UW Extension

The Drill Rig Whisperer

Wisconsin’s State Geologist calls Bill Batten the “drill rig whisperer” because he seems to be able to get a few more feet of drilling from the Survey’s drill rig long after our geologists have called it down and out.

Bill Batten and his trusty drill rig

Wisconsin’s State Geologist calls Bill Batten the “drill rig whisperer” because he seems to be able to get a few more feet of drilling from the Survey’s drill rig long after our geologists have called it down and out.

“Collecting continuous intact core of entire bedrock formations buried 500 feet or more below land surface is very exciting to me. Survey geologists and hydrogeologists can see, in detail, the textural, structural, and mineral makeup of bedrock formations we know only from isolated outcrops 100 miles away, or more. Core is the kind of raw data needed to truly advance our understanding of the bedrock history of our State,” says Batten.

Bill Batten is a geologist at the Survey. He has worked here since 1996 and before that, he was a hydrologist with the US Geological Survey in Wisconsin. “Bill is familiar with the geology and groundwater resources throughout much of Wisconsin,” says Carol McCartney, Outreach Manager at the Survey. “When he is not drilling, he is one of the go-to people for the mystery rocks that people sometimes bring to the Survey.”

When Bill is in the field drilling, he is adding to the Survey’s rock core collection. The University of Wisconsin – Extension’s Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey has a collection of more than 2,000 rock cores in its Research Collections and Education Center in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Much of the more than 600,000 linear feet of subsurface core samples has been donated by engineering and mineral exploration companies. Its replacement value is in the tens of millions of dollars. “We appreciate that immensely but…most of the donated core is from the northern part of the state. We need core to fill in some of the gaps,” says Batten.

Map showing source locations of core held in WGNHS repository