The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) had an exceedingly busy and successful year in 2022. We progressed to a fully hybrid work model as the University of Wisconsin continues to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. As per latitude provided by the Division of Extension, many staff members are working remotely 40% and in person 60%, thus maximizing flexibility while also re-establishing the camaraderie and personal connections of in-person interaction. We are once again fully engaging with field data collection and interacting with community members, the Division of Extension, UW–Madison academic departments, and our collaborators at the state and national levels. Combined with data analysis and processing, research, map and report preparation, and outreach, we continue to provide the residents of Wisconsin with high-quality objective data on the geology of the state.
Thankfully, it appears that WGNHS, and the University of Wisconsin, have weathered the economic impacts associated with the global pandemic. The Survey’s base funding from the university continues to remain intact, though flat. In 2022 the State Legislature mandated a new county-focused hydrogeology position at WGNHS, which has been funded by UW–Madison for the next three years. Amy Weirsma will be starting in 2023 for this important role! Beyond base funding, grant and contract awards continue to increase. Increasing federal appropriations, including from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, have led to increases in available funding from the US Geological Survey’s STATEMAP, Data Preservation, and Earth MRI (Mapping Resources Initiative) programs. This has resulted in record awards from WGNHS’s proposals to the STATEMAP ($408,603) and Data Preservation ($68,395) programs in 2022, with the solid expectation that awards will be larger yet in 2023. Additionally, the Survey continues to receive funding from the US Forest Service’s Good Neighbor Authority, the National Groundwater Monitoring Program, and the Wisconsin Groundwater Joint Solicitation, and we are receiving new interest in county groundwater studies based on the newly funded hydrogeologist position. While the available external funds are certainly a positive trend, many of these funding sources require a 1:1 match from WGNHS, and we are rapidly approaching our capacity in that regard.
Geologic mapping, a core focus of WGNHS’s mission and work, continues at a furious pace. In 2022, bedrock and surficial geologic mapping projects at the 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scales were underway or completed in Bayfield, Iowa, Grant, Jefferson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Sauk, and Sawyer counties. Additionally, staff worked in 2022 on finalizing the first statewide 1:500,000 scale map of the surficial geology of Wisconsin.
The past year also marked a transition in leadership at WGNHS. After working at WGNHS for 40 years, including the last 7 as Director and State Geologist, Ken Bradbury retired. Ken is nationally renowned for his expertise as a hydrogeologist and numeric modeler, working to quantify groundwater resources in the state and communicate his knowledge to the residents of the state. Through the latter half of 2022, I have provided leadership to WGNHS in an interim role while the Division of Extension prepared for a national search for the next permanent Director and State Geologist.
Thank you for continuing to support WGNHS’s work. Please take a few minutes to review the highlights of our work in 2022 below, and explore our website and interactive Projects map for more information. Also, please consider supporting WGNHS by making a donation.
Eric Carson, Interim Director and State Geologist
Participation in the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). Like many other state geological surveys, WGNHS receives annual grants for bedrock and surficial geologic mapping from the NCGMP. The main source of grants is the STATEMAP program, which funds bedrock and surficial geologic mapping as well as a range of derivative products. The related Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition provides funds for surficial geologic mapping in the eight states that border the Great Lakes. Grant proposals from WGNHS to both programs are reviewed by the Wisconsin Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee (WGMAC). For 2022, the WGMAC approved a proposal for STATEMAP that contained 6 new mapping projects and 3 derivative projects; they also approved a proposal to the Great Lakes Coalition to collect deep rotosonic cores. WGNHS received $408,000 in funding from the USGS for the STATEMAP proposal and $72,000 for the Great Lakes Coalition proposal.
Participation in Earth MRI (Mapping Resources Initiative). The Earth MRI program was established by an Executive Order in December 2017 with the intended goal of providing resources to state geological surveys and industry partners to conduct geologic mapping and collect geophysical data to inventory critical economic and strategic minerals in the United States. In 2022, WGNHS geologists Billy Fitzpatrick and Eric Stewart continued work on a 2-year grant from Earth MRI that is resulting in new 1:24,000 scale bedrock mapping in Grant and Iowa counties.
