Addressing Economic Development and Revitalizing the Economy


The primary emphasis of geological surveys worldwide is supplying unbiased and unrestricted earth resource information to support economic development. Since the early 1800s, geological surveys have maintained a specific mission to discover mineral and energy resources needed for industry and infrastructure development. Even during the depths of the Depression in the 1930s, the Illinois State Geological Survey, for example, grew considerably as it discovered mineral resources essential to economic recovery. Geological surveys, particularly since the 1950s, also have been providing information that balances population growth and development issues with wise water- and land-use planning and environmental protection. The Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition program is directly linked to economic development potential in the Great Lakes region in three main sectors:

Water—The Great Lakes region is considered "water-rich," but much of the water used for consumption must be obtained from the ground, and groundwater is not limitless. Furthermore, demand of Great Lakes water for consumption will continue to increase and costs (economic, societal, and environmental) to use this resource will also climb. Development for large subdivisions and high water-use industries are dependent on adequate and sustainable water supplies. Energy production is the largest user of water (~80%) in the region. However, our current knowledge of aquifers containing adequate supplies is lacking. The Coalition's information assists developers and planners delineate groundwater resources to sustain public, industrial, and agricultural use, as well as appropriately site energy initiatives where they will not impinge on other water use. Once groundwater resources are delineated, measures can be taken to (1) protect them from becoming contaminated, as well as to (2) identify environmentally safe areas for redevelopment of abandoned industrial lands, commercial and manufacturing enterprises, and new or expanded waste-disposal facilities, as well as (3) ensure the suitability of areas designated for reclamation, preservation, and restoration, and (4) assess regions for creation of wetlands and open spaces.

Aggregate minerals—By identifying earth materials at depth, shallow sand, gravel, and rock resources are evaluated to meet infrastructure needs. Development costs directly are affected by the availability of nearby construction aggregate. Delivery costs to construction sites can double 8–24 miles from the source and triple 40 miles from the source.

Earth hazards—The mapping program outlines possible dangers that may exist beneath the surface, such as soils that enhance earthquake shaking and terrain subject to erosion, flooding, or subsidence. All are detriments to viable economic development.

Sustainability—The mapping program outlines possible dangers that may exist beneath the surface such as soils that enhance earthquake shaking, and terrain subject to erosion, flooding, or subsidence. All are detriments to viable economic development.

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