News from the Indiana Geological and Water Survey
August 2022

First Potter Interns start at Survey

Two are 2022 college graduates exploring career options. One is wrapping up a master’s degree in geology. Another is a medical-track undergraduate whose family and friends asked, “What are you doing?” when she applied for and received an internship at a geological survey.

The four students, Kevin Woeste, Alex Martinez, Kilauren Driscoll, and Abbey Martin, are the IGWS’s inaugural class of Paul Edwin Potter Interns. They started in mid-July and will continue working with IGWS researchers until at least the end of August.

Potter, a geologist and professor in the Midwest and South America, died July 4, 2020, at age 94. His estate granted $1 million each to the geological surveys of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky to establish “summer internships for worthy and deserving geology students and other persons involved in high school, college, or post-graduate master’s education (excluding Ph.D candidates) in the field of geology.” The IGWS will be receiving a percentage of the endowment each year to hire Potter interns to work on “geologic problems linked to Indiana.”

Applications will be taken in mid-September for two IGWS interns for the upcoming fall semester, then late next spring for four interns for summer.

Summer 2022 Potter Interns at the IGWS (from left): Alex Martinez, Kevin Woeste, Kilauren Driscoll, and Abbey Martin. | Kristen Wilkins, IGWS

Martinez and Martin are working with IGWS staff mentors Jose Luis Antinao, Ginger Davis, Henry Loope and Garrett Marietta, learning how to cut, sample, and describe cores collected for the STATEMAP project.

Martinez earned a bachelor’s degree in earth and atmospheric sciences from IU this year. Davis was a guest speaker in one of his classes, he approached her for career advice, and she told him about the internship. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here because COVID really affected a lot of my classes and whatnot, so I never really got hands-on experience with anything. And now I got this internship where they’re showing me all this cool stuff, like, ‘Yeah, cut this open and look at it,’ use this machine, use that. This is fun,” he smiled. “I like messing around with this stuff.”

Martin is an IU junior and biology major on a steady track to becoming a specialist medical doctor. She had planned to take summer classes, and when that didn’t work out, she applied for several internships in biology. She wasn’t called for any of them. She didn’t expect to be picked for the Potter program, considering she had no background in geology, but she’s glad to have the opportunity to sample another facet of science.

“I had absolutely no expectations, and no knowledge at all either, so this has been a really fun exploratory process,” she said. “I love science in general, but exploring different fields is something that I don’t really get the opportunity to do in college; you kind of get set on one and you’re stuck in that path until you gradate. So, doing this has been really, really fun and interesting and a lot more fulfilling than I was expecting.”

Woeste and Driscoll are working with Davis, Don Tripp, and Robin Rupp to gather map data using a Tromino tromograph, which reads seismic data from sondes placed in the ground. Analysis of the data points and control points helps determine the depth of unconsolidated sediments and, ultimately, the elevation of the bedrock surface.

Driscoll will receive her master’s degree in geology this year from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. She appreciates all the hands-on experience she’s gaining in the field and says the internship has given her a lot more insight into what she might want to do career-wise. “It’s been a great learning experience learning how to operate the instruments, finding out what does and doesn’t work in terms of where to collect data, how to collect it and how analyze it. It’s been great to learn about the different projects going on at the survey and to know that I get to be a part of it—not to mention how friendly and welcoming everyone on staff has been!”

Woeste earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He knows he wants to enter a master’s program, but he doesn’t know what he wants to focus on because several topics interest him—paleontology, stratigraphy, and scientific communication among them. He decided to reach out to a family friend for advice, Gary Motz, formerly assistant director for information services at the IGWS, and stumbled across the internship posting while looking for an email address. Having studied minerology and petrology before, he appreciates this immersion in geophysics—but it’s also making his career and education decisions harder as he’s learning about so many more possible dimensions of study.

“I now have literally no idea what side of geology I want to go into, because I’ve enjoyed all of them,” he said.

Core library moving again

Due to an impending move, the IGWS core and chipset library will be closed to researchers and the public sometime this fall. If you anticipate needing to view these collections anytime this year, it is suggested that you visit sooner rather than later to avoid learning that the core you were seeking is buried under layers of pallets and inaccessible.

The extensive library—dating back to 1948 and including more than 52 miles of core samples—needs to be moved out of its current home at the Cardinal Metal Finishing warehouse (a.k.a. Otis) because of an expiring lease which the building owner does not wish to renew. Meanwhile, the university is negotiating the purchase of property north of Bloomington. A building on that site will temporarily store the samples while a more permanent home for the IGWS’s physical collections is developed.

The move date and availability of the collections will be announced in a separate newsletter and on the IGWS web and social media sites.

Meanwhile, the core and chipset library is open by appointment only (M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). To check availability or make an appointment, email Archivist and Collections Manager Jenna Lanman at lanmanj@indiana.edu.

The Otis warehouse contains thousands of feet of core that needs to be moved to a new home this fall. | Jenna Lanman, IGWS

PHOTO FLASHBACK: Remember when the Survey stored cores (and some staff members worked) in Quonset huts? Lanman dug up this photo of former State Geologist Charles Deiss doing just that.

Labs receive new equipment

What could studying fossilized shark teeth from Florida tell us about water quality in rural Indiana?

With newly acquired research tools, IGWS research scientist Tracy Branam can do a chemical analysis of those shark teeth to learn why groundwater in some Indiana wells has elevated fluoride—in some places, exceeding the drinking water standard by almost four times. He’s long had a theory about the water chemistry, but not the data to test it.

The water lab’s new Metrohm 919 IC Autosampler plus autotitrator can provide such data. It’s one of four new pieces of equipment installed recently in two IGWS labs, reducing the amount of analysis that needs to be outsourced and increasing the investigatory capacity of IGWS scientists.


