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William E. Davies (1917-1990)
Bill Davies' remarkable career included a wide variety of disciplines - geology, engineering, and speleology. His long, distinguished career in public service spanned 35 years with the U.S. Geological Survey and the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Geological Surveys. Davies produced many engineering characteristic maps for the Army during the Second World War. His engineering research encompassed permafrost, landslides in the Appalachians and karst. Many of his activities were guided by the belief that geologic information can be used for the public good. In an extensive bibliography, he discussed the usefulness of science to land-use planning, hazard mitigation, waste management, and other environmental issues. He mapped many coal-mine refuse piles throughout the Appalachians, highlighting their instability. He investigated and provided expert testimony regarding the Buffalo Creek coal-mine refuse collapse in 1972 which killed 120 people. His extensive knowledge of the geologic sciences, his dedication to his profession, and his tireless exuberance and humor enlightened and brought joy to scores of colleagues and contributed to the careers of many students that he mentored. He was a railroad buff and had a life-long fascination in the engineering geology and cultural history of the C&O Canal.

His early publication "Caves of West Virginia" in 1949, followed by "Caves of Maryland" the following year foreshadowed his interest in karst. He served as Vice President of Science for the National Speleological Society from 1951 to 1953, and was the organization's president from
1954 to 1956. During the 1970's, the "National Environmental Overview Program" in the USGS prepared maps at 1:7,500,000 that depicted the nature and extent of geologic processes in the United States that might influence decision making on land use and energy development and their environmental impact. At the time there was concern about the siting of nuclear reactors in geologically hazardous areas. Davies enthusiastically accepted the challenge and helped prepare a landslide map of the U.S. Guiding a group of assistants, he published the "Engineering Aspects of Karst" map of the United States in 1984. This map depicted areas of karstic rocks (limestone, dolomite, and evaporates), and "pseudokarst" areas, classified by their engineering and geologic characteristics (size and depth of voids, depth of overburden, rock-soil interface conditions and geologic structure). To date, this map is the definitive summary of karst in the country.

The USGS and the National Cave and Karst Research Institute are collaborating in the National Karst Map Program to produce an updated national karst map in digital form, derived primarily from maps prepared by the individual States, and to link that map on this web site to State and local scale maps and related data. Bill Davies was a pioneer in the development of this map.

Engineering Aspects of Karst
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