CGS Research

Research at the CGS takes many forms and we collaborate with many municipal, county, state, and national partners. The following information and links are regularly updated as our projects develop, expand, and our research is published.

With a mission that is driven by state mandate — to inform the citizens of Colorado regarding a variety of geoscience and geo-engineering issues — the CGS tackles a wide range of basic field research around the state. The results are generally public-domain and available for download at our bookstore. In addition, contemporary research projects typically result in GIS data packages that are easily integrated within third-party GIS mapping solutions.

As the Survey has been around more than one hundred years, we also have an extensive archive of research publications that may be of interest. Most of these are available as free PDF downloads through our bookstore.

Current Research Areas

Geologic Hazards

Research into the many geo-hazard sources in the state is constant and ongoing, and represents a major information source for anyone with an interest in this critical subject. For more information contact: Matt Morgan.

Geologic Mapping

Mapping the complex geological features of the state is an important aspect of the CGS portfolio. The results of extensive field work during summers are brought back into the office and laboratory in the process of creating detailed geologic maps for a variety of applications. These maps help support many CGS projects as well as Federal, State, and local government and private industry. For more information contact: Matt Morgan

  • National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program: STATEMAP Component
  • Collaborative geologic mapping of 1:24,000-scale quad maps is an ongoing process with a number of new maps produced each year. There are four in review as of the end of 2018, following are a few of the most recent published quads:

    Hydrogeology / Groundwater

    The CGS conducts research on how geology affects and controls the water resources within Colorado. This includes the study of the geologic framework for groundwater and its occurrence, movement, and quality. We also investigate natural or ‘background’ conditions of water quality, identifying the effects of water-rock interactions on surface-water and groundwater. For more information contact: Peter Barkmann

    Mineral Resources

    Part of the CGS mandate is to promote responsible economic development of mineral and energy resources within Colorado. Current research projects focus on sand and gravel resources as well as critical and strategic minerals. The CGS minerals team utilizes both original field data and historical records to construct reports and maps on the many mineral resources around the state. For more information contact: Matt Morgan

    • RS-47 Reconnaissance of Potential Sand Sources in Colorado for Hydraulic Fracturing
    • The primary objective of this statewide project is to determine the geological potential for natural proppant or ‘frac’ sands. It will include evaluating both Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Tertiary sandstone formations, extensive Quaternary eolian deposits, and localized eolian sand and alluvial/fluvial deposits throughout the state. A secondary objective is to characterize potential silica sand sources for other uses.

    • Mineral Resource Derivative Maps
    • Derivative maps are generalizations of detailed geological information that are used to assist non-geologists with evaluating complex geological information. These mineral derivative maps were created from digital geologic map data (including our 1:24,000-scale STATEMAP quads) and historical mine locations to provide information on the general distribution of select potential mineral resources.

    • IS-80 Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities 2016-2017
    • After several years’ hiatus, the CGS resumed publishing statewide reports on both mineral and energy resources. The most recent report, based on 2016 data, was released in 2017.

    Energy Resources

    The CGS has long been involved with alternative energy development, especially geothermal in a variety of forms. For more information contact: Paul Morgan

    • Statewide Geothermal Support
    • Mt. Princeton Geothermal
    • Geothermal Support to the Colorado Energy Office (CEO)
    • Mars/Venus

    Selected Publications

    CGS staff members make regular contributions to the scientific literature and are active with numerous state, regional, and national professional organizations including the GSA, AGU, ASCE, AEG, SEG, and more. Please see staff member pages in the staff directory for comprehensive list of their individual publications. Following is a selection of recent highlights:

