01 December 2022

Grateful for Friendships

Midwest GeoSciences Group recently received an unexpected and cherished gift.   In response to receiving a Hydro(beer)ology Pint Glass along with the pint koozies, Tim "GeoMan" Miller, created a brilliantly designed tribute to the GeoMan concept.

It's Tim Miller's design.  There is no other tribute like this one. He created this platform from his personal vision and then made it with this hands using wood, paint, and a wood burner.   

Tim created this platform to hold a "his" and "her's" Hydro(beer)ology Pint.   And although I appreciate Tim's kind words about the GeoMan concept, it's a humbling gesture he used in writing.  

Tim is a very, very special friend in my life.  He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina today but he and I grew up in the same small rural town in Illinois.  Tim and I were close friends from Kindergarten and we remained friends through elementary, middle, and high school.  He was a notable HS athlete but my favorite times with Tim were during our summertime baseball seasons when Tim would pitch and I played short stop.  I'm also going to mention our mutual friend here too, Bob Crippen, who was also a close friend since childhood and was our baseball teammate too.  Bob often was the catcher behind home plate for the times that Tim pitched.  Bob moved to NC last year.  Today these childhood friendships are stronger than ever.  I don't take them for granted.

So when this personalized item arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, I knew that there's no official Thank You that could express how grateful I am for it, but more importantly for friends like Tim (and Bob).   -Dan Kelleher

16 November 2022

Is it "FILL"?

 A common question we ask ourselves at some project sites is:

Is this surficial soil either NATIVE or FILL?  

It can be daunting to determine when the soil sample looks exactly like the surrounding soil.  There's lots of observations we can contrast between the soil sample and the surrounding soil.  I'd like to officially state the determination is important.  Just because the soil material all looks alike doesn't mean we can just blow off looking for the subsurface boundary.

Here's why: we only get one chance to do our work right the first time.  

Sure, maybe the soil all looks alike and may be it even behaves similarly. But if nearby soil has been moved into place where the soil boring is located, do your best to identify the presence of reworked or moved soil and it's bottom boundary.

Some reasons include:

1. Physical properties may be similar but will be different, every time.

2. Re-worked sediment may contain a different invisible chemistry or chemical constituent.

3. The boundary may prove valuable in a following boring or later work.

For soil that has been moved, re-worked, or piled, Midwest GeoSciences Group refers to it as "Quaternary Fill" on our soil boring log.  We differentiate fill types based on their nature and content.  

Here's some photos of a site that I recently assessed the near-surface sedimentary sequence to determine if it was moved or re-worked sediment.  The variables to observe are few because the local depositional environment is an alluvium/colluvium mixture.  So even the stratified re-worked soil appeared similar to the stratified water-lain soil.  Scale differences of deposition are not a clear indicator and neither are color, soil classification, moisture content, associated sediments, or a measurable geotechnical property.  Any of it could be native and in-situ when I see the soil sample perspective.

But luckily, this excavation was large and exposed a full 2D south sidewall.  It allowed a visual inspection far, far beyond what a soil boring would reveal.  So, stratification features and their positioning coupled with a subtle color change related to moisture revealed a boundary that would be nearly impossible from even a line of borings.  I'll never know for sure if my hypothesis is perfect, but it's a working one for now.

To learn more about recognizing Quaternary Fill, register for the Midwest GeoSciences Group online course, Taking the Mystery Out of the Subsurface 2.0.  

11 November 2022

Rockstar SuperHero Barry to the rescue.

 This post is dedicated to Becky, Barry, Chris, and the other great people who work at my local UPS Store.

Midwest GeoSciences Group released the SOIL CLASSIFICATION EXAM KIT on November 1, 2022 and we are happy with this unique training experience featuring both soil samples and an online journey of quizzes, questions, and tutorials, not to mention lab data sheets for each of the five testing methods for all 18 samples.  

