AZGS Web Posts

AIPG seeking candidates for Executive Director

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:54

The American Institute of Professional Geologists is accepting applications for the position of Executive Director. The position is to be filled as soon as a qualified candidate is vetted. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Details can be found at
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Jerome's Sliding Jail landslide is moving

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-06-28 18:10
In the 1930s a landslide in the center of the city of Jerome is credited with moving the jail house hundreds of feet downslope.  In fact, the building was moved to get it on more stable ground.  But this spring, part of the landslide started moving again.    City officials have blocked off part of a parking lot where large cracks are continuing to grow. [Top, view to the northwest, with Sliding Jail in center background.  My photo.] ADOT is monitoring the movement because of the potential for impacts on US 89A.  Otherwise there does not seem to be much of a threat to property, in large part due to the city keeping development off the old landslide complex.

AZGS is working with city and ADOT officials to monitor and assess the movement.   [Bottom, view to the east.  The pipe carries away rain runoff to prevent it from running into the slide mass. My photo.]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

"Arizona Mining Review" covers breccia pipe uranium, USGS mineral resource plans

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-06-28 09:34
The June episode of Arizona Mining Review is now on YouTube at

The interview with Dr. Jon Spencer, Chief Geologist here at AZGS, about his new report on potential uranium-bearing breccia pipes in northwest Arizona is drawing a lot of attention.   He and his co-authors project one to two orders of magnitude greater numbers of collapse features, breccia pipes and corresponding mineral resources as currently known.

I also talk with former Pennsylvania State Geologist about USGS's revised  plans for mineral resource reports.  George led a panel discussion at the recent State Geologists Annual Meeting in Flagstaff, on mineral resources.

Previous episodes are at the AMR Playlist:

The full AZGS Channel is at
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

New report indicates massive increase in uranium potential in northwest Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-06-25 09:10

We released our new report yesterday “Partial database for breccia pipes and collapse features on the Colorado Plateau, northwestern Arizona” ( that found concentrations of breccia pipes 10 to 100 times higher than previously known, in two test study areas.  Breccia pipes are primary targets for uranium and other minerals.   We believe that same density of pipes extends across the entire region, which would make the area one of the largest and richest uranium districts in the world.  
I interviewed lead author Jon Spencer on our video magazine Arizona Mining Review which was webcast yesterday and is online at
We will be sharing this report with our congressional members to help them make informed decisions about the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.
A 1989 USGS study mapped 1294 breccia pipes in the region.  Subsequent USGS maps and new investigations by AZGS identified at least 1,000 additional features in just two small study areas (outlined in red in map above).  It appears from this work that the number of likely breccia pipes is one to two orders of magnitude greater than previously recognized. The study raises the possibility that the higher concentration of breccia pipes extends across the entire region.

Mineralized breccia pipes—pipe-like masses of broken rock—may contain high-grade uranium ore and variable amounts of copper, gold, silver, vanadium and other mineral ore. More than 71 mineralized breccia pipes have been discovered in the region, and as of 2010, nine of these pipes yielded more than 10,500 metric tons of uranium.

Breccia pipes are vertical formations, typically a few tens to hundreds of feet across and hundreds to thousands of feet in vertical extent. The pipes formed more than 200 million years ago within Paleozoic and Triassic rocks over a broad area around Grand Canyon. The pipes formed as groundwater, flowing through Redwall Limestone dissolution breccias and along fracture zones, dissolved more limestone, causing collapse of overlying rocks and possibly creating sink holes.

This new map is accompanied by an Excel Workbook database with three datasets. The datasets are drawn from geologic maps produced by the U.S. Geological Survey and from mapping by geologic consultant and co-author Karen Wenrich. The datasets include point locations and comments on features identified as 1) breccia pipes, 2) collapse structures that might be breccia pipes, and 3) circular features that might be collapse features or breccia pipes.

Some features occur in more than one dataset, so the total number of features is less than the 3,286 features comprising the three datasets. GIS data as ArcGIS shapefiles built from the three datasets are included with this publication.

US Geological Survey geoscientists estimated that roughly 8% of breccia pipes contain some mineralization (Wenrich and Sutphin, 1988). A fraction of those are likely to host economic concentrations of minerals. 

In 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior withdrew from mining 1,006,545 acres of federal lands in northern Arizona for a 20-year period to prevent further exploration or development of uranium on those lands. Withdrawal curtails new exploration of breccia pipes and limits production to those pipes with valid existing mineral rights.

Spencer J.E., Wenrich, K. and Cole, T., 2015, Partial database for breccia pipes and collapse features on the Colorado Plateau, northwestern Arizona. Arizona Geological Survey Digital Information, DI-42, 5 p., 1 map plate, shapefiles, and Excel Workbook.

