Prairie Research Institute

Illinois State Geological Survey

Capabilities & Services

These services support and enhance our research and ability to provide unbiased scientific information. These services are available to the public on a cost-recovery basis. Please contact those listed for each service for additional information about capabilities, availability, and costs.


ISGS drillers install 20 to 30 groundwater monitoring wells per year; install piezometers where required; and perform geophysical logging and GPS on all holes drilled. Sample recovery averages 8,000 to 10,000 feet per year.

Contact: Aaron Blacker or Rich Padilla, 217-244-5006


The Geochemistry Section conducts chemical and geological research and service to address economic, energy, and environmental issues. Our experienced researchers and analysts are dedicated to high-quality work that brings scientific insight and information to a range of real-world problems. Our offices and laboratories are located in the Natural Resources Building on the campus of the University of Illinois.

Analytical services include:

  • Chemical composition of solids, liquids, and gases
  • Mineralogical composition of solids, thin films, and powders
  • Age determination using optically stimulated luminescence methods

Geological Records Unit

The Geological Records Unit (GRU) is the State of Illinois’ repository for records of drilling, including oil and gas wells, water wells, engineering borings, and miscellaneous test holes. These data are useful for environmental assessment, mineral resource evaluation, and groundwater resource evaluation and protection.

Room 239, Natural Resources Building, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1–4:30 p.m.
Phone: 217-333-5109
Fax: 217-244-4544

Geological Samples Library

The Geological Samples Library is the legislatively mandated repository for drill-hole samples in Illinois, including cores drilled for mineral exploration and geologic investigations. The library also houses collections from mines, quarries, outcrops, clay pits, sand and gravel deposits, and Pleistocene glacial deposits. These collections are valuable records of the approximately 1.5 billion year-old geologic history of Illinois.

Room 102 E, Natural Resources Studies Annex, 1910 Griffith Drive, Champaign
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.–noon and 1–4:30 p.m.
Contact: Jared Thomas217-300-2790
Fax: 217-333-2341


Services include 2D electrical Earth resistivity profiling; ground penetrating radar; P-wave seismic reflection profiling to depths of 500 feet; S-wave seismic reflection profiling to depths of 120 feet; multi-channel analysis of surface waves; borehole vertical seismic profiling; and seismic refraction.

Contact: Tim Larson, 217-244-2775

Geophysics downhole

Services include:

  • Spontaneous Potential: electrical potential between borehole and formation fluids
  • Single Point Resistance: resistance of rock, saturating fluid, and borehole fluid
  • 8″, 16″, 32″, 64″ Normal Resistivity: resistivity, in ohm-meters of rocks and saturating fluids
  • EM Induction: conductivity of rock and saturating fluids
  • Natural Gamma: total gamma radiation from natural or artificial radioisotopes
  • Spectral Gamma: spectral gamma radiation from natural or artificial radioisotopes
  • Density: total electron density
  • Neutron: hydrogen content, elemental spectra
  • Full Waveform Sonic: compressional, shear, and tube wave velocities
  • Acoustic Televiewer: acoustic reflectivity of borehole wall, borehole geometry and deviation
  • 3-Arm Caliper: hole or casing diameter and rugosity
  • Fluid Temperature and Resistivity: temperature and resistivity of fluid near sensor
  • Fluid Sampler: takes up to 1.5 liters of fluid at point-specific depths
  • Spinner Flow Meter: velocity of net flow in borehole
  • Borehole Deviation: inclination and bearing of borehole

Contact: Tim Young, Jason Thomason, 217-244-2508

Material characterization

Characterization of materials by Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA, VersaTherm).

Contact: Hong Lu, 217-244-4990

Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating Laboratory

The Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating Laboratory provides accurate measurements—ranging from a few years up to 100,000 years (for quartz) and 300,000 years (for K-feldspar)—to determine how long a sediment was buried or the age of a manufactured object.

Gamma spectroscopy analysis also is available.

Contact: Sebastien Huot, 217-300-2579

Petrography Lab

Contact: Jared Freiburg, 217-244-2495, for:

  • Polorizing, reflective, and fluorescent microscopy for petrographic analysis of geologic materials
  • Cathodoluminescence stage for cement stratigraphy and diagenetic interpretation
  • Heating and cooling stage on epi-fluorescence microscope for fluid inclusion analysis
  • Microscope digital cameras – high-resolution digital video and images; camera software allows measurements for grain size analysis and phase analysis
  • Micro-drill system with vacuum sample capture – micron-scale sampling of cements and grains

Contact: Joe Devera, 618-985-3394 ext. 240, or Mike Lewsader, 618-453-7383, for petrographic thin sections and double polished thin sections.

XRD/XRF Materials Characterization Laboratory

The X-ray Diffraction (XRD) and X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) Laboratory provides mineralogical and elemental analysis of soils, sediments, and other geological or industrial samples, including mineral phase identification, quantification, and the determination of elemental composition in solid specimens. We specialize in clay mineral research, especially the investigation of smectites, illites, mixed-layer clay minerals, I/S, kaolinites, and other clay minerals.

Contact: Martin P. Pentrak, 217-300-5625