News from the Indiana Geological and Water Survey
January 2023

Core library moved but not yet open

After more than two months spent sorting, tagging, loading, and unloading, the IGWS’s core library has finally moved out of leased warehouse space and into several buildings on the north side of Bloomington. The Survey is looking to renovate one or more of the buildings as a permanent location for IGWS physical collections.

The 1,000-plus pallets of core samples, which IGWS staff have been collecting for 74 years, are in safe storage but are not accessible to the public yet. Development of a core viewing area is under way. An announcement will be made later in the year declaring the reopening of the facility.

While University Collections, several IGWS administrative staff members, and contracted movers Iron Mountain helped with the massive move, completing the project principally rested on the shoulders of longtime Archivist and Collections Manager Jenna Lanman, as well as Collections Assistant Cameron Strause who was hired the week before moving began. University Collections Facilities Manager Kelly Wherley and Executive Director Heather Calloway were instrumental as well. Here’s a snapshot of the work it entailed, by the numbers:

1 Flexible forklift purchased

35 Days to complete move (minus Sundays, Thanksgiving, and pre-move space prep work)

1,056 Pallets moved

~1,256 Person-hours

~3,136 Miles driven

3,840 Cubic feet of trash

5,120 Cubic feet of metal recycled

The shelves and aisles of the core library storage space are full, making the building inaccessible to the public for now. | Jenna Lanman, IGWS

OSL lab getting second reader

The IGWS lab which helps to determine the ages of sediment samples has been awarded a grant for equipment to double its capacity.

The IGWS will receive funding to purchase a second OSL (optically-stimulated luminescence) reader, a darkroom technology used to date quartz and feldspar grains. This one will be a Lexsyg Smart® TL/OSL reader with multiple LED capabilities, allowing for the use of green light instead of blue light to stimulate samples and minimize unstable readings.

The lab was created in 2017 with one reader, and demand has been such that backlogs have occurred of samples waiting to be processed, IGWS Research Geologist Jose Luis Antinao explained in the grant application. The IU Office of the Vice President for Research’s FY23 Research Equipment Fund will provide $68,621 and the IGWS will provide $22,873.50, for a total award of $91,494.50.

In the grant request, Antinao explained how OSL works: “The technique is based upon exposure of buried mineral grains to low-level radiation (e.g., from minerals containing potassium or uranium) that causes radiation-induced, trapped charge to be stored in the minerals. If dosed mineral grains are exposed again to light, the charge released in the form of ultraviolet, or visible, light is known as luminescence. The phenomenon is used as a geological clock, accumulating charge with time while buried and reset by exposure to light.”

The IGWS is one of 17 labs in the nation and the only lab in Indiana to have an automated luminescence reader, making it an important resource for students and scientists from several states. A trained technician oversees the analysis process, but many of the steps—like sifting, washing, and preparing samples for the reader—can be completed by graduate or undergraduate students in geology, archaeology, or environmental sciences, giving them valuable career experience or stimulating an interest in the geosciences. Professors and researchers from five campuses, including one in Chile, have expressed interest in developing collaborative research with Antinao around this technology.

Antinao expects the new equipment to arrive in late summer or early fall.

The current OSL reader and its software interface in the IGWS OSL lab. | IGWS file photo

New rare earth elements research published

A team led by IGWS Research Geologist Maria Mastalerz published a study in late December about the potential for various types of Indiana coal waste to contain rare earth elements.

The paper, “Coal and Coal Byproducts as Potential Sources of Rare Earth Elements (REE) in Indiana,” can be read in the Indiana Journal of Earth Sciences (IJES), vol. 4. This is the fourth paper Mastalerz and others published in IJES in 2022 about rare earth elements, the “technology metals” which are in high demand worldwide to be used in electronics, defense and telecommunication systems, transportation, and medical applications. (Read a brief overview of REEs here.)

