AZGS Web Posts

Letters, op-eds, and blogs express concern over defunding of geological survey

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2016-06-26 18:45
Geologists and geology advocates are making their opinions known about Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's government consolidation decision to defund the Arizona Geological Survey as of June 30.  The AZGS duties have been handed over to the University of Arizona, which is providing partial funding for one year while the Survey is expected to become fully self supporting from grants and fees for services.Our colleagues and complete strangers are forwarding letters, blog posts, and published articles that they wrote or discovered..
Scientific American blogger Dana Hunter posted a piece on the SciAm blog Rosetta Stone, entitled, "Help Save the Arizona Geological Survey," with the subtitle "The Arizona Geological Survey's budget has been slashed by the state's short-sighted government. There are as many reasons to save the agency as there are geologic wonders, riches and hazards in Arizona. Let the governor know that the AZGS must be fully funded! In this article I'll tell you why it's so important."   She describes the geologic hazards we face in Arizona, that are part of AZGS's duties to identify and mitigate, including volcanoes, landslides, earth fissures, floods, debris flows, earthquakes, radon hot spots, and arsenic in groundwater.  I don't know Dana, but she describes herself as a "science blogger, SF writer, and geology addict."

Matthew Loader, a geologist from the Natural History Museum in London, copied us today on a letter [right] he sent to Gov. Ducey, in which he notes that Arizona's "mineral wealth is of vital strategic importance in the security of the metal supply to the US economy for years to come."  

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

AZGSexit moves forward

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-06-25 20:18
As Britain exits the European Union, the Arizona Geological Survey is exiting Arizona state government for a new future as a research and service center at the University of Arizona.  We have one year of partial transition funding to become entirely self-supporting from grants and fees for services.

AZGS shut down the retail store on Thursday, emptied out the library of all remaining volumes, and gave away ~25,000 topographic maps in preparation for the physical move that begins on Monday.  There is no room in our campus space for these materials and activities.

The Phoenix office assets were moved to the old mining museum today, with volunteers scheduled to arrive July 5 to transfer the library materials from carts and gondolas to the bookshelves we are sending up from Tucson.

[Top, map users pull topo maps from storage shelves. A non-profit organization took all the remaining maps to make them available for outdoor recreation activities.  Second from top, Stephanie Mar unloads remaining publications from the library shelves in preparation for dismantling and moving them to Phoenix for storage.  Bottom left, most of the library was taken by other libraries, geologists, companies, and interested parties.  The bulk of what remained were old technical journals, mining magazines, and out of date references.   Bottom right, store manager Nancy Greene finishes packing the store for moving to the Phoenix museum to become the basis of a gift shop-store when that facility is re-opened, perhaps in a year or two.]
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Nyal Niemuth, the eyes and ears of Arizona mining, retires after 35 years

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-06-24 08:39
Nyal Niemuth retired yesterday, after more than 35 years with the State of Arizona, most with the Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources, and the last 5 years with AZGS after the two agencies were merged.   [Photo credit, Mining Foundation of the Southwest]

Nyal served as Chief Engineer at ADMMR and became Chief of the Economic Geology section at AZGS.  He is universally known across Arizona and beyond, as the "go-to" guy to find out what's happening and what's happened in mining and mineral resources in Arizona.  Miners and would-be miners know that if you are exploring or developing mineral resources in Arizona, you want to check in with Nyal first to find what information already exists.

Nyal timed his retirement with the closure of the AZGS Phoenix office as part of the transfer of duties to the University of Arizona.  Nyal is already promising to come back as a volunteer to help move the massive mineral files and library to storage at the old mining and mineral museum near the Capitol in order to preserve them.

For the past 6 months, Nyal also assumed the temporary duties of Oil & Gas Administrator, supporting the Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.  Those duties are being transferred to the Dept. of Environmental Quality as of July 1.

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Crowds swarm AZGS library to pick up publications and maps

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-06-22 19:59
AZGS opened its Tucson library, publications storeroom and topographic map room to the public today to take anything they wanted before the office closes next week to move to the University of Arizona. 

Geologists, mining engineers, teachers, students, and science fans hauled off hundreds (thousands?) of books, reports, circulars, geologic maps, and other materials.    The topo map room was crowded all day as people searched among the 2,000+ titles for maps of interest.