It took nearly 10 years to assemble this special collection of 18 soil samples because it took that long to find sources of soil that were both uniform and had sufficient volume (and accessible).   From another perspective it took 4 months longer than expected for the release date to arrive due to subtle, little, squeaky QA metrics with soil batch index testing.  And lastly it took a couple of months longer than expected because the online portion grew from just providing the answers and lab data sheet to a myriad of quizzes, questions, and tutorials.

Rockstar SuperHero Barry coming to the rescue.

Responsive distribution of the SOIL CLASSIFICATION EXAM KIT is a priority after an order is received.  Great help from Becky, Barry, Chris and others who are professional and knowledgeable help the entire process.  I tip my hat to them.  -Dan Kelleher

25 October 2022

NEW! Online Training Platform Built for licensed professionals in New York (PE and PG)

Our new online training platform allows you to gain technical insights while earning CEUs toward your professional licensure.  

Approved by the NY SED, you can receive your CEU certificate immediately following completion of any of our (110+) technical on-demand webinars or online courses.  Automated participation monitoring and confirmation of your PG licensure is required. 

“The course catalog allows me to choose a topic that relates to my current work assignments in addition to satisfying CE requirements for PGs in New York.”  -Adam Norvelle, P.G.


for more information and discounted access to 160+ webinars and online training.


for more information and discounted access to 160+ webinars and online training.

20 October 2022

American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting - Chicago

Midwest GeoSciences Group will be a featured exhibitor at the Annual AGU Meeting in Chicago, December 11-16, 2022.

With the recent release of the new SOIL CLASSIFICATION EXAM KIT coupled with an AGU presentation summarizing the Environmental Sequence Stratrigraphy of a complex site in Illinois, AGU has chosen Midwest GeoSciences Group as a featured exhibitor.

Thank you to those at AGU for your kind gesture.


Unraveling the Complexities of a Glacial Sequence at a site in Tazewell County, Illinois for a Hydrogeologic Project: 
Stepwise-Procedures for Applying Environmental Sequence Stratigraphy.

KELLEHER, Daniel, L., Midwest GeoSciences Group, 1950 Greyhound Pass, Suite 18, Carmel IN, 46033; dan@midwestgeo.com; KEMMIS, Tim, J., Midwest GeoSciences Group; tim@midwestgeo.com; 

Understanding the past depositional processes was the key factor for unraveling the complexities during a hydrogeologic project in Tazewell, County, Illinois.  The sequence of sediments have multiple origins ranging from stream deposits, subglacial tills to thick intervals of proglacial outwash from Wisconsinan, Illinoian, and pre-Illinoian glacial periods.

Ten years of drilling from past projects yielded varying hypotheses for both ground water movement and the glacial sedimentary sequence.  Each progressive project approached the subsurface differently as reflected in the boring logs, the geologic cross sections, and the resulting potentiometric surface maps and vertical flow nets.

Eventually, it was confirmed that applying fundamental depositional principles and secondary weathering observations proved important because it provided the context for understanding the variability and uniformity in soils, physical properties, and groundwater conditions that were essential for confident ground water monitoring and engineering design.   

Although the process for defining and mapping stratigraphy is a basic premise of geologic principles, the United States Environmental Protection Agency published a 2017 report about the need for understanding basic subsurface characterization titled Environmental Sequence Stratigraphy.   The subsurface characterization work in Tazewell County followed the three published phases for defining and mapping stratigraphy, but the process unraveled the complex stratigraphic sequence derived from different depositional environments coupled with yielding a meaningful geologic framework that has proved valuable to the County and subsequent regional mapping by various agencies.

03 October 2022

Smart Hole Stratigraphy in Geneva, Illinois - 2022 WORKSHOP




Managing the Complexities and Uncertainties of Soil Sequences:
For Hydrogeological and Geotechnical Investigations – Principles and Field Techniques


Tuesday and Wednesday, September 20-21, 2022


Kane County Cougars Baseball Stadium – Conference Facility and Owners Suite with a private offsite drilling location.


