Southeastern Section - 64th Annual Meeting (19–20 March 2015)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:40 PM


WALLACE, Ronald J., Georgia Department of Natural Resources, 3650 Garrards Crossing, Roswell, GA 30075,

The purpose of this presentation is to provide geology students and recent graduates insight into the various responsibilities and duties geologists have while working as state employees. Geologists working in the public sector may serve as regulators of solid and hazardous waste sites, underground storage tank facilities, surface mining, or water permitting such as withdrawal and injection permits. They may also hold positions as field inspectors, routinely checking environmental compliance records and investigating complaints by local citizens. The geologist must have knowledge of state and federal regulations and familiar with their state guidance documents.

State geological surveys also employ many geologists. The responsibilities of the surveys vary depending on needs of the state, legislative directives, and traditions within the surveys. Most surveys are non-regulatory and provide scientific research, geologic data and maps, and reports to the public, industry, academia, and government agencies. An understanding of the geology of the state is necessary to make decisions on natural resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, and geothermal energy; water issues related to quality and quantity; and mineral resource development. Surveys typical develop environmental and geological hazards reports and maps which may include earthquake hazard zones, landslide and rock fall areas, sink holes, adverse soil conditions, earth fissures, areas prone to flash floods and debris flows, shoreline and stream erosion, radon, arsenic, and other natural occurring minerals. Surveys also provide outreach on important issues to the public, local, state and federal agencies, and industry.

The state Department of Transportation geologist positions include the following tasks: investigate bridge foundations, classify or survey soils, help identify and mitigate geologic hazards, such as slope failure, sink holes, and river migration, and conduct environmental investigations to determine the extent and severity of contamination. In many cases geologists will monitor and test the raw materials to be used for bridge and road construction. Most of this work is conducted in collaboration with large aggregate producing quarries across the state.