Lynn D. Helms, PhD



North Dakota Geological Survey logo



Edward C. Murphy

State Geologist



Welcome to the North Dakota Geological Survey.

The North Dakota Geological Survey and the position of State Geologist were created by an act of the North Dakota Legislature in 1895, six years after statehood. During the first half of the 20th Century, the NDGS focused their studies on the coal and clay resources of North Dakota. With the discovery of oil near Tioga in 1951, the NDGS grew rapidly to both research the geology of the petroleum-bearing formations and regulate the exploration and production of the resource.

After more than 120 years, the Survey still serves as the primary source of geological information in the state. Its mission over the years has grown and is now three-fold:


The Geological Survey publishes maps and reports on the mineralogical, paleontological, and geochemical resources of North Dakota, including oil and gas, coal, uranium, clay, sand and gravel, volcanic ash, potash and other salts, etc. In addition to the mapping of subsurface resources, the Survey is actively mapping the surface geology throughout the state with an emphasis on urban areas and the identification of geohazards such as landslides.

Survey publications support the regulatory programs of the Industrial Commission, as well as other state and federal agencies, and assist mineral companies, geotechnical consulting firms, city and county governments, landowners, and citizens of the state.

The North Dakota Geological Survey regulates coal exploration, subsurface mineral exploration and development (this includes all elements, minerals, and compounds other than oil and gas, sand and gravel, and coal), geothermal facilities (both commercial and residential), the Class III Underground Injection Control Program, and paleontological resources on state-owned lands.

The Geological Survey and the Oil and Gas Division are in the Department of Mineral Resources.

  • The main office of the Department of Mineral Resources is located at 1016 East Calgary Avenue in Bismarck.
  • The paleontology program of the Geological Survey is housed in the Clarence Johnsrud Paleontology Laboratory in the North Dakota Heritage Center (state museum) on the State Capitol grounds in Bismarck.
  • The North Dakota State Fossil Collection, as well as the State Rock and Mineral Collection, are also housed in the Heritage Center.
  • The North Dakota Geological Survey's Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library is located on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks. The facility currently houses over 475,000 feet (91 miles) of core and over 50,000 boxes of drill cuttings obtained from oil and gas wells.

Contact Us


North Dakota Geological Survey logo


Street Address:
1016 East Calgary Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58503

Mailing Address:
600 East Boulevard Avenue - Dept. 474
Bismarck, ND 58505-0614
(701) 328-8000
(701) 328-8010