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: Jill Carlson

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

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

  • County Groundwater Studies
  • This ongoing research work is proceeding county-by-county in collaboration with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) in select areas. Each county project weaves together extensive background data and field research specific to the groundwater issues of the area.

  • Lower Arkansas Basin Uranium (LABU)
  • A collaborative investigation with CSU of geologic uranium sources in the Basin and of land use practices that may affect the transport of uranium from its sources to the Arkansas River. (Documentation to come)

  • Gilcrest-LaSalle Hydrogeologic Characterization Report
  • The Gilcrest/LaSalle project evaluated high groundwater conditions in the South Platte alluvial aquifer near Gilcrest and LaSalle, Colorado — conditions that were directly impacting local homes. The integration of previous investigations along with new analysis added significantly to the Study Area hydrogeologic characterization, and provided insight into the South Platte alluvial aquifer depositional model, particularly with respect to discontinuous low permeability beds within the central portion of the alluvial aquifer, and lower permeability beds on the aquifer flanks.

Mineral Resources

The CGS has always been closely involved in the development of state-wide mineral resources. Current research projects utilize fresh data as well as historical records to construct valuable derivative maps and reports on the many mineral resources around the state. For more information contact: Matt Morgan

  • Statewide Proppant Sand Study
  • 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. (Documentation to come)

  • 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.

  • Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities
  • The CGS resumed publishing extensive reports on the state of both mineral and energy resources across the state. The most recent report, based on 2014 data, was released in 2015.

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:

