Geology Programs

Survey activities includes geologic hazards research, public service, education programs, basic and applied research on geology and mineral resources, and publication of geologic information. The survey maintains a well cuttings and core sample library and researches subsurface stratigraphy and structural geology to provide basic geologic information. It also publishes the resulting maps, charts, and cross sections, and makes them available through a maps and publications sales office.

Geologic mapping is an important function of the survey. The mapping section performs basic geologic mapping, and mineral resources identification, evaluation, and mapping. Mineral resources information is published in a mineral resources summary that accompanies each published geologic quadrangle map. Also included is information about geologic hazards such as caves, landslides, and sinkholes. There are 804 7.5-minute quadrangles covering Tennessee. These map units are at a scale of 1" = 2,000' and cover an area of about 60 square miles. Since 1960 the survey has mapped and published or released in open-file format as PDF files or print-on-demand products 517 quadrangles, placing Tennessee among the top states in the nation in terms of percentage of quadrangles mapped (over 64 percent) at this scale. These efforts have been enhanced since 1994 through cooperative efforts with the U.S. Geological Survey through the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program as summarized in the STATEMAP Fact Sheet.

The survey also devotes considerable effort to coal-related research. Geologic mapping in the coal field region, collection of reserve data, collection of samples for analysis, publication of reports, and processing data for entry into the National Coal Resources Data System computerized data base make up most of the coal-related program. A large amount of unpublished coal data is also available to the public through the Survey's Data Preservation and Historical Documents Collection.

Since 2007 the survey has been participating in the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program in order to preserve the survey’s data collections. Nearly all of the survey’s coal mining and zinc mining maps and reports collections are unpublished and in paper/mylar form. As a result, companies, government agencies, and the general public have been unaware of the abundant site specific data available. Preparing metadata records for upload to the ReSciColl (previously known as the National Digital Catalog) is the first step towards providing the public with a method to search for, locate, and evaluate the type of information that is available in these collections. The coal and zinc mining collections are a valuable source of information that can be used to improve estimates of the state’s remaining coal and zinc reserves and for companies to evaluate potential areas for future exploration. Some of the items in these collections are 50 to 100 years old and rapidly deteriorating. It is therefore imperative that every effort be made to preserve the information contained in them.


State Geologist, Vacant