With Indiana having a long history of coal mining, Mastalerz and co-authors Agnieszka Drobniak and Tracy Branam set out to estimate the amount of coal waste—ash, gob piles, slurry ponds, and acid mine drainage—that exists in locations around the state. Researchers have not yet identified economical means by which to separate REEs from other waste, but when that happens, this team’s research will help to identify where the most promising deposits could be found in Indiana.

Download a 2023 IGWS calendar

What day is it? And where in geologic time are we? If only you had a 2023 IGWS calendar, you could answer both of those questions.

Walk-in visitors can still purchase copies of this year’s poster-sized calendar for 99 cents through Jan. 31. However, the calendar also has been posted as a free digital download in the Indiana Journal of Earth Sciences, vol. 5. Click here to print one on your own.

IGWS aiding conservation organization

IGWS Cartographer and GIS Analyst Casey Jones has been collaborating with another IU-affiliated organization to improve maps being served to the public.

The IGWS has offered its services to the Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape program, which operates under the Conservation Law Center at Indiana University Bloomington. One of only 10 Sentinel Landscapes in the country, the Southern Indiana program was formed in February 2022. Its aim is to protect the region near four critical Department of Defense properties—Naval Support Activity Crane, the Lake Glendora Test Facility, Atterbury-Muscatatuck Training Center, and the Indiana Air Range Complex—from encroachment challenges such as incompatible development, water quality problems, risks of drought and flooding, soil health concerns, invasive species, and habitat loss for threatened and endangered species.

The IU-based Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape staff is composed of two people: forester Michael Spalding and attorney Rob McCrea. Neither is a cartographer or graphic designer. However, Spalding was aware that the IGWS had produced some excellent topographic trail maps, so he reached out to those maps’ designer—Matt Johnson, now information services director at the IGWS—to see if he or a colleague could help.

So far, Jones has designed a detailed map handout of the target area which Southern Indiana Sentinel Landscape wishes to protect, and he plans to work more with the team as they have other map-related needs. Jones’ background is in conservation in addition to art, so this is a project that piques his personal interest while using his professional skills.

The IGWS partners with IU departments to provide professional services that those departments do not have, following IU’s mission of serving the state.

Map of the area the Southern Indiana Landscape Sentinel program is charged with protecting. | Casey Jones, IGWS

Staff notes

• Collections Intern Amanda Wollenweber earned a master’s degree in museum curatorship from Indiana University on Dec. 17. She has worked for the IGWS, mostly in the Learning Lab, since January 2022, serving walk-in visitors and providing educational programming. An interactive StoryMap based on her capstone project, “Curiosity Cabinets: Revitalizing the Cabinet of Curiosity for the 21st Century with the IGWS Learning Lab,” is in review to be published on the IGWS website soon.

Kaitlyn Burress started a new career as project manager at the IGWS on Dec. 13. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management from the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs in May 2022 and was a development assistant at WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology before coming here. She learned of the IGWS while attending a Master Naturalist class which IGWS staff helped to teach. Her interest in science—she worked in biology labs as an undergrad—paired with her experience in grant work were a good fit for her new duties, which will include managing external grants that fund the IGWS’s research.

McKailey Sabaj joined the IGWS as a research geologist on Jan. 3. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Illinois and plans to finish her thesis for a master’s degree in geological sciences from Indiana University within the next couple months. She will collaborate with Research Scientist Tracy Branam on IGWS water lab projects, having worked in geochemistry labs at U of I and at IU. She’ll also be working with IGWS Research Scientist Ginger Davis on the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network.

• The IGWS mapping team of Victoria Leffel and Don Tripp has gained some temporary help from Ben Dattilo, an associate professor of geology at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Dattilo joined the IGWS team in the field to study outcrops the week before Christmas during his holiday break from classes and will rejoin IGWS geologists in early January to describe core in the IGWS labs. Tripp said the partnership was “really educational” for him, as Dattilo had more knowledge of older rock types (Devonian, Silurian, Ordovician) than Tripp is used to studying. Datillo’s work was funded by a grant from the IU Institute for Advanced Study.

