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State Geologist Jim Cobb speaks on the 13th anniversary of the Twelfth Survey

State Geologist Jim Cobb spoke to the Survey staff on October 1, 2012, the anniversary of the 12th Survey. Below is the text of his remarks:

This is the 13th anniversary of the 12th Kentucky Geological Survey. The 12th Survey started more than a decade ago in a previous millennium on Oct. 1, 1999. There have been 11 previous state geologists and 11 previous Surveys of KGS since 1854 when David Dale Owen started the first permanent survey from New Harmony, Ind., with funding from the Kentucky state legislature. There was a cursory survey by W.W. Mather, an Ohio geologist, who did a reconnaissance of Kentucky in 1838.

The mission has remained much the same throughout our 158-year history. The current mission of the Kentucky Geological Survey is to investigate the commonwealth's geology, mineral resources, groundwater, and hazards, and report on these to the public. We have several additional mandates, which are the Well Sample and Core Library, Groundwater Data Repository, Groundwater Monitoring Network, and the Kentucky Seismic and Strong-Motion Network. We are also a cooperator with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management as well as other State programs. KGS was established under Kentucky Revised Statute 151.01 and subsequent sections. KGS is under the UK Vice President for Research and is one of 10 centers under the VP. KGS is served by an advisory board of 12 citizens nominated by the president of UK and appointed by the governor. The board meets three times each year.

KGS investigations in 2011-12 were aided by 20 projects funded by $1.4 million in grants. During the fiscal year, nearly 395,000 database searches were made online for oil and gas, coal, and water data, resulting in more than 8,000 downloads. An average of 450 people use our Web site each weekday.

KGS Measures and Statistics:

Research grants in force: 20
Peer-reviewed publications: 11
Other technical publications: 9
Research consultations and facilitations: 653
Data distributions: 2.6 million
Direct service contacts to public: 4,500

In addition to the main facility on the UK campus, KGS operates the Western Kentucky Office at Henderson, and the Well Sample and Core Library. The library acquired 105 new well samples and cores in 2011-12, and also hosted a number of workshops, conferences, and meeting. The library will host a meeting of the Joint Interim Committee on Natural Resources and Environment on Nov. 1, 2012. Although some of our statistics and measures look good, there is always room for improvement in publications, journal articles, and funding. One of our greatest needs, however, is for new grants.

Staff changes:

Biggest Headline

The big headline this fiscal year was the mapping celebration! We celebrated a major achievement in geologic mapping when all 26 maps in the 30 X 60 minute geologic map series were completed and made available to the public. We held a formal unveiling ceremony on Dec. 1, 2011. UK President Eli Capilouto, Secretary Len Peters, and USGS Associate Director Suzette Kimball were present to help celebrate. A symposium, "Celebrating Geologic Mapping for Science and Society," was held after the unveiling with participants from other state surveys, academia, the U.S. Geological Survey, and KGS. We even have a video on YouTube showing our map celebration.


Because of the poor economic environment in the nation and state, budgets are being cut, including the KGS budget. My job is to preserve the core areas of the Survey despite decreasing budgets. We must preserve the ability to conduct scientific investigations and disseminate data and findings. These are the basic functions of KGS. New grants are important because the base funding has been declining for several years. UK President Capilouto has new priorities for UK, and these are student success and undergraduate education, and improvements in infrastructure. These are important for UK. I have responded to President Capilouto's and Provost Tracy's requests for comments on budget issues. Centers and Institutes at UK recently formed a Council of Multidisciplinary Research Centers and Institutes to respond to campus issues with a unified voice. UK Vice President Jim Tracy is supportive of this effort.

We must be prepared for closer scrutiny of our programs and activities and be able to justify them to outsiders so that they not only understand what we do but would support what we do. Therefore, it is important for all of you to report all of the statistics and measures, the measures of our productivity and successes, on your monthly reports and other reporting devices. These are being compiled for UK. This is our first line of defense. My response to new priorities and oversight from UK was to place renewed emphasis on scientific investigations, publications, UK engagement, and database building. These priorities characterize our activities in their most basic form.

KGS Earth Modeling and Visualization Lab

The new KGS Earth Modeling and Visualization Lab is a great example of UK engagement. It is ready for use. Use will be scheduled by Mandy Long, and John Hickman will be our liaison to Earth and Environmental Sciences, although it is open to all faculty members at UK by appointment. It was the brainchild of Jerry Weisenfluh and Ed Woolery. It is being done with the cooperation of the UK College of Engineering Visualization Center, UK Earth and Environmental Sciences, and KGS. It is our intention that this lab will attract faculty to work at KGS and for KGS to work with faculty; real UK engagement. I have high hope for this new facility. And, the Hazards Section is moving into the space previously occupied by the Public Information Center. This will give the Geologic Hazards Section higher visibility.

Geology Job Family

The UK/KGS classification system for geologists, I through V, is a strength for our Survey. Many organizations do not have a job-family classification system like ours. The UK/KGS geology classification includes the following major job responsibilities:

The MJR percentages change with rank and specific duties, but the basics are important for all and make our job family and classification system relevant. We must keep this system strong by making sure it works.

Geologist Registration Law Changes

Geologists working for State and local government must now be registered as professional geologists in Kentucky. They have three years in which to take the ASBOG exam and get registered. The changes to the geologists registration law are:

Adding State and local geologists to the program could add 100 new geologists to the program. I encourage all KGS geologists to get registered.

KGS has benefitted a great deal from our Chinese international partnerships. In November 2011, KGS and the Earthquake Administration of Fujian Province, China, became partners in seismic research. This new partnership is in addition to existing partnerships with the Lanzhou Institute of Seismology and Beijing University. These partnerships have brought 18 visiting scholars and students to UK, and several joint investigations have been completed or are in progress. We currently have five Chinese visiting scholars and post-docs in seismology.

KGS helps promote geology by assisting organizations that contribute to the science and application of geology. KGS regularly assists the Kentucky Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the Kentucky Society of Professional Geologists, and the Kentucky Paleontological Society. During the year, KGS hosted or cohosted meetings for several organizations in Kentucky: the 62nd Annual Highway Geology Symposium, 45th Annual Palynological Society meeting, Association of State Boards of Geology Board of Examiners meeting, and the 56th Midwest Groundwater Symposium.

Staff Awards and Recognitions for 2011-12

James C. Cobb, Oct. 1, 2012
State of the Survey Address