,000. Two plates and booklet. $11.00.

M-185. Geologic map of the Chriss Canyon quadrangle, Juab and Sanpete Counties, Utah by Malcolm P. Weiss, James G. McDermott, Douglas A. Sprinkel, Raymond L. Banks, and Robert F. Biek. 2003. Scale 1:24,000. Two plates and booklet. $10.49.

M-186. Geologic map of the Tule Valley 30 x 60 quadrangle and parts of the Ely, Fish Springs, and Kern Mountains 30 x 60 quadrangles, northwest Millard County, Utah by L.F. Hintze and F.D. Davis. 2002. Scale 1:100,000. Two plates. $8.90.

M-187. Geologic map of the Hurricane quadrangle, Washington County, Utah by Robert F. Biek. 2003. Scale 1:24,000. Two plates and booklet. $13.70.

M-188. Geologic map of the Manti 7.5-minute quadrangle, Sanpete County, Utah by Malcolm P. Weiss and Douglas A. Sprinkel. 2002. Scale 1:24,000. Two plates and booklet. $9.45.

M-189DM. Geologic map of the Nephi 30-minute x 60-minute quadrangle, Carbon, Emery, Juab, Sanpete, Utah and Wasatch Counties, Utah by I.J. Witkind and M.P. Weiss. Digital version 2002. Scale 1:100,000. Digitized from U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Investigations Map I-1937, 1991. CD-ROM. $24.95.

M-190DM. Geologic map of the Salt Lake City 30-minute x 60-minute quadrangle, north-central Utah and Uinta County, Wyoming by Bruce Bryant. Digital version 2003. Scale 1:100,000. Digitized from U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Investigations Map I-1944, 1990. CD-ROM. $24.95.

M-191. Geologic map of the Harrisburg Junction quadrangle, Washington County, Utah by Robert F. Biek. 2003. Scale 1:24,000. Two plates and booklet. $11.30.

M-192. Geologic map of the Center Creek quadrangle, Wasatch County, Utah by Robert F. Biek, Michael D. Hylland, John E. Welsh, and Mike Lowe. 2003. Scale 1:24,000. Two plates and booklet. $11.30.

M-193DM. Quaternary fault and fold database and map of Utah by Bill D. Black, Suzanne Hecker, Michael D. Hylland, Gary E. Christenson, and Greg N. McDonald. 2003. Scale 1:500,000. CD-ROM. $24.95.

OFR-386. Interim geologic map of the Kolob Arch quadrangle [Zion National Park], Washington and Iron Counties, Utah by Robert F. Biek. 2002. Scale 1:24,000. One plate and booklet. $5.00.

OFR-393. Interim geologic map of the Springdale East quadrangle [Zion National Park], Washington County, Utah by H.H. Doelling, G.C. Willis, B.J. Solomon, E.G. Sable, W.L. Hamilton, and L.P. Naylor II. 2002. Scale 1:24,000. One plate and booklet. $5.00.

OFR-394. Interim geologic map of the Springdale West quadrangle [Zion National Park], Washington County, Utah by G.C. Willis, H.H. Doelling, B.J. Solomon, and E.G. Sable. 2002. Scale 1:24,000. One plate and booklet. $5.00.

To order these and other maps from the Utah Department of Natural Resources Map and Bookstore, call 1.888.UTAHMAP or 801.537.3320; or fax 801.537.3395; or email their Web site.

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