Participation in the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP). The NGGDPP program provides funding to retrieve, preserve, protect, and catalog geologic collections, including physical samples, datasets, photographs, field notes, and other records. During 2022, WGNHS staff Carsyn Ames, Brad Gottschalk, Pete Schoephoester, and Dave Sibley completed projects which expanded the WGNHS Data Viewer to host core photos, assigned metadata to 103 cores donated by the WisDOT, rescued approximately 250 boxes of core originating from the Lynne Deposit in Oneida County, WI, and refined metadata for a series of drill holes in Lafayette County. They also continued work that began in 2020 to complete metadata assignment for 900 samples from past mapping projects, and they and students worked on photographing rock cores in areas of interest for the Earth MRI critical minerals program (~4,000 boxes).
Bedrock geologic mapping. WGNHS geologists Eric Stewart, Grace Graham, and Eric Carson and GIS specialist Steve Mauel published two new 1:24,000 scale bedrock geologic maps in northern Grant County. These maps will be part of a compilation 1:100,000 scale map of that county. (Fig. 1)
WGNHS geologist Esther Stewart completed a 1:100,000 scale bedrock geologic map for Jefferson County which is now undergoing peer review ahead of publication. In addition to providing baseline geologic data, this map clarifies the stratigraphy of the Cambrian Tunnel City Group.
Also in Jefferson County, Esther Stewart and WGNHS hydrogeologists Maureen Muldoon and Pete Chase have been developing derivative maps of the Sinnipee and Ancell groups, including characterizing hydrologic properties of those units. In 2022, they focused on characterizing existing core and cuttings data, including visiting several quarry exposures of the Sinnipee Group in Fond du Lac, Dodge, and Jefferson counties. (Fig. 2)
Mapping depth to bedrock. WGNHS hydrogeologist Dave Hart, geoscientist Lisa Haas, and GIS specialist Matt Rehwald continue leading efforts on improving depth-to-bedrock data in Wisconsin via multiple projects. In March 2022, over 1,200 km of airborne electromagnetic (AEM) geophysical lines were run across parts of Grant, Iowa, Lafayette, and Green counties. The interpretation of the AEM data will aid in addressing depth-to-bedrock questions in the Driftless Area, mapping the subsurface elevations of major aquitards, and identifying areas of sulfide mineralization. The project is a partnership between WGNHS and the USGS, with funding provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service through a conservation innovation grant. WGNHS also partnered with DATCP to continue refining depth-to-bedrock data in eastern Wisconsin from the previous AEM data collected in 2021.
Additional bedrock geology projects. WGNHS geologist Esther Stewart continues to work on her doctoral dissertation with UW–Madison assistant professor Anne Bauer. In 2022, she focused on developing a procedure to analyze the strontium (Sr) isotopic composition of carbonate minerals from samples collected for her research. The Sr isotope composition of the carbonates may clarify what the depositional environment was like when the sediments were originally deposited. (Fig. 3)
WGNHS geologists Esther Stewart and Joseph Rasmussen and GIS specialist Steve Mauel published a data series that provides elevation contours for the top of the Precambrian surface for much of south-central Wisconsin. The top of the Precambrian surface is an impermeable boundary that is the base of the Cambrian aquifer in the region.
Surficial geologic mapping. WGNHS geologist J. Elmo Rawling III and geoscientist Kacie Stolzman continued work on a 5-year mapping grant from the US Forest Service to produce new surficial geologic mapping in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. In 2022, they conducted mapping in Sawyer County and southern Ashland County.
WGNHS geologist J. Elmo Rawling III and cartographer Caroline Rose made significant progress on the first true statewide (1:500,000 scale) map of the surficial geology of Wisconsin. The digital map geodatabase was presented to the USGS as a deliverable, and Rawling and Rose are preparing the map plate for publication by WGNHS. (Fig. 4)
Recent UW-Milwaukee PhD recipient Libby Ives and WGNHS geologist J. Elmo Rawling III completed and published a new 1:100,000 scale map of the surficial geology of Jefferson County. WGNHS GIS specialists Caroline Rose and Nick Rompa did the cartography for this map.