Wenrich, K.J. and Sutphin, H.B., 1988, Recognition of Breccia Pipes in Northern Arizona. Arizona Bureau of Geology and Mineral Technology, Fieldnotes, v18, #1, p1-5.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

New exhibit of historical mining maps opens in Tucson

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-06-23 19:42
 The Arizona Historical Society has opened a new exhibit in Tucson of the map collection of Robert Lenon.
Robert Lenon was a surveyor and mining engineer from Patagonia, Arizona. In addition to creating a vast number of maps depicting mining resources in the Sonoran desert region of Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico, Lenon collected historical maps dating back to the mid-1800s. The exhibit features highlights from the map collection and items from Lenon's engineering office.

Admission to the museum is $1. The museum is located at 949 E. 2nd Street Tucson, AZ 85719
Parking is one block west of the museum in the Arizona Historical Society garage at the northeast corner of E. 2nd Street and N. Euclid Avenue. Use the E. 2nd Street entrance to the parking garage. Parking is free for museum and library visitors (validated in the museum).

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill introduced to overturn Resolution copper mine land exchange

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-06-20 15:24
Two Arizona congressmen, Raul Grijalva (Tucson) and Ruben Gallego (Phoenix), introduced legislation to reverse the federal land exchange that is allowing the giant underground Resolution copper mine to be developed near the town of Superior. 

The land swap was approved last year along with a number of other land actions as part of a large defense bill.

The bill traded 2,400 acres of federally owned land for 5,300 acres acquired by Resolution Copper of private recreational, conservation and cultural lands across Arizona identified by conservation and other groups as priorities.

The San Carlos Apaches oppose the mine because of concerns about continued access to the Oak Creek Flat and Apache Leap areas [top right].   Requirements of the land exchange legislation according to Resolution Copper are that:
  • The USFS must complete a FEIS before exchange of the lands.
  • Resolution Copper will convey 110 acres of company owned land, which will be combined with 697 acres of federal land to create the Apache Leap Special Management Area (SMA). This SMA permanently protects Apache Leap and the legislation requires a management plan be developed with stakeholder input.
  • Resolution Copper must maintain public access to Oak Flat Campground (post FEIS) until it is no longer safe.
  • Increase consultation with affected Native American tribes to find mutually acceptable measures to address concerns.
Specifically, H.R.2811 would "repeal section 3003 of the the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015."
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

State Geologists field trip into Petrified Forest National Park back country

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-06-20 11:48
The post-meeting field trip for the 107th Annual Meeting of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) went to Petrified Forest National Park and Meteor Crater last Thursday.

Park naturalist and paleontologist Adam Marsh led the 50+ participants on a back country hike to an early Triassic 'dying ground' site that he and his team are currently excavating.   The dig area was literally covered with weathered-out bone fragments and teeth from a number of pre-dinosaur fauna as well lots of petrified wood. The prime excavation site was exposing more intact materials.   Despite the 96F temperature, we had a difficult time getting everyone to leave the stop and hike back to the bus.

AZGS hosted the meeting in Flagstaff starting last Sunday and running through Thursday.

[also posted on State Geologists blog -]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

State Geologists annual meeting underway in Flagstaff

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-06-17 13:58

AZGS is hosting the 107th Annual Meeting of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) in Flagstaff this week.   Over 150 attendees are participating from state geological surveys, federal counterparts, professional organizations, and industry.     We have a variety of technical sessions on geoscience topics including induced seismicity, mineral resources, ground collapse, sustainability of state surveys, groundwater, and data preservation.

USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball laid out a proposal for expanded collaboration between USGS and State Geological Surveys on a number of priority areas around resources, hazards, mapping, and environmental topics. 

A field trip to Grand Canyon on Tuesday, provided opportunities to discuss land use management, geology in national parks, outreach and education, as well as giving the attendees an introduction to Arizona geology.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Wildcat Silver changes name to reflect growing interest in lead, zinc

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-06-09 06:17

Interesting news item that Wildcat Silver Corporation has changed its name to AZ Mining Inc.  The new website is
The company said the change "reflects both the Company's focus on its Hermosa property located near Patagonia in southern Arizonaand the poly-metallic nature of the mineralization on the two current projects."   

