16 June 2020


Ask Yourself:
Where do you find a clay sample with 90+ percent clay content?

Hint:  We didn't find our clay in Claysville although that might be a logical place to begin.

Natural soils can occur as every conceivable mix of sand, silt, clay, and gravel. Classifying them in the USCS or determining their texture in the USDA classification is easier if you're familiar with the end member, or baseline, classification.

Midwest GeoSciences Group has built different soil kits for different purposes over the past 10 years.  While building soil kits, we've learned that:
  1. Finding a source for a certain soil type is excruciating, time consuming and expensive.
  2. Finding a source that yields consistent soil testing results is extremely rare.
  3. Manipulating soil mixtures to create a soil type is not pragmatic or efficient.
  4. Source volumes are limited.
How long do you think it took us to find, test, reproduce and confirm testing of a clay sample with 90+ percent clay?  …and a silt sample with 90+ percent silt?  

Answer:  It took years.

The new USCS CALIBRATED BASELINE SOIL KIT is the result of 10+ years of searching and testing, searching and testing, and searching and testing.

The soil sources are scattered across the Midwestern United States for this kit.  One source is 30 feet deep and 900 miles away from the MidwestGeo HQ.  Access to fast-moving construction projects that allow sample collection at 30 feet deep require special attention to both timing and safety.

One interesting observation we've made over the past 10 years is the fine-grained variability of The Loess Hills located in western Iowa.  Despite our early expectations for uniformity of the wind-blown sediments that comprise The Loess Hills, the fine-grained sediments can be highly variable on the scale of one to two feet.  While the fine-grained fraction is mostly Silt, the clay occurs as an unpredictable portion - largely because it's variable depositional scale as a dune.  Unlike most dunes that primarily consist of sand, The Loess Hills are also dunes, mostly void of sand.  We've photographed the precise undisturbed locations of samples and tested them in a lab to literally map the small scale variation of grain-size.  Unfortunately, the grain-size variability of The Loess Hills prohibit predictable and reproducable grain-size analysis and Index Testing and not a good candidate for naturally-occurring soil samples for a soil kit.

Thankfully, we are persistent and MidwestGeo has had a lot of help over the past 10 years to find soil sources that successfully provide predictable and reproducible results.  We're grateful for that help, cooperation, and effort to assemble soil batches that help people with practicing and mastering their soil classification skills.
More unique attributes that yield meaningful benefits....

The three fine-grained samples have negligible coarse-grained fractions and are uniquely exquisite for teaching the principles of soil classification for FAT CLAY (CH), LEAN CLAY (CL), AND SILT (ML).

The two coarse-grained samples are designed to teach how to differentiate WELL GRADED SAND (SW) from POORLY GRADED SAND (SP) in the field.

Geo-Professionals benefit from our effort and persistence.  The soil kits allow to easily practice and quick familiarity of end member, or baseline, classifications.  Anyone can calibrate their skills and ability.  You can teach your staff.  You can test yourself.

You can also use these calibrated samples in the field to compare to which end member classification most closely resembles the natural soil. The USCS CALIBRATED BASELINE SOIL KIT provides these important end member samples.

There is a lot more to this soil kit than just dirt.

Check out this unique and exquisite soil kit here.

11 June 2020

Ground Water Movement, Permeability, and Stratigraphy

One of the most common requests we're asked by environmental and engineering professionals is to decipher vague boring log relationships in order correlate subsurface units.  

People bring those questions to us because the topic of boring log correlations is the one of the original reasons for the formation of Midwest GeoSciences Group, over 15 years ago.

And a common thread between most questions is to understand ground water movement, typically asking to help place monitoring wells at the propert depth.  Most of the initial observations that are reported to us are:
  • Sometimes open borings are dry
  • Sometimes coarse-grained sediments are absent, but the boring is full of water
  • Sometimes buried sands are present, sometimes not.
  • Sometimes buried sands seem randomly present within and between boreholes.
  • Sometimes borings aren't sampled, but only their secondary properties are measured:
    • Cone Penetrometer Testing
    • Geophysical Logging
    • Hydraulic Profile Tool
    • HRSC tooling
    • Soil Classfications
    • Chemistry
    • Water Levels
  • Never does Alexa know the geology, LOL

We as hydrogeologists can relate to the some basic geologic explanations to the observations above:

  1. Water table is not always measured by the water level in open boreholes, especially shallow borings drilled into low-permeability formataions.
  2. Ground water can move horizontally in some low-permeability formations through oxidized zones dependent on the landscape and other subsurface conditions, sometimes flooding a boring where there's no coarse-grained sediments.
  3. Buried sands never occur randomly.
  4. Geologic content is the key to deciphering ground water movement, not permeability.
  5. The SOLE INDEPENDENT VARIABLE is what controls all secondary properties listed above.  

Taking the Mystery Out of the Subsurface (R) isn't easy. It requires both the willingness to get the training and apply it in the field and the ability to make keen observation skills and decipher the geology.  

Midwest GeoSciences Group was formed to help professionals basically improve their/our boring logs.   But preparing a boring log that is complete and accurate is like the pole vaulter going over the cross bar - it's the end result.    

There are steps that are required for success in both.  For the pole vault, there is a coach and practice not to mention the mechanics of the approach, the plant, the penetration, and getting into the position to fly over the cross bar.  For boring logs, there is a teacher and practice not to mention the mechanics of logging: sampling method, core management, core examination, understanding depositional processes and applying them to characterize the Sole Independent Variable.  

Neither good geologists and world-record pole vaulters happen by accident.  

Danny Korth, PG, GeoMan Extraordinaire

04 June 2020

Transformation is Priceless

I recall a field project working with a subcontracted drilling crew, a surveyor, a mobile lab, and other co-workers.  From time to time, a co-worker would bring clients and regulators to the project site.  All these interactions demanded open lines of constant communication – yet I was buried with the day to day technical work.

I realized that the success of the project, the success of the business, and the success of my career were all tied to how I interacted with each of these people. However, despite me understanding the importance of my communication style and interaction skills, I didn’t understand the mechanics or reasoning behind it. It was as if I had a veil over my wishful eyes – clearly seeing the need, but no clarity on the solution.

Then, later in my career, I met Bill and Joann Truby at a project management training intensive.  It was then I learned the ‘magical elements’ for connecting and working with others. They lifted the veil. They taught me the communication and interaction skills that are the foundation of success. But that’s not all.

They gave me plenty of other easily implementable tools that I could practice and be an effective leader. They taught me how to be even more successful with a process that builds a high-performing, accountable team. Then they capped it off with lifting the veil to authentically grow my business and client list.

Their teachings and tools, grounded in the Truby Management System, have become my Motis Operendi….my natural way of doing things. Life is easier, smoother, more successful. And, now, I want to share this knowledge with you… I want everyone to learn it. 

You don’t have to be like me and try, for years, to go it alone.  You can have a “business partner” in the Trubys. They have created an online experience that removes the veil for anyone. The Truby Management System is the online experience that spoon feeds teachings in 5 to 10-minute videos that immediately change a person’s mindset and behavior, and leads to instant, measurable success.
Learning all of this is transformational. And transformation is priceless because not only does our work become easier, but so does life.

I believe in my success so much, and realize where the boost came from, that I’ve become an affiliate of Truby Achievements so I can offer my friends, family and colleagues access to these seeds of success. See for yourself, here.

I’m glad to share more details about the program, my story, or insight about how you can nudge your employer to pay for your membership.

-Dan Kelleher, PG, CIPM