Nebraska Geological Society

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  • Nebraska Geological Society 2021 Field Trip, Oct 16-18

Nebraska Geological Society 2021 Field Trip, Oct 16-18

  • 10/16/2021
  • 10/18/2021
  • 3 sessions
  • 10/16/2021, 11:00 AM 5:00 PM (CDT)
  • 10/17/2021, 8:00 AM 6:30 PM (CDT)
  • 10/18/2021, 8:00 AM 5:00 PM (CDT)
  • Northeast Nebraska, Spencer to Homer, NE


  • NGS Paid Members who have paid their 2022 dues
  • Non-NGS Members registering for the 2021 NGS Field Trip





(All times listed are in Central Standard Time)

Program Background

The 2021 Nebraska Geological Society field trip will provide an overview of the geology and hydrogeology of northeast Nebraska, the groundwater quality and quantity issues unique to the region, and ongoing work relating to water quality and geologic (hydrostratigraphic) framework, along the lower Niobrara and Missouri rivers Between Spencer Dam and Homer Nebraska. This program will be comprised of an auto tour with multiple stops on Saturday October 16 through Monday October 18. The tour will begin with an examination of the Spencer Dam site and several locations in Niobrara State Park. Day 2 will see participants visiting water and aquifer framework projects in the region, as well as locations with outstanding geology and features from geological hazards (flooding and landslides). Participants will complete the trip by examining a Carlile Shale outcrop south of Vermillion, SD, visiting a historical site with geological significance, and will conclude by examining older strata found in Ponca State Park and an outcrop of Dakota Sandstone in Homer, NE.

Program Objectives

  • Provide participants a general understanding of the surface and bedrock geology and hydrogeology of the Lower Niobrara River valley and the vicinity of Lewis and Clark Lake.
  • Discuss geologic hazards, including flooding and landslides, their consequences and morphological features.
  • Educate participants about water management complexities relating to hydrogeology and different sources of water, including the Dakota aquifer and Missouri River, and to management need unique to the Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District.
  • Inform participants about scientific investigations of the surface and subsurface in the region.


Day 1 (October 16, 4 CEUs)

10:30 (30 min)   Start at O’Neill Superfoods, O’Neill, NE. Trip orientation and safety meeting. Introduce the overall management and hydrogeological framework of the region with specific references to: geological hazards, observation networks, and scientific investigations [Hallum]. Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District general manager Dennis Schueth will highlight the primary natural resources management concerns in the region.

12:00 (1 ½ hr)    Spencer Dam – begin on the south side of the river and view the ruins of the Spencer Hydroelectric facility and discuss the geology exposed at the site [Diffendal], and the geologic hazards [Diffendal] illustrated here, then move to outcrop [Diffendal] and overlook of hydro and dike destroyed in the spring of 2019 by ice-laden floodwaters, hear how it happened from a local resident and discuss impacts to the rural water district resulting from the flood damage [Terry Julesgard].

14:00 (tbd)         TENTATIVE: Artesian Well – visit groundwater well with an open hole completion in Dakota Group strata with significant flow driven by artesian pressure.

14:00 (2 ½ hr)    Niobrara State Park – explore geology and geological hazards at several locations in/near Niobrara State Park, including Niobrara Formation, Pierre Shale, macro and micro fossils, evidence of landslides and flooding impacts [Diffendal].

18:00 (tbd)         OPTIONAL SOCIAL ACTIVITY [TENTATIVE] – Tour of the Nissen Family Vineyard, Hartington, NE


Day 2 (October 17, 6 CEUs)

7:30 (15 min)     Start at Niobrara Trading Post in Niobrara. Introduction and Day 2 overview of the trip.  

8:30 (2 ½ hr)       Cedar-Knox Rural Water Project/Niobrara Chalk – Tour the surface water treatment plant and surface water in-take with Scott Fieldler and Cope Clark. Discuss silt encroachment and other challenges of diverting surface water from a reservoir [Annette Sudbeck], and their 3 year groundwater project [Lackey]. Examine the Niobrara Chalk along the lakeshore [Diffendal] and discuss the use of the Niobrara Formation as a bedrock aquifer [Lackey].

