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Geological Survey

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  • United States Military Academy in West Point, New York

    PRI geoscientists begin work on $6 million federal investment in geothermal energy

    Geoscientists from the Illinois State Geological Survey have begun geologic and hydrogeologic site characterization work for major federal geothermal energy projects.

  • Direct air capture system

    PRI tapped to lead feasibility studies for three regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) hubs

    This once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure will support efforts to build a clean and equitable energy economy that achieves a zero-carbon energy system by 2035 and to put the United States on a path to strengthen energy prosperity and achieve net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. 

    PRI is specifically tasked with executing feasibility and pre-feasibility studies of potential DAC Hub locations, ownership structures, business models, CO2 storage/utilization option(s), and technology partner(s) outlined in the following stage 1 of potential multi-stage projects in Illlinois, Colorado, and Florida.

  • coal ball

    Windows to the deep past

  • Direct air capture system

    PRI selected to lead feasibility studies for three Regional Direct Air Capture (DAC) Hubs

    PRI was selected to lead an effort to promote promising technologies that can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it underground at three different sites in Illinois, Colorado, and Florida. Read the full announcement from the Department of Energy (DOE) here.

  • Hannes Leetaru

    Remembering Dr. Hannes Leetaru

    It is with immeasurable sadness that we share that Hannes Leetaru passed away on May 31st. "Hannes was perhaps the most committed scientist that I have encountered to the ideals, goals, and philosophy of what a geological survey embodies and the impact that it has on both the scientific community and the social community that it directly and positively impacts," said Dick Berg, State Geologist and Director of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS).

  • Jo Daviess County alfalfa crop pattern in 2012

    Database reveals locations of sinkholes, crevices, and mines in Jo Daviess County

    A new database compiling information from a decade of Prairie Research Institute (PRI) studies on the unique geology and hydrology of Jo Daviess County is designed to help residents and officials understand the karst features of the land where they live and to better protect their water supply from surface contamination.

  • Sallie Greenberg

    Prairie Research Institute scientist to serve on White House task force on carbon capture and storage

    Sallie Greenberg, a principal research scientist at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), has been selected as a member of one of the two new White House Council on Environmental Quality task forces to guide the development of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies in the United States. 

  • geothermal drill

    PRI leads campus collaboration with ORNL geothermal energy technology

    The Prairie Research Institute (PRI), Student Sustainability Committee (SSC), Facilities & Services (F&S), Illinois Water Resources Center (IWRC), Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES), and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) gathered on Feb. 27, 2023, to break ground on installing an underground thermal battery (UTB) at the Energy Farm in Urbana, IL.

  • Heidelberg Plant

    Multimillion-dollar project investigates potential CO2 storage at Heidelberg Materials’ cement plant in Mitchell, Indiana

    With $8.9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Transport and Storage CarbonSAFE Program, the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), is leading a two-year project to explore the feasibility of safely storing more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over 30 years captured from the Heidelberg Materials cement plant in Mitchell, Indiana.

  • SkyTEM helicopter

    A helicopter above Champaign County will explore an aquifer below ground

    Beginning on Nov. 19 and extending for a few weeks, Champaign County citizens will spot a curiosity flying in the sky above: a helicopter towing a large coil frame hanging from long cables. Helicopter flights are part of an Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) project to map and better understand the Mahomet aquifer within the county.

  • Drilling for the geothermal exchange system at the U of I campus

    A geothermal exchange system on the U of I campus proves its benefits

    Last year, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers helped build a geothermal exchange system to heat and cool a new building at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I), saving electrical usage and marking another step in the quest for a carbon-neutral campus. This type of heating and cooling system is also used successfully in homes, businesses, and industry, according to Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) scientist Andrew Stumpf.

  • Leaves turn at Volo Bog Nature Preserve in the fall. Photo credit: Bill Batalden

    Groundwater experts help industries and nature preserves thrive

    The ISGS and ISWS began monitoring the intersections between industry and the state-protected nature preserves in 1998, letting science and groundwater testing lead the way. Then-graduate student Randy Locke embarked on what was intended to be a two-year groundwater monitoring project; that project is now in its 24th year and has expanded to 414 dedicated nature preserves across 62,270 acres in Illinois.

  • Piotr Szocinski crouches in the back of a truck to load soil samples

    Digging into soil data helps inform green infrastructure design

    PRI geologists were part of a multidisciplinary research project aimed at helping Illinois communities add green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to their strategies to prevent local flooding. Pilot projects focused on Calumet City and Midlothian. 

  • four people stand at the Illinois Basin Decatur Project injection well

    Data from landmark Illinois Basin carbon storage project are now available

    The first-of-its-kind Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), which concluded in 2021 after successfully demonstrating the safe geologic storage of carbon dioxide, is releasing data sets in two easily accessible locations.