Richard Warke, the Company's Chairman and CEO said, "The recently released drill results from the first five holes on our Hermosa North West drill program confirm we have the makings of a potentially significant zinc/lead/silver deposit on our hands. As a consequence, we felt this was the right time to re-brand the Company given its current focus on North West and our history and commitment to mineral exploration in Arizona."
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Call for Papers — 2015 AHS Symposium

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-06-08 17:29

 We got this announcement today: The Phoenix Chapter of Arizona Hydrologic Society (AHS) is soliciting abstracts for papers and posters to be presented at the 28th Annual Symposium. The symposium is a premier event in the Southwest for hydrology and water resources science, engineering, and public policy. AHS solicits descriptions of projects and research from hydrologists, geologists, engineers, planners, water policy and legal professionals, and teachers.Important Dates
  • Abstracts must be submitted by July 30
  • Contributors will be notified of abstract acceptance on or about August 30
TopicsThis year’s technical sessions will focus on the following topics focused on water and water science in Arizona and the Southwestern U.S.:
  • Atmospheric Studies
  • Colorado River Issues
  • Drought impacts by sector, location, decade
  • Environmental Contaminant Movement
  • Food Security
  • Forest Restoration and Watershed Management
  • International Issues Surrounding Drought and Shortage Sharing
  • New Technologies
  • Recharge and Recovery
  • Regulatory Issues
  • Subsidence
  • Surface Water and Groundwater Modeling
  • Sustainability and Climate Change
  • Water Augmentation
  • Water Harvesting
  • Water Markets and Exchanges
  • Water Quality and Geochemistry
  • Water Reuse
  • Water Shortage: Prediction and Planning
  • Water Supply and Delivery/Distribution
  • Weather Modification and Cloud Seeding
This year’s symposium will also encourage poster submittals.Requirements for SubmittalAbstracts should be 250 words or less (excluding title; use a 12-point font, single spaced, indented, left justified) and include:
  • Title (centered, ten words or less)
  • Authorship and affiliations (please denote the presenting author)
  • A brief biographical sketch (100 words or less) of the presenting author
How to SubmitAbstracts can be submitted electronically to David A. Sampsonor Madison Pike. More InfoFor more information, visit the symposium web site.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Sunset Crater, San Francisco Volcanic Field

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-06-04 16:53
Sunset Crater is the youngest cone in the San Francisco volcanic field in northern Arizona.   Over the past 6 million years, more than 600 volcanic cones formed, with an eruption every 3,000 years on average.   Sunset Crater may have erupted during the winter of the year 1064-1065.  The erupted materials are alkali olivine basalts, which may have erupted over a 10 year period.

Figure: Digital Elevation Model from "Roadside Geology: Wuptaki anbd Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments," by Sarah Hanson, AZGS Down-to-Earth series #15

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

No volcanic activity at Sunset Crater according to Park Service

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-06-04 15:37
The National Park Service issued a news release this afternoon in response to an internet claim that a steam cloud was produced by Sunset Crater near Flagstaff.  NPS stated " activity has been observed on the ground by park rangers staffing the National Monument."

We're in contact with the NPS, National Forest, National Weather Service, county officials and no one has seen any evidence of activity.  The purported plume coincided with smoke being carried from a controlled burn in the forest a few miles upwind of the site.  

NPS made a good point in that each of the 600+ cinder cones in the field are one-time events, so reactivation after nearly 1,000 years would be unprecedented.

Here's the full NPS announcement:

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

"Steam plume" from Sunset Crater is likely just smoke from forest fire

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-06-04 11:51

A report of a purported "steam cloud" from  Sunset Crater near Flagstaff appears to be mis-identification of a smoke plume from a Forest Service prescribed burn near A-1 Mountain a few miles to the southwest that passed over the crater, or possibly an orographic cloud formation in the lee of San Francisco Peak.
County, state, and federal officials in the Flagstaff area all report that there is no steam or any other activity at the Crater.  There is no earthquake activity in the area on the state seismic network that we maintain.
An internet site from Missouri and its YouTube post is getting a lot of online attention and prompting calls to AZGS as well as to local and national government offices over its "Arizona Volcano Alert" posting based on seeing a smudge on a low resolution satellite image.  That claim is being spread across the web as a volcanic "ash cloud" or actual volcanic eruption.
Sunset Crater erupted about a thousand years ago, and there is no evidence of modern activity.    So, as exciting as it might be to have an eruption in our backyards, it just ain't the case folks.

Thanks to our colleagues at the National Weather Service, Coconino National Forest, Coconino County Emergency Services, National Park Service, and State Forester's Office, for tracking down the real story.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Small quake in northwest Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-06-03 08:16
A magnitude 2.7 earthquake struck northwest Arizona at 8:23 pm local time last night, about 354 miles southeast of the Arizona-Utah-Nevada intersection.  The location is on the Shivwits Plateau and near the southern terminus of faults of the Intermountain Seismic Belt.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Red lines are active faults.  Credit, USGS]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

ADWR published 57 new land subsidence maps for Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-06-02 10:42
The Arizona Dept. of Water Resources has published 57 new land subsidence maps that cover the majority of the land subsidence features in the State using InSAR data through April 2015, according to Brian Conway, who heads the program.  He said there are now a total of 314 maps that can be accessed at ADWR’s website.  The maps can be accessed at the main ADWR land subsidence page:
or by using the interactive Land Subsidence Map:

[Right, East Valley subsidence from Nov. 2011 - April 2015]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Recap of mining and mineral museum plans

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-05-31 11:51
The Arizona [Phoenix] Republic ran an extensive story on the fate of the former Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum and the proposal to transfer it to AZGS.

