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Our Mission Statement

The mission of the Land, Water, and Conservation Division (of whom we are a part) is to provide scientific and reliable information to policy and decision makers and to the public in order to understand, sustain, and protect the State's natural resources for the benefit of all generations.

The mission of the Geological Survey is to provide reliable, unbiased scientific information to public and private decision-makers involved with land-use planning, environment, and economic development.

Our History

Historical Sequence of the Geological Survey:

1825-1826     Geological and Mineral Survey of South Carolina
1842-1843     Agricultural Survey of South Carolina
1843-1860     Geological and Agricultural Survey of the State of South Carolina
1901-1961     South Carolina Geological Survey
1974-1979     South Carolina State Development Board, Division of Geology
1979-1995     South Carolina State Budget and Control Board, South Carolina Geological Survey
1995-1997     South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey
1997-present     South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Land, Water, and Conservation Division,     Geological Survey

State Geologist:

1825-1826     Lardner Vanuxem, Professor, Geology and Mineralogy, USC
1842-1843     Edmund Ruffin, Agricultural Surveyor of the State
1843-1846     Michael Tuomey, State Geological Surveyor
1856-1860     Oscar M. Lieber, Mineralogical, Geological and Agricultural Surveyor
1902-1910     Earle Sloan, State Geologist
1911-1912     M.W. Twitchell, State Geologist
1912-1947     Stephen Taber, State Geologist
1947-1961     Laurence L. Smith, State Geologist
1961-1969     Henry S. Johnson, Jr., State Geologist
1969-1995     Norman K. Olson, State Geologist
1995-present     Charles William "Bill" Clendenin, Jr., State Geologist

History of the SC Geological Survey
by N. K. Olson and H. S. Johnson, Jr.

The earliest State-sponsored work of a geologic nature in South Carolina was a 1-year "Geological and Mineralogical Survey of South Carolina" made in 1825-26 by Lardner Vanuxem by order of the Legislature. Vanuxem apparently spent much of his time collecting and cataloging specimens of the rocks and minerals found in the State. Heavy emphasis was placed on the Piedmont section of the State to practical exclusion of the Coastal Plain areas, and a collection of more than 500 specimens was made.

In his report to the Legislature, Vanuxem discussed the limestones of the Piedmont, which were at the time being mined and burned in many small operations to make lime. He also reported on pyrite (as a source of sulfur) and gold in what was then called the Spartanburg and Abbeville districts and further mentions the possibility of using marl to increase production on poor soils as had already been done in New Jersey.

With the submission of Vanuxem's report in 1826, State-sponsored geologic investigations ceased in South Carolina until 1842, when the Legislature ordered an "Agricultural Survey of the State" and Edmund Ruffin, Esquire, of Virginia, was appointed "Agricultural Surveyor of the State" by Governor Hammond.  After 1 year, Ruffin submitted a report on the Commencement and Progress of the Agricultural Survey of South Carolina and then resigned.  Much of Ruffin's efforts were concentrated on geological investigations of the marls of the Coastal Plain and on educating farmers to use the marl on poor soils to increase agricultural yields.

When Ruffin resigned in 1843, Mr. Michael Toumey was commissioned by Governor James H. Hammond to continue Ruffin's work and to make a "Geological and Agricultural Survey of the State." In 1846 Toumey submitted a Report of the Geology of South Carolina. This report, published in 1848, presented the results of the first real study of the geology of the State.

Apparently, from the publication of Toumey's report until 1856 no geologic work was done in South Carolina. In 1856, however, Oscar M. Lieber was appointed "Mineralogical, Geological, and Agricultural Surveyor." He published an annual report on the geological survey of South Carolina in 1856 and for each of the three following years. With the exception of minor investigations in Beaufort and Colleton Counties, Lieber's work was almost exclusively in the Piedmont. His reports are highly generalized and contain long discourses on types and origins of ore deposits in the light of the knowledge of his day. Lieber's investigations ceased in 1859 and from then until 1904 no geologic investigations were carried on in South Carolina under State sponsorship.

From 1904 until 1910, Earle Sloan served as State Geologist of South Carolina. During this period four of Sloan's reports were published by the State. The most complete of these was the Catalogue of Mineral Localities of South Carolina, published in 1908.

In 1911, M. W. Twitchell succeeded Earle Sloan as State Geologist and held this position for 1 year.  He was also head of the Department of Geology at the University of South Carolina during this period.

Dr. Stephen Taber became head of the Department of Geology at the University of South Carolina in 1912 and also served as State Geologist.  Dr. Taber served in this capacity until his retirement in 1947.

Dr. L. L. Smith followed Taber as head of the Geology Department at the University and also acted as State Geologist.

From 1912 until 1945, there were no funds appropriated for geologic field investigations, and the State Geologist served principally in an advisory capacity on a part-time basis.  When the State Development Board began work in 1945, it soon recognized a need for geologic investigations, particularly those of an economic nature, in South Carolina. Arrangements were made with Dr. B. F. Buie of the Department of Geology, University of South Carolina, and a series of summer investigations were begun.

