Edward Donald McKay III, PhD, RPG
Director and State Geologist
Phone: 217-333-0044 • Fax: 217-244-7004
Dr. E. Donald McKay III was named Director of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and State Geologist of Illinois effective March 1, 2010 after acting as Interim Director since July of 2008. McKay, a native of Robinson, Crawford County, Illinois, began his scientific career in 1971 at the ISGS as a research assistant providing field and laboratory support for Survey staff members preparing for the 1972 Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene annual field conference, which the Survey hosted. He continued to work for the Survey while completing his M.S. (1975) and Ph.D. (1977) degrees specializing in glacial and Quaternary geology under Dr. W. Hilton Johnson at the University of Illinois. In 1980, McKay took a position in industry with a consulting firm working on high-level radioactive waste isolation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Sandia National Laboratory and on nuclear power plant siting projects. He returned to the ISGS in 1983 to be lead geologist on implementation of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology for use in assessing suitability of Illinois land for surface coal maining operations. He was named head of the Survey's Computer Research and Services Section in 1985, assumed leadership of the Geologic Mapping and Framework Studies Group in 1993, and became Chief Scientist in 2000. He remains active in glacial and Quaternary research in Illinois.
Don noted recently that "I am privileged to have spent over 30 years of my career with the ISGS. The Survey is not only a fantastic place to work but also a great institution, capably staffed, that operates solely for the betterment of the state of Illinois and its people. From the perspective of those years of public service, I can observe that geologic research and service conducted by ISGS today remain vital and relevant to Illinois and continue to target current and anticipated societal needs for earth science information. The scope of our work is laid out in these Web pages and in our reports, maps, and other products."
In 2005-2006 the ISGS celebrated its centennial, having been housed administratively for most of that time in a series of state agencies and housed physically on the campus of the University of Illinois. In 2008 the Survey was transferred from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and became a division of the newly formed Institute of Natural Resources Sustainability at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Without changing location, the Survey has been embraced by and more fully integrated into the campus community. Our mission remains the provision of earth science research and service for the people of Illinois while we seek new avenues for expanded collaboration with our university colleagues and sister surveys.
Major Personal Research Interests
• Quaternary and glacial geology
• Loesses and paleosols of the Mississippi River valley
• Illinoian glacial landforms and sediments of southern Illinois
• Geologic mapping and three-dimensional modeling of 7.5-minute quadrangles in Illinois
• Geologic history of the Ancient Mississippi River and other major Pleistocene fluvial systems in Illinois
• Stratigraphy and sedimentology of continental glacial and fluvial sediments deposited in Illinois during the
last 200,000 years
• Surficial geologic mapping of the Henry
7.5-minute quadrangle, Middle Illinois River valley
• Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) chronology of Wisconsin, Sangamon, and Illinois Episode
fluvial deposits and interbedded Wisconsin and Illinois Episode tills in central and northern Illinois and
implications for correlation of deposits and major aquifers
McKay III, E. Donald, Richard C. Berg, Ardith K. Hansel, Timothy J. Kemmis, and A.J. Stumpf, 2008, Quaternary Deposits and History of the Ancient Mississippi Valley, North-Central Illinois, Guidebook for the 51st Midwest Friends of the Pleistocene Field Trip, Streator, Illinois, May 13-15, 2005: Illinois State Geological Survey, Guidebook 35, 98 p.
McKay III, E. Donald, Richard C. Berg, Andrew J. Stumpf, and C. Pius Weibel, 2008, Surficial Geology of the Chillicothe Quadrangle, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois Preliminary Geologic Map, IPGM Chillicothe-SG, 1:24,000
McKay III, E.D., and R.C. Berg, 2008, Optical Ages Spanning Two Glacial-Interglacial Cycles from Deposits of the Ancient Mississippi River, North-Central, Illinois [abstract]: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 40, no. 5, p. 78.
McKay, E.D., 2007, Six Rivers, Five Glaciers, and an Outburst Flood: the Considerable Legacy of the Illinois River, Proceedings of the 2007 Governor's Conference on the Management of the Illinois River System: Our continuing Commitment, 11th Biennial Conference, Oct. 2-4, 2007, 11 p. PDF file
Berg, R.C., E.D. McKay, D.A. Keefer, R.A. Bauer, R.D. Johnstone, B.J. Stiff, A. Pugin, C.P. Weibel, A.J. Stumpf, T.H. Larson, W.-J. Su and G.T. Homrighous, 2002, Three-dimensional geologic mapping for transportation planning in central-northern Illinois: Data selection, map construction, and model developments: Geological Survey of Canada Open File 1449, p. 13-17.
Keefer, D.A., E.D. McKay, and R.C. Berg, 2002, Evaluating uncertainty in geologic models from the IL29 Geologic Mapping Project: Ottawa, Ontario, Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 1449, p. 27-31.
McKay, E. Donald, 1999, The Detailed Geologic Map: A Critical, Missing GIS Layer: Illinois GIS and Mapnotes, v. 17, p. 36-40.
Grimley, David A., Leon R. Follmer, and E. Donald McKay, 1998, Magnetic susceptibility and mineral zonations controlled by provenance in loess along the Illinois and central Mississippi River valleys: Quaternary Research, v. 49, p. 24-36.
Ordering information for Illinois State Geological Survey Publications.
Updated 09/20/2011 SLD