Harvey Thorleifson

Harvey Thorleifson Profile Picture

Harvey Thorleifson

Professor and Director, Minnesota Geological Survey , Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Minnesota Geological Survey
2609 West Territorial Road
St. Paul, MN 55114


PhD, 1989, University of Colorado

Thorleifson is originally from the town of Baldur in western Manitoba, he did his undergrad in geography and biology at University of Winnipeg, and he completed a Masters thesis in geology on Lake Agassiz history at University of Manitoba in 1983. His 1989 geology Ph.D. at University of Colorado in Boulder dealt with Hudson Bay Lowland natural history

Professional Background

His early career research on Lake Agassiz, the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and central North American glacial history evolved to work on indicator mineral methods in mineral exploration, geological mapping, geochemical mapping, regional groundwater investigations, shoreline erosion, and Red River flooding while at the Geological Survey of Canada from 1986 until 2003 .

Harvey Thorleifson was appointed Director of the Minnesota Geological SurveyState Geologist of Minnesota, and Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota on July 1, 2003.

    The Minnesota Geological Survey was established by Legislative Act on March 1, 1872 to ensure the availability of the regional geological, geophysical, and geochemical information that the people of the State require to ensure wise stewardship of their water, land, and mineral resources, and to thus realize societal benefits related to economic prosperity, public health, natural hazards, as well as appreciation and preservation of our natural heritage.

    Harvey is Chair of the Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information (CGI), which reports to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). From 2014 to 2019, he was a member of the US National Geospatial Advisory Committee. Previously, his roles included being 2012-2013 President of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), 2004-2006 President of what is now the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences, and 2003-2004 President of the Geological Association of Canada.

Scientific & Professional Societies

  • Association of American State Geologists
  • Geological Association of Canada
  • Geological Society of America

