Sometimes, all the googling and wikipedia-ing in the world will not get you the information you need.
Two of my characters are in the process of creating the Time Agency in book two. One of them was told that it was an “underground” organization. Being a very literal character, she was not certain if he meant that literally or figuratively – so she decided it needed to be both. She and her co-founder scoured maps of the past in order to find the perfect place to build their underground bunker. And so did I.
I knew I wanted to build it in salt, having visited Strataca, the underground salt museum in Kansas. Connected to the museum is a working mine, and Underground Vaults and Storage has leased* part of the mine, which gave me this idea. However, I could find nothing about the depths of different salt layers online. I could find the thickness of the salt layers in various parts of the country, and I did find one very old document which had listings for how far down you had to go to get to the salt in various regions – but nothing for where I wanted to locate my characters.
I did, however, find a geologist’s e-mail address attached to a recent document – as in, within the last decade, as opposed 70 to 120 years ago. I was very frustrated with all the incredibly old information online until it finally hit me – duh – geology doesn’t exactly change much. 🙂
So, I e-mailed the geologist, and he was kind enough to e-mail me back, answering all of my questions. I now have both the thickness of the salt layer, the depth at which the characters will hit the layer, and that there is a second salt layer above that one! I had wondered about that, based on the map, but it had me confused. Now I know.
Online information is great, but you can’t beat going to real people with some questions.
*I believe it’s a lease. I’m going by memory here, since I can’t find that exact information online. I’ve toured the museum twice – it’s incredibly cool – and there is a section of the museum dedicated to UV&S.