Understanding Iowa's geology and hydrology provides the critical information needed to ensure that our natural resources are properly utilized and protected. Gaining this knowledge and helping Iowans apply it is the core function of your Iowa Geological Survey (IGS). The questions to be answered are many. How were Iowa’s bedrock formations, glacial deposits, and alluvial materials deposited? How have they been altered, weathered, and eroded? Have these processes affected the availability, quality, and movement of groundwater? Where are mineral, aggregate, or energy resources found? What role do earth materials play in the function of healthy watersheds, and how do they impact stream quality? Where are geologic hazards such as sinkholes, slope failures, and fluctuating water tables likely to occur? How are societal activities, land use, and geology woven together to impact our natural resources?
Inventory and study of Iowa’s soils, rocks, and water are the keys to understanding our resource base. IGS records water levels in wells and examines how water-well pumping affects those levels. We monitor the quality of our streams, lakes, and groundwater. We study the hydrology of watersheds and relate these factors to geology and land use. Staff geologists map the extent and thickness of geologic deposits, as well as archive earth materials and records from tens of thousands of water wells. We map aquifer water levels, define the three-dimensional water supply zones for public wells, and assess their vulnerability to contamination. Our geographic specialists use remote sensing and aerial imagery to examine and interpret land uses and the land surface in detail. In addition we assemble geographically based data on land use, water bodies, soils, regulated facilities, infrastructure, and cultural features into electronic map layers within the Natural Resources Geographic Information System (NRGIS) Library.
Earth, water, landscapes, infrastructure, and land use data are integrated to provide accurate resource information to Iowans. By building partnerships with local, state, and federal interests, more informed decisions are made at the watershed, county, and regional levels.
Data are available to you in many ways. The NRGIS Library and extensive databases for geology, wells, and water quality are available on our web site. IGS provides forecasts for water wells to the public, drillers, cities, and economic development projects, and interpretations of geology to state regulators and the affected community. Our greatest strengths are the technical expertise and experience of our staff – only a phone call away. It is my pleasure as State Geologist to invite you to contact us whenever you need information about what lies on and beneath Our Common Ground.
Robert D. Libra