The Second Delaware Geological Survey

Event Date

In the nineteen forties, the need to develop considerable water supplies led to the realization that very little was known about ground-water resources and that something should be done to rectify this situation. In the early part of the first term of Governor Elbert N. Carvel (1948-1952), a small ground-water program was started by personnel of the U. S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Salisbury, Maryland, office. The State of Delaware was represented in this program by the State Highway Department and the School of Agriculture of the University of Delaware.

It was clear, however, that Delaware needed its own geological organization if future investigations were to be conducted with a view to achieving the greatest benefits for its citizens. Indeed, the chief of the USGS office in Salisbury, William C. Rasmussen, encouraged State officials to create a geological survey.

At the same time, Huber Denn of the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, George Simpson of the Farm Bureau, and George M. Worrilow of the School of Agriculture of the University of Delaware recognized the importance of a geological survey and supported its creation. Great credit is due to then Governor Elbert N. Carvel who acted decisively in promoting legislation with regard to water resources, in particular, Senate Bill 129 which created the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS). This bill was introduced by State Senator William O. Cubbage in the 116th General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Carvel on June 4, 1951.

In the same year, the Water Pollution Commission was created. The DGS and water pollution programs were the only two new activities funded by the State in 1951. Whereas the Water Pollution Commission and its successor organizations were regulatory agencies, the DGS was conceived as, and remains, a natural resources research unit.

During the early 1950s, the State had a commission type of government. It was therefore appropriate that the legislation provided for a Delaware Geological Commission which had general charge of the Survey in cooperation with the Univer~ity of Delaware. The President of the University was an ex-officio member of this Commission; other members were Richard A. Haber, Chief Engineer, State Highway Department, Clayton M. Hoff, Executive Vice President of the Brandywine Valley Association, and Daniel F. Shields, Jr. The University was in administrative charge of the Survey and appointed its "superintendent," called the State Geologist. He was to be a member of the staff of the University, which paid one-half of his salary, the other half being paid from the Survey's appropriation. This arrangement has continued to the present day.

In addition to the ".. systematic investigation of the geology, water, and earth resources of the State," the Survey was charged with participating in the " •.. recommendation and preliminary drafting of such new State laws as are deemed advisable or necessary for regulating the optimum utilization and equitable administration of the State's geological resources." This activity proved to be an important one in the ensuing years.

The Survey started its investigations in July 1951 with Johan J. Groot as State Geologist and Lecturer, later Professor of Geology, and Louis P. Vlangas as Geological Field Assistant. The University provided office space, which was shared with the Department of Geography. The cooperative program with the USGS, begun prior to 1951, was continued. Studies of the geology of New Castle County and of the ground-water resources of the Newark area were initiated, the latter with financial support of that city.

The budget of the Delaware Geological Survey was very small in 1951 because of the rather stringent financial conditions then existing in the State. The tiny staff began its work with great enthusiasm and energy, soon to result in the publication of a number of reports.

For more details about the History of DGS, see SP17 The Delaware Geological Survey: The Formative Years, 1951-1969.

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