    2016-2018

    Barkmann, P. E., Lesley A. Sebol, Erinn P. Johnson, F. S. Fitzgerald, and William Curtiss. “OF-15-11 Geology and Groundwater Resources of Park County.” Geology and Groundwater. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Barkmann, Peter E., W. Curtiss, Christopher J. Carroll, D. R. Hosler, Nathan T. Rogers, Z. D. Logan, and Michael J. Zawaski. “OF-15-02 Geologic Map of the Castor Gulch Quadrangle, Moffat County, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Report. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Barkmann, Peter E., Erinn P. Johnson, and William Curtiss. “OF-16-07 Geologic Map of the Ralph White Lake Quadrangle, Moffat and Routt Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Barkmann, Peter E., Erinn P. Johnson, Lesley A. Sebol, and F. Scot Fitzgerald. “OF-16-04 Geology and Groundwater Resources of Chaffee County, Colorado.” Geology and Groundwater. Open File Report. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, April 2017.
    Cappa, James A., Michael K. O’Keeffe, James R. Guilinger, and Karen A. Berry. “IS-79 Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities 2015-2016.” Mineral and Energy Industry. Information Series. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2016.
    Coe, Jeffrey A., Rex L. Baum, Kate E. Allstadt, Bernard F. Kochevar, Robert G. Schmitt, Matthew L. Morgan, Jonathan L. White, Benjamin T. Stratton, Timothy A. Hayashi, and Jason W. Kean. “Map Data and Unmanned Aircraft System Imagery from the May 25, 2014 West Salt Creek Rock Avalanche in Western Colorado.” U.S. Geological Survey, 2016. https://doi.org/10.5066/F74J0C55.
    ———. “Rock-Avalanche Dynamics Revealed by Large-Scale Field Mapping and Seismic Signals at a Highly Mobile Avalanche in the West Salt Creek Valley, Western Colorado.” Geosphere 12, no. 2 (April 2016): 607–31. https://doi.org/10.1130/GES01265.1.
    Feeney, Skip, Michael K. O’Keefe, Peter E. Barkmann, and F. Scot Fitzgerald. “The Colorado Abandoned Mine Land Information Hub.” In Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference, Colorado Watershed Assembly. Avon, CO, 2017.
    Golombek, M., M. Grott, G. Kargl, J. Andrade, J. Marshall, N. Warner, N. A. Teanby, et al. “Geology and Physical Properties Investigations by the InSight Lander.” Space Science Reviews 214, no. 5 (August 2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-018-0512-7.
    Gregory, R. W., and L. D. Broes. “Preliminary Geologic Map of the Gas Hills Quadrangle, Fremont and Natrona Counties, Wyoming: Wyoming State Geological Survey, Open File Report 18-4, Scale 1:24,000.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Report. Laramie, WY: Wyoming State Geological Survey, 2018.
    Hodge, James, Jonathan L. White, and Michele Nelson. “OF-16-06 Geologic Map of the Roubideau Quadrangle, Delta and Montrose Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Keller, John W., Karen J. Houck, Erinn P. Johnson, Noah D. Keller, Matthew L. Morgan, Daniel P. Miggins, and George F. Klemmick. “OF-17-06 Geologic Map of the Boreas Pass Quadrangle, Park and Summit Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Keller, S. M., and M. L. Morgan, eds. Unfolding the Geology of the West. Geological Society of America Field Guide 44. Geological Society of America, 2016.
    Keller, Stephen M., Kassandra O. Lindsey, and Matthew L. Morgan. “OF-17-03 Geologic Map of the Berthoud Quadrangle, Larimer, Weld, and Boulder Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Lindsey, Kassandra, Matthew L. Morgan, and Karen A. Berry. “Development of Landslide Susceptibility Maps in Colorado.” In Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 48, No. 7. Denver, CO: Geological Society of America, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1130/abs/2016AM-287630.
    McCoy, Kevin, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and Matthew L. Morgan. “County-Wide Debris-Flow Susceptibility Mapping in Colorado – Program Overview and Methods Summary.” In Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 48. Denver, CO: Geological Society of America, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1130/abs/2016AM-283839.
    McCoy, Kevin, Vitaliy Krasko, Paul Santi, Daniel Kaffine, and Steffen Rebennack. “Minimizing Economic Impacts from Post-Fire Debris Flows in the Western United States.” Natural Hazards 83, no. 1 (August 2016): 149–76. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-016-2306-0.