Special thanks to volunteers Dan Aiken, Simone Runyon, and J.D. Miser who helped visitors find particular items, helped carry out boxes of books, and guided people to the right basement repository.  
We are surprised at the amount of interest in so many different items in the library including many seemingly obscure mining journals and gray literature materials.

We recognized many consulting and independent geologists who took advantage of the downsizing to add selected items to their professional libraries. 

The state geologic map was a particular hit to the non-scientists.   Lots of families came through with kids in tow.
The giveaway continues through 4 p.m. Thursday.  The AZGS retail store closes permanently at 5 p.m. After that, we will be emptying the library shelves in preparation for dismantling them to send to the Phoenix mineral museum until that facility is reopened.  The bookstore displays and remaining inventory will also be sent to the museum as the basis for the museum gift shop - bookstore.
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Impacts reported on the downsizing, transfer of AZGS

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-06-22 08:09

As AZGS shuts down our publicly accessible geological libraries in Phoenix and Tucson, "The public sphere of knowledge, the one that anyone can access, shrinks. The private sphere grows and becomes available only to insiders or those who can pay the price" according to a column by Tim Steller in today's Arizona [Tucson] Daily Star.     [Right, volunteers empty the library shelves in Phoenix for storage in anticipation of re-estalbishing the library if the old mining and mineral museum can be re-opened.]
Steller wrote that "It’s true the geological survey is different from typical state agencies, in that it performs research projects and provides information. And when your philosophy of governing is that less is more, then naturally you’ll look askance at oddball offices like this."
We are opening the library and publications store room today to offer remaining books, journals, maps, etc to those who can use them.   Anything remaining by week's end, is likely to be trashed.
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AZGS's "Arizona Experience" store closing Friday - everything 50% off

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2016-06-20 07:37
The Arizona Geological Survey store closes on Friday, so we are trying to sell off as much of our inventory, including AZGS publications, as we can.   After that, the fixtures will be moved to the former mining and mineral museum to form the basis for a gift shop/book store when that facility is eventually re-opened.

The store is at 416 W. Congress St. in the State Office Complex in downtown Tucson. Free parking in the rear.  Hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Cyprus Pima Mine mineral display loaned to Patagonia Museum

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-06-18 20:17
Volunteers dismantled the mineral display at the AZGS office in Tucson today to move it to the Patagonia Museum. The giant display case has showcased the Cyprus Minerals Pima Mine mineral collection which will be on long term loan in Patagonia.  The Museum is also taking our rock splitter for display.

AZGS is being transferred to the University of Arizona at the end of the month and there is no room for most of the Surveys books, files, maps, store, and other materials.

We are trying  to find homes for everything we can't take with us.

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Online version of "Ores & Orogenesis" drawing lots of views

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-06-18 07:30

We posted the Ores and Orogenesis: Circum-Pacific Tectonics, Geologic Evolution, and Ore Deposits, Arizona Geological Society's Digest 22, online on Friday but have not formally announced it, other than a Facebook post that said ‘Coming soon …”
Well, Mike Conway who manages our online AZGS Document Repository said the sites is "going through the roof with activity." Just under 1,0505 reads in less than six hours after posting. That is a record for documents in the repository.

Reference: Spencer, J.E. and Titley, S.R., 2008, Ores and Orogenesis: Circum-Pacific Tectonics, Geologic Evolution, and Ore Deposits. Arizona Geological Society Digest 22, 600 pages.  For hard copies, please contact: Arizona Geological Society P.O. Box 40952 Tucson, Arizona 85717
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AZGS is handing off maps and books

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-06-18 07:18
We are making progress in finding homes for many of the historical materials in the AZGS library in preparation for closing the Tucson headquarters and relocating to the University of Arizona.

We have over 21,000 copies of topo maps covering all ~2,000 quadrangles in the state, plus another ~10,000 copies of older editions and the 15" quadrangles that are out of print.     Earlier this week, Steve Whisel, with the non-profit Arizona Railway Museum (  in Chandler, along with his father Ron, were in our basement, pulling copies of each of the quads for the museum's files.

Steve gave an example of how they will be using the older maps.  The 15" map of Flagstaff below shows some of the lumber company lines running NE/SE/SW.  Steve was aware of the NE and SE lines (he says "some fool thought he was going to tunnel under the Mogollon Rim and connect to Globe").  But he was unaware there was a branch line out past Rogers Lake.

A number of groups including the State Archives, State Library, UA Government Documents Library, and others are taking large amounts of historical Arizona materials in our library.  But there is still much material remaining that we won't have space for it all in our  downsized space at the university.  