The one thing I added to the article by Mary Jo Pritzl was a comment that the situation was complicated by the fact that Senate Bill 1200 would have required us to re-open it at the Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum, a mission much broader and different from its former operations.    While fans of the old museum anticipated being able to restore it quickly, we raised questions about meeting the expanded legislative mandate.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

"Arizona Mining Review" May epidode now online

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-05-31 11:42
The May episode of Arizona Mining Review was webcast on Wednesday, and posted to our YouTube channel after that.

I interviewed Dr. Manuel Valenzuela, Superintendent of Sahuarita School District about their program to train high school students for the high paying jobs in the mining industry.

Patrick Merrin, VP of Hudbay's Arizona Business Unit, provides updates on their Rosemont Copper project.

We are pleased to add AMIGOS (Arizona Mining & Industry Get Our Support) as an underwriter for Arizona Mining Review.  Their support is greatly appreciated in helping us produce AMR.    Additional support is provided by Mining Foundation of the Southwest

Past episodes of AMR are all online for viewing at

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Northern Arizona field trip guide published from AEG national meeting

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-05-25 09:52

The Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG) has released their field trip guide from last September's annual meeting in Phoenix.  It covers a route Phoenix to Sedona to Flagstaff to Sunset Crater to Grand Canyon to Chino Valley.

The 67-page guide offers a great introduction to those unfamiliar with the area, but a lot of new information for us "local's."
The guidebook was authored by Phil Pearthree (Arizona Geological Survey) and Wayne Ranney (Geologist, Author, and Guide), and edited By: Chase White.    The field trip was sponsored by Duane Kreuger.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Forest Service says no revision needed to Rosemont Copper FEIS

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-05-23 20:49
Coronado National Forest Acting Forest Supervisor Jamie Kingsbury issued a determination opn Friday that the Rosemont copper mine Supplemental Information Report "did not result in major changes to any of the impacts disclosed in the FEIS."

As a consequence,"no significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts were found that would require a supplement of revision of the Rosemont FEIS."   

I've copied the entire letter below.   The official letter and the SIR were posted on the Forest's project website at

This is a significant step in the mine approval process.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Proposal to re-open Kirkland tuff quarry to supply concrete additive stirs up local community

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-05-19 20:41
A plan to re-open the old Skull Valley tuff quarry near Kirkland in northern Arizona has galvanized the local community. [Right, AZGS geologist Brian Gootee provided these photos of the quarry area]   The Kirkland Mine Forum reports that 112 local residents showed up at a community meeting last Thursday with BLM and Yavapai County officials to discuss the quarry plans.   The Forum report on the meeting states:
The area of interest is an L-shaped island of BLM public land on which a kitty litter mine operated in the 1970’s and 80’s. That operation closed in 1985. The BLM Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement published in the 2000’s identified this area as open for mineral development. Mr Hawes explained that scattered isolated land parcels, such as this one, are not as important to protect, unless there is special habitat or cultural resources. This L shaped parcel was determined to not be important to keep in the public trust; thus it could be sold, traded, exchanged, and opened to mining.

The old kitty litter mine took coarse absorbent material; the leftovers are the same material, but much finer (“fines”). These “fines” exist in a large stockpile that looks like a sand dune. The Kirkland Mining Company has presented to the BLM an application and a Mining Plan of Operation to remove and sell the stockpile of “fines” for use in concrete. The application specifies between 42,000 and 48,000 tons of “fines” to be removed from a 2.6 acre area.

The BLM has not yet completed analysis of the application. No decision has been made, and no timeframe started, though it was noted that the mining company expects to start in about 2 months. This operation is small enough (less than 5 acres) to be eligible for a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) “Categorical Exclusion” ; however, the BLM, and specifically Field Manager Rem Hawes, can choose to deny the Categorical Exclusion, and instead order an Environmental Analysis before approving the plan. The Environmental Analysis would be performed by a team of BLM experts in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and include such considerations as air quality, water quantity and quality, soil, archeological resources, grazing, wildlife habitat, and community impact.
The report on the meeting concluded by saying that Rem Hawes, BLM Hassayampa Field Manager
said that as a result of this meeting he had decided to require an Environmental Analysis for the current application: “I am impressed with the turnout, and with amount and variety of input.”

The Kirkland Mining website is under construction.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts
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