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Vermont's geology contributes to many facets of human health. The bedrock, glacial materials, and soils may each have positive and/or negative impacts on water quality and air quality. Healthy human bodies require minerals and elements (ex. salt, calcium, iron) which are transferred from the geologic environment through the food chain. Some geologic materials may filter contaminants so they do not reach groundwater supplies. Geologic materials may also be the source of airborne contaminants or of naturally-occurring elements of concern in drinking water, including radionuclides and arsenic. This web page provides links to geology and health issues in Vermont and worldwide. The Vermont Department of Health offers fact sheets and information related to a variety of different drinking water concerns such as arsenic, lead, manganese, nitrates, radioactivity (alpha radiation, uranium, radium, radon), hardness and more.

Regional compilation of sources of groundwater contamination (arsenic and radionuclides) , Kim, 2014. Associated paper by Kim et al, 2014 may be downloaded as a pdf.

Pyrite as a Source of Groundwater Arsenic in Taconic Slates, Southwestern Vermont, an abstract by Helen Mango, Castleton State College, presented at NEGSA 2011.

Elevated Arsenic in Domestic Wells from the Taconic Allochthons in Southern Vermont, a poster presented at NE/SE GSA in 2010.

Arsenic Contamination in Vermont's Private Wells (2010) (pdf) This is a recent study completed by the Middlebury College Environmental Studies Senior Seminar

Arsenic Levels in Groundwater Wells from Southwestern Vermont, (Map) by Middlebury College Env. Studies 401 Senior Seminar class and the VT Geological Survey

Please connect to the Vermont Department of Health web site and to the DEC Waste Management web page for information about the Vermont Asbestos Group (VAG) Mine. For the geology of Belvidere Mountain, click here.

For information from the US EPA about reducing exposure to naturally-occurring asbestos, click here.


Radionuclides in the Champlain Valley have been documented in primary sedimentary layers, plus as secondary coatings along fractures (McKeown, 1951 and Whitten, 1988).
Bedrock mapping in the Colchester quadrangle (Kim and Thompson, 2002) focused in an area where domestic wells exceeded gross alpha standards. Detailed mapping, structural analysis, and geochemistry provided broad-based understanding of the radionuclide problem and serves as a prototype for future analysis throughout the State of Vermont.

Regional compilation of sources of groundwater contamination (arsenic and radionuclides) , Kim, 2014

Radionuclides, Groundwater Chemistry, and Hydrogeology Above, Below, and Through the Hinesburg Thrust: Kim, et al, 2009,GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 41, #3.

Radionuclide-enriched groundwater, Knox Mountain pluton, Vermont: occurrence and lithologic controls: Gleason et al, 2007,GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 39 #1, p. 102.

Lithologic control on naturally occurring radioactivity and ground water chemistry across the Richardson Memorial Contact, central VT: Kim, et al, 2005, GSA Abs. with Prog., v. 37 #1.

Evaluation of Geologic Controls on Elevated Naturally-Occurring Radioactivity in Bedrock Ground Water Wells, NW Vermont: North, et al, 2005, GSA Abs with Prog, v. 37 #1, p. 78.

Walsh, G.J. and Satkoski, A.M., 2005, Surface gamma-ray survey of the Barre West quadrangle, Washington and Orange Counites, Vermont: USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5276, 19 p., only available on-line at

Compilation of radioactivity data in Vermont (Kim, 2002) is available on-line.

Bedrock and Radionuclide Mapping in the Colchester Quadrangle, Vermont: Kim and Thompson, 2002, GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 34 #1, p. A17. Also see Plate 3 of the Colchester Open File report (VG01-1)

Geologic Context of Elevated Radionuclide Occurrences in NW Vermont: Kim & Becker, 2001, GSA Abstracts with Programs, v. 33, #1, p. A60.

Health and Safety:
See sidebar link to Natural Hazards.

Vermont Department of Health
Arsenic in groundwater, USGS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Medical Geology, USGS
Division of Geology and Health, Geological Society of America

Generalized Geologic 
	Map of Vermont - 1970 - click for larger map image

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