WGNHS geologist Eric Carson continued his long-standing mapping program in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin with the assistance of WGNHS geoscientist Kacie Stolzman. In 2022, Carson completed new 1:100,000 scale mapping for Monroe and Lafayette counties and began mapping in La Crosse and Sauk counties.
Additional Quaternary geology projects. WGNHS geologist J. Elmo Rawling III worked with UW–Madison associate professor Luke Zoet and students on a study of the eskers and subglacial hydrology of the ice sheet that covered northern Wisconsin during the last glaciation. This work resulted in one of six oral or poster presentations co-authored by WGNHS staff at the 2022 American Quaternary Association biennial conference held on the campus of UW–Madison.
Wisconsin Groundwater–Level Monitoring Network. The WGNHS continues to participate in the Wisconsin Groundwater–Level Monitoring Network with continued support from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Groundwater Monitoring Network program. Working in close coordination with our network partners at the USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, WGNHS staff Mike Parsen, Sarah Bremmer, and Pete Chase evaluated and repaired old wells and worked with well drillers to replace failing wells and drill new monitoring wells across the state.
Southwest Wisconsin hydrogeology. WGNHS staff completed the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study, which sampled private wells in three southwestern counties (Iowa, Lafayette, and Grant) for agricultural contaminants and pathogens in groundwater. WGNHS hydrogeologist Maureen Muldoon presented final results to residents of those counties in May 2022.
NR151 monitoring project. WGNHS staff have been working to identify and instrument several monitoring sites associated with NR151. This legislative code regulates the spreading of agricultural manure in locations such as eastern Wisconsin, where groundwater resources in thinly buried Silurian dolomite are particularly sensitive to surface contamination. In 2022, WGNHS hydrogeologists Maureen Muldoon, Grace Graham, and Pete Chase installed water quality monitoring equipment at one spring site in Calumet County and one farm (well) site in Door County. (Fig. 5)
Studying PFAS in groundwater. WGNHS hydrogeologists Dave Hart and Pete Chase are collaborating with professors from the UW–Madison Geoscience and Geologic Engineering departments to understand how PFAS is transported through soils into the water table and then through groundwater. They have assisted with conducting field investigations and groundwater modeling of PFAS transport in Rhinelander. They are now using what they learned to assist the Town of Campbell in La Crosse County with their PFAS issue. Additionally, WGNHS is also collaborating with UW–Milwaukee’s Shangping Xu to understand PFAS flux into Lake Michigan by examining present and historic contamination of Wisconsin’s connected aquifers.
Neonicotinoids in groundwater and surface water. WGNHS scientists Mike Parsen, Carla Romano, Billy Fitzpatrick, and Dave Hart continue to evaluate the ties between local landscape, neonicotinoid concentrations, and groundwater-surface water within the Central Sands region of Wisconsin. The main objective of the research, supported by funding through DATCP in partnership with the UW–Madison Entomology Group, is to improve our understanding of the temporal and spatial dynamics of agricultural insecticides in groundwater and streams. In particular, applied groundwater modeling outcomes using particle tracking to delineate watershed- to subwatershed-scale contributing areas to streams and wells is of broad interest. Field-based sampling and synoptic stream surveys of NO3/Neonicotinoids have provided real-world methods to anchor modeled simulations and guide stakeholder discussions (e.g., vegetable farmers and cranberry growers have very different needs/concerns when it comes to NO3 in groundwater).
Hydrogeology of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF). WGNHS continued several groundwater studies in the CNNF, with hydrogeologist Grace Graham now leading these efforts in collaboration with Dr. Sue Swanson from Beloit College. WGNHS is studying groundwater recharge in the sandy uplands portion of the Bayfield Peninsula. They also continued a project along the North Fork of the Yellow River in Taylor County to improve understanding of the local hydrogeology and to document baseline water chemistry. This work contributes an updated reference point for establishing long-term records and for identifying trends of water quality conditions within the national forest.
