Southeastern Section–55th Annual Meeting (23–24 March 2006)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:40 AM


COBB, James C., Kentucky Geological Survey, 228 MMRB, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0107,

In the 160 year history of the Kentucky Geological Survey, its most valuable accomplishment is the geologic mapping of the state at a scale of 1:24,000. The 707 geologic quadrangle maps (GQs) are the Survey's greatest assets and were the result of a 20-year cooperative program with the U.S. Geological Survey that capped a 100-year effort by the nine previous surveys. The mission of the Kentucky Geological Survey has been and continues to be the investigation of the geology and minerals of the Commonwealth for the benefit of its citizens. The geologic mapping program not only advanced this mission, but also contributed to all future work by the Survey and other agencies involved in mineral resources, water, geologic hazards, environment, construction, and land-use planning.

The value to society of geologic maps has been calculated using the economic theory of “public goods”. As a “public good”, a geologic map contributes to society but is not a commodity like a TV or a car. Therefore, estimating its value is complex. This required 2000 questionnaires sent to professional geologists registered in Kentucky. The economic analysis was a cooperative effort of the Kentucky and Illinois geological surveys.

Analyses of the questionnaires showed the following: a.- 17 % was the average project costs saved because of existing geologic maps; b.- $27,776 was the minimum amount to collect geologic data if maps were not available; c.- $43,527 was the estimated amount saved because geologic maps were available; and d.- the amount users would voluntarily pay for a GQ was $342.

The value of GQs for Kentucky can be estimated from total map sales and the values from the economic analyses. The minimum value is $2.25 billion and the maximum is $3.35 billion. More than 100,000 Kentucky GQs have been sold making them the most popular of any survey publication.