A recently published paper by Maryville resident John Pope, assistant professor of geology at Northwest Missouri State University, contains research that may prove valuable to Iowa's agriculture and mining industries.
According to a Northwest release, the research addresses how the understanding of Iowa's geography has changed over more than four decades and identifies several new rock units.
The paper also includes a geologic map of the state that Pope said should prove beneficial to cartographers, agricultural workers and miners searching for underground mineral resources such as coal and limestone.
"If someone is looking for economic resources in the rock, they’re better prepared to know where to look for them with this type of research," Pope said. "So the Iowa Department of Transportation will use it a lot, along with people in the mining and quarry industries."
In accumulating his data, Pope surveyed exposed outcroppings in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. He also documented stratification and collected fossil samples that can help determine where coal- and limestone-bearing rocks can be found.
Pope incorporated work by his students in the study thanks to funding through Northwest's College of Arts and Sciences. He said he was proud of the importance his department places on student research, and pointed out that hands-on undergraduate activities help move young geologists toward successful careers.
"Now that people my age and a little older are retiring over the next 10-20 years, we can’t produce geologists fast enough to fill the openings that are coming up," Pope said.
"So it’s one of the few disciplines where the job market is actually opening up, with many good-paying jobs."
Pope's paper, "Description of Pennsylvanian Units, Revision of Stratigraphic Nomenclature, and Reclassification of the Morrowan, Atokan, Desmoinesian, Missourian, and Virgilian stages in Iowa," was published by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.