11:30 (30 min)   Lewis and Clark NRD Observation Well Network – Visit wellsite and discuss installation process, CSD data collection and logging, and how the individual data points relate to regional subsurface mapping efforts. [eat while traveling from CNRWP and USACE dam]

12:30 (1 ½ hr)    Lewis and Clark Visitor Center – Following a brief rest stop at the visitor center, USACE Operations Project Manager Tom Curran will give a guided tour of the Gavin’s Point Dam.

15:00 (1 ½ hr)    Bazile Creek – Discuss the National Water Quality Initiative, the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Plan, and University of Nebraska demonstration farm with Mike Sousek  & Jeremy Milander. [@ Creighton Golf Course] Discuss Lower Elkhorn NRD observation well network, with long term water level observations and water quality data and a focus on variations between Plio-Pleistocene sands and gravels and high Plains (Ogallala) Aquifers.

17:00 (1 hr)         Ogallala Group Strata – Discuss the Miocene strata and water resources management implications of its presence/absence in particular locales in the region along the upper margin of the Verdigre Creek watershed west of Creighton. [Diffendal and Lackey]

18:00                     Return to lodgings


Day 3 (October 18, 5 CEUs)

7:30 (15 min)     Start at Niobrara Trading Post in Niobrara. Introduction and Day 3 overview of the trip.

9:15 (1 hr)           Carlile Shale – Examine the Carlile Shale exposed along Highway 15 south of Vermillion, SD and discuss the overall lithostratigraphy of the Cretaceous section in eastern Nebraska [Diffendal].

11:00 (30 min)   Ionia Volcano – visit the famed site noted in the journal of William Clark (Aug 24, 1804) and discuss the mystery of the burning organic-rich strata and hypotheses regarding its cause [Diffendal].

12:00 (2 hr)         Ponca State Park – Explore the stratigraphic section, glacial erratic boulders used in construction, and loess deposits at Ponca State Park [Diffendal]. (Bring sack lunch for on the trail)

15:00 (2 hr)         Homer, NE – Visit an outcrop of Dakota Group rocks and discuss its lithostratigraphy [Diffendal] and use as primary source of underground drinking water [Lackey/Hobza] in northeast Nebraska. Learn about results so far relating to ongoing aerial electromagnetic surveying to better characterize the subsurface in the region [Lackey]. Discuss what has been learned in recent years regarding the subsurface conceptualization and how that will shape our system conceptualizations in the future [all].

17:00                     Return home



Transportation, meals and lodging

All transportation to/from field trip stops is the responsibility of the participant. Participants are responsible to secure their own lodging and provide their own meals.

Limited housing may be available at Niobrara State Park if any are interested. Cabins and some campsites can be reserved online at the Nebraska Game and Parks link. Options in Niobrara include Whitetail River Lodge, Sportsmen's Bar and Two Rivers Hotel, and Ohiya Casino & Resort. Crofton may have a place or two, and there are many options in and around Yankton.


A completed registration form is required for all participants. Participation in the field trip cannot be confirmed until a properly completed  waiver is submitted, and the total registration cost is received by the Society Treasurer or confirmed through web payments. Please register and pay online! Applicants who provide a scan of their completed registration and waiver forms to the Society Vice President ( will be added to a provisional attendance list. Updates and notifications may be delayed for those who choose to register or pay via mail.


A signed waiver form is required, and participation in the field trip cannot be confirmed until the original signed waiver form is received by the Society Treasurer. Each participant must sign a separate waiver form. The original signed waiver form(s) should be submitted with the registration package, and scanned waiver forms sent electronically to the Society Vice President ( All participants must be listed on a waiver form.

Continuing Education

Participants holding licenses under the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) Water Well Construction, Monitoring Well Supervisor, and Pump Installation occupations are eligible for up to sixteen (15) continuing education credits (Four on day 1, Six on day 2, Five on day 3). To accommodate the Continuing Education Program, a scanner will be made available once each day and NDHHS licensees will be able to scan their Continuing Education Verification IDs. Attendees will need to attend the entire day to scan their ID and earn CEUs. The table listing attendees will be provided to the NDHHS by the Nebraska Geological Society after the trip is complete.

Register Today!

  1. Scan, photocopy, or photograph your signed waiver form and email to the Society Vice President (
  2. Make you payment online, Registration Page for this event. Or mail your check (payable to “The Nebraska Geological Society”) to the Society Treasurer at NGS Field Trip Registration, PO Box 33, Gretna, NE 68028-0033.
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