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Current Projects


StateMap Program

field work

Geologists at the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) are collecting data for the next set of maps to be released under its StateMap program. All five maps are at 1:24,000 scale:

  • Firehole Canyon project, Sweetwater County, three bedrock geology maps: This project involves mapping the Earnest Butte, Lion Bluffs, and South Baxter 7.5' quadrangles. The purpose of this project is to provide significant infill mapping with the overall goal of producing the Firehole Canyon 1:100,000-scale map in the next few years. The area contains one of Wyoming's largest water reservoirs and has potential for oil and gas, coal, and trona among other mineral resources. The mapping area also may provide key information on timing of uplift of several Laramide structure and basin response to deformation.
  • Little Greys River project, Lincoln County, two surficial geology maps: This project will produce maps of the Blind Bull Creek and Pickle Pass 7.5' quadrangles. The work will update existing landslide inventories for the area, which is prone to landslide activities, including events that have closed roads. This mapping will assist in identifying landslide-prone areas and could be helpful in mitigating landslide risk. The maps will also refine the location of the northern extent of the Greys River fault, a Holocene normal fault that is potentially capable of large earthquakes.

The mapping projects will be published in spring 2020. More information about the StateMap program can be found on the Geologic Mapping Page.

Greater Green River Basin Salinity Study

WSGS geologists in recent years have carried out salinity investigations in the Denver-Julesburg Basin of southeastern Wyoming and most recently the Powder River Basin in the northeastern corner of the state. A study is now underway to determine the salinity in the Greater Green River Basin in southwestern Wyoming.

Salinity is one way to measure water quality, and is part of determining whether it is suited for human and livestock consumption, agricultural usage, and other types of applications. Also referred to as total dissolved solids, salinity is an estimate of the amount of dissolved material remaining in groundwater as residue after the liquid portion of a water sample evaporates.

The study involves investigating the salinity of groundwater occurring at depths to 7,000 feet below ground level in the basin where there has been oil and gas activity. Hundreds of water quality analyses from the U.S. Geological Survey and geophysical well logs from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are being examined for this study.

NURE Re-Analysis

This project is focused on re-analyzing legacy sediment samples collected as part of the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) in the late 1970s. The goal of this project is to re-analyze the samples using modern analytical methods in search of new areas containing critical and strategic minerals, including uranium, vanadium, titanium, cobalt, and rare earth elements. The new geochemical dataset will contain results for 60 elements with better accuracy than the original data, which only contained analysis for 48 elements.

Digital Depth to Precambrian Basement Map of Wyoming

The WSGS is creating a basement map that will provide valuable information about the Precambrian geology of Wyoming. The map will serve as the framework for related WSGS projects focused on constraining Precambrian lithology and geochronologic relationships, as well as identify potential areas of economically viable critical mineral deposits.

Critical minerals are important to U.S. national security and economy. Wyoming hosts significant occurrences of many of these minerals, in part due to the wide variety of geologic environments present throughout the state. Many critical minerals in Wyoming are either found in, or originate from, Precambrian igneous and metamorphic basement rocks. These rocks are exposed at the surface in many of the basement-cored mountain ranges in the state, but can be buried below Phanerozoic strata in the nearby basins.

The WSGS is compiling and preserving depth-to-basement and structure data from seismic interpretations, cross sections, and well logs. The data will be incorporated into a Geologic Map Schema (GeMS)-compliant geodatabase and utilized to generate a digital, publicly available depth to the Precambrian basement map.

The project is funded by the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program.

State Park Geology

Guernsey State Park

Wyoming state parks may be a traveler’s final destination or a stop along the way. Nonetheless, a major draw to the parks is the geology. WSGS geologists are gathering information about the geology of each of Wyoming’s state parks for new public information circulars to be available for park visitors.

Public information circulars will be published in pamphlet form as they are completed. To date, Keyhole, Guernsey, Curt Gowdy, and Seminoe state parks have been completed. Pamphlets are in the works for state parks Bear River, Edness K. Wilkins, Glendo, Buffalo Bill, Boysen, and Hot Springs.

Subsurface Energy Database

This will be a spatial database for organization, future entry, and dissemination of Wyoming well, reservoir, and formation attributes and associated log interpretation. The searchable database will incorporate legacy as well as new data, and will be used as a repository for subsurface interpretation data to be accessible online to other agencies, private industry, and the public. This project fulfills the WSGS mission to provide geologic resource information to impact sound economic development and overall improvement in the quality of life for Wyoming’s residents.

WSGS oil and gas geologist Rachel Toner has published reports on the Codell Sandstone and Turner/Wall Creek sands. She is currently working with WSGS geologist Ranie Lynds to publish Upper Cretaceous reservoir subsurface interpretations from geophysical well logs in the Powder River Basin. The final publication will include a series of isopach and structure contour maps of each reservoir, along with specific top and thickness data from each well.

Jade Investigation

Jade

Gems and minerals geologist Wayne Sutherland is researching occurrences of jade, which is the most famous gemstone in Wyoming. Nephrite jade, also known as Wyoming Jade, is Wyoming’s state gemstone and first received wide attention in the Granite Mountains area of central Wyoming in the 1930s. Wyoming Jade is considered to be some of the finest nephrite in the world, and varies from translucent to opaque and ranges in color from off-white (rare) to apple green, emerald green, leaf green, olive green, and black.

This investigation will discuss the geology, mineralogy, and history of jade in Wyoming, along with its significance as a gemstone.

Mapping Chugwater Quadrangle

A bedrock geology map now underway of the Chugwater 1:100,000 quadrangle in southeast Wyoming will complete bedrock mapping for the eastern edge of Wyoming and complete bedrock mapping of the Denver Basin and High Plains Aquifer areas.

A bedrock compilation effort for the quadrangle began nearly a decade ago by the WSGS, portions have been mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey for Water Supply papers, and two 1:24,000-scale maps have been published. WSGS geoscientists will use these resources to construct a digital bedrock geologic map in an ArcGIS geodatabase. Staff previously interpreted aerial photos to refine contact placement, edge-matched with adjacent 1:100,000-scale quadrangles. They will then field check the map area to ground-truth formations and unit contact placement.

Northeast River Basins Groundwater Technical Memorandum

The river basins of northeastern Wyoming are among the most important drainages in the state; they collectively contain one quarter of Wyoming’s surface area and much of its energy resources. The northeast river basins include the drainages of the Little Bighorn, Tongue, Powder, Little Powder, Belle Fourche, Little Missouri, Cheyenne, and Upper Niobrara rivers. Under contract to the Wyoming Water Development Office (WWDO), the WSGS is developing a groundwater technical memorandum that defines the geographic extents of the area’s important aquifers and describes their hydraulic and chemical properties, recharge areas, and estimated recharge rates. The project also identifies existing groundwater studies and future groundwater development opportunities to satisfy projected future agricultural, municipal, and industrial demands.

The technical memorandom represents an intensive collaborative effort among water resource professionals from the WSGS, the WWDO, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Additional contributors include the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office, the Water Resources Data System at the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Like previous river basin studies by the WSGS, this technical memorandum will provide the people of Wyoming with the most current and complete compilation of groundwater information available in a format that is understandable to water professionals and lay persons alike.

This report will be available on the Wyoming Water Development Office website and through the Wyoming River Basin Plan portal on the WSGS website.