In June 1957 the State Development Board hired Henry S. Johnson, Jr., formerly with the U. S. Geological Survey, to head the new Division of Geology. The modern South Carolina Geological Survey began with Johnson's geologic field reconnaissance, mapping, drilling, and descriptions of stratigraphic localities. He developed a working network of "project geologists"--mostly professors who worked summers and vacations periods--and together they produced an impressive number of publications, drill logs and related data on a meager budget. In 1961 Governor Ernest Hollings agreed to a letter request from Dr. L. L. Smith to transfer the title of State Geologist to Mr. Johnson.

In November 1969, Mr. Johnson resigned to become an independent geological consultant. He was succeeded by Norman K. Olson, formerly General Industrial Geologist with Southern Railway System. Mr. Olson inherited two permanent, full-time staff members - one geologist and one secretary. In 1974 the enabling legislation (Act 1053) for the South Carolina Geological Survey was signed into law by Governor John West. The State Geologist was key advisor to legislative committees during the formation of the South Carolina mining Act (1974) and the South Oil and Gas Act (1977). Since 1970 South Carolina Geological Survey geologists have had important advisory roles to the Governor's Office and the General Assembly on repository siting issues for radioactive waste (high level and low level) and toxic chemical waste. Since the early 1970's, most of the field investigations and reports have been accomplished by the Survey's Geologic Mapping and Mineral Resources sections.

Currently the South Carolina Geological Survey has three staff geologists and three geologic technicians.

Act 1053 of 1974 Sec. 13-5-10, Code of Laws of S. C., 1976
An Act To Create The South Carolina Geological Survey.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. The South Carolina Geological Survey, which shall be a division of the State Development Board, is hereby created. The Survey shall be under the direction of the State Geologist, who shall be appointed by the Director of the State Development Board. He shall have graduated from an accredited college or university with a full curriculum in geology and shall have had at least five years of practical work experience, academic, governmental, or industrial, in geology.

SECTION 2. The State Geologist shall have supervision of the entire work of the Survey and shall be responsible for it's accuracy. He shall travel throughout the State so as to make himself familiar with the geology and mineral resources of each section, and supervise work in progress; shall undertake such field and laboratory work as his time will permit; and shall perform such other duties as properly pertain to his office. He may employ geologist, technicians, and such other personnel as may be necessary to conduct the objectives of the Survey.

SECTION 3. In addition to such other duties as may be assigned to it, the Survey shall:

1. Conduct field and laboratory studies in geologic reconnaissance, mapping, prospecting for mineral resources, and related gathering of surface and subsurface data. Investigative areas shall include offshore, as well as onshore, lands in this State.

2. Provide geologic advice and assistance to other State and local governmental agencies engaged in environmental protection, or in industrial or economic development projects. In addition, the Survey shall be actively involved in geologic aspects of regional planning and effective land use in the State.

3. Encourage economic development in the State by disseminating published information as bulletins, maps, economic reports and related series, and also open-file reports, to appropriate governmental agencies and private industry. The Survey is further encouraged to initiate and maintain appropriate industrial contacts, to promote both the extraction and conservation of South Carolina's earth raw materials, and their manufacture, to the economic improvement of the State.

4. Provide unsolicited advice, when appropriate, to the Mining Council and its associated regulatory agency, on geologic and related mining matters in keeping with the intent of the South Carolina Mining Act.

5. Operate and maintain a central, statewide repository for rock cores, well cuttings and related subsurface samples, and all associated supplemental data. Private firms and public agencies are encouraged to notify the Survey prior to any exploratory or developmental drilling and coring.

6. Be the State's official cooperator on topographic mapping; provided that the Federal expenditure for such purposes shall at least equal that of the State, and may conduct cooperative work with appropriate agencies of the United States Government in its geologic activities and investigations.

7. Provide a minerals research laboratory, related to the identification, extraction, and processing of industrial minerals and minerals of economic potential wherever found throughout the onshore and offshore areas of the State. The minerals research laboratory is encouraged to accept mineral research projects from South Carolina business or citizens on a per cost, per unit basis and to encourage extended use of the raw materials of the State.

The minerals research laboratory may accept public and private gifts or funds and may enter into cooperative agreements for the purpose of applied research in the metallic and non-metallic minerals of this State.

SECTION 4. The Survey shall maintain all unpublished information in its files which shall be open to the public, except in cases where the investigator still has work in progress on a project leading to a publication; or where an industrial firm, interested in possibly locating in the State, ask temporary confidential status for oral and written geologic related information supplied by them or obtained on their properties.

In the latter instance such information may be held in confidence by the Survey for not more than one year from the date such information was obtained.

SECTION 5. The Survey shall work impartially for the benefit of the public, and no person, firm, or governmental agency may call upon or require the State Geologist or his staff to enter upon any special survey for his or their special benefit.

SECTION 6. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.

In the Senate House the 30th day of May

In the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy four.

L. Marion Gressette,
President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

Rex L. Carter,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Approved the 6th day of June, 1974.

John C. West,

South Carolina Geological Survey
5 Geology Road
Columbia, SC 29212
phone 803.896.7931 -or- fax 803.896.7695