NEWARK -- When David Wunsch worked at the Kentucky Geological Survey, he studied the groundwater impact of the controversial mining technique known as mountain-top removal.
He found that, if done correctly, the stripe mining process could improve the watershed. Thanks in part to his efforts, a man-made lake and nature preserve are now where a pristine mountain once stood.
The finding didn't change how environmentalists or industrialists felt about the practice of mountain-top removal. But that wasn't the point. Providing accurate information was.
That finding of a middle ground is typical for a state geologist, Wunsch said.
And while coal mining disputes probably won't arise here, Wunsch will still be counted on to provide objective data on a range of natural resource issues as the new director of the Delaware Geological Survey.
Wunsch, 53, took the position this fall following the retirement of John H. Talley. The little-known quasi-state agency is based in a two-story building on the University of Delaware campus.
"It's tempting for people to say, 'Well, what do they do? They just collect a bunch of rocks,' " Wunsch said. "But it's much more than that."
Staff covers state
Wunsch and his 17-person staff monitor and study everything below the surface of the First State, from the rocky piedmont in northern New Castle County to the sandy sentiment near the ocean.
In Delaware, the biggest geological issue tends to be groundwater, which happens to be Wunsch's specialty.