AZGS Web Posts

Geologic mapping projects funded

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-04-22 15:00
The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) has  awarded the AZGS $170,940 to support geologic mapping near Oatman in Mohave County, Quartzsite in La Paz County, and northwest of Safford in Graham County.

Geologic mapping is one of the primary functions of the AZGS.  For the past 23 years, we have been aggressive participants in the USGS-run National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, successfully competing in the StateMap program component that matches state funds.

Since 1992, the AZGS has been awarded $3,943,335 in StateMap funds; because these funds are matched dollar for dollar by State funds, nearly $8 million has been invested in geologic mapping in Arizona over the past 23 years. The result: more than 161 geologic map products (nine of which are still pending publication), most at the 1:24,000 map scale, comprising about 8000 square miles (see the accompanying figure).

Senior geologist Dr. Jon Spencer, chief of the Mapping Section, and Dr. Phil Pearthree, chief of the Environmental Geology Section, jointly oversee a staff of five geologists that engage in mapping part to full time. Mapping priorities are set by the AZGS's Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee made up of representatives of state and federal agencies, universities, and the private sector.

Geologic map products are released in the fall of each year at the online Arizona Document Repository as free, PDF downloads.

For more information on geologic mapping in Arizona, see “Index of geologic maps available from the Arizona Geological Survey v 1.1” (2015).
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Mineral museum transfer bill vetoed

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-04-10 14:40
Governor Doug Ducey vetoed SB1200 today, which would have transferred the former Mining & Mineral Museum to the AZGS to be converted into a Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.    In his letter to Senate President Andy Biggs, Gov. Ducey wrote:

"Today I vetoed Senate Bill 1200.  Although I commend the work of the bill's sponsor, we must evaluate the use of state buildings holistically, rather than individually.  At this point, there is not a plan or organizational structure in place to ensure the successful transition of the mining and mineral museum. While I appreciate the desire to preserve and celebrate the unique characteristics of Arizona's past, it would be premature to sign this legislation at this time."

The museum has been closed since 2011, when it was slated to become the Centennial Museum, but private funds were never raised to make the conversion.  [Photo credit,]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

County geologic maps going online

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-04-05 13:03
In 1959 and 1960, our predecessor, The Arizona Bureau of Mines - University of Arizona, published the popular Arizona county geologic map series. Until now, these important maps were only available in printed form; we are going digital.

Over the next two weeks, we'll publish the entire series of county maps online, starting with the geologic map of Apache and Navajo counties. All maps will be available free at the AZGS online document repository. The map scale is 1:375,000 and the contour interval is 500 feet. [Right, Coconino County Geologic Map]

Follow our Facebook and twitter feeds for posts announcing the release of individual maps.
Released to date:
The entire suite will reside at the Arizona Geological Survey Map Series collection at our AZGS Online Document Repository.

Coming soon:
  • Gila County
  • Graham and Greenlee Counties
  • Maricopa County
  • Mohave County
  • Pima and Santa Cruz Counties
  • Pinal County
  • Yavapai County
  • Yuma County (La Paz County) 
[post modified from AZGS announcement]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Museum transfer approved by legislature

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-04-02 10:55
The Arizona Senate approved SB1200 this morning by a vote of 25-3 and transmitted it to the Governor.  The bill transfers the former mining and mineral museum from the Arizona Historical Society to AZGS to be re-opened as the "Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum."   It was closed in 2011 to be converted to the Arizona Experience centennial museum but the private funds were not forthcoming to finance it.   [Photo credit,]

The museum was formerly operated by the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources, which merged with AZGS in 2011.

The legislation also transfers the budget for the rent and a curator from AHS to AZGS.   AZGS will be responsible for finding additional funds for developing exhibits and education programs, setting up a gift shop to fund operations, hiring staff, and operations costs.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

NASA and industry partner to impact asteroid into Arizona to mine for rare earths

