Geologist Edith Starbuck awarded best poster presentation at Missouri GIS Conference

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Volume 37-068 For Immediate Release: March 20, 2009

ROLLA, MO, -- Garnering the "Best Poster Presentation" award at the 12th Annual Missouri Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Conference held in February is a first for Edith Starbuck, who is a registered geologist with Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geology and Land Survey in Rolla. 

Starbuck's poster titled, Surficial Material and Bedrock Geologic Mapping at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Land Survey, describes the process the department's geologic investigations unit staff use to create geologic maps for Missouri.

Geologic maps are essential tools in planning Missouri's future. They enable us to optimize the use of water, fuel and mineral resources and minimize environmental degradation and hazards. The potential impact on Missouri's economy is staggering. According to Meeting Challenges with Geologic Maps, Series 7, published by the American Geological Institute, the value of geologic maps is 25 to 39 times the cost of producing them.

When asked about the award Starbuck said, "It is exciting to have the work of the geologic investigations unit recognized in this way. The efforts to improve our process have been incremental through the years but when you stand back and look at it, we really have come a long way."

"The Missouri GIS Advisory Committee was pleased to recognize Ms. Starbuck," said Elizabeth Cook, a committee member. "Her poster illustrated a complex, yet seamless process of taking geologic data from in-field collection to finished map production.  The goal of the process, as with all GIS-aided work, is to improve the collection, interpretation, presentation and overall quality of spatial data."

As one would imagine with the explosion of technology relating to computers, data collection and map development methods have changed significantly since the division began implementing the use of GIS in 1997. 

Today, notebook computers equipped with GIS software and a GPS receiver allow geologists to enter data in the field. In the office, the process involves incorporating imagery, file data and field data (new and existing). Geologists then analyze and interpret the data to create geologic maps, cross sections, stratigraphic columns and textual information to describe the geology of the area. These components are included in the final map layout. 

The poster session attracted 18 posters from various state agencies.  In addition to Starbuck, entries submitted by the department include those by geologists Dave Gaunt and Dave Erickson.  Gaunt's entry was titled, Surficial Material Geologic Map of the Columbia Bottom and Granite City 7.5 minute quadrangle in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties, Missouri. Erickson's posters were titled, Groundwater-Level Observation Well Network and Groundwater-Level Decline in Southwestern Missouri.  Scaled down images of the four entries can be seen online:

Geologic maps and other publications, including The Geologic Column of Missouri authored by Starbuck, are available at the Maps and Publications desk located at 111 Fairgrounds Road in Rolla. You can reach the publications desk by calling Additional information about the Water Resources Center is available online:


Editor:  Photo is available at

Photo Caption:  Edith Starbuck, registered geologist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geology and Land Survey, alongside the poster that garnered her "Best Poster Presentation" award at the 2009 Missouri GIS Conference.