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Iowa Geological Survey at IIHR

The IGS Rock Library is Full of Stories!

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A group of people, the staff of the Iowa Geological Survey, on the steps of Trowbridge Hall.

The Iowa Geological Survey staff.

In early 2014, the Iowa Geological Survey became part of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, along with eight scientists, creating a new Iowa Geological Survey (IGS) under the auspices of IIHR. The capabilities of the IGS team include groundwater modeling, mapping of Iowa’s earth and mineral resources, innovative geophysical skills, and more.

Surface to Subsurface

Iowa’s groundwater, while hidden beneath the Earth’s surface, supplies a natural water storage and distribution system that provides drinking water for more than 80 percent of Iowa’s population and helps to support Iowa’s important agricultural economy. Thousands of wells across the state provide access to these groundwater resources. Over the decades, well-drillers have collected more than 35,000 samples of the rock and soil strata beneath the land’s surface. This collection, curated by the IGS, offers a glimpse of Iowa’s subsurface geologic and hydrologic setting and provides valuable information to help us better understand and protect Iowa’s vital groundwater resources. The collaboration between IGS and IIHR further strengthens the expertise in both surface and groundwater processes.

Floods to Drought

The Iowa Flood Center, a research unit within IIHR, offers unparalleled expertise and information related to flooding. But what about drought? The IGS has access to data from scores of wells across the state. IIHR and the new IGS program propose to revive a comprehensive groundwater monitoring network to better monitor and model Iowa’s groundwater resources. This will provide communities and decision-makers with the information to make sound decisions related to drilling new wells and changing pumping levels for existing wells, in addition to their impact on local aquifers.

A man works in the IGS's Rock Library, holding a tape measure to measure a rock core sample.

IGS scientist Rick Langel measures a core sample.

Research and Information for Iowans

The new partnership creates an organization with expertise that now covers all aspects of Iowa’s hydrologic cycle — precipitation, evaporation and evapotranspiration, surface flow, infiltration, and groundwater flow. This broader scope will facilitate collaborations and allow researchers to develop the best possible water-related information, analyses, and tools for Iowans.

Critical Iowa Research

Iowa’s natural water resources are vital to the state’s agricultural economy, to its natural environment, and to its citizens’ health. Together, IIHR and IGS can develop a comprehensive understanding of this precious natural resource in all its forms, making it possible to address a wide spectrum of water-related concerns, including conservation, quality, and quantity. The new program will make it easier to develop new models and forecasting tools, giving decision-makers the information they need to make informed choices.

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Last modified on August 18th, 2020
Posted on June 5th, 2014

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