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-04-01 10:02
NASA and a consortium of mining companies announced plans today to capture a metal-rich asteroid  as it passes by Earth, with the intent of sending it to Arizona, where it will be mined for rare earth elements.  Rare earth minerals are in increasing demand for technology applications including hybrid cars and cell phones, but China dominates the world market raising concerns about supply disruptions.NASA proposes sending a small rocket to asteroid Heise-2014 discovered by an amateur astronomer last year who is the world's wealthiest breeder of thoroughbred seahorses, that would nudge it out of orbit and towards lands controlled by the McCrory Asteroid Mineral Alliance (MAMA) west of Phoenix, Arizona.   A company spokesperson downplayed the chances that the asteroid would be significantly off target when it lands (or "impacts" as the news media says).    Company president  Art McCrory, issued a statement from at an undisclosed location on the Canadian shield, saying,  "A gazillion tons of rock and metal hurled towards Arizona at 25,000 miles per hour, what could go wrong?"   He closed by wishing us luck and asking that we let him know how it works out before retreating to his underground bunker with the former Miss Rhenium of 2006.
NASA noted that Meteor Crater, Arizona was formed by an impacting body without damaging property 50,000 years ago, so there should be no worries this time around either.   In fact, NASA and MAMA may sell tickets to view the landing from ringside seats.  Dark glasses will be provided to spectators.
That's the news this April 1, 2015.    [Happy April Fool's Day!]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Springtime in the Sonoran desert

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-31 21:00
Our back yard in the Tucson Mountains

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Museum transfer bill approved by House; back to Senate for final consideration

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-31 17:20
SB1200, the bill to transfer the former mineral museum to AZGS to convert into a natural resources education center, passed the Arizona House today, on a vote of 58-2. It now goes back to the Senate for reconsideration because of the amendments added.  [right, diorama of an open pit mine from the former Mining & Mineral Museum]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

3rd Annual Arizona Geological Society Doug Shakel Memorial Student Poster Event

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-03-28 08:36

Third Annual Arizona Geological Society Doug Shakel Memorial Student Poster EventThe AGS will host a special meeting on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building #4 (ISTB-4) on the Arizona State University campus (781 South Terrace Road,  Tempe , Arizona  85281).
Prizes to be awarded: 
First Prize: $500; Second Prize $250; Third Prize $150; Three honorable mentions at $50. Special geological gifts will be given to each entrant.
8:00 AM: Students arrive at the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building #4 and mount their posters on poster boards. The event will be held in the third floor lobby, better known as the Crater Carpet. Appropriate tacks will be provided. (No more taped posters falling off the walls!) Parking is free on Saturdays in the big parking garage next door. (See Google map)
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM: Viewing of posters and beginning of judging by Carl Bowser, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Nyal Niemuth, Chief, Phoenix Branch Manager and Mineral Exploration, Mining, and Economic Geology;  and Gordon Haxel. Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff.9:30 AM - 9:45 AM: Coffee break10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: 3-minute oral summaries of each poster by each presenter.12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Buffet Lunch (free for students, whether or not they present a poster if they make a reservation). Those attending the Buffet Lunch must make reservations no later than 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 11, 2015. 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM:  Tour of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building and the showing of some nifty science films in the IMAX-like theater.2:30 PM - 3:30 PM:  Presentation of awards for the best posters.
Please call or email Bob Kamilli if you have any questions:Office Phone: 520-670-5576;Cell phone: 520-349-9336 
Here are some important details for students, who wish to participate in this event. 

More information and online registration: Third Annual Arizona Geological Society Doug Shakel Student Poster Event] Registratation for the Buffet Lunch must be made no later the 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 11, 2015.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Copper is the official metal of Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-03-27 16:40
Governor Doug Ducey today signed legislation making copper the official metal of the state of Arizona.  [Right, copper plates produced in Arizona. Credit, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold]

According to the announcement from the governor's office, Senate Bill 1441 was sponsored by State Senator Steve Smith after a fourth-grade class at Copper Creek Elementary School in Tucson had the idea and reached out to him about it.

“These students helped create a bill that had bipartisan support and will now be forever part of Arizona’s history,” said Governor Ducey. “A crucial driver of our economy, copper is represented on our state seal and is one of Arizona’s ‘5 C’s’ along with climate, cattle, citrus and cotton.

