Survey Geologists Featured in History Channel Show
How the Earth Was Made: America's Ice Age
Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) geologists and the State of Illinois are featured in the History Channel's internationally popular program, How the Earth Was Made: America's Ice Age airing March 9 at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The geologists lead the search across Illinois for evidence of glaciation which played a defining role in the geography and consequently the economy of Illinois and the U.S.
From the East Central Illinois base of Champaign, the story takes viewers to a Tuscola quarry with erratics and striated rocks, to a balloon flight over one of the most prominent moraines in Illinois, and to northern Illinois and the folded and faulted sediment of a gravel pit near Spring Grove. Along the way, ISGS geologists demonstrate and explain the evidence and impact of glaciation in Illinois and the greater Midwest.
"The enormous ice sheets that advanced and retreated into North America during the last several hundred thousand years created the landscape that we live upon here in Illinois today," according to Steven E. Brown, senior geologist and head of Quaternary geology at ISGS, a division of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability (INRS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "The geology and geography of Illinois created by the glaciers created the economic base of Illinois as we know it—rich soil for agriculture, quality groundwater for drinking, river and Great Lakes water for shipping, and minerals for construction."
Illinois is a key part of the episode's larger story of why and how glaciers form and the history of the Earth's ice ages. According to science, the right combination of factors to plunge the Earth into another ice age, are not likely for a few thousand years. But the understanding and study of glacial geology helps us understand, utilize, and manage our natural resources for sustainable economic development.
"The work we do today at the ISGS and the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability gives Illinois citizens, businesses, and decision-makers objective, timely, cutting-edge science and solutions necessary to manage the State's resources, environment, and economy wisely," said Dr. William W. Shilts, executive director of INRS. "For example, Institute geologists, using field studies and new 3-D geologic modeling technology, are helping decision-makers and citizens of Kane, Kendall and Lake Counties in the Chicago area as well as Champaign County, better understand the distribution and thickness of their aquifers so they can manage and protect their water resources more effectively."
Geologists from the ISGS are internationally-recognized experts in the glaciation of North America during the ice ages (last two million years). The next scheduled showing of How the Earth Was Made: America's Ice Age is Tuesday March 9 at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on the History Channel. Check your local listings.
The Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois is the home of the Illinois State Scientific Surveys: Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. It was established by statute July 1, 2008 and builds on the Surveys' reputations for basic and applied research and service. With 600 employees and a budget of more than $60 million, INRS is the largest institute within the University. INRS scientists work to support economic development and natural and cultural resource sustainability for Illinois and beyond.
Updated 03/26/2010 SLD