David Soller

David Soller is Geologist and Project Chief for the National Geologic Map Database in Reston, VA.


Current position:

Chief, National Geologic Map Database project – Development and management of science databases for support of societal decisionmaking and scientific research are critical and widely recognized needs.  The National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 stipulated creation and maintenance of a National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB, http://ngmdb.usgs.gov), as a national archive of spatially referenced geoscience data.  The Act further stipulates that all new information contributed to the NGMDB should adhere to technical and science standards that are to be developed as needed under the guidance of the NGMDB project.  Development of a national database and its attendant standards is a daunting task requiring close collaboration among all geoscience agencies in the U.S., at the State and Federal levels.  The Act, therefore, creates the environment for the USGS and the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) to collaborate to build the NGMDB and also serve the needs of their own agencies.  In 1995, I led the process in which the NGMDB project plan was defined, and since that time I have been responsible for executing and adapting that plan.  The NGMDB has evolved into a highly respected geoscience resource, and its impact on the evolution of digital geologic mapping standards and guidelines, in the U.S. and internationally, has been highly significant.  Also, I continue to publish map products and articles related to my principal expertise.

Professional interests and goals:

  • Improve the quality and accessibility of earth-science information available to the public. This work is conducted through the USGS National Geologic Map Database project and various committees.
  • Contribute to scientific advances in the earth sciences, principally through research into the three-dimensional distribution of surficial geologic materials.
  • Develop new methods of quantitative analysis and interpretation of digital earth-science information, and conduct interdisciplinary research leading to new applications for that information in a decisionmaking setting.

These interests and goals are supported by a rather eclectic set of current and past expertise that includes: managing a complex, technology-oriented project; standards development; three-dimensional geologic mapping; benefit-cost studies and econometric analysis; applications of geologic information to hydrogeologic and land use issues; analysis of weathering profiles, focusing on clay mineralogy; stratigraphy; neotectonics; GIS techniques; programming; and Website development.  I am particularly interested in the analysis and integration of large, complex source information, at both regional and local scales, and effectively conveying interpretive results to a non-scientific audience.  The ability to evaluate scientific information, create a product, and then communicate to the public the complex scientific issues behind that product is, increasingly, a critically important skill for the geoscientist.

Employment and education:

  • 1981-present – Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA
  • 1984 – Ph.D. (Geology), George Washington University, Washington, D.C.  (Dissertation addressed the stratigraphic framework, geologic mapping, clay mineralogy, soil weathering profiles, and neotectonics of a segment of the NC-SC Coastal Plain, centered on the Cape Fear River valley.  This work was funded in part from USGS investigations into earthquakes and tectonism in Charleston and to the north, and was completed while employed by the USGS.)
  • 1984 – Geologist, SCS Engineers, Reston, VA  (Various consulting contracts with local and Federal agencies, focusing on environmental characterization and cleanup)
  • 1979-82 – General scientist and Fortran programmer, Phoenix Corp., McLean, VA  (Various consulting contracts with DOD and other agencies, focusing on geophysical mapping and analysis.)
  • 1978-79 – Geologist, Mobil Oil Co., New Orleans, LA  (Served as Production Geologist on several onshore and offshore rigs and production platforms.  Evaluated potential plays and performed well logging.)
  • 1978 – M.S. (Geology), Miami University, Oxford, OH  (Thesis addressed geologic mapping, stratigraphy, and clay-mineral weathering of glaciated terrain in western Ohio.)
  • 1976 – B.S. (Geology) College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Appointments and committee assignments (previous assignments italicized):

  • Fellow, Geological Society of America
  • Chair, Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Geologic Data Subcommittee
  • Coordinator, U.S. Geologic Map Symbol Standards Committee
  • Coordinator, AASG/USGS Data Capture and Data Information Exchange Working Groups
  • Council Member, IUGS Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information ("CGI")
  • Coordinator, North American Geologic Map Data Model Steering Committee ("NADM")
  • Member of Digital Map Standards Working Group, for the Commission for the Geologic Map of the World
  • Acting Assistant Chief Geologist for Information, USGS
  • Program Deputy for Digital Mapping, USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program
  • Chair, USGS Geologic Division Information Council
  • Geology Editor, USGS National Atlas

NOTE: this listing is limited to selected significant publications and products:

(1) Providing standardized geoscience information for the public and for decisionmaking:

The National Geologic Map Database (NGMDB) Website (http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/) serves as the principal evidence of my responsibilities in USGS since 1995.  The goals and progress for the National Geologic Map Database are provided in Annual Reports such as this one --  http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2012/1171/pdf/usgs_of2012-1171-Soller_p155-166.pdf.

The Digital Mapping Techniques Proceedings are the outcome of a highly regarded set of technical workshops and meetings organized by the NGMDB project and conducted each year since 1997. Numerous papers regarding the NGMDB and standards development are contained therein.  Please see http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Info/dmt/ for the Proceedings.

Federal Geographic Data Committee [prepared for the Federal Geographic Data Committee by the U.S. Geological Survey], 2006, FGDC Digital Cartographic Standard for Geologic Map Symbolization: Reston, Va., Federal Geographic Data Committee Document Number FGDC-STD-013-2006, 290 p., http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/fgdc_gds/.  [The NGMDB project led the development of this widely used standard, and continues to provide technical support for it.]

(2) Mapping, science, and applications:

Soller, D.R., Packard, P.H., and Garrity, C.P., 2012, Database for USGS Map I-1970 -- Map showing the thickness and character of Quaternary sediments in the glaciated United States east of the Rocky Mountains: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 656, http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/656/.

Soller, D.R., Reheis, M.C., Garrity, C.P., and Van Sistine, D.R., 2009, Map database for surficial materials in the conterminous United States: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 425, scale 1:5,000,000,http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/425/.

Garrity, C.P., and Soller, D.R., 2009, Database of the Geologic Map of North America; adapted from the map by J.C. Reed, Jr. and others (2005): U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 424,http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/424/.

Bernknopf, R.L., Brookshire, D.S., Soller, D.R., McKee, M.J., Sutter, J.F., Matti, J.C., and Campbell, R.H., 1993, Societal value of geologic maps: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1111, 53 p.,http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1993/1111/report.pdf.  [This was a highly significant benefit-cost study; it established a positive benefit for new geologic mapping, which in part justified establishment of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program.]

Soller, D.R., 1993-1998, Map showing the thickness and character of Quaternary sediments in the glaciated United States east of the Rocky Mountains: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Investigations Series Map I-1970-A -B -C -D, scale 1:1,000,000.  [This map has been applied to a wide variety of scientific and societal issues.  To create the map, we developed new GIS-based methods for mapping and cartography, in the late 1980's.  The map was shown in the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design exhibition "The Power of Maps", Nov. 9, 1993 - Jan. 23, 1994.  Links to these maps are provided in Soller and others (2012), above.]

Soller, D.R., Price, S.D., Kempton, J.P., and Berg, R.C., 1999, Three-dimensional geologic maps of Quaternary sediments in east-central, Illinois: U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Investigations Series Map I-2669, scale 1:500,000, http://pubs.usgs.gov/imap/i-2669/.  [This map provided important information in early discussions leading to formation of a private-public entity, the Mahomet Aquifer Consortium, which serves to support more informed management of this important aquifer.]

American Society for Testing and Materials, 1997, Standard guide for selection of methods for assessing ground water or aquifer sensitivity and vulnerability: ASTM Designation: D 6030-96, p. 968-975.

Soller, D.R., Ray, R.D., and Brown, R.D., 1982, A new global crustal thickness map: Tectonics, v. 1, no. 2, p. 125-149.