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Volunteers show up in force to preserve AZGS library

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2016-06-13 20:43
Our volunteers showed up in force today to empty the library shelves in the AZGS Phoenix in preparation for moving everything into storage in  the old mining and mineral museum later this month.

The group did an amazing job of getting the entire library and remaining files loaded onto rolling carts and all the shelves dismantled.  Movers will haul the carts to the museum on June 25, where volunteers will reassemble the shelves. We have two weeks to unload the carts and put the volumes back on the shelves.  This is the most efficient and least costly way to preserve the library.

The AZGS Phoenix office is being closed as a result of the consolidation of state agencies. The main Tucson office will move to the University of Arizona with a 75% reduction in space.  We are highgrading materials from that library.

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Getting ready to move AZGS's Phoenix mining files and library into storage

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-06-11 17:56
We will be packing the AZGS Phoenix office library and files starting Monday to move them into storage at the old mining and mineral museum near the Capitol.

Volunteers will be coming in throughout the week to help pull volumes off shelves into rolling gondolas.  Professional movers will transport those and the shelving to the museum, where we will have two weeks to unload them onto the shelves.  The extensive historical mining files are being moved intact in their file cabinets.  The materials will not be publicly accessible until and unless we can get the museum re-opened.

The AZGS Phoenix branch office is being closed as a consequence of our transfer to the University of Arizona as part of Gov. Ducey's consolidation of state government.

The State is not providing any support for the move, and with it being the end of the fiscal year, we have limited funds left to pay for it.  We have an even more expensive unfunded move to make with our main Tucson office. Fortunately, the volunteers from the mineral collecting and geological communities are rallying to provide assistance in order to preserve these important resources.  The vast files we inherited from the Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources when it was merged with is, are part of the Phoenix materials being moved into storage.

As word spreads, of the imminent closure, there has been a rush of clients to make copies of key reports before they go into storage.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Board of Technical Registration review of assayer, geologist de-licensing legislation

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2016-06-07 17:54
The newsletter of the Arizona Board of Technical Registration includes commentary by the Board's Chair and it's Executive Director on the recent legislative session that included attempts to de-license geologists, assayers, and certain other professions.

Board Chair LeRoy Brady wrote "Although landscape architects are still required to practice with registration by the Board, the geologists may now choose to voluntarily become registered or practice without registration. That “choice” may endanger public health, safety and welfare."

The Board's Executive Director Melissa Cornelius wrote, "SB1256, which proposed the deregulation of the Assayers, the Drug Lab Program, and Remediation Specialists, passed with one minor amendment; now formerly registered Assayers may refer to themselves in professional correspondence as Emeritus Assayers.

The Board exists to protect the public from those unqualified to practice safely and unscrupulous enough to harm Arizona citizens. Regulation of learned professions has been proven to stimulate the economy by
encouraging qualified practice and promoting public protection." 

Both columns in the newsletter go in to more detail and discussion.
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Early 1900's notebooks from F.L. Ransome found during packing

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2016-06-06 11:39

In packing for our move to to the University of Arizona at the end of the month, we ran across the original Tombstone geo-notebooks of F.L. Ransome.  Ransome was a famous economic geologist with the US Geological Survey. His Tombstone journals date to 1906 and 1911-1912. These are treasures that we will keep in a safe place.  [Photos by Mike Conway, AZGS]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Helium production resumes in Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2016-06-05 11:14
Ranger Development has begun production of helium from the old Navajo Springs field near Holbrook in eastern Arizona.   [Photo credit, Ranger Development]

Arizona helium fields are among the richest anywhere in terms of concentration of helium but production stopped decades ago when the US government helium reserves supplied most needs at an artificially low set price.   That reserve was going to shut down last year but the commercial sector has not yet geared up to replace it so the US reserve will continue for a few more years while other reserves are developed.

There is a worldwide shortage of helium that has pushed prices to $157 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) in a recent BLM auction.  For comparison, natural gas is selling for about $3 per MCF.

We hope to have more news about this development.  Other companies are also exploring and drilling in the area.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Spectacular dashcam video of Arizona meteor

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-06-03 13:49
The following video is a dashcam view of the meteor that came down over Arizona just before 4 a.m. local time on June 2.   It is posted online at

It's the most spectacular one I've seen, as it seems to be heading right for the camera.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona meteor explosion caught on seismic monitors

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2016-06-02 18:17
The explosion of the meteor that flashed across central Arizona at about 4 a.m. this morning was recorded on our earthquake seismic network.  The seismic record is from the Payson-Strawberry station.

