Saturday, June 20, 2009

Visiting the Maryland Geological Survey

Having been doing this blog for five months and the Maryland Minerals web site for over a year, a visit to the headquarters of the Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) seemed long overdue. As a scientific investigative organization, its role is to study Maryland’s earth resources and geological phenomena through various disciplines within the earth sciences field. In existence since 1896, MGS became part of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources when the DNR was established in 1969.

Before visiting, I spent some time perusing the MGS web site. Though informative and well organized, it offered little in the way of information related to mineralogy. For this, a visit to its Baltimore headquarters at St. Paul and 23rd Streets is more in order. The MGS is housed in a huge stone structure that's appropriately constructed of Port Deposit Gneiss and Ellicott City Granite.

What visitors will most likely notice first upon entering the building's lobby area are the minerals encased in display cabinets against the far wall. Most but not all of these minerals were collected in Maryland. They include several specimens donated by Bob Eberle as well as a few pieces salvaged from the former Maryland Acadamey of Science collection. More exhibits are on the second floor in the MGS Library, some in cabinets similar to those downstairs. One is completely filled with fossils. Another holds additional minerals and also samples of Setters Quartzite, Baltimore Gneiss, Cockeysville Marble and other kinds of rocks whose formation and differential erosion define Maryland's topography as well as its mineralogy.

The MGS Library’s main purpose is to house an extensive collection of geologic journals and periodical publications produced over the past one hundred years by the MGS, the geological surveys of other states, and U.S. Geological Survey. Regrettably, most publications of mineralogical interest are now out of print and absent from the shelves. Reference copies, however, have been retained and are available for in-house use.

The library extends into an adjoining room of metal drawers filled with maps. Time restraints unfortunately precluded me from requesting permission to look through them to search for the locations of whatever forgotten pits, adits, openings, and mining claims I imagined could be revealed therein.

The Maryland Geological Survey is both a State agency and a public facility. Visitors are welcome to view its exhibits, conduct geologic research in the Library, and purchase various publications that are for sale. Due to budgetary cutbacks and staff shortages, it is best to contact the Survey prior to visiting to ensure that MGS personnel will be available to assist you.. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To arrange a visit, please call or e-mail Dale W. Shelton at 410-554-5505 or

1 comment:

  1. You are mistaken in your comment that the minerals on display from the Natural History Society of Maryland were salvaged. The Society is alive and well and these beautiful specimens were loaned to MGS for display at this prominent location. I will contact Dale to clarify this. Charlie Davis