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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Geological Survey

Also known as:
Minnesota Geological Survey
Active dates:1872-1901, 1911-

The original purpose of the survey was to economically evaluate the “mineral kingdom” of Minnesota. Their current mission statement explains their function further: "The Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) was established in 1872 by the State of Minnesota as part of the University of Minnesota. The MGS serves the people of Minnesota by providing systematic geoscience information to support stewardship of water, land, and mineral resources. MGS geologic mapping and research evolve with the progress of science and technology, and the MGS works closely with University, government, industry, and community partners to ensure we respond to the diverse needs of Minnesota."


In 1872 the Minnesota Legislature charged the University of Minnesota with conducting a "geological and natural history survey of Minnesota." Newton Horace Winchell was the first director of the survey, and the group finished their work in 1901, along with the publication of Winchell's "Final Report on the Geology of Minnesota."

According to the University of Minnesota, "in 1911, new Department Chair William H. Emmons of the U.S. Geological Survey specified reinstatement of a State Geological Survey as a condition of his acceptance, and he became second Director of the Survey."

Agency heads:

Newton Horace Winchell, 1872-1901
William Harvey Emmons, 1911-1944
Frank Fitch Grout, 1944-1947
George Melvin Schwartz, 1947-1961
Paul K. Sims, 1961-1973
Matt S. Walton, 1973-1986
Priscilla C. Grew, 1986-1993
David L. Southwick, 1993-2002
Harvey Thorleifson, 2003-2023
Anthony C. Runkel (interim director), 2023-

Recognizing geology's colonial history for better policy today. Eos: Science News by AGU, 9/7/2021.
News clippings and documents. Agencies Notebook Collection, 2021.
Record last updated: 04/05/2023

All information on this group from the Library’s collection of agency notebooks has been digitized. These materials are incorporated into the “documents/articles” section of the record. Please contact a librarian with any questions. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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