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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Feb. 8, 2010

Rex Buchanan named interim director of Kansas Geological Survey

LAWRENCE--A national search will begin immediately for the next state geologist and director of the Kansas Geological Survey, following William Harrison's resignation after four years in both positions.

Deputy Director Rex Buchanan has been named interim director. Harrison will continue at the survey for the coming year as a senior scientist.

The survey has a statewide research and service mission. It is based at the University of Kansas and is part of the KU Center for Research Inc. Its work focuses primarily on the state's ground water supply, geologic mapping, assessment of geologic hazards and enhanced production of energy. The survey is headquartered on KU's west campus in Lawrence and also operates an oil and gas well sample library in Wichita.

"Bill became director at a time when the survey needed a steady hand," said Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies and president of the Center for Research. "The survey is now positioned for a renewed emphasis on research, closer affiliations with KU's academic departments, and continued service to Kansas. I'm grateful to Bill for what's been accomplished."

Highlights of the survey's work under Harrison's direction include the Hugoton Asset Management Project, which resulted in 300 new or recompleted wells and an economic impact of $55 million. In November, the survey received the largest external grant in its history, a nearly $5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the feasibility of storing carbon dioxide underground.

The survey also is recognized nationally as a leader in the digital dissemination of data, geologic mapping and shallow seismic research. The survey also has generated considerable information about the Ogallala portion of the High Plains Aquifer in western Kansas.

"The entire country faces tough issues that involve geosciences research," said Warren. "At the top of the list are water quantity and quality, the efficient use of energy resources and the impact of climate change. The survey, in collaboration with KU departments, industry and other institutions, can take a leadership role in all of these research fields and have a far-reaching impact."

Harrison came to the survey in 1997 following a lengthy career in the private sector and with the Oklahoma Geological Survey. He held a number of administrative roles before succeeding M. Lee Allison in 2006.

"It has been my pleasure to be at the survey for the past 13 years, and I am proud of the things we have accomplished," said Harrison. "I am confident it will continue to be among the premier state surveys in the country, and that the outstanding survey workforce will continue to make major contributions to Kansas."

Buchanan has been with the survey since 1978 in public affairs and other roles. He is widely known in Kansas as co-author with James McCauley of "Roadside Kansas: A Traveler's Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks." He is also editor of "Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals and Fossils." The revised and updated second editions of both books will be published this spring by the University Press of Kansas. Buchanan is also co-author with Donald Baars of "The Canyon Revisited: A Rephotography of the Grand Canyon, 1923-1991."

In 2008, Buchanan was made a fellow of the Geological Society of America. He is a graduate of Kansas Wesleyan University and received master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Story by Kevin Boatright, Director of Communications, KU Office of Research and Graduate Studies, (785) 842-7240.

Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach