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DCNR Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey

The DCNR Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey, also known as the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, is more than 180 years old. Since 1836, there have been four surveys in the state -- the fourth and current survey being established by legislative mandate in 1919.

Bureau geologists and partners work together to map the surface and subsurface geology of the state. Their findings are made available to the public as published reports, which are available in the library at the bureau’s headquarters, through a list of bureau publications (ZIP), and online through the survey’s web-mapping application PaGEODE.

Bureau Mission

“To serve the citizens of Pennsylvania by collecting, preserving, and disseminating impartial information on the Commonwealth's geology, geologic resources, and topography in order to contribute to the understanding, wise use, and conservation of its land and included resources.”

Director’s Office

State Geologist Gale C. Blackmer is the Director of the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey. She provides leadership for the bureau’s administrative functions and its three divisions:

Geologic and Geographic Information Services

  • Information Technology
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Earth Science Education
  • Library

Geologic Mapping

  • Stratigraphic Studies
  • Groundwater and Environmental Geology

Economic Geology

  • Mineral Resource Analysis
  • Petroleum and Subsurface Geology

Key Data

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey collects critical geologic data on groundwater, economic resources, and geologic hazards.

Water Well Driller Licensing

The Pennsylvania Water Well Drillers License Act of 1955 established a licensing process for water well drillers. The Pennsylvania Geological Survey licenses hundreds of drilling companies each year.

Drillers can register through the DCNR website, and those in need of a driller can find one by searching through the licensed well drillers database.

History of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey has been documenting Pennsylvania’s geology since 1836, always with an eye toward meeting the ever-changing needs of the times.

Pennsylvania has evolved from a state primarily focused on coal and petroleum resources to one where these still-important commodities compete for attention with other concerns, including finding adequate supplies of water, locating resources for construction and pollution remediation, dealing with geologic hazards such as landslides and sinkholes, and even supporting tourism, an important statewide industry.

The survey’s present organization dates to 1919, when it was authorized by the General Assembly “to undertake, conduct, and maintain the organization of a thorough and extended survey of the State, for the purpose of elucidating the geology and topography of the State.” It also was given the responsibility to “put the results of the survey, with the results of previous surveys, into form convenient for reference.”

The February 1987 issue of Pennsylvania Geology (PDF) tells the story of the four surveys.