    Morgan, M. L. “Shaping the Mapping Future – How Lidar Is Transforming Geologic Mapping and Geologic Hazard Assessment in Colorado.” In Abstract. Fort Collins, CO, 2016.
    Morgan, Matthew L., E. J. Fielding, Kevin McCoy, Jeffrey A. Coe, Jonathan L. White, and F. Scot Fitzgerald. “Change Detection of the West Salt Creek Landslide, Colorado Using Multi-Temporal Lidar and UAVSAR Datasets.” In AEG News Program with Abstracts. Colorado Springs, CO, 2017.
    Morgan, Matthew L., and Jonathan L. White. “OF-16-02 Geologic Map of the Watkins Quadrangle, Arapahoe and Adams Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2016.
    Morgan, Paul. “A Simple Model of Gravitationally-Driven Water Flow in a Semicircular Aquifer to Estimate Geothermal Power Potential: Examples from Arizona and Colorado.” Geothermics 64 (November 2016): 28–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geothermics.2016.04.006.
    ———. “Origins and Geothermal Potential of Thermal Springs in Archuleta County, Including Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA (Revisited).” Geothermal Resources Council Transactions 41 (2017): 2656–65.
    Morgan, Paul, Matthias Grott, Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun, Matt Golombek, Pierre Delage, Philippe Lognonné, Sylvain Piqueux, et al. “A Pre-Landing Assessment of Regolith Properties at the InSight Landing Site.” Space Science Reviews 214, no. 6 (September 2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-018-0537-y.
    Morgan, Paul, Suzanne E. Smrekar, Ralph Lorenz, Matthias Grott, Olaf Kroemer, and Nils Müller. “Potential Effects of Surface Temperature Variations and Disturbances and Thermal Convection on the Mars InSight HP3 Heat-Flow Determination.” Space Science Reviews 211, no. 1–4 (October 2017): 277–313. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-017-0388-y.
    Nelson, Sasha. “Two Earthquakes Rattle Northwest Colorado Last Week.” Newspaper. Crag Daily Press, April 25, 2017. http://www2.craigdailypress.com/news/2017/apr/25/earth-says-hello-northwest-colorado-second-minor-e/.
    O’Keeffe, Michael K., and Karen A. Berry. “IS-80 Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities 2016-2017.” Mineral and Energy Industry. Information Series. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    O’Keeffe, Michael K., Matthew L. Morgan, Stephen M. Keller, and Kenneth L. Horkley. “RS-47 Reconnaissance of Potential Sand Sources in Colorado for Hydraulic Fracturing.” Resource. Resource Series. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2018.
    Palkovic, Martin J., and Matthew L. Morgan. “OF-17-02 Geologic Map of the Johnstown Quadrangle, Larimer and Weld Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Ravat, D., P. Morgan, and A. R. Lowry. “Geotherms from the Temperature-Depth–Constrained Solutions of 1-D Steady-State Heat-Flow Equation.” Geosphere 12, no. 4 (August 2016): 1187–97. https://doi.org/10.1130/GES01235.1.
    Sebol, Lesley A., Katheryne H. McGee, Erinn P. Johnson, and P. E. Barkmann. “OF-17-01 Geology and Groundwater Resources of Mesa County, Colorado.” Geology and Groundwater. Open File Report. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Smith, J. J., A. L. Layzell, W. E. Lukens, M. L. Morgan, S. M. Keller, R. A. Martin, and D. L. Fox. “Getting to the Bottom of the High Plains Aquifer: New Insights into the Depositional History, Stratigraphy, and Paleoecology of the Cenozoic High Plains.” In Unfolding the Geology of the West, 93–124. Geological Society of America Field Guide 44. Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America, 2016. doi:10.1130/2016.0044(04).
    Spohn, T., M. Grott, S. E. Smrekar, J. Knollenberg, T. L. Hudson, C. Krause, N. Müller, et al. “The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) for the InSight Mission.” Space Science Reviews 214, no. 5 (August 2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-018-0531-4.
    Wallace, Kathleen. “Local Geology – Deposit and Erosion.” The New Falcon Herald, November 2016, Volume 13, Issue 11 edition.
    White, Jonathan L., Kassandra O. Lindsey, Matthew L. Morgan, and Shannon A. Mahan. “OF-17-05 Geologic Map of the Fountain Quadrangle, El Paso County, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2017.
    Zellman, M., D.A. Ostenaa, S.A. Mahan, R.W. Briggs, C.B. Duross, N.G. Reitman, S.F. Personius, and M.L. Morgan. “New Constraints on the Late Quaternary Slip Rate of the Cheraw Fault, Southeastern Colorado.” Denver, CO: Seismological Society of America, 2017.