  • Aerial view of fully installed submerged rubble ridges

    Underwater innovation at Illinois Beach State Park to help mitigate coastal erosion

    This past summer, with funding from the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a US Army Corps of Engineers crane carefully placed over 10,000 tons of stone five hundred feet offshore of Illinois Beach State Park (ISBP) and Hosah Park, a Zion Park District property wedged between the north and south units of IBSP. These stones form three “rubble ridges” that are intended to work in concert to lessen storm waves and protect the eroding beach and unique terrestrial ecosystem in the dunes while preserving views and enhancing fish habitat.

  • ILMINES screenshot

    ISGS data inform siting decisions for energy companies in Illinois

    Green energy companies seeking sites for windfarm and solar power plant development in Illinois are targeting industrially zoned settings, such as land around active and abandoned coal mines and oil fields. When considering siting decisions, companies can rely on the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) to provide extensive databases and maps on the state’s geologic and mine information to save potential trouble with collapsed land.

  • a hand clad in a purple latex glove holds a small snake against a grassy backdrop

    PRI offers applied science internships for summer 2022

    PRI is offering hands-on summer internships that will enable undergraduate students from populations underrepresented in graduate study at Illinois to explore careers in applied science. There are opportunities in atmospheric science and climate; biology, ecology, and environmental science; geology; sustainable energy; and water supply and safety. To see all of the internship options and to apply, visit https://go.illinois.edu/PRI-interns

  • Water committee in the Kimu village in the Zomba district of Malawi

    ISGS retiree develops water resources partnership in Malawi

    Tim Larson, a retired geoscientist from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), brought his four decades of experience in locating groundwater in Illinois to connect people in four African villages to fresh water.

  • Petroleum Experts renews software grant to ISGS

    Petroleum Experts has renewed through December 2022 a grant of a set of software packages to the Illinois State Geological Survey and Department of Geology to use in research and education. This software enhances the ISGS capabilities in subsurface interpretation. The yearly value of this grant is more than $2.5 million.

  • mining Illinois coal

    ISGS project will seek valuable elements, minerals from coal and coal waste

    The Office of Fossil Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy has selected to award nearly $1.5 million to the Illinois State Geological Survey for a project that will evaluate the availability of valuable rare earth elements and critical minerals in coal and coal waste streams in Illinois and nearby states. 

  • man at injection well site

    Carbon capture and storage project with ADM concludes

    On May 19, 2021, ADM and the University of Illinois announced the successful completion of the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project, a carbon capture and storage project designed to evaluate and test the technology at commercial scale.

  • Greg Cane analyzes a sample.

    International testing validates accuracy of Stable Isotope Lab analyses

    The Illinois State Geological Survey’s stable isotope laboratory recently passed a standards proficiency test overseen by the International Atomic Energy Association. 

  • power lines

    Three new DOE-funded PRI projects set to design energy storage systems for power plants

    It is challenging to integrate renewable resources into the distribution grid of fossil-fueled power plants when energy is most needed. The results are often intermittent and unpredictable, which makes it difficult to match energy demand with supply.

    In three new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded projects, scientists in the Prairie Research Institute will design systems and explore the feasibility of combining the use of renewable and fossil energy sources to ensure both short and long-term reliability in electric power delivery.

  • Campus Instructional Facility

    UIUC’S largest geothermal system goes online

    The largest geothermal energy system implemented at the university so far went online in April, at the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) ahead of its opening this coming fall. The CIF geothermal system was designed using data acquired and analyzed from a nearby geothermal monitoring well installed by the Illinois State Geological Survey and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

  • Monroe County Illinois lidar map

    ISGS updates Illinois sinkhole data

    The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) now provides up-to-date downloadable data about sinkholes for the entire state of Illinois. This replaces the previous ISGS GIS dataset of statewide sinkhole areas, which was published in 1997.

  • ISGS research technician Katie Braun flies a drone over Lake Michigan, collecting data by mapping magnetic materials both above and buried beneath the surface. 

    Going beyond the surface

  • PRI scientists bring expertise to study of critical interfaces

    PRI scientists from the Illinois State Water Survey and Illinois State Geological Survey are part of a collaborative project to study “critical interfaces” in the environment.

  • rendering of the proposed innovative power plant

    DOE awards $25 million to PRI for design of innovative power plant

    The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $25 million to a three-year project led by the Prairie Research Institute that will design a next-generation power plant in Springfield, Illinois. The innovative plant design combines multiple techniques to both reduce emissions and capture and re-use carbon dioxide.

  • man at injection well site

    ISGS combines innovation and expertise in carbon storage

    For almost 20 years, PRI’s geologists and engineers have been developing methods for the safe capture, storage, and utilization of CO2 from power plants and industrial operations. This has been in response to federal and state laws requiring reductions in CO2 emissions, as this byproduct of power generation has a direct link to atmospheric greenhouse gasses and climate change. 

  • " "

    Earth MRI funds critical minerals projects in Illinois

    The U.S. Geological Survey and the Association of American State Geologists will provide $106,978 in funding for critical minerals projects in Illinois. As part of this effort, the Illinois State Geological Survey will perform geochemical analyses for regions all over Illinois and adjoining states. 

