Rhode Island Geological Survey

The mission of the Rhode Island Geological Survey and the Rhode Island State Geologist is to provide the people of Rhode Island with quality geologic information to facilitate informed decision-making for natural resource management, economic development, conservation planning, and regulation; to provide public assistance; and to promote education. The Geological Survey will map, assess, inventory and interpret Rhode Island’s geology. The Geological Survey will support its mission by using computerized geographic information systems and databases, and by publishing maps and reports, including map publication on demand.


Until 1985 Rhode Island had no formally designated State Geologist. Alonzo W. Quinn served as de facto State Geologist for many decades (1940-1977) but was not named officially. Robert L. McMaster was appointed Associate State Geologist for Marine Affairs (1975-1985) but no State Geologist was named. In 1985 the Governor appointed J. Allan Cain State Geologist, working through the Statewide Planning Program (now Division of Planning). In 1996 Cain resigned and was replaced by Jon C. Boothroyd, who established the State Geological Survey. Following the passing of Jon C. Boothroyd in 2015, Simon E. Engelhart was appointed State Geologist in 2018.

Rhode Island Geology Programs

The Rhode Island Geological Survey supports programs in the following areas:

  • Coastal geology – including Block Island Sound, Narragansett Bay and Little Narragansett Bay; with an emphasis on management of coastal geologic hazards and placement of dredged materials.
  • Hydrogeology – including groundwater and surface water and contaminant cleanup
  • Glacial geology – including mapping of surficial deposits with the goal of producing a Quaternary Geologic Map of Rhode Island
  • Bedrock geology – including an update of the Bedrock Geologic Map of Rhode Island
  • Environmental geology – combines aspects of the first four programs; an example was a study of radon in water and surficial materials and its bedrock source
  • Economic geology – combines aspects of all the programs including sand and gravel resources, bedrock quarries, aquifer use, and sustainable development of the shoreline.
  • Professional Service – includes conveying geologic information to other State agencies for use in management and regulatory decisions.
  • Education – including K-12 classroom initiatives and providing information to citizen organizations and groups in the state.
  • Public Outreach – including identification of rocks and minerals, fossil specimens, and providing other general geologic information to individual citizens of the state.