IGWS research scientist Tracy Branam calibrates new equipment in the water lab, including an autotitrator (foreground). | Sara Clifford, IGWS

New fall events on calendar

As IU students return to campus in a couple weeks, new programs will start in the IGWS Learning Lab. Students, other adults, families, and youth of all ages are invited to participate, and all programs are FREE.

WELCOME WEEK: On Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18 and 19, anyone looking for something to do—especially IU freshmen—is invited to explore thousands of real rock, mineral, and fossil specimens in the campus’s new hands-on, collections-based learning center. The Learning Lab (Geology Building, Room 1011) will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for this drop-in program. Food and prizes will be available.

GEOCREATE: Makers of all ages, abilities, and experience levels are welcome to make artwork inspired by the Learning Lab’s collections. This drop-in program is offered on select Tuesdays (Aug. 30, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, and Nov. 15) between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

INTERNATIONAL GEODIVERSITY DAY: Celebrate this underrecognized holiday by learning about geological diversity and geoheritage in Indiana and worldwide with games, specimen explorations, and hands-on activities. Drop into the Learning Lab Thursday, Oct. 6 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

IU LIMESTONE CAMPUS TOURS: Explore the unique and varied architecture of campus and learn about building styles, techniques, and artistry during IU Family Weekend, Friday-Sunday, Sept. 16-18. Tours run from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., begin at the Sample Gates (at the corner of Kirkwood and Indiana avenues), and cover approximately 1 mile along an accessible route. No advance sign-up is necessary.

Outreach efforts

• Twenty-four teachers from around Indiana spent a week in Bloomington in June learning about aggregates and other minerals of economic importance. Education and Outreach Coordinator Polly Sturgeon led the conference alongside the Indiana Mineral Aggregates Association; the IMAA was able to make participation free or nearly free for participants, including lodging and meals. The teachers, ranging from elementary to high school, went on eight field trips to see quarries and aggregate plants as well as the fossil-rich Falls of the Ohio State Park. They learned about the geology of Indiana, industrial minerals and where they’re found, environmental issues and reclamation, and other topics. They went home with 30 professional development points, increased content knowledge, ready-made classroom activities scalable to multiple age groups, and information about related careers for their students. The IGWS and IMAA have been doing some version of this conference since the early 2000s. In 2018, it became a weeklong conference offered every other year with shorter teacher workshops offered in interim years. The next weeklong conference will take place in June 2024; registration will open in February of that year. To learn about educational opportunities for teachers (nearly all of which offer professional development points), follow the IGWS on Facebook.

Teachers tour an aggregate facility during the 2022 IMAA BLAST Institute in Bloomington. | Polly Sturgeon, IGWS

• Sturgeon will represent the IGWS and talk about geologic time at “Digging in the Past” at Falls of the Ohio State Park on Saturday, Aug. 27. Follow this link for more information on that event.

• Research affiliate Brian Keith gave an orientation talk and a walking tour on June 16 of the east side of the IU campus. The audience was a class of about 30 participants in IU Mini University, organized by the IU Alumni Association.

• The IGWS Fall Plant Event will take place Tuesday, Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 2022 of the Geology Building. House plants, as well as some landscaping plants, will be available, as well as baked goods. Money generated from the plant event will support the IGWS Graduate Research Scholarship Fund.

Staff notes

Kevin Fuller started a new career as the IGWS web developer on July 13. He is a 2022 graduate of the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in informatics focusing on human-computer interaction and web design. He has worked as an IT manager, web developer, and graphic designer at Bloomington-area companies and as a freelancer. He has begun deconstructing the current IGWS website, which was built in a ‘90s-era programming language called ColdFusion, and will be migrating content to a newer system. He is proud to have the most extensive Crocs footwear collection of any IGWS staff member.

• Administrative Assistant DeAnn Reinhart is marking 13 years with the IGWS this month and 20 years in the Geology Building. She was hired to work in the main office of the Department of Geologic Sciences (now the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) in August 2000, then moved up to the fourth floor in 2004 to work as a contracts and grants monitor, followed by secretary to the chair until November 2007. She left for two years, then was rehired on the IGWS side of the building. Half of her job is as administrative assistant and secretary to the director, including processing purchase orders, travel, and monthly operating statements. She also has served as the licensing coordinator for LPG (Licensure for Professional Geologists) since 2014 and is secretary of the LPG board.

Srinivas Yashvanth Valava has been hired as an hourly research assistant, working with research scientist Babak Shabani on the IGWS’s National Ground-Water Monitoring Network field stations. Valava, a master’s degree student in data science, is doing fieldwork at the stations to collect data and conduct maintenance and is helping with database work.

• Master’s degree student Alicia Vasquez, from the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, has been working with research scientist Jose Luis Antinao in the IGWS’s optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) lab, processing a batch of samples for the last chapter of her thesis which she hopes to have finished by September. “We have been collaborating with Alicia and her advisor, Dr. Valentina Flores, since last year, when we successfully dated some samples for their research on lake level reconstruction and dating of delta sedimentation in Patagonia,” Antinao explained. Some of that research was published earlier this year. “Students—at the grad level especially—can come here and work on samples to prepare them for the OSL reader work,” Antinao added. “We will finish running those samples in the next few weeks, as scheduling allows.”

Contact us

The Indiana Geological and Water Survey, a longstanding institute of Indiana University, conducts research; surveys the state; collects and preserves geologic specimens and data; and disseminates information to contribute to the mitigation of geologic hazards and the wise stewardship of the energy, mineral, and water resources of Indiana.

• To join the monthly E-Geo News mailing list, please click here.

• To ask a question of IGWS staff or suggest an E-Geo News topic, email scliffo@iu.edu.