•  Dan Kelleher, PG, CIPM, Hydrogeologist and Principal, Midwest GeoSciences Group

• David Hart, PG, PhD, Program Leader, Hydrogeologist, Wisconsin Geological and
   Natural History Survey

• Tim Kemmis, PG, PhD, Hydrogeologist, Midwest GeoSciences Group

What did we find in this soil boring?
Why was it so exquisite?

The course instructors have drilled numerous continuous soil borings in the region for the past 20 years. We've found a predictable consistency in the geologic framework beneath numerous cities and towns where these stratigraphic formations and members are mapped.

However recently, we've discovered an entirely new and older sedimentary sequence that has not been regionally mapped. The buried sequence allows an unmatched opportunity to teach both the principles of depositional environments and secondary weathering in northeastern Illinois where we didn't know previously existed.

[Not only did the new sedimentary sequence get us excited, but we recognize how it can applied to many different glacial deposits and sedimentary sequences far beyond the local geologic framework]

Wisconsin-Age Sediments
The drilling location for this course in Geneva, Illinois is within the mapped area of the Yorkville Member of the Lemont Formation near the DuPage - Kane County border. Four facies of the Yorkville Member are expected to be present in the boring: an ice-marginal facies and three subglacial facies. Below the Yorkville Member is the Batestown Member which can be variable in depositional environments and the resulting sedimentary properties.

Sorted outwash sediments of the Henry Formation and/or the Equality Formation may occur within the Yorkville Member or Batestown Member. One of the most interesting discoveries is when sorted sediments are present and then to recognize its stratigraphic position and context. Without stratigraphic control/context, understanding the relationships between borings (where the sorted sediments are present) is virtually 'mission impossible'. But with stratigraphic context, it gives tremendous certainty and we can correlate buried sands without much question.

Pre-Wisconsin-Age Sediments
This boring confirmed a buried "pocket" of pre-Wisconsin-Age sediments in the area. We ran Carbon-14 dating tests of the buried topsoil and confirmed it was pre-Wisconsin-Age and we assigned it to the Farmdale GeoSol.

Under the buried A-Horizon topsoil is a thick oxidized and unleached (OU) weathering zone. The sedimentary sequence included both subglacial and resedimented diamictons (glacial till) along with intervals of sorted sediments.

Not only is the buried "pocket" geologically interesting and an important discovery for regional mapping, but this single soil borings revealed the spectrum of attributes that can be applied to most glacial sequences anywhere.

In this one boring, we
  • observed each of the major glacial depositional environments
  • observed each of the major outwash depositional environment
  • built a stratigraphic model based on depositional history
  • gave geologic context to buried sand and gravel intervals
  • and determined if they tend to be isolated lenses
  • and determined if they tend to be laterally continuous
  • observed two weathering zone profiles
  • observed two A-Horizon Soils, one modern and one ancient
  • learned how ground water moves through the holistic hydrogeologic system.

This was a historic opportunity to more than witness a geologic discovery. This iwas historic opportunity to learn about applying geologic principles to professional work. There are not many chances like this where we can synthesize the geology in a way it can be applied to so many different other areas.

14 May 2022


We're in the midst of history-making days (and nights).

May 15, 2022 offers 85 minutes of a total lunar eclipse that begins at 11:29AM ET.  All that's required to witness the event is (1) clear skies, and (2) go outside and look.  

Midwest GeoSciences Group will join science-minded friends in Carmel, Indiana to watch the eclipse, but the real exciting topic of conversation will be these history making days where astrophysicists have captured the imagery of the massive black hole at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy.

October 6, 2020 marked the Nobel Prize Award for confirming the existence of the supermassive black hole.  More than 300 people from about 90 institutions searched collectively for this confirmation using radio telescopes.  

The imagery for the black hole was released on May 12, 2022 at multiple press conferences simultaneously world-wide.  

These images alone do not tell the remarkable nature of these phenomenon.  

Scale of time and distance are nearly unfathomable.  We as geoscientists can appreciate how computer modeling is used to unravel the context of their size, distance, gravity, and spacetime.  May be we have it easy with stratigraphy, plate tectonics, and planetary progressions.  For astrophysicists, nature itself changes with the fabric of outer space. Right?  .... we can all appreciate the complexity of this phenomenon.

