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Florida Geological Survey


A contribution by Walt Schmidt, Ph.D., former Director of the FGS

A picture of a house being undermined by a sinkholeThe Florida Geological Survey (FGS) is the only program in the State of Florida which collects, interprets, and stores geologic data used by government agencies, industry, consultants, and the public. Knowledge of the solid earth materials which underlie Florida is important because: we live on them; we grow our food on them; we extract water and fuel and non-fuel minerals from them, we build on them using earth materials to construct roads, dams, and buildings; we are exposed to all the natural and manmade hazards involving geologic materials (such as sinkholes, pipe clays, flood prone areas, coastal erosion, etc.). Academia does not have the institutional memory, data, or expertise to supply this Florida specific, experienced geologic knowledge.

A picture of a drilling rigGeologic reports have been produced by the FGS since 1907. These reports provide information critical to accomplishing the mission of the DEP including regulatory aspects, land management decisions and watershed management needs. Specifically they are used for land-use planning (zoning), mineral resources knowledge, waste disposal (including landfills such as rural, hazardous, low and high level radioactive waste), deep-well injection, geologic hazards assessment (including flood prone areas, coastal erosion, sinkholes, pipe clay areas, radon, mercury), water resources needs including, surface water drainage (urban runoff), aquifer recharge and discharge (including ground-water transport dynamics), and waste clean-up problems including Contaminant Assessment Reports and Remedial Action Plans, and, perhaps of most visibility, the foundation of Ecosystem Management principles. Because without knowledge of the geologic framework of the earth, no real understanding of our physical environment is possible. Ecosystem management, natural resources conservation and management, and environmental regulation cannot be carried out without a fundamental geologic database as a foundation.

We currently have programs providing geologic interpretations to EPA, the U.S.Geological Survey, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Florida DEP (including Ground Water Monitoring, Underground Injection Program, Beaches and Shores, State Parks, and State Lands), all water management districts, planning councils, counties, and cities. In addition, the State Geologist is a legislatively appointed member of the Board of Professional Geologists, and the Big Cypress Swamp Advisory Committee, and serves on the Governors OCS Advisory Committee.

A recent national "cost / benefit" economic analysis of geologic research demonstrated that a range of seven to 55 times the amount invested in geologic programs is returned to the taxpayer.

Last updated: November 07, 2014

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