Sacramento Branch Meeting: "The Case for Field Geology in Groundwater Investigations"

Speaker: Martin Steinpress, PG, CHg

Brown & Caldwell, Walnut Creek

Field geology is typically required coursework for earning a geology degree.  However, relatively few students still spend a full summer field course immersed in mapping and few thesis projects involve mapping.  Professional geologist exams for state registration don’t test for mapping ability and it is a skill that may atrophy if unused. Basic geologic mapping is frequently an overlooked tool in the groundwater industry. In this retrospective of one geologist’s 40-year career, several applications of field geology are presented to highlight their importance in contaminant investigations, water resources projects, and mine permitting. 

Geologic field mapping can often be a key component in the development of hydrogeologic conceptual site models.  In sedimentary basins, mapping of alluvium and older sedimentary units on the edge of the basin can yield valuable information.  Depositional environments can be recognized in outcrop that control the morphology and hydraulic properties of hydrostratigraphic units in the subsurface, such as permeable paleochannels.  In bedrock terrains, fractures and faults generally control groundwater flow by forming preferential conduits and/or barriers. Geologic mapping provides insights on orientations and hydraulic properties of water-bearing zones in fractured and faulted terrain and thus contaminant migration.  In volcanic terrains such as Hawaii and the Columbia Plateau, interflow zones can be identified in outcrop that form aquifers between impermeable basalt flows.  

Borings, wells, and geophysical surveys can be most useful and cost effective for testing a conceptutal model when based on available field geology.  Even subtle changes in strike and dip of bedding and faults can have major impacts on the location and depth of water-bearing zones or contaminants in the subsurface.  Examples from California, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, and New York will be featured. 

About the Speaker: 

Martin Steinpress holds a BS in geology from UCSB and an MS in geology with post-graduate work in water resources from the University of New Mexico.  He has been a geologist for 40 years, including 11 years in minerals exploration and 27 years in the environmental and groundwater industry.  He is a technical expert in hydrogeology with extensive experience analyzing and solving complex groundwater problems. He has provided project management and technical expertise on groundwater investigations, remedial actions, water supply, and recharge projects. Martin is currently Brown and Caldwell’s client service manager for Agrium/Nu-West Industries and Monsanto, providing strategic leadership and managing BC’s services on four major mine permitting projects in southeastern Idaho’s phosphate mining district. His water resources planning background includes creating cooperative partnerships among water agencies to facilitate the development of regional conjunctive water management projects. His project work has included the West, Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, Florida and Southwest, Hawaii and Guam. He has worked in all major aquifer types (alluvial basins, volcanic, carbonate and bedrock terrains). Martin has also served as a lecturer at California State University East Bay teaching the geology department's senior-level hydrogeology lecture and lab course and various other geology classes.


Announcing Scholastic Sponsorship Opportunitites

All Proeeds to Benefit Science Students

The GRA Sacramento Branch has a history of supporting university-level science students.  Our Scholastic Sponsorship Program is an opportunity to publicize your business while contributing toward a good cause.  The cost is minimal; if interested, please contact Judie Snyder-Poblano at 707-374-4300 or 209-712-9020 or


This Months Sponsor: Curtis and Tompkins

Curtis and Tompkins is the leading California provider of a wide array
of analyses for Organic, Metals, General Chemistry, and Radiochemistry
constituents to all sectors of the industry. From commercial to federal, C&T has
a long history of supporting Department of Defense, USEPA Superfund, and
other programs. Curtis and Tompkins specializes in client oriented approach
to project and data management, whether it be more focused on fast turn
around time, comprehensive reporting or unique logistic needs.


Costs and menu are shown below. GRA is unable to assure food and room for you without an RSVP. Using GRA's automated RSVP process is quick and painless!

Usual great food, including two meat entrées, salad, rice, potatoes, vegetable and Iced Tea. A No-host beer and wine bar will be available.

If you RSVP by Noon on Monday, August 8th the meeting costs are:

Members: $27.00
Non-Members: $32.00
Students: $10.00

*Retired professionals receive a 10% (rounded to the nearest dollar) discount on any meal. 

If you RSVP after Noon on Monday, August 8th 2016, or walk-in, a $3.00 surcharge will be added to the meeting costs. Cancellations must be made by Noon on Monday, August 8th, 2016


Upcoming Meetings & Events:

September 2016: Ted Wilson, Shannon & Wilson

October 2016: Kathy Monks, Tetra Tech

November 2016: Barbara Washburn-OEHHA. Dry well project and observations.

December 2016: Joint Holiday mixer-AEG turn to host event


Wed, Aug. 10, 2016
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Event has ended


Aviator's Restaurant within Sacramento Executive Airport
6151 Freeport Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95822

Aviator’s Restaurant at Executive Airport is located within the aircraft Terminal Building.

Thomas Bros. Map Book page 317, grid C6.

Plenty of free parking