National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program

Historic Field Notebooks

Brabb field notebook page

Earl Brabb, USGS researcher, page from his USGS field notebook (Public domain.)

The value of the field notebooks, while apparent to most geologists at Missouri Geological Survey (MGS), became apparent to other entities during mine-related Brownfields work done by the MGS in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Missouri has a vast and wide-spread history of mining metallic minerals, leaving a legacy of mine-scarred lands and environmental contamination. The MGS was tasked with identification of historic lead, zinc, barium, and copper mines and related mills and smelters in areas that have since experienced considerable residential development. Some of these mines and mined areas are nearly 200 years old and are impossible to locate without historic information. The field notebooks proved invaluable in identification of areas of interest and location of site-specific areas for testing for potential contaminants related to historic mining activities that could pose a risk to human health and the environment. Sketches in historic field notebooks often directed DEQ field staff directly to the former mine location with minimal searching. In many cases, the only existing record of a small mine with surrounding lead contaminated soils was in the field notebook collection.

Access MGS Field Notebook Index HERE