Honors and Awards

Selected Publications

  • MacCormack, K.E., Berg, R.C., Kessler, H., Russell, H.A.J. and Thorleifson, L.H. (ed.) (2019): 2019 synopsis of current three-dimensional geological mapping and modelling in geological survey organizations; Alberta Energy Regulator / Alberta Geological Survey, AER/AGS Special Report 112, 307 p.
  • Thorleifson, L. H., 2018, Rationale and methods for regional 3D geological mapping, in Berg, R.C., K. MacCormack, H.A.J. Russell, and L.H. Thorleifson, conveners, 2018, Three-dimensional geological mapping: Workshop extended abstracts: Illinois State Geological Survey, Open File Series 2018-1, p. 1-11.
  • Thorleifson, L. H., 2015, Rationale and methods for regional 3D geological mapping, in K. MacCormack, H. Thorleifson, R. Berg, and H. Russell, conveners, 2015, Three-Dimensional Geological Mapping: workshop extended abstracts; Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, October 31, 2015, Alberta Geological Survey AER/AGS Special Report 101, p. 3-12. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L.H., 2011, Potential for implementation of mineral carbonation as a carbon sequestration method in Minnesota: Minnesota Geological Survey Open-File Report 11-2, 26 p. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, Harvey, Richard C. Berg, Hazen A.J. Russell, 2010, Geological mapping goes 3-D in response to societal needs, GSA Today, Volume 20, Issue 8 (August 2010), pp. 27-29 [Web] [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, Harvey, 2009, An Agenda for Development of Vertically Georeferenced, Web-optimized, Subsurface Information; Three-Dimensional Geologic Mapping, Workshop Extended Abstracts, October 17, 2009, 2009 Annual Meeting, Geological Society of America, Portland, Oregon [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H., ed., 2008, Potential capacity for geologic carbon sequestration in the Midcontinent Rift System in Minnesota, Minnesota Geological Survey Open File Report OFR-08-01, 138 p. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H., 2008, Understanding Canada's Water, Canadian Water Treatment, January/February 2008, v. 8, no. 1, p. 32-33
  • Thorleifson, L. H., K. L. Harris, H. C. Hobbs, C. E. Jennings, A. R. Knaeble, R. S. Lively, B. A. Lusardi, G. N. Meyer. 2007, Till geochemical and indicator mineral reconnaissance of Minnesota. Minnesota Geological Survey Open File Report OFR-07-01, 512 p., 15 pdf digital files, 5 Digital images. [Downloads]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. 2006. President's Report, 2006; Canadian Geoscience Council. 21p.[PDF]
  • Mayer, T., Simpson, S., Thorleifson, L.H, Lockhart, W., Wilkinson, P. 2006. Phosphorus geochemistry of recent sediments in the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management, Volume 9, Number 3, July-September 2006, pp. 307-318 [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H., K. Harris, J. Berg, R. Tipping, Z. Malolepszy, B. Lusardi, D. Setterholm, and F. Anderson; 2005; Geological mapping and 3D model of deposits that host ground-water systems in the Fargo-Moorhead region, Minnesota and North Dakota; Minnesota Geological Survey Report, submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation in fulfilment of Cooperative Agreement No 04FG601925, in support of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project; 155 p., accompanied by 1:200,000 surficial geology map, 1: 400,000 bedrock geology map, drillhole database, and digital files depicting extent, thickness, and elevation of mapped strata. [Downloads]
  • Brooks, G., C. F. M. Lewis, and L. H. Thorleifson. 2005. Influence of loss of gradient from postglacial uplift on Red River flood hazard; The Holocene, v. 15, no. 3, pp. 347-352.[PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. and S. Hanmer. 2005. Conference Report, Geoscience Summit 2004 Ottawa, Ontario 16 - 17 October 2004, v. 32. no. 2, p. 49-63. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. 2004. Presidential Address: Geoscience for the needs of Canadians, Geoscience Canada, v. 31. no. 3, p. 97-101; [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. 2004. Mapping. Geotimes annual highlights issue, v. 49, no. 7, p. 32-33; [LINK]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. 2004. Diamond exploration in Canada; 37th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals, p. 163-166. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. and Pyne, D. M. 2004. Conversion of lithological data in the Manitoba water well database (GWDrill) to a mappable format; in Soller, D.R., editor, 2003, Digital Mapping Techniques '03 -- Workshop Proceedings: U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 03-471. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H., G. L. D. Matile, G. R. Keller, and D. M. Pyne. 2003. Construction of a hydrostratigraphic model for southern Manitoba; 4th Joint International Association of Hydrogeologists-Canadian National Chapter/Canadian Geotechnical Society Conference, 5 p.
  • Thorleifson, L. H. 2003. Crossroads of the Continent; a history of the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers; Chapter 1, The Foundation of the Forks; Chapter 2, Laying down the landscape; Heartland Associates, Winnipeg, p. 14-45.
  • Lewis, C. F. M., Forbes, D. L., Todd, B. J., Nielsen, E., Thorleifson, L.H ., Henderson, P. J., McMartin, I., Anderson, T. W., Betcher, R. N., Buhay, W. M., Burbidge, S. M., Schröder-Adams, C. J., King, J. W., Moran, K., Gibson, C., Jarrett, C.A., Kling, H. J., Lockhart, W. L., Last, W. M., Matile, G. L. D., Risberg, J., Rodrigues, C. G. Telka, A.M., and Vance, R. 2001. Uplift-driven expansion delayed by middle Holocene desiccation in Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Geology, v. 29, no. 8, p. 743-746.[PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. and R. G. Garrett. 2000. Lithology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of glacial sediments overlying kimberlite at Smeaton, Saskatchewan. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin 551, 40 p.[PDF]
  • Maathuis, H. and Thorleifson, L. H. 2000. Potential impact of climate change on Prairie groundwater supplies: review of current knowledge. Saskatchewan Research Council Publication No. 11304-2E00, 43 p., 28 figures, three appendices [PDF]
  • Lambert, A., T. S. James, and L. H. Thorleifson. 1998. Combining geomorphological and geodetic data to determine postglacial tilting in Manitoba; J. Paleolimnology, v. 19, p. 365-376.[PDF]
  • Todd, B. J., C. F. M. Lewis, E. Nielsen, L. H. Thorleifson, R. K. Bezys, and W. Weber. 1998. Lake Winnipeg: geological setting and sediment seismostratigraphy; Journal of Paleolimnology, v. 19, p. 215-244.[PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. and R. G. Garrett. 1997. Kimberlite indicator mineral and geochemical reconnaissance, southern Alberta; in Exploring for minerals in Alberta: Geological Survey of Canada Geoscience Contributions, Canada-Alberta Agreement on Mineral Development (1992-1995); ed. R. W. Macqueen; Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin 500, p. 209-233.[PDF]
  • McClenaghan, M. B., Thorleifson, L. H., and DiLabio, R. N. W. 1997. Till Geochemical and Indicator Mineral Methods in Mineral Exploration; in Proceedings of Exploration 97: Fourth Decennial International Conference on Mineral Exploration, ed. A. G. Gubins, p. 233-248. [PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. 1996. Review of Lake Agassiz History. in Sedimentology, Geomorphology, and History of the central Lake Agassiz Basin, Field Trip B2, Teller, J. T., Thorleifson, L. H., Matile, G., and Brisbin, W. C., eds., Geological Association of Canada Guidebook, p. 55-84.[PDF]
  • Garrett, R. G. and Thorleifson, L. H. 1995. Kimberlite indicator mineral and till geochemical reconnaissance, southern Saskatchewan. in D. G. Richardson, ed., Investigations completed by the Saskatchewan Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada under the geoscience program of the Canada-Saskatchewan Partnership Agreement on Mineral Development (1990-1995), Geological Survey of Canada Open File 3119; Saskatchewan Geological Survey Open File Report 95-3, p. 227-253.
  • Thorleifson, L. H., P. H. Wyatt and T. A. Warman. 1993. Quaternary stratigraphy of the Severn & Winisk drainage basins, Ontario. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin 442, 59 p.[PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H. and F. J. Kristjansson. 1993. Quaternary geology and drift prospecting, Beardmore- Geraldton area, Ontario. Geological Survey of Canada Memoir 435, 146 p.[PDF]
  • Thorleifson, L. H., P. H. Wyatt, W. W. Shilts, and E. Nielsen. 1992. Hudson Bay Lowland Quaternary stratigraphy: evidence for early Wisconsinan glaciation centred in Quebec. in P. U. Clark and P. D. Lea, eds., The Last Interglacial-Interglacial Transition in North America. Geological Society of America Special Paper 270, p. 207-221.[PDF]
  • Rannie, W. F., L. H. Thorleifson and J. T. Teller. 1989. Holocene evolution of the Assiniboine River paleochannels and Portage la Prairie alluvial fan. Canadian Journal of Earth Science, v. 26, pp. 1834-1841.[PDF]
  • Teller, J. T. and L. H. Thorleifson. 1983. The Lake Agassiz - Lake Superior Connection. in Glacial Lake Agassiz, edited by J. T. Teller and Lee Clayton, Geological Association of Canada, Special Paper 26, p. 261-290.
  • Teller, J. T., L. H. Thorleifson, L. A. Dredge, H. C. Hobbs and B. T. Schreiner. 1983. Maximum extent and major features of Lake Agassiz. in Glacial Lake Agassiz, edited by J. T. Teller and Lee Clayton, Geological Association of Canada, Special Paper 26, p. 43-45.