Arizona produces nearly 2/3 of all the copper used in the U.S. 
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Battle over museum transfer heats up

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-03-26 20:35
The bill to transfer the former Mining & Mineral Museum from the Arizona Historical Society to the Arizona Geological Survey is generating heated debate.   Although both AHS and AZGS have taken official neutral positions on SB1200, supporters and opponents are squaring off.  [Right, artists rendition for the proposed Centennial Museum to be built in the former museum space The building is currently vacant.]   The Arizona Capitol Times posted the most detailed report on the museum transfer published so far, by reporter Rachel Leingang at

The Friends of the Arizona Historical Society circulated a letter urging opposition to the bill, arguing 
  • The Historical Society is efficiently and effectively maintaining the Mining and Mineral Museum  and it should stay where it is.
  •  Leaving the Museum where it is currently will allow it to progress and flourish.
  • It makes sense and is good government for the Museum to stay with the state agency that runs museums.   
The lobbyist for AHS also raised the issue with the House Appropriations Committee that AZGS does not run museums.

Proponents of the transfer sharply disputed the claims in the letter from the Friends of the AHS during the same hearing, particularly the statement that AHS inherited a museum that was already closed.   In fact, AHS took the Mining and Mineral Museum in 2010 and shut it down in 2011 in anticipation of converting it to the Centennial Museum.

Today, the proponents started a petition drive aimed at the Governor, calling on allies to counter the letters and calls coming from the other side.

In an email sending around the petition that we received this afternoon, supporters are told:

"Feel free to print copies and get signatures wherever you can. At work or at school.  In the supermarket or stuck in traffic.  On the golf course, or at the gym.  Chase down the fishing boat or ATV ahead of you this weekend.
Put some on telephone poles and restroom walls.  Ask K Mart and Costco to put it on their bulletin board. Have kids give one to the teacher. Take some along when you walk the dog (possible dual use). Offer prison inmates a cigarette for a signature. Tell the kids they don't have to do their homework if they sign. Tell the mail man you will never let the dog out again if he / she signs. Ring doorbells and tell people they won the Readers Digest Sweepstakes (just sign here).
Be creative. Be sneaky. Be determined. BE SUCCESSFUL"  SB1200 must now go to the full House for consideration.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Dropping rent provision keeps museum bill alive

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-03-25 19:54
The Arizona House Appropriations Committee today approved SB1200, transferring the former Mining & Mineral Museum building to AZGS to create a new Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Educational Museum.   It also transfers $428,300 per year in funding from the Arizona Historical Society budget to AZGS to pay for the rent and salary of one curator.

The bill had been held due to amendments in the House and Senate that would have waived the $360,000 per year rent on the building for two years, with those funds to be used for restoration, maintenance, and operations.   However, waiving the rent charged to AZGS meant the State would have to find those funds elsewhere, and thus put a significant price tag on the bill.     To get the bill through the Committee, the sponsor, Sen. Gail Griffin agreed to removing the rent waivers, making it nominally revenue neutral.   The bill as it stands now, would provide funds to pay the rent and salary and benefits per year for one curator but nothing else.

There is also a report from last December estimating the cost of building upgrades at $2.1 million to reopen the facility for its new functions.  Those costs are not considered in the revenue neutral determination.

If signed into law, AZGS will be responsible for finding funds to develop exhibits for the now empty building, create the education program, stock a gift shop, hire gift shop staff and any other staff such as a museum director or fund raiser.   Supporters of the former Mining and Mineral Museum assured the committee that the gift shop will make the museum self-supporting and that no more paid staff are needed beyond that to make this a world class destination site for tourists.  

As the agency that will be responsible for creating something the Historical Society could not achieve with more staff and funding than we will be given, we are not so confident.   If assigned this task, AZGS will do the best we can with the resources we can find. But we need to temper expectations, especially from those who think a new museum can be operating in time for the opening of the school year in August-September, if we took possession in July.

The bill has to go to the full House for approval and then to a Senate-House conference committee to reconcile the different versions.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona Mining Review broadcast is online

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-03-25 10:41

The March episode of the Arizona Mining Review was video cast this morning and is now posted online at our YouTube channel at
I interviewed Ken Green with Fraser Institute, the main author of a new survey of mining company executives on the attractiveness of different jurisdictions around the world, including Arizona.    Ken discusses changes in Arizona's standing.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

$500 million in deferred maintenance in Arizona's national parks

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-24 20:37

National parks in Arizona have over $516 million in deferred maintenance needs with Grand Canyon accounting for $329 million of that.  This is out of a national total of $11.5 billion of maintenance needs according to a report from the National Park Service.

