Ryan Clark, Geologist

What are your responsibilities with the IGS?

As a bedrock geologist, one of my primary roles with the IGS is making bedrock geologic maps. I also assist on projects related to groundwater resources management, assist water well drillers and quarry operators, and create lithologic logs of rock core and well chip samples. I also handle most of the education and outreach activities for the IGS as well as rock/fossil/mineral identification requests we receive.

What are your research/project interests?

I am collaborating with UI faculty and students on a project aimed at improving the stratigraphic correlation of the Devonian-Mississippian boundary sequence in southeastern Iowa. I am also working with the U.S. Geological Survey as they use geophysical methods to better characterize the deep Precambrian geology in northeastern Iowa. I have been assisting the City of Manson, Iowa as they drill test wells in the Manson Impact Structure, a 25-mile wide meteorite impact crater that yields Iowa’s only naturally soft groundwater source.

What is your academic and professional background?

I obtained BS (2003) and MS (2006) degrees in geology from the UI. During my time as a student, I worked part time for the Iowa Geological Survey logging water well samples. After graduation, I worked for Terracon Consultants, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for five and half years. My work at Terracon consisted of doing environmental site assessments for commercial properties, evaluating leaking underground petroleum storage tank sites and providing geologic consultation for pump and reinject passive geothermal systems. I joined the IGS in 2012.

At about what age and why did you decide to become a geologist/scientist?

I was always drawn to the outdoors but did not grow up particularly interested in science. During my freshman year of college I took an introductory geology class and the professor was amazing. After taking a few more classes, I was hooked. I decided to become a geologist as a sophomore in college.

What field activity is your favorite?

Hanging out in quarries!

What do you like to do in your free time?

If I had free time, I would spend it traveling the country with my wife and two daughters. Camping, hiking, and paddling are some of my favorite things to do.

Professional headshot of Ryan Clark

How can your research in your areas of interest improve the quality of life in Iowa?

“I believe that one of my most important roles as a geologist with the IGS is to help Iowans better understand the geologic resources in their own backyard, as well as how their actions can impact the environment. Geology serves a vital role in both the economic and environmental welfare of Iowa and without a strong understanding of geology, resources may be mismanaged or endangered.”—Ryan Clark