Ryan Clark


What are your responsibilities with the IGS?

As a bedrock geologist, one of my primary roles with the IGS is making bedrock geologic maps. I also assist on projects related to groundwater resources management, assist water well drillers and quarry operators, and create lithologic logs of rock core and well chip samples. I also handle most of the education and outreach activities for the IGS as well as rock/fossil/mineral identification requests we receive.

What are your research/project interests?

My primary focus is geologic mapping. After spending six years refining the bedrock geology of southeastern Iowa, I am shifting to northeastern Iowa and mapping Dubuque County. I collaborate on several federally funded projects aiming to characterize domestic sources of critical minerals. These projects involve identifying bedrock formations that may have elevated concentrations of critical minerals through geochemical analyses and mapping their distribution across Iowa and beyond. I am also interested in evaluating the potential for geologic carbon sequestration in Iowa.

How can your research in your areas of interest improve the quality of life in Iowa?

I believe that one of my most important roles as a geologist with the IGS is to help Iowans better understand the geologic resources in their own backyard, as well as how their actions can impact the environment. Geology serves a vital role in both the economic and environmental welfare of Iowa and without a strong understanding of geology, resources may be mismanaged or endangered.

What is your academic and professional background?

I obtained BS (2003) and MS (2006) degrees in geology from the UI. During my time as a student, I worked part time for the Iowa Geological Survey logging water well samples. After graduation, I worked for Terracon Consultants, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for five and half years. My work at Terracon consisted of doing environmental site assessments for commercial properties, evaluating leaking underground petroleum storage tank sites and providing geologic consultation for pump and reinject passive geothermal systems. I joined the IGS in 2012.

At about what age and why did you decide to become a geologist/scientist?

I was always drawn to the outdoors but did not grow up particularly interested in science. During my freshman year of college I took an introductory geology class and the professor was amazing. After taking a few more classes, I was hooked. I decided to become a geologist as a sophomore in college.

What field activity is your favorite?

Hanging out in quarries!

What do you like to do in your free time?

If I had free time, I would spend it traveling the country with my wife and two daughters. Camping, hiking, and paddling are some of my favorite things to do.