Amounts needed for Arizona parks and monuments are:

Canyon de Chelly National Monument (CACH)           $ 14,745,375
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (CAGR)           $ 2,010,699
Chiricahua National Monument (CHIR)                          $ 6,944,705
Coronado National Memorial (CORO)                             $ 280,212
Fort Bowie National Historic Site (FOBO)                     $ 1,020,290
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA)           $ 32,194,111
Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA)                        $ 329,458,168
Horace Albright Training Center (HOAL)                        $ 2,302,886
Hubbell Trading Post Historic Site (HUTR)                     $ 2,352,354
Montezuma Castle National Monument (MOCA)           $ 3,188,913
Navajo National Monument (NAVA)                             $ 2,088,722
Organ Pipe Cactus National Historic Site (ORPI)            $ 7,923,286
Petrified Forest National Park (PEFO)                          $ 54,455,010
Pipe Spring National Monument (PISP)                           $ 1,673,913
Rainbow Bridge National Monument (RABR)                  $ 1,120,081
Saguaro National Park (SAGU)                                     $ 18,423,101
Southern Arizona Office (SOAR)                                              $ 492
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument (SUCR)        $ 8,636,101
Tonto National Monument (TONT)                                 $ 1,409,493
Tumacacori National Historical Park (TUMA)                    $ 768,765
Tuzigoot National Monument (TUZI)                               $ 4,518,221
Walnut Canyon National Monument (WACA)                 $ 5,919,024
Wupatki National Monument (WUPA)                          $ 15,438,824
                                                                     Total      $ 516,872,745
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

UA and ASU geology and earth science programs top ranked

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-03-23 18:35

The earth sciences program at the University of Arizona (Geosciences Dept.) was ranked #7 in the U.S. by US News & World Report in new rankings.   ASU ranked #16 (School of Earth & Space Exploration).

UA Geosciences' Geology program ranked #3 and was #8 in Geophysics and Seismology.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Calling for support to reauthorize the National Geological & Geophysical Data Preservation Program

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-03-22 14:43

Reauthorization of the USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) is coming up in Congress and the State Geological Surveys are lining up support from geoscience data users.   We are asking our data users to add their names to a letter to Congress supporting reauthorization.
AZGS has been one of the most successful  competitors for limited federal funds.  The program requires that we put up Survey matching funds, 1 to 1 for each federal dollar.  Our focus the past four years has been digitizing the massive files we inherited from the merger of the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources.    We have ~800,000 pages of mining and mineral resource files, 10,000 maps, and 7,500 historical photos. [See photos]  In addition to scanning and digitizing at the highest resolution the software can handle, every document and map is georeferenced and documented with extensive metadata for search and discovery.   All data are posted online for free viewing and downloading at
The letter the State Geologists are circulating says archived and heritage geological and geophysical data can yield energy and mineral discoveries worth billions of dollars and generate tens of thousands of jobs. The NGGDPP supports important Federal-State partnerships that achieve mutually beneficial goals related to the rescue and accessibility of invaluable geoscience data.

Geoscience data are critical and of immediate concern to the Nation’s economy, well-being, and security. Examples include the following:

·         Location, abundance, sustainability, and quality of water supplies
·         Domestic energy sources, such as oil, gas, coal, geothermal, and renewables; reduction of carbon emissions
·         Domestic sources of metals and critical minerals
·         Identification, mapping, and prediction of geologic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sinkholes and landslides
·         New technological breakthroughs require re-examination of samples and data; data historically deemed insignificant may become paramount to new discoveries
·         Training the next generation of geoscientists, especially geologic mappers

All of these issues rely on the analysis of geological and geophysical samples, collections, and data that already exist. They have been acquired at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and in most instances are irreplaceable. Regrettably, these vital materials are often in poor states of preservation and access, and in danger of permanent loss. Many of this nation’s geological data repositories, most of which are maintained by State Geological Surveys, are now at or near their storage capacity. Some have exceeded their capacity and are relying on temporary, non-climate-controlled portable storage. Expansion of these facilities requires significant capital costs. While industry and government have made substantial investments to acquire geoscience data and collections for over 150 years, volumes of expensive and arduously obtained subsurface information are currently at risk of disposal or ruin. Once these data are lost, they probably will never be replaced.

