Geological research initiatives - Public, private, academic partners gather for Delaware Geologic Research Symposium

-Public, private and academic partners came together on Tuesday, April 14, in the Rodney Room of the University of Delaware’s Perkins Student Center for the second biennial Delaware Geologic Research Symposium, hosted by the Delaware Geological Survey and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.

Over 100 geological researchers, state representatives, industrial partners and University students and faculty shared and observed presentations on the latest geological research initiatives in Delaware, and what they mean for the state, its environment and its citizens.
According to DGS, geological research encompasses hydrology and natural hazards as well as geology, and influences Delaware citizens every day by revealing information that impacts resource protection, agriculture, economic development and emergency planning.

In her opening remarks, CEOE Dean Nancy Targett said partnership plays an essential role in furthering geological research. “At UD and in CEOE, we aim to do research that not only enhances basic understanding, but that inspires our students, finds solutions and ultimately impacts the public good,” she said. “Here at the University, we are partnering with DGS in really synergistic ways to work toward this mutual mission.”

David Small, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, also addressed the attendees, stating how important it is for researchers and agencies to collaborate in order to form strong policy and resource management based on sound science. He referred to the attendees as geological “rock stars.”

State Climatologist Dan Leathers demonstrated the relevance of cooperative research with DGS for monitoring and understanding extreme natural events, like Superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast in 2012.

Leathers, a professor in CEOE’s department of geography and co-director of the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS), said that environmental monitoring conducted by DEOS and DGS with the Delaware Coastal Flood Monitoring System during Sandy and other events can help researchers understand meteorological, hydrological and geological factors that affect Delaware.

The research combines climatology and geology in a way that can be used to evaluate communities at risk and develop emergency planning.

Attendees also heard from local partners, including Tristan Siegel from the Delaware Department of Transportation, who shared details on the geological factors that contributed to the closing of the I-495 bridge last summer. Collaboration between geologists, civil engineers and state and federal agents allowed the bridge, which is traveled by an estimated 90,000 cars per day, to be repaired and reopened in less than three months.

Presenters covered a variety of additional geologically-relevant subjects, including shoreline management, groundwater dating and others.

The symposium provided opportunities for networking and educational discussion not only for professionals but for students, as well.

“The partnership between UD and DGS provides multiple opportunities for students to gain hands-on research experience and education in geological disciplines,” said David Wunsch, state geologist with DGS. “The research symposium is a great example of an event that highlights that.”

The symposium was free for students, included a student poster session that showcased graduate and undergraduate research, and provided awards to the top three presenters.

Article by Caren Fitzgerald

Photos by Ambre Alexander Payne

For questions and information, contact DGS at, 302-831-2833