    2014-2015

    Barkmann, P. E. “The Denver Basin Trilogy.” Outcrop 64, no. 9 (September 2015): 16–37.
    Barkmann, P. E., F. Scot Fitzgerald, L. A. Sebol, W. Curtiss, J. Pike, Annette Moore, and B. Taylor. “OF-15-10 Geology and Groundwater Resources of Douglas County.” Geology and Groundwater. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015.
    Barkmann, P. E., D. C. Noe, K. J. McCall, D. R. Hosler, M. J. Zawaski, Sonja Heuscher, and Z. D. Logan. “OF-15-01 Geologic Map of the Breeze Mountain Quadrangle, Moffat and Routt Counties, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015.
    Coe, Jeffrey A., Rex L. Baum, Kate E. Allstadt, Bernard F. Kochevar, Robert G. Schmitt, Matthew L. Morgan, Jonathan L. White, Benjamin T. Stratton, Timothy A. Hayashi, and Jason W. Kean. “Forensic Analysis of the May 2014 West Salt Creek Rock Avalanche in Western Colorado.” In Abstract. San Francisco, CA: American Geophysical Union, 2015. https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm15/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/62243.
    Coe, Jeffrey A., Rex L. Baum, Robert G. Schmitt, Jason W. Kean, E. L. Harp, M. L. Morgan, Jonathan L. White, Bernard F. Kochevar, Timothy A. Hayashi, and Benjamin T. Stratton. “The West Salt Creek Rock Avalanche – A Highly Mobile, Complex Landslide in Western Colorado.” In Abstracts with Programs, 46, No. 6:609. Vancouver, BC, Canada: Geological Society of America, 2014. https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014AM/webprogram/Paper244963.html.
    Gutiérrez, Francisco, Matthew L. Morgan, Vincent Matthews, Mateo Gutiérrez, and Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno. “Relict Slope Rings and Talus Flatirons in the Colorado Piedmont: Origin, Chronology and Paleoenvironmental Implications.” Geomorphology 231 (February 2015): 146–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.11.024.
    Lindsey, K., and S. Burns. “Debris Flow Initiation on Mt. Rainier as a Result of Record Precipitation from the November 2006 Pineapple Express Rainstorm.” In Abstracts with Programs, 46, no. 5:86. Geological Society of America, 2014.
    Lindsey, K., S. Burns, and D. Dreher. “Radon on Alameda Ridge, Portland, Oregon and the Relationship with Geology.” In Abstracts with Programs, 47, no. 4:12. Geological Society of America, 2015.
    McCoy, Kevin. “A Method for Quantitative Economic Risk Assessment of Post-Fire Debris Flows.” PhD, Colorado School of Mines, 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/11124/166668.
    McCoy, Kevin, and Paul Santi. “Summary Report – Stability Analysis of Upper Block, West Salt Creek Landslide, Mesa County, Colorado.” Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, August 27, 2014.
    McCoy, Kevin, Paul Santi, Daniel Kaffine, and Vitaliy Krasko. “GIS Modeling to Assess Economic Risk from Post-Fire Debris-Flows,” 9–30. Denver, CO: American Society of Civil Engineers, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784413807.002.
    McCoy, Kevin, Julio Zimbron, Tom Sale, and Mark Lyverse. “Measurement of Natural Losses of LNAPL Using CO2 Traps.” Groundwater 53, no. 4 (July 2015): 658–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwat.12240.
    Miley, H. M., C. B. Agee, R. L. Korotev, N. Muttik, and M. L. Morgan. “Northwest Africa 8010: Feldspathic Regolith Breccia with Abundant Crystalline Lunar Spherules.” Houston, TX, 2014. http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2014/pdf/2823.pdf.
    Morgan, Matthew L. “Colorado’s Potentially Hazardous Faults.” In Proceedings Volume: Basin and Range Province Seismic Hazards Summit III, edited by William R. Lund. Miscellaneous Publication 15–5. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah Geological Survey, 2015. http://geology.utah.gov/hazards/earthquakes-faults/utah-earthquake-working-groups/basin-and-range-province-seismic-hazards-summit/#tab-id-3.
    ———. “Debris Flow Hazard Mapping in Colorado – The Need and Plan for a Statewide Assessment.” In Abstract. Avon, CO, 2015. https://issuu.com/2014scw/docs/2015_packet_for_posting.
    ———. “OF-14-01 Geologic Map of the Cabin Gulch Quadrangle, Elbert County, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014.
    ———. “OF-14-07 Geologic Map of the Watkins SE Quadrangle, Arapahoe and Elbert Counties, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.5026.0644.