These are exciting times to live.  We are witnessing history every day with new research results about exoplanets, dark matter, blackholes, galaxy formation, quantum entanglement, particle physics and telescope technology.  

If you are working on an interesting project and would like to share it with us, we'd love to hear from you.    -Dan Kelleher

service ..at.. midwestgeo.com

13 May 2022

Why Environmental Sequence Stratigraphy?

Why Environmental Sequence Stratigraphy?

May be first, let's recall it’s derivative, Sequence Stratigraphy.

In the most basic terms, Sequence Stratigraphy is a study of sedimentary deposits with respect to depositional environments and changes in sea level, sediment supply, and sediment-storage area through time.

Sequence Stratigraphy is the means to understand the subsurface architecture of marine sediments on the basis of understanding how depositional environments (and the resulting sediments) shift and change as sea level rises and falls.

Environmental Sequence Stratigraphy is a subsurface characterization approach applied to hydrogeologic and environmental projects based on understanding the geology. This approach allows us to understand the architecture of the sedimentary succession beneath our sites; that is, recognition not only of coarse- and fine-grained sediments in the succession, but their geometries, continuity, variability, and uniformity.

Isn’t the name of the game: understanding subsurface relationships !?  It's more than just mapping a secondary attribute such as soil classification, permeabilities, or contaminant occurrence.  Understanding subsurface relationship relies fully discerning the SOLE INDEPENDENT VARIABLE (i.e. depositional processes).  

So again, why Environmental Sequence Stratigraphy?   Call it anything you want.  Midwest GeoSciences Group has called it the “Sedimentary Stratigraphic Approach”, “Holistic Stratigraphy”, and “Holistic Hydrogeology” and we’ve even trademarked “Taking the Mystery Out of the Subsurface” along with creating an online training experience to do it.  

In the end, it’s the job we are hired to do as geoscience professionals: take the mystery out of the subsurface.

12 March 2022

Proud partner of the CARMEL MARATHON.

Midwest GeoSciences Group is a proud partner of the CARMEL MARATHON.

For the fifth year in a row, we are partnering with the weekend-long marathon race experience.  It's a rewarding way for Midwest GeoSciences Group to begin the summer with a tremendous fitness boost, along with expressing support for both the city, friends, and family members. 

Carmel is recognized nationally for being a bike-friendly city, and it ranks in the top 10 Bike Friendly Cities each year.  But the City of Carmel also promotes overall fitness and this showcase events generally launches the Spring and Summer into running events.

Good luck to Lori Kelleher!

11 March 2022

GROUND WATER is the focus of World Water Day, this year.

World Water Day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, focuses on the importance of freshwater.

World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

GROUND WATER is the focus of World Water Day, this year. 

We Hydrogeologists appreciate how ground water is water is present in aquifers, which are geological formations of rocks, sands and gravels that hold substantial quantities of water. Ground water feeds springs, rivers, lakes and wetlands, and seeps into oceans. Ground water is recharged mainly from rain and snowfall infiltrating the ground. Ground water can be extracted to the surface by pumps and wells.

Life would not be possible without ground water. Most arid areas of the world depend entirely on groundwater. Ground water supplies a large proportion of the water we use for drinking, sanitation, food production and industrial processes.

It is also critically important to the healthy functioning of ecosystems, such as wetlands and rivers.

Midwest GeoSciences Group works to protect ground water resources from overexploitation and pollution since it can lead to depletion, extra-costs of processing it, and sometimes even preventing its use.

Exploring, protecting and sustainably using groundwater will be central to surviving and adapting to climate change and meeting the needs of a growing population.

This month, Midwest GeoSciences Group is teaching online courses that are a gigantic leap in understanding the nature of the geologic units that yield (aquifers) and protect (aquitards) groundwater.

The professionals that are hired to extract and clean up ground water search for best practices and it all starts with basic geologic principles.  It’s a noble mission for Midwest GeoSciences Group but it’s also noble for those professionals whose work will last beyond our lifetimes.