That may seem like a silly question, but it’s a fundamental one when IGWS staff members describe their jobs to non-geologists, be they friends or potential funders.

Users of IGWS maps and other research projects come from several sectors – private industry, local and state government, consulting groups, health departments, and others – and as a result, the ways geologic information is used vary quite a bit.

Recently, the IGWS was asked to compile “success stories” that have resulted from federally funded programs. Here are some excerpts from map users in the vein of “why we do what we do.”


“STATEMAP funding has enabled deep drilling to investigate aquifers found within glacial sediments in several of Indiana’s fastest growing counties south of Indianapolis.”

– Henry Loope, Indiana Geological and Water Survey researcher (2023)

“The (Bartholomew) county geologic map, derivative maps, and digital data provide a level of natural resource information previously unknown in the county or in neighboring counties. Growth in Bartholomew County is dependent on providing services to new businesses and developments such as water. The municipal and non-profit water utilities are excited about the availability of this geologic data. … This will have a positive financial impact on the utilities and ultimately the customers. … Our county highway department is excited to have this (cave) data as it relates to new bridges and any required pilings.”

– Jeff Lucas, GIS Mapping Division head, Bartholomew County (2017)

“As economic development continues in Indiana, the need for basic surficial and bedrock geology maps will become more acute. I am impressed with the 3-D modeling techniques being developed and refined by the IGS, including their use of the extremely valuable statewide LiDAR dataset. … Only with such high-quality data can the state move toward environmentally sensible and sustainable development.”

– Dr. Kathy Licht, associate professor of earth sciences, IUPUI (2014)

“I want to acknowledge the value of the Lawrence County geologic map to the dimension stone industry of southern Indiana. The associated data is aiding our industry in material extraction forecasting and environmental impact studies, as well as helping our operators work within their communities as good neighbors.”

– Todd Schnatzmeyer, executive director, Indiana Limestone Institute (2016)

“IGWS regional detailed mapping … has refined our understanding of regional stratigraphy and subunits of key economic horizons of interest for dimension stone. … In summary … IGWS data and support has contributed to the success of our business.”

– Marshall Rich, senior quarry advisory for Polycor (owner of Indiana Limestone Company and Elliot Stone Co.) (2022)


“These maps (‘Bedrock Geologic Map of Bartholomew County, Indiana’ and ‘Map Showing Elevation of the Bedrock Surface in Bartholomew County, Indiana’) … have been beneficial for my recent projects in the Columbus area where we have been evaluating groundwater contamination and potential impacts to the water supply. The information in these recent maps provide a level of detail for the bedrock surface that has saved time and money for water supply investigations.”

– James McNulty, project manager, Strand Associates Inc. (2018)

“(Morgan County)’s future drinking water sources will rely on subsurface aquifers. One of its major public water supply aquifers has already been contaminated by chlorinated solvents, and some of its bedrock is known to provide water high in naturally-occurring arsenic. Accurate description of its subsurface geology and the locations of reliable drinking water resources will determine the future growth of the county’s communities.”

– Rosemarie Neimeyer Hansell, environmental health specialist, Department of Water Quality and Hazardous Materials Management, Marion County Health Department (2014)

“When a water source has become contaminated, IDEM must react quickly to prevent impacts to human health and the environment. Having accurate information is crucial to that effort. Geologic maps and aquifer studies provide important information that would otherwise be unavailable to our staff as they work to determine the extent of contamination and the remedial/emergency efforts that will be required. In the event of an emergency such as a spill, Indiana Geological Survey mapping products may be the only source of information available to aid our response effort.”

– Marsha Clark Mettler and Peggy Dorsey, Indiana Office of Water Quality and Indiana Office of Land Quality (2014)

“GIS data sets make available important (map) layers to assist in analysis of groundwater and surface water interaction. For example, we field many calls from the public concerned over the fluctuating water levels of some northern Indiana glacial lakes.”

– Gerald Unterreiner, resource assessment section, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (2009)


“Geologic maps are important to the public and private sector interest of Indiana at many levels. High-quality geologic mapping by the IGS provides an unbiased big picture so that parties with diverse points of view can begin discussions on the importance of the local geologic conditions and how they relate to the specifics of the project.”

– Robert T. Duncan, licensed professional geologist (2009)


“The continuation of long-term geologic mapping by the Indiana Geological Survey will provide the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service a valuable tool for assisting landowners and producers in managing their natural resources.”

– Gary Struben, state soil scientist (2014)

“We must understand how our water resources are intertwined with mineral resources, surface features, housing, industrial sites, and our ever-expanding population. This has potential for a large-scale ‘train wreck’ if not adequately addressed. … So I encourage you, with great vigor, please keep on mapping.”

– Robert G. Jones, executive director, Indiana Mineral Aggregates Association (2007)

If you have thoughts about what maps or other geologic data could be useful to your area of work or study, feel free to email