||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Study of Chippewa County's|
Glacial History Under Way
MAILED: July 13, 1999|
For Kent Syverson, there's nothing more rewarding about being a geologist than taking part in a major research project and getting his hands soiled in a little geological history.
So when the opportunity arose to do an in-depth study of Chippewa County's glacial history, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire associate professor of geology didn't hesitate to get involved with the project.
Recently Syverson was awarded a $66,000 three-year grant to survey and map the glacial geology of Chippewa County. Studies such as this help determine where groundwater will flow, where aggregate sand and gravel will be found, and unravel the glacial history of the area.
Part of the end result of the project is also to develop exhibits for the Chippewa Moraine Ice Age National Scientific Reserve Center, located east of New Auburn on County Highway M where Syverson has done much research.
"The Chippewa Moraine Ice Age National Scientific Reserve was set aside because the glacial geology is spectacular here, Syverson said.
Much of the work involves drilling and core sampling several areas of Chippewa County using a 13-ton drilling truck that costs $100 an hour to operate, Syverson said. The drill rig can take core sampling down to more than 80 feet and is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.
"This is hard, exciting work," Syverson said, while the machine drilled through the earth at a site just west of Highway 53 in the town of Tilden. "Using this equipment is important for collecting information where no sediment data are available."
Working alongside Syverson during part of the project is sophomore Joel Hyzer, a geology major from Middleton. Hyzer is learning the ropes of how to study sediment samples as part of a student/faculty collaborative research project with Syverson. Hyzer is mapping the glacial geology of about 40 square miles in the Otter Lake region of eastern Chippewa County.
"I like geology so it's fun to see how the land is formed in general," Hyzer said as he picked through a sandy core sample. "This project gives a nice blueprint of how this area of Wisconsin was formed."
Syverson said the project offers a fine opportunity for Hyzer to learn via a hands-on experience.
"Drilling is a great opportunity and unique for an undergraduate student," Syverson said. "It costs so much to operate a drill rig, so few undergraduates do research like this."
Syverson got into the geology field because of the outdoor fieldwork involved and because he was fascinated by how the land was formed.
"Being in the field like this is nice," Syverson said. "When Joel and I are in the field, some days we make neat discoveries and some days we don't. But when we do, it's an exhilarating feeling."
The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and the Chippewa County Land Conservation Department are funding the project, which runs through August 2001. Eventually the research will be published as a WGNHS bulletin and colored map available to the public.
"This is an interesting project," Syverson said. "We're finding many new things."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 13, 1999