The American Meteor Society, a non-profit organization, is asking for anyone who witnessed the meteor or has photos or videos, to contact them - 

Snapshot of the AMS web story on the Arizona meteor:

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Late arrival to northwest Arizona's earthquake swarm

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-06-01 09:54
This weekend I suggested that the earthquake swarm in northwest Arizona might have come to its end. We had not recorded any events for a week.

But last night at about 9 p.m. local time, there was a magnitude 1.3 quake in the swarm area.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

The swarm activity began on March 28 and we have seen roughly 65 earthquakes, ranging in magnitude 0.9 to 3.8.  The largest events were felt in Arizona and Nevada, but no injuries or damage was reported.

We have no way of predicting if more events will occur.
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Preservation of historical mining files and library underway

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-06-01 09:48
We have implemented a plan to preserve the extensive mining files and the bulk of the geological-mining library in our Phoenix office, before it is shut down on June 30.

The 800,000 pages of mining reports, 10,000 maps, and 7,500 photos, will be moved into storage at the former mining and mineral museum just east of the State Capitol in Phoenix.  AZGS will take over the lease on that building on August 6 but have access to store materials there now.    [Right, part of the Heinrich's Collection, one of 29 historical collections that AZGS houses of mostly unpublished company and geologists materials]

We worked out an arrangement with the State and University of Arizona that allows us to move certain expenses associated with our transfer to the university, into the next fiscal year beginning July 1.  That is freeing up enough funds to hire movers.   The files are ready to go, but the library materials will be loaded into large gondolas for transport. Once in the museum, we will have two weeks to unload the gondolas and put books onto shelves or into boxes.  At this time, expect it will be easiest to use the bookcases that we are moving over.

We will be asking help from our volunteers to load and unload the gondolas.    Thanks to those many of you who have offered your assistance.  We'll be calling as soon as the dates of the move are set.

Meanwhile, we are assessing the costs of moving the Tucson office to the UA.  As in Phoenix, the State has said they will not pay for the move.     We are downsizing the library here as well, since we are moving into space only one-fourth the size of what we have.  We will take the most critical materials with us. But we hope to preserve other valuable materials that do not duplicate what we have in Phoenix, if we can move those to the museum for storage as well. We are getting cost estimates now for both the UA and museum moves of Tucson materials.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

New publication on Geology of Santa Catalina Mountains, available for free downloading

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-06-01 06:51

AZGS has released a new online publication in our Down to Earth series.    "A Guide to the Geology of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona: The Geology and Life Zones of a Madrean Sky Island," by John Bezy is
a non-technical treatment of the geology and ecology of the Santa Catalina Mountains outside Tucson.   The report is available for free viewing and downloading at the AZGS Document Repository at

From the summary:

The Natural landscapes have distinctive personalities. Each is the product of the interplay of geology, climate, vegetation, time, and often, human activities. The landscapes that form the Santa Catalina Mountains of southeastern Arizona give that range a unique personality like no other in the American Southwest. Rising as a great mountain island to over 9000 feet in elevation at their summit, Mount Lemmon, the Santa Catalina Mountains are the greatest expanse of high country within the Sonoran Desert. An unusual dome-like profile  sets it apart from the numerous, steep, sharp-crested mountain ranges in the region. This distinctive profile is a legacy of the range’s remarkable geologic history and the structure of its bedrock. Formed miles deep within Earth’s crust before being exhumed, this ancient structure has guided surface weathering and erosion for millions of years. The result is a mosaic of mountain landscapes of singular beauty and complexity.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Going out of business sale at AZGS "Arizona Experience" store

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2016-05-30 17:49
The Arizona Experience store will close by the end of June when AZGS is transferred to the University of Arizona.   We are working with the UA Stores to carry AZGS's own geologic publications for sale after the transfer, but our other products are all going on sale.

Starting this week most of our merchandise will be on sale at 20% off, with many of the Arizona minerals being offered at 30% off.  

Publications of the Arizona Geological Society are 10% off.

Discounts will increase each week but items could sell out quickly.   Free parking behind our office at 416 W. Congress in the State Office complex in downtown Tucson, just one block off I-10.

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