West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey Takes Inventory of Underground Resources
Geology is more than history written in stone. One facet of geoscience is surveying the legacies that history has stored underground in the form of energy resources
The science of recording what lies beneath the surface of West Virginia is all in a day’s work for Michael Ed. Hohn, director and state geologist of the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey in Morgantown. Hohn describes the attractions that draw visitors to the Geological Survey.
Mini Museum fossils and minerals
The West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey is housed in a former state park lodge. The mini-museum is in the lobby, which is open to the public during normal operating hours. Visitors may drop in for self-guided tours of the museum. We also provide narrated tour for groups, such as schools, scout troops, etc.
The mini-museum contains displays of minerals and fossils. Perhaps the most striking (and popular) display is that of a full sized Edmontosaurus dinosaur, mounted on a wall. This is the only real dinosaur skeleton on display in West Virginia. There are casts of T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegasaurous, and Allosaurus skulls on display also. While these Mesozoic aged dinosaurs were not discovered in West Virginia, there are numerous displays of rocks, minerals and fossils found in our state.
Resource records and maps
The primary mission of our office is science: the research, study, mapping, and dissemination of geological information pertaining to West Virginia. The state’s geological resources have long played an important role in economic development. Many people visit our office to view records and maps and to obtain information to natural resources such as coal, oil or gas.
A person may wish to know whether there are mineable coal reserves under their land. We have data and can assist them in determining depth and thickness of the coal beds. Someone buying a house may need to determine if they will need mine subsidence insurance. We can assist with our database of mined areas. Coal companies and industry representatives wishing to expand or seeking new resources frequently use our services and geological information.
Our agency keeps a database on oil and gas wells and has done studies of drilling trends and oil and gas reserves. We have geophysical logs, used to infer rock properties such as lithology, porosity, permeability, and fracturing, as well as rock samples and cores. Oil and gas companies, as well as private citizens may seek information on potential sites under consideration to be leased for drilling. Our records are frequently researched to find out what’s happening in surrounding areas, e.g. drilling activity, target formations and production results.
The Geological and Economic Survey also has information pertaining to geologic hazards such as landslides and earthquakes. There is a seismic station at the Mont Chateau facility which is part of the U. S. Geological Survey’s Advanced National Seismic System.
The WVGES also “takes geology on the road” through outreach activities. Our popular Visiting Geologist program works with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and State Parks to present educational and entertaining presentations on West Virginia geology at several West Virginia State parks and forests primarily throughout the summer months.