R.M. Joeckel on Geologic Mapping
R.M. Joeckel discusses his recent article in "Great Plains Research" on how geologic mapping in Nebraska remains a critical and ongoing endeavor, one that has spanned more than 170 years. Read the article at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/706636
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:00.340]A recent article in JPR discusses geologic maps
[00:00:03.960]and geologic mapping in Nebraska.
[00:00:06.440]Geologic maps are an important societal resource.
[00:00:11.310]They're also works of art, as it were.
[00:00:14.190]It's all science behind it,
[00:00:15.980]but by the time you finish a map
[00:00:17.880]there's a beautiful outcome.
[00:00:20.010]The colors on a geologic map have great significance.
[00:00:23.610]They identify different geologic units
[00:00:26.600]that are identified on the map and mapped,
[00:00:29.440]put in a geographic context.
[00:00:31.970]There's a multitude of information
[00:00:33.800]that can be conveyed by a geologic map.
[00:00:36.890]There's a rich history of geologic mapping in Nebraska
[00:00:39.980]that goes well back into the 1800s.
[00:00:42.970]Now we might think that geologic mapping
[00:00:45.550]is an arcane and obsolete subject or endeavor,
[00:00:49.890]but it isn't.
[00:00:50.950]Geologic maps continue to have great significance
[00:00:56.480]in so many things that people do,
[00:00:58.920]from looking for resources to siting buildings,
[00:01:03.030]to conveying all kinds of observations
[00:01:08.920]that are made in the field in a very effective way.
[00:01:12.090]And now that we can map on a computer screen
[00:01:15.670]and put maps in the context
[00:01:17.460]of a geographic information system, or GIS,
[00:01:20.710]the utility of geologic maps is even greater.
[00:01:23.790]However, we as geologists need to do a much better job
[00:01:27.980]of educating the public about
[00:01:30.260]just how useful geologic maps are.
[00:01:33.160]I'm going to take just a moment here and point out
[00:01:36.010]that this hall, behind me, in Harden Hall
[00:01:39.500]where the headquarters
[00:01:40.410]of the Conservation and Survey Division happen to be,
[00:01:43.440]the Conservation and Survey Division
[00:01:45.210]being Nebraska's geological survey.
[00:01:48.100]This wall is covered with these beautiful maps
[00:01:51.680]that we've produced every year
[00:01:54.260]as part of the U.S. Geological Survey STATEMAP
[00:01:58.850]cooperative geologic mapping program,
[00:02:01.670]and there are a number of us here in CSD
[00:02:04.420]who contribute to this kind of geologic mapping.
[00:02:07.490]So we have some maps here from Niobrara Valley.
[00:02:12.400]We have some maps from the Plant Valley.
[00:02:15.460]We have some maps from southeastern Nebraska
[00:02:19.810]where one of our researchers, Jesse Korus,
[00:02:22.611]who's a co-author on the paper
[00:02:25.540]made some really interesting discoveries
[00:02:27.710]about geologic structure that had not been quantified
[00:02:32.110]or accurately represented at a fine scale
[00:02:35.330]on a geologic map before.
[00:02:38.230]We have some maps here of the Rainwater Basin area
[00:02:42.100]in east-central Nebraska,
[00:02:44.230]a really fascinating and unique landscape on loess.
[00:02:48.614]Most Nebraskans have probably heard of loess
[00:02:51.950]as a parent material for agricultural soils,
[00:02:55.015]but the map tells a great story
[00:02:58.100]behind the deposition of that loess,
[00:03:00.030]which is wind-blown silt,
[00:03:02.700]and also it's erosion
[00:03:04.430]to produce these elongate deflation basins
[00:03:07.990]or lagoons or ponds.
[00:03:10.430]Geologic maps are beautiful.
[00:03:12.520]They are wonderful.
[00:03:13.693]They are exciting.
[00:03:15.960]The downside is it's hard to convey to people
[00:03:19.060]just how important they are,
[00:03:21.070]and also they require a fantastic amount of work.
[00:03:24.600]In the old days, I think we just considered
[00:03:26.500]that most of that work was being out in the field,
[00:03:28.991]taking hikes and looking at rocks
[00:03:31.890]and enjoying lovely weather.
[00:03:34.270]Isn't that simple any more.
[00:03:36.090]Every one of these maps requires a great deal of time
[00:03:39.520]behind a computer screen
[00:03:40.840]because when we make digital products,
[00:03:43.230]we're basically starting the process on screen.
[00:03:48.530]We don't really have a paper field map
[00:03:52.470]that we use as a first draft anymore.
[00:03:55.870]So there's constant feedback, as it were,
[00:03:58.180]between working on the computer screen
[00:04:00.990]and going out and verifying observations in the field.
[00:04:05.930]Many of these maps also involved subsurface drilling
[00:04:10.140]using various kinds of drilling equipment
[00:04:13.500]to get samples of geologic material
[00:04:16.089]from as deep as 500 feet below the land surface.
[00:04:20.930]So to conclude, I love geologic maps.
[00:04:23.860]My co-authors love geologic maps,
[00:04:26.470]and you should love geologic maps, too.
Log in to post comments