Bayfield artesian wells. In 2022, Grace Graham, Pete Chase, and Beloit College’s Sue Swanson began a project in Bayfield County to map and describe artesian wells, survey their water quality, and map surrounding uses. The information from this study will be used by the county to establish protection zones that will be incorporated into a county zoning ordinance. (Fig. 6)
Additional groundwater projects. In 2022, WGNHS samples coordinator Carsyn Ames became a Community Science Fellow with the American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange Program. In this role, Carsyn is helping the Town of Peshtigo in northeastern Wisconsin connect with and navigate the funding resources required to attain PFAS-free drinking water. Most of the private wells in the town are currently contaminated due to decades of industrial PFAS pollution in this region.
Other Major Accomplishments
AIPG Internship program. WGNHS scientists Eric Stewart and Sarah Bremmer, funded partially by the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), hosted an undergraduate bedrock mapping internship during the summer of 2022. Lawrence University student Itai Bojdak-Yates completed a 1:12,000 scale geologic map of the Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area. In addition to providing baseline geologic data for one of the state’s most popular tourist areas, this map provides new ideas about the depositional setting of a silty layer within the Cambrian Elk Mound Group that has been problematic for decades. (Fig. 7)
AMQUA meeting. The American Quaternary Association (AMQUA) held its biennial national conference on the campus of UW–Madison in June 2022. WGNHS staff Eric Carson, J. Elmo Rawling III, and Ian Orland assisted faculty from the UW–Madison Departments of Geoscience and Geography with organizing and staging the conference and an associated field trip that visited research sites in the Baraboo Range and Cave of the Mounds. (Fig. 8)
Outreach. Continuing to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, staff at WGNHS are once again engaging with the public on outreach events. WGNHS staff participated in numerous outreach events including Kujichagulia Madison Center’s annual Juneteenth celebration, the 2022 Wisconsin Science Festival, 2022 UW Science Expeditions, and many other events around the state. (Fig. 9)
Publications. In 2022, WGNHS released seven new digital publications to our Publications Catalog, including three geologic maps and the inaugural entry to our new “Data Series” category. The Data Series will provide a venue for geoscientific databases, spreadsheets, or geospatial datasets that are in wide use by our partners and will offer transparent public access to the data that underlie much of the Survey’s work.
The team of Pete Schoephoester, Dave Sibley, and Ian Orland worked with graduate student Bonnie Steward, who is pursuing an MSc degree in the iSchool (Information School) at UW–Madison, to stage some major updates to the structure and metadata behind the Publications Catalog. As part of this work, we minted permanent URLs called “DOIs” (short for Digital Object Identifier) for each new 2022 publication; the DOI system is a digital publication standard along the lines of the Dewey Decimal Classification. We plan to begin minting DOIs for previous WGNHS publications—eventually to include our entire catalog—to maximize their exposure in the digital realm. Watch for this in 2023!
