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Ancient Beaches in the Upper Midwest: Their Origin and Aquifer Value

Date: Monday, April 8th, 2019

Time: 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hour

Location: SC-150,
Sanger Center for the Sciences,
700 College St, Beloit, WI 53511

Contact: Jay Zambito,, 2223

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Presentation by Dr. Tony Runkel, Chief Geologist of the Minnesota Geological Survey, and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth Sciences; both are units of the University of Minnesota.


Ancient Beaches in the Upper Midwest: Their Origin and Today's Critical Value as Aquifers


Bob Dott, a famous geology professor from the University of Wisconsin, eloquently conveyed in several publications that the origin of sheet sandstones deposited along and near beaches hundreds of millions of years ago has long been a seemingly intractable problem.  One outstanding question has been how such homogeneous, thin layers of sand were spread over thousands of square kilometers.  This presentation will provide an overview of our current understanding of sheet sandstones in the upper Midwest.  Our studies over the past couple of decades have solved much of the mystery over how they formed, although some outstanding problems remain. Also discussed will be how and why geologists study these sandstones: from an applied perspective that focuses on societal value. They are major aquifers that supply groundwater to much of the Midwest, but are threatened by water quality and quantity issues. A better understanding of their water-bearing properties allows us to improve management strategies to protect them.