Amanda Wollenweber

Outreach efforts

• The 2018 IGWS book, “Indiana Rocks: A guide to geologic sites in the Hoosier state,” is scheduled for a second printing. Principally written by IGWS Education and Outreach Coordinator Polly Sturgeon, it features photos and descriptions of 50 geologically notable sites across all regions of Indiana where visitors can experience majestic waterfalls, explore miles of coastline, search for fossil evidence of the past, or simply marvel at the diverse landscape of our Hoosier home. Email the IGWS Bookstore at igwsinfo@indiana.edu to get a copy.

• GIS Analyst Dana Bissey spoke to graduate students in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs Forest Ecology and Management class about how GIS, drones, and lidar can be used to collect field data. In her previous job with IU Facility Operations, Bissey was part of a team that has conducted full tree inventories bi-annually since 2015 on the Bloomington campus. As a side project, she georeferenced maps from the 1930s to see if any trees planted then are still alive today.

• IGWS Research Affiliate Agnieszka Drobniak gave a presentation about the mine and REE research she conducted with IGWS Research Geologist Maria Mastalerz during the Silesian Festival of Science, the largest science-popularizing event in Poland. About 48,000 people attended the festival in person and another 7,000 watched it online.

• Drobniak, working in Poland, is leading an interlaboratory exercise to test the reproducibility of a technique to identify the components of biomass fuels. The project brought together scientists from more than 30 universities and laboratories around the world, including IGWS researchers Mastalerz and Ashley Douds.

• In December, Research Geologist Ginger Davis spoke to well drillers at the Indiana Section of the National Groundwater Association meeting in Greenwood and the Indiana Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Institute Conference in French Lick about standardization of lithologies for water well logs submitted to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Davis also spoke to the AWWA on “Formative research with water professionals to support reliable, safe, and affordable water” as part of the IU Center for Rural Engagement’s Indiana Uplands project.

• Educational website The Grunge linked to an article on the IGWS website about saber-toothed cats in a Dec. 25 story called “What might happen if saber-toothed tigers lived today?”

Henry Gray: Musical muse

A feature story we published last spring inspired a Bloomington man to write a song about 100-year-old IGWS geologist Henry Gray.

“I’ve been a singer-songwriter for most of my life and enjoy, in particular, putting together lyrics and tunes to capture the characteristics of various people,” wrote C. Carney Strange, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University. “Your article inspired me to do that for Henry.”

Strange stopped by Gray’s apartment in December to perform his song for him. Unfortunately, we don’t have audio or video to share, but here are the lyrics:

‘The Ballad of Henry Gray’

(Channeling Woody Guthrie)

Henry Gray, Ol’ Henry Gray

Rose to work another day

Life is just an act of will

At a hundred-and-one, he’s a’diggin’ still

He churns-up dirt and dark earth matter,

Bedrock, sand, and strata data.

Under foot and over land

Henry knows just where to stand.

He studies ground to see what’s there,

And writes it down with love and care.

So, when it comes for him to dig

Henry knows where to put his rig.

He swings a shovel and a miner’s pick

Finding more at the end of his stick.

Draws-up maps for easy brows’in,

For doodle-bugg’in and water-dows’in.

From samplin’ soils and history

And maps of old topography,

Lookin’ for mineral sediments,

He makes strati-graph-ic sense.

For farmers and environmentals,

Henry knows the incidentals,

To save our land and heal the earth

And pay our dues for what it’s worth.

For scientists and engineers

Henry knows all about the years,

Of glacial melt and changing seasons

Our land’s loved and he’s the reason.

So, If you’re lookin’ for a place to go,

Some Sycamore Land where to rest your soul,

Dial-up Henry on his old land-line,

And meet whenever he’s got the time.

— Carney Strange, 2022

IGWS geologist Henry Gray—long retired, but still volunteering—at his 100th birthday party in March 2022. | IGWS file photo

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.