  • Barkmann, P. E., L. A. Sebol, F. S. Fitzgerald, and W. Curtiss. 2015. “Geology and Groundwater Resources of Park County.” 15–11. Open-File Reports. Colorado Geological Survey.
  • Gutiérrez, Francisco, Matthew L. Morgan, Vincent Matthews, Mateo Gutiérrez, and Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno. 2015. “Relict Slope Rings and Talus Flatirons in the Colorado Piedmont: Origin, Chronology and Paleoenvironmental Implications.” Geomorphology 231 (February): 146–61. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.11.024.
  • Keller, S. M., and M. L. Morgan. 2016. “Overview of the Eocene Castle Rock Conglomerate, East-Central Colorado – Remapping the Fluvial System and Implication for the History of the Colorado Piedmont and Front Range.” In Unfolding the Geology of the West, 125–42. Geological Society of America Field Guide 44. Geological Society of America. doi:10.1130/2016.0044(05).
  • Lindsey, Kassandra, Matthew L. Morgan, and Karen A. Berry. 2016. “Development of Landslide Susceptibility Maps in Colorado.” In Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 48, No. 7. Denver, CO: Geological Society of America. doi:10.1130/abs/2016AM-287630.
  • McCoy, Kevin, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and Matthew L. Morgan. 2016. “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. doi:10.1130/abs/2016AM-283839.
  • McCoy, Kevin, Vitaliy Krasko, Paul Santi, Daniel Kaffine, and Steffen Rebennack. 2016. “Minimizing Economic Impacts from Post-Fire Debris Flows in the Western United States.” Natural Hazards 83 (1): 149–76. doi:10.1007/s11069-016-2306-0.
  • McCoy, Kevin, and Paul Santi. 2014. “Summary Report – Stability Analysis of Upper Block, West Salt Creek Landslide, Mesa County, Colorado.” Colorado Geological Survey.
  • McCoy, Kevin, Paul Santi, Daniel Kaffine, and Vitaliy Krasko. 2014. “GIS Modeling to Assess Economic Risk from Post-Fire Debris-Flows.” In , 9–30. American Society of Civil Engineers. doi:10.1061/9780784413807.002.
  • Miley, H. M., C. B. Agee, R. L. Korotev, N. Muttik, and M. L. Morgan. 2014. “Northwest Africa 8010: Feldspathic Regolith Breccia with Abundant Crystalline Lunar Spherules.” In . Houston, TX. http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2014/pdf/2823.pdf.
  • Morgan, Matthew L. 2014. “Geologic Map of the Watkins SE Quadrangle, Arapahoe and Elbert Counties, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.1.5026.0644.
  • ———. 2015a. “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. http://geology.utah.gov/hazards/earthquakes-faults/utah-earthquake-working-groups/basin-and-range-province-seismic-hazards-summit/#tab-id-3.
  • ———. 2015b. “Geologic Map of the Piney Creek Quadrangle, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Elbert Counties, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • Morgan, Matthew L., P. E. Barkmann, Emma L. Rodgers, and D. C. Noe. 2014. “Geologic Map of the Craig Quadrangle, Moffat County, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • Morgan, Matthew L., Jonathan L. White, F Scot Fitzgerald, and Karen A. Berry. 2014. “Foothill and Mountainous Regions in Boulder County, Colorado That May Be Susceptible to Earth and Debris/Mud Flows During Extreme Precipitation Events.” Denver, CO: Colorado Geological Survey. OF14-02D. https://doi.org/10.13140/2.1.3617.8246.
  • Morgan, Paul. 2016. “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): 28–41. doi:10.1016/j.geothermics.2016.04.006.
  • Morgan, M. L. 2016. “Shaping the Mapping Future – How Lidar Is Transforming Geologic Mapping and Geologic Hazard Assessment in Colorado.” In Abstract. Fort Collins, CO.
  • Morgan, Paul. 2013. “Advantages of Choosing a Sedimentary Basin as the Site for an EGS Field Laboratory.” Geothermal Resources Council Transactions 37: 179–83.
  • ———. 2015. “Sedimentary Basin Geothermal Resources in the Piceance Basin, Colorado.” Geothermal Resources Council Transactions 39: 1049–56.
  • Morgan, Paul, and P. Scott. 2014. “New Geothermal-Gradient Maps for Colorado’s Sedimentary Basins.” Geothermal Resources Council Transactions 38: 155–62.
  • Noe, D. C., P. E. Barkmann, K. J. McCall, M. J. Zawaski, Z. D. Logan, and D. R. Hosler. 2015. “Geologic Map of the Hayden Quadrangle, Routt County, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • Noe, David C., Matthew L. Morgan, and S. M. Townley. 2013. “Geologic Map of the Olathe Northwest Quadrangle, Delta and Montrose Counties, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey. http://store.coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/product/olathe-nw-quad-2/.
  • Noe, David C., Jonathan L. White, P. E. Barkmann, and Matthew L. Morgan. 2013. “Results of Recent STATEMAP Geologic Mapping in Western Colorado.” In Abstracts with Programs, 45, no. 5:35. Denver, CO: Geological Society of America.
  • Raber, S., Matthew L. Morgan, Jonathan L. White, and Karen A. Berry. 2014. “Geospatial Analysis of the West Salt Creek Landslide in Colorado.” In GeCo in the Rockies. Denver, CO: American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
  • Wait, T. C., Matthew L. Morgan, F. Scot Fitzgerald, K. S. Morgan, Karen A. Berry, and Jonathan L. White. 2015. “Debris Flow Susceptibility Map of Larimer County, Colorado.” 15–13. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • White, Jonathan L. 2013. “Mapping the Ohio Creek Conglomerate at the K-T Boundary in Northwest Colorado near Meeker, Colorado.” In Abstracts with Programs, 45, no. 7:876. Denver, CO: Geological Society of America.
  • ———. 2014. “Geologic Hazards Derivative Map of the Whitewater Quadrangle, Mesa County, Colorado.” Geologic Hazards Derivative Map. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • White, Jonathan L., Karen A. Berry, and J. Carlson. 2013. “Reducing Landslide Risk through Land-Use Planning in Colorado.” In Abstracts with Programs, 45:271. Denver, CO: Geological Society of America.
  • White, Jonathan L., and J. Hodge. 2013. “OF-13-03 Geologic Map of the Meeker Quadrangle, Rio Blanco County, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • White, Jonathan L., R. MacLean, and C. J. Carroll. 2014. “OF-14-09 Geologic Map of the Whitewater Quadrangle, Mesa County, Colorado.” Geology. Open File Reports. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey.
  • White, Jonathan L., Matthew L. Morgan, and Karen A. Berry. 2015. “Bulletin 55 – The West Salt Creek Landslide: A Catastrophic Rockslide and Rock/Debris Avalanche in Mesa County.” Bulletins. Golden, CO: Colorado Geological Survey. Bulletin 55.
  • White, Jonathan L., T. Ortiz, and R. Group. 2014. “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.