Geologists dig up 26,000-year-old glacier remnants: “We’re looking at history”

Soil dug up in Geneva is examined Wednesday, geologists said it includes remnants of regional glaciers. Photo credit Rachel Pierson/WBBM Newsradio

GENEVA (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A large, hydraulic drill and about 50 geologists were in Illinois Wednesday morning, where they were uncovering remnants of regional glaciers.

“We're looking at history,” said Dan Kelleher, President of Midwest Geosciences Group. “The deeper we go, the older the sediments are. We've recently drilled holes in the area, and we saw sediment that we recognized that was pre-Wisconsin, which is the ice age before the last one.”

The pocket of soil near Route 38 and Kirk Road contains glacial deposits dating back roughly 26,000 years.

“This hole has it all,” said Kelleher. “It's got all of the different sediments deposited in different ways: glacial ice, water sediments and lake sediments.”

The group drilled roughly 100 feet into the ground, analyzing and logging the soil as it was unearthed.

It’s part of a continuing education class for professional geologists who work in the environmental and engineering industry.

Large, hydraulic drill
Workers were using this hydraulic drill to dig up soil in Geneva. Photo credit Rachel Pierson/WBBM Newsradio

“It's just purely about research,” said Alan Stone from Bloomington. “How to log soils, do our jobs, and it's very applicable to research, but also to the environmental consulting industry.”

Kelleher said the digs could help shed light on how soil behaves with relation to groundwater movement.

“If they're doing an engineering project looking at groundwater, we have to understand the subsurface relationships in order to understand groundwater movement,” added Kelleher. “Or if we're going to do a construction project, we need to understand what the behaviors of the soils are.”

In addition to professional development, Kelleher told WBBM they plan to publish their findings so the public will have access to it.

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