Pennsylvania Geological Survey -- recent programs to serve the common good and the Commonwealth

Parrish, Jay and Delano, Helen L., Pennsylvania Geological Survey - DCNR, 3240 Schoolhouse Road, Middletown, PA 17057.

The Mission Statement of Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey begins “To serve the citizens of Pennsylvania...”. Our focus and programs have evolved over time to meet changing needs. Since 1836, our priorities have moved from coal and iron ore, to also encompass petroleum, water, industrial minerals and construction aggregates, water, geologic hazards and environmental concerns such as land-use planning.

Recent examples continue to demonstrate this response to societal needs. The PAMAP program is providing improved coverage statewide with digital orthoimagery and LiDAR derived elevation data to replace no-longer updated topographic base maps. We expect the LiDAR data to support improved flood hazard mapping, new landslide research, and to spur new ideas in geologic investigations. New bedrock and surficial geologic mapping is largely concentrated in areas of anticipated growth and increasing development, and is being provided in digital formats to increase availability and reduce distribution costs. Our older maps and reports are being converted to digital formats to facilitate remote access to out-of print materials. Research into natural gas potential of the Trenton-Black River play and potential for geological sequestration of carbon dioxide respond to a clear need for energy and efforts to mitigate side effects of fossil fuel consumption. A recent map showing statewide potential for acid-producing rock was requested after major problems ensued when highway excavation exposed a sulfide bearing ore-body. New ways of portraying information about carbonate sinkholes and landslides allow geologic information to be more easily used to avoid hazards.

As always, the ability to provide timely, understandable and responsive geologic information depends on the availability of good basic geologic and topographic data - maps, descriptions, locations, inventories and analyses, combined with systems to distribute the information to a wide variety of users, in a wide variety of ways.

More information on all of our programs is available at the Bureau’s web site at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/. [Home Page]

Oral paper presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting (12–14 March 2007) of the Northeastern Geological Society of America, Durham, New Hampshire.