KGS veteran researcher Warren Anderson retires May 31, 2019
Warren Anderson closed a 41-year career at KGS on May 31, after being involved in research on such diverse topics as minerals and metals, digital mapping, and black shales. The native of Burkesville, Ky., had done base and precious metal exploration for Union Carbide in Wyoming and South Dakota after completing a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He came to KGS in January 1978, when Wally Hagan was director. Hagan was looking for someone with expertise in ore deposits who could investigate the mineral districts of Kentucky.
Examining cores and records from companies that had mined iron, zinc, fluorite, and other materials in Kentucky, Anderson began to gather data from the state’s central, southern, and western mineral districts. That information was scanned and would eventually be made available online at the KGS Mineral Resources webpage, with links to information about ore deposits and a minerals database. “A lot of these ore deposits still have substantial reserves left in them,” Anderson says. “Southern and western Kentucky both have millions of tons of zinc and fluorite left, and so I think at some point they will be mined. The rare earth materials work in western Kentucky was a complex research project, and the chemistry of the materials is not easily understood. That was the most challenging and the most interesting to me.” His work on rare earth elements resulted in a recent KGS publication. Only one of the Kentucky districts has active mining now because recovery of the materials is more economical elsewhere in the U.S. and the world.
In 1996, KGS Director Don Haney tapped Anderson to chair the digital mapping program committee that planned the conversion of geologic quadrangle maps to digital format. “We had to experiment with new digitization methods to capture all the data, such as faulting and formation contact boundaries,” he recalls. “It was a complex project involving committees on stratigraphy, digital capture, and other issues.”
Anderson also investigated pyrite oxidation in black shales, which has caused the ground to swell beneath buildings in central Kentucky, damaging a hospital, factory, and a school in Estill County. “Major renovations of those facilities were needed because of the problem, and it cost millions of dollars,” he says. His findings are available in his 2008 KGS report, “Foundation Problems and Pyrite Oxidation in the Chattanooga Shale, Estill County, Kentucky.” “I think the publication and talks I have given, including one at a conference in Dublin, Ireland, have helped to educate engineers and construction companies that they have to deal with this issue before they start construction."
In retirement, Anderson plans to take some time off first, but adds he may want to do some more work on rare earth elements of Kentucky.