Carl A. Bays

1914 to 1967
Groundwater Geophysics

Carl A. BaysOn June 20, 1914, Carl Bays was born in Rockport, Indiana, a small town on the Ohio River upstream from Owensboro, Kentucky. He was educated at the University of Wisconsin, receiving his B.A. in 1934 and his Ph.D. in 1938. This was during the time when W.H. Twenhofel, one of the founders of sedimentology, and preeminent glacial geologist F.T. Thwaites taught at the University of Wisconsin. As a student, Bays assisted Thwaites with fieldwork.

From November 1937 until April 1939, Bays worked as a geologist for Sun Oil Company in Philadelphia under the vice president in charge of production. From April 1939 until early 1942, he was a consulting geologist and engineer based in Evansville, Indiana.

Bays joined the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) on March 1, 1942, as Special Geologist. Under the joint supervision of George E. Ekblaw, Head of the Division of Areal and Engineering Geology, and L.E. Workman, Head of the Subsurface Division, Bays was assigned as part of the World War II national defense effort to study the groundwater geology of northeastern Illinois with special emphasis on the Joliet area. He pioneered the use of geophysical techniques in the investigation of the state's groundwater resources. During the summer of 1942, he introduced downhole electrical logging of water wells to Illinois. This technology proved to be a boon to the water-well industry, allowing for the proper and successful rehabilitation of old water wells and the completion and construction of new wells. Electrical logging contributed much valuable information not readily obtainable from cuttings or descriptive well logs. Bays documented the effectiveness of downhole electrical logging in four reports published as ISGS circulars. As a result of his contributions to groundwater science at the ISGS, Bays was promoted in July 1943 to the Geology and Engineering Subsurface Division to manage groundwater studies and in July 1944 as Head of the newly created Division of Groundwater Geology and Geophysical Exploration. Bays resigned from the ISGS in March 1949 to establish a private consulting business, Carl A. Bays and Associates.

While at the ISGS, Bays and two others, William McEllhiney, President of the Illinois Water Well Drillers Association, and Robert Storm, a geologist at the ISGS who worked for Bays, led the way in organizing the National Water Well Association. This association grew into the National Ground Water Association, which is today a premier organization for the groundwater industry.

Bays died unexpectedly in 1967, leaving a wife, Lorrain; a son, Michael; and a daughter, Kathy.

Honored by: 
Layne Christensen Co. (Greg Buffington)
Citation Contributed by: 
David R. Larson