    ———. “OF-15-12 Geologic Map of the Piney Creek Quadrangle, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Elbert Counties, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015.
    Morgan, Matthew L., P. E. Barkmann, Emma L. Rodgers, and D. C. Noe. “OF-14-12 Geologic Map of the Craig Quadrangle, Moffat County, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014.
    Morgan, Matthew L., Jonathan L. White, F Scot Fitzgerald, and Karen A. Berry. “OF-14-02 Foothill and Mountainous Regions in Boulder County, Colorado That May Be Susceptible to Earth and Debris/Mud Flows During Extreme Precipitation Events.” Geologic Hazards. Open File Report. Denver, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014. OF-14-02. https://doi.org/10.13140/2.1.3617.8246.
    Morgan, Paul. “Geothermal Energy.” In Unconventional Energy Resources: 2015 Review, 458–66. Natural Resources Research, 2015.
    Nissen, E., K. L. Johnson, F. S. Fitzgerald, M. L. Morgan, and Jonathan L. White. “Rapid-Response or Repeat-Mode Topography from Aerial Structure from Motion.” San Francisco, CA: American Geophysical Union, 2014. https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm14/webprogrampreliminary/Paper6650.html.
    Noe, D. C., P. E. Barkmann, K. J. McCall, M. J. Zawaski, Z. D. Logan, and D. R. Hosler. “OF-15-05 Geologic Map of the Hayden Quadrangle, Routt County, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015.
    Noe, D. C., Jonathan L. White, and Michele Nelson. “OF-15-09 Geologic Map of the North Delta Quadrangle, Delta County, Colorado.” Geologic, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015.
    Palkovic, M. J. “Depositional Characterization of the Eau Claire Formation at the Illinois Basin–Decatur Project: Facies, Mineralogy and Geochemistry.” Masters, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 2015.
    Raber, S., Matthew L. Morgan, Jonathan L. White, and Karen A. Berry. “Geospatial Analysis of the West Salt Creek Landslide in Colorado.” In GeCo in the Rockies. Denver, CO: American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 2014.
    Schwans, E., T. M. Meng, K. Prudhomme, and Matthew L. Morgan. “On the Origin of the Crestone Crater: Low-Latitude Periglacial Features in San Luis Valley, Colorado.” San Francisco, CA: American Geophysical Union, 2015. https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm15/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/63861.
    Wait, T. C., Matthew L. Morgan, F. Scot Fitzgerald, K. S. Morgan, Karen A. Berry, and Jonathan L. White. “OF-15-13 Debris Flow Susceptibility Map of Larimer County, Colorado.” Debris-flow. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015.
    White, Jonathan L. “OF-14-05 Geologic Map of the Corcoran Point Quadrangle, Mesa County, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014.
    ———. “OF-14-13 Geologic Hazards Derivative Map of the Whitewater Quadrangle, Mesa County, Colorado.” Geologic Hazards Derivative Map, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014. Colorado Geological Survey.
    White, Jonathan L., R. MacLean, and C. J. Carroll. “OF-14-09 Geologic Map of the Whitewater Quadrangle, Mesa County, Colorado.” Geology, 1:24,000. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2014.
    White, Jonathan L., Matthew L. Morgan, and Karen A. Berry. “Bulletin 55 – The West Salt Creek Landslide: A Catastrophic Rockslide and Rock/Debris Avalanche in Mesa County.” Bulletin. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey, 2015. Bulletin 55.
    ———. “The May 2014 West Salt Creek Landslide in Mesa County, Colorado.” Seattle, WA: Association of Engineering Geologists, 2015. https://doi.org/10.13140/2.1.2385.2322.
    White, Jonathan L., Matthew L. Morgan, Jeffrey A. Coe, Jason W. Kean, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and Karen A. Berry. “A Very Large Landslide in May, 2014: The on-Going Study of the West Salt Creek Rock/Debris Avalanche, Mesa County, Colorado.” In Program with Abstracts, 84. Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, 2014.
    White, Jonathan L., T. Ortiz, and R. Group. “Climatic and Seasonal Response to Landslide Movements, 15 Years of Monitoring at the DeBeque Canyon Landslide in Western Colorado.” In Program with Abstracts, 84. Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, 2014.