  • Understanding Lake Michigan's dynamic shoreline

    ISGS scientists work the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to develop a better understanding of shoreline dynamics along the Illinois coast of Lake Michigan. Such insights are needed to inform coastal managers on how to best preserve the remaining natural coastline in Illinois.

  • Understanding erosion at Illinois Beach State Park

    ISGS and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Program are studying shoreline dynamics, erosion, and habitat loss at Illinois Beach State Park, one of the last stretches of natural coastline in Illinois. 

  • ISTC and ISWS Director Kevin OBrien with University of Illinois System President Timothy Killeen at City, Water, Light, and Power in Springfield, Illinois.

    Carbon capture collaborations lead clean energy drive

    The Prairie Research Institute — is leading a drive to implement CO2 removal strategies, an essential step to a clean-energy future. 

  • ""

    Geological Survey assists state agencies with COVID-19 data

  • aerial view of silos

    DOE funds ISGS work on carbon storage

  • Buying a home in Illinois? You'll need PRI for that.

    For every Illinois home sold, the Prairie Research Institute provides data needed for banks, title companies, insurance companies, and consumers to make informed decisions about home ownership. 

  • geologist Sam Panno explores Calf Cave in Joe Daviess County

    Jo Daviess County collaboration tackles water quality

    With its unique geology marked by sinkholes, crevices, and caves, Jo Daviess County is highly susceptible to water contamination. Scientists from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) are using their expertise and collaborating with a local organization to help citizens understand water quality issues and protect their water supplies.

  • Glasford crater in Peoria

    "It was a bad day for Peoria County about 450 million years ago."

  • Piper Navaho aircraft

    Flights to image 3D geology in Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana

    Scientists with the Illinois State Geological Survey are partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Geological Surveys of Kentucky and Indiana to image geology using airborne geophysical technology as part of the USGS Earth Mapping Resource Initiative.

  • Illinois elevation map

    ISGS provides high-resolution digital elevation data for all 102 Illinois counties

    For the first time, high-resolution digital elevation data that are essential for planning by local, state, and federal agencies are available online for all Illinois counties.

  • Joe Devera speaks to K-6 students

    ISGS researcher Joe Devera to participate in natural resources event for 30th year

    Each April in southern Illinois, students in grades K-6 participate in Stewardship Week, an outdoor education event. This year, just like every year for the past 30, Joe Devera, senior paleontologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey, will be back to share his knowledge and love of fossils with inquiring young minds.

  • erosion on the Lake Michigan shoreline

    Freshwater coastal erosion alters global carbon budget

    Shoreline erosion can transform freshwater wetlands from carbon-storage pools to carbon sources, according to a new study led by Illinois State Geological Survey researchers. 

  • drill at Mt. Auburn

    Initial results show Mt. Simon Sandstone in Macon County is suited to carbon storage

    Preliminary results from a stratigraphic characterization well drilled in December 2018 by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and collaborators near Mt. Auburn, Illinois, indicate that the Mt. Simon Sandstone at this location has excellent reservoir characteristics for storage of CO2. The T. R. McMillen #2 well is part of the CarbonSAFE Illinois–Macon County project, which is intended to establish the feasibility of storage of 50 million tonnes or more of CO2.

  • Microplastic contamination found in common source of groundwater, researchers report

  • map of Central Illinois' Mahomet aquifer

    Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force issues recommendations

    A task force formed by the Illinois General Assembly to identify gaps in protection of the Mahomet Aquifer has issued its final recommendations. Illinois State Water Survey hydrologist George Roadcap served as a member of the task force, and other Prairie Research Institute scientists provided data and expertise to support the group’s yearlong effort.

  • T.R. McMillen 2 well

    ISGS drills Christian County well to investigate potential for carbon dioxide storage

    On Dec. 3 the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) completed drilling the T.R. McMillen #2 well in Christian County, Illinois, as part of its CarbonSAFE Illinois program. Preliminary results indicate the Mt. Simon Sandstone at this location is suitable for a commercial-scale CO2 storage site.

  • drilling equipment in field

    ISGS, ISWS install new wells for national groundwater monitoring

    Scientists and staff from the Illinois State Geological Survey and the Illinois State Water Survey  ollaborated with county and local governments in Kane County to install groundwater-monitoring wells in northeast Illinois as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Ground Water Monitoring Network

  • Timothy Larson with children in Malawi

    Finding water in Malawi

    Geophysicist Timothy Larson was part of a project through Geoscientists Without Borders to drill water wells in Malawi.  

  • Diagram of the biphasic carbon dioxide absorption technology

    DOE award received to develop and scale up carbon capture technology

    A biphasic CO2 absorption (BiCAP) technology developed at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) has been selected for development and bench-scale testing by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a transformation technology for post-combustion carbon capture.

  • Yu-Feng Lin

    Yu-Feng Lin named director of Illinois Water Resources Center

    Yu-Feng Lin, a hydrogeologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey, is the new director of the Illinois Water Resource Center, which addresses the state’s water resources challenges through research and education.