Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM
GEOLOGIC MAPPING: WHY AND BY WHOM?
Systematic geologic mapping of large areas to ascertain bedrock and surficial geology, geologic structures, geologic hazards, and mineral and groundwater resources has historically been conducted by the USGS and state geological surveys. Additionally, university professors with undergraduate assistants and graduate students preparing theses and dissertations generate considerable geologic map data. Students that receive this experience are able to enter the professional realm well prepared to not only create geologic maps, but also to exercise 3-D visualization and to better comprehend and critique published geologic maps. While many students today are becoming well versed in GIS technology, well-trained geologic mappers are declining in number. Many universities have dropped field-methods classes from their curricula. Summer field camp is still a requirement of some undergraduate programs, but how can 6 to 8 weeks mapping in western US states prepare an individual for deciphering the geology of deeply weathered, vegetation-choked settings such as Georgia's? State funding to support geologic mapping projects is tight as coffers shrink or money is routed to other programs. The USGS through EDMAP and STATEMAP components of the National Geologic Mapping Program funds both qualifying universities and state geological surveys. Unfortunately and despite attempts, no Georgia-based professors have received EDMAP grants. The Georgia EPD currently has only 2 mapping geologists, but only one is funded by STATEMAP. Post-graduate opportunities to further train young professionals are becoming scarce. Environmental and geotechnical consulting firms occasionally require site-specific geologic maps to be made as do most of the nation's major mineral producers. Students interested in surviving the cyclical ups and downs of a geology profession and those wanting a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world via direct observation and analysis should either seek a school that supports active field research or enthusiastically petition for such a curriculum in schools that do not. Such individuals will also become educated citizens that can support ongoing public-sector field studies that will both quantify finite resources and ensure a high quality of life.