News from the Indiana Geological and Water Survey
April 2019 Issue

New Location Open for Business

The new (temporary) location of the Indiana Geological and Water Survey is now open for business at 420 N. Walnut St., Bloomington, Indiana. Our longtime home in the Geology Building on the campus of Indiana University is being remodeled and will be under construction for the next two years.

In the meantime, come and visit us in our new digs; the IGWS Bookstore is open and all the services you have come to expect from the Survey are available. If you have a question, please call 812-855-7636 or email igwsinfo@indiana.edu for information.

Reconstructing "Megajeff" — Owen's Lost Giant Sloth Skeleton

Funded by a project grant approved by the IU Office of the Bicentennial, IGWS researchers are reconstructing the skeleton of a creature that roamed Indiana and much of North America during the Ice Age about 150,000 to 12,000 years ago. The giant ground sloth, Megalonyx jeffersonii, was about 10 feet high and weighed around 2,200 pounds, and lived primarily in woodlands and forests.

The story of this particular specimen—affectionately known as “Megajeff” at the IGWS—begins in 1848, when the skeleton was acquired by David Dale Owen, the first State Geologist of Indiana, after it was found by schoolchildren along the banks of the Ohio River. It was housed at Indiana University from the late 1800s through the mid-1940s. The skeleton survived IU’s fire of 1883 and was then moved with other surviving specimens to newly built Owen Hall. But during a "housecleaning" of Owen Hall to make room for the influx of GI Bill students after World War II, the skeleton was tossed out a window into a pile along with bones from mammoths and mastodons. Luckily, five bones were saved and kept in another IU collection until they were transferred to the Indiana State Museum in 1989.

“We were intrigued by this amazing story, so we looked into seeing how we could make this skeleton come back to life,” said Polly Root Sturgeon, IGWS Outreach Coordinator.

Sturgeon and Gary Motz, Assistant Director for Information Services at the IGWS, scanned the five surviving Megalonyx bones at the Indiana State Museum in February. They are also connecting with other museums and universities to scan additional bones in order to digitally fabricate a complete skeleton. “We will digitally manipulate the files from other museums and universities to match the size of our former Megalonyx bones,” said Sturgeon. “We’re going to 3-D print the skull and claws, and then stack pieces of laser-cut cardboard to recreate a full skeleton.”

Megajeff's story is an object lesson for today's custodians of natural history collections. “This project drives home the importance of preserving natural history collections for future generations,” said Sturgeon.

Polly Sturgeon 3-D scans one of Megajeff's original bones.

New Journal Features Indiana Geology

A new online open-access peer-reviewed academic journal has recently been launched to publish Earth-science-related research about Indiana and the surrounding region. While the Indiana Journal of Earth Sciences serves as the primary outlet for scholarly communication of the IGWS, it also has a broad mission to publish articles that present or synthesize data, maps, archives, or methods relating to the state's mineral, energy, or water wealth. The scope of papers encompass Earth surface processes, petrology and stratigraphy, hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles, and the identification, management, and use of mineral, energy, or water resources.

The Indiana Journal of Earth Sciences offers the opportunity to all scientists working in these fields to publish original data sets, GIS layers, maps, Internet story maps, technical notes, research articles, review papers, or other forms of scholarly communication in a high-quality scientific journal.


Indiana Coal Quality Database

A new web application is now available on the IGWS website. The Indiana Coal Quality Database provides location and quality information for 3,328 public point-source coal data in southwestern Indiana. It is the most complete database of Indiana coal quality currently available from the IGWS.

This free online interactive application allows users to search, explore, and compare coal stratigraphic data. These data are important for regional coal resource evaluations and can be used by the public, industry, and state and federal governments.


Free IGWS Calendar

The 2019 annual Indiana Geological and Water Survey calendar "Waters of Indiana" is now available for just the cost of shipping ($7.50), while supplies last. You may also stop by our new location and pick one up.

The calendar features a map of the state depicting the waterways that drain five primary watersheds and text describing various surface water features.The 21 by 33 inch calendar is printed in full color on heavy poster paper and is shipped rolled in a cardboard tube.


GSA 2018 Annual Meeting Recap

In September 2018, the IGWS hosted the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. First, we'd like to thank all the participants for making the meeting an exciting convergence of knowledge and ideas. We also thank the field trip leaders who contributed to the field guide volume that was published by the GSA.

Here are some of the meeting statistics that were recently released:

  • Attendees: 5,628
  • Students: 2,294
  • Countries represented: 54
  • Sessions: 287
  • Abstracts presented: 3,554 (1,474 posters; 2,080 talks)
  • Field trips: 17

The field guide volume for this meeting, Ancient Oceans, Orogenic Uplifts, and Glacial Ice: Geologic Crossroads in America's Heartland, is now available from the GSA. Edited by Lee Florea, IGWS Assistant Director for Research, it includes compelling science and field trips in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Click the "Read more" link below for information about how to order it.


Employment Opportunities

The Survey is currently searching for qualified candidates to fill two positions. Please click on the Read More link below for more information.


Object of the Week

Each Tuesday, an object from the IGWS collections is shared on our social media pages. The Survey maintains more than two million objects relating to Indiana geology in its collections. Follow along at @ingeosurvey on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Photo of a Foerstephyllum coral fossil (# 495 Ed) with petroleum staining from our Education Collection.