- Ives, L. R. W., & Rawling, III, J. E. (2022). Quaternary Geology of Jefferson County, Wisconsin (Bulletin No. B118). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Includes map at 1:100,000 scale, report, and GIS data. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000990
- Stewart, E. D., Mauel, S. W., Carson, E. C., & Graham, G. E. (2022). Geologic Map of the Castle Rock and Long Hollow 7.5-minute Quadrangles, Grant County, Wisconsin (Open-File Report No. WOFR2022-01). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Includes map at 1:24,000 scale, GIS data, and supplemental report. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000988
- Stewart, E. D., Mauel, S. W., Graham, G. E., & Carson, E. C. (2022). Geologic Map of the Bloomington and Brodtville 7.5-minute Quadrangles, Grant County, Wisconsin (Open-File Report No. WOFR2022-03). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Includes map at 1:24,000 scale, geodatabase, and supplemental report. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000991
- Bremmer, S. E., Parsen, M. J., Chase, P. M., & Genthe, A. (2022). Wisconsin Groundwater-Level Monitoring Network Improvements, 2018-2021 (Open-File Report No. WOFR2022-02) (pp. 1–495). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000989
- De Vries, S. L., Bradbury, K. R., & Cardiff, M. (2022). A Groundwater-Flow Model and Effective Nitrate Calculator for Waupaca, Wisconsin (Technical Report No. TR007) (pp. 1–88). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Includes report, groundwater-flow model files, GIS data, and a dataset. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000987
- Fehling, A. C., Rawling, III, J. E., Graham, G. E., Chase, P. C., & Swanson, S. K. (2022). Hydrogeology of the sandy uplands of the Bayfield Peninsula, Wisconsin (Open-File Report No. WOFR2022-04) (pp. 1–23). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Includes report and 3 datasets. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000992
- Stewart, E. K., Rasmussen, J., & Mauel, S. W. (2022). Elevation Contours of the Precambrian Surface of South-Central Wisconsin (Data Series No. DS001). Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Includes GIS data and supplemental report. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/catalog/publication/000993
WGNHS people during 2022
During 2022, WGNHS employed 30 professional staff. Long-time front office assistant Jill Pongetti left the Survey for another position at UW-Madison, and postdoc Carla Romano accepted a position at DATCP. WGNHS completed several successful searches at the end of 2022, resulting in the hire of four new people starting in early 2023. This includes Liz Ceperley (Editor), Emily Baker and Amy Weirsma (Hydrogeologists), and Marlene Flannery (Financial Specialist).
|Glacial Geologist (rehired annuitant)
|William “Bill” Batten
|Academic Curator (rehired annuitant)
|Geologic Data Technician
|Director and State Geologist
|Online Content Editor
|Quaternary Geologist/Interim Director and State Geologist
|Peter “Pete” Chase
|William “Billy” Fitzpatrick
|Bradford “Brad” Gottschalk
|David “Dave” Hart
|Senior Geological Survey Specialist
|Assistant Director of Administration
|Stephen “Steve” Mauel
|Maureen “Moe” Muldoon
|Geoscience Program Coordinator
|Michael “Mike” Parsen
|Jacob “Jake” Pfund
|Front Office Administrator
|J. Elmo Rawling III
|Matthew “Matt” Rehwald
|Peter “Pete” Schoephoester
|Assistant Director of Technical Operations
|David “Dave” Sibley
In 2022, WGNHS employed 18 student workers who assisted WGNHS staff with a wide variety of tasks.
|Filzah Amin Abdul Latiff
|Bedrock Sampling Assistant
|Social Media and Geology Assistant
|Quaternary Geology Assistant
|Data Preservation/GIS Assistant
|Data Preservation/GIS Assistant
|Benjamin “Benji” Johnson
|Social Media and Geology Assistant
|Quaternary Geology Assistant
|Paleozoic Stratigraphy Assistant
|Quaternary Geology Assistant
|Bedrock Core Processing Assistant
|Surficial Geology Map GIS Assistant
|Digital Publication Assistant
|Social Media and Geology Assistant
|Data Preservation/GIS Assistant
|Core Photographer and GIS Technician
The WGNHS Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee (WGMAC) is a group that advises WGNHS on local, regional, and statewide geological mapping needs for Wisconsin. WGMAC meets annually to review and approve mapping plans that WGNHS then proposes to grant programs within the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program.
|Mathy Construction Company
|Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association
|Wisconsin DNR, Water Monitoring Section
|Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (retired)
|Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey
|Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission
|Exploration Geologist (independent)
|Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership, LLC
|Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc.
|UW–Madison Division of Extension, Natural Resources Institute
|Wisconsin DNR, Water Use Section/Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater
|USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center
|USDA Forest Service, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (retired)
|Groundswell; Wisconsin Department of Administration (retired)
|HydroGeo Solutions, LLC
|UW–Stevens Point, Center for Watershed Science and Education
|Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection
|UW–Madison Department of Geoscience (Emerit)
|Wisconsin Department of Transportation
|Wisconsin Department of Transportation
|Wisconsin DNR, Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater
|Sierra Club (Citizen Member)
|Badger Mining Corporation
|USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
|Ice Age Trail Alliance