Congress established the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) through the National Energy Policy Act of 2005 [PL 109-38, Sec. 351] to address these issues. We acknowledge and support the role of the US Geological Survey (USGS) in administering this program, which includes the development and compilation of state and federal data inventories, data standards, creation of a National Digital Catalog, strategic planning, and collaboration regarding preservation techniques. This vital work can continue, however, it requires Congressional reauthorization.

We commend your efforts to strengthen our nation’s capacity to address the challenges associated with energy, as well as critical and strategic mineral resources. The reauthorization of the NGGDPP will greatly assist in these endeavors.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Federal fracking rules: nothing to see in Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-03-22 13:48

The Bureau of Land Management issued rules last week for hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian lands.  This is mainly aimed at all the wells being drilled into shales for oil and gas.  There is no shale oil or shale gas development in Arizona, and the potential has been generally viewed as minor.  All of the oil and gas production in Arizona is from a small number of wells (~16) on the Navajo Reservation just south of the Utah border.   A few exploratory wells have been hydraulically fractured in the past 50 years in the state for testing but none were ever put into production.  No producing well in Arizona was fracked.    [Right, diagrammatic cross section showing the horizontally drilled and fractured producing section, below the aquifer. Credit, NaturalGasNow]

The Mining Law Blog summarized the final rules requiring the operator to: "submit additional information with its APD including wellbore geology, location of faults and fractures, and the depths of all usable water; implement and monitor a cementing program during well construction; perform a mechanical integrity test; store waste fluids in “rigid enclosed, covered or netted and screened above-ground storage tanks; and disclose chemicals used in the fracking activity."

The Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission does not regulate wells on Tribal lands.    AZGS provides the administrative and technical support for the Commission.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Postcard from the field - Artillery Mountains

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-03-19 20:23
Christy Caudill, Deputy Chief in the AZGS Geoinformatics Section was showcased in the February 2 issue of Eos, the weekly news magazine from the American Geophysical Union, in a full page "postcard from the field."

Christy's caption is, "I’m in the Artillery Mountains using a portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer to examine clastic sedimentary rocks - conglomerate and sandstone - or evidence of potassium, sodium, and calcium mobilization by low-temperature diagenetic alteration associated with basin brines. A rare cloudy day here in western Arizona."

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Museum transfer bill passed by Arizona House committee

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-17 08:04
The Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee passed the museum transfer bill, SB1200, by 9-0 on Monday.  It now goes to the full House for approval and then on the to Governor for signature.

SB1200 transfers the building that housed the former Mining and Mineral Museum from the Arizona Historical Society to the Arizona Geological Survey to be converted to a Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.

The building has been vacant and unused since it was closed in 2011 in preparation for converting it to a centennial museum.  However, private funding was not forthcoming and Gov. Brewer had committed to not using state money for it.

SB1200 sponsor Sen. Gail Griffin yesterday said she was confident the private sector would provide $2.5 million to complete the necessary building upgrades to open the new museum.

AZGS has taken a neutral position on the bill due to the uncertainty over funds needed to open and operate the facility.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Podcast on Resolution Copper land exchange

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-03-14 10:28
 Al Jazeera's  online podcast, "The Stream" webcast a show recently on the land exchange approved to allow the Resolution Copper mine in Superior, Arizona, to develop one of largest underground copper mines in the world.

The episode is titled, "A minefield of protests over Apache 'sacred' lands."  It includes interviews with:
  • Roger Featherstone, Director, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition
  • Vernelda Grant, San Carlos Apache Historic Preservation Officer
  • Pete Rios, County Supervisor of District 1, Pinal County, AZ
  • Rick Grinnell, Vice President, Southern Arizona Business Coalition

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

25% discount for UA Press books

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-03-13 21:24
The University of Arizona Press is offering 25% discount on publications featured at the Tucson Festival of Books.    One of their books may be of interest to readers of this blog - David Lowell's  "Intrepid Explorer: The Autobiography of the World's Best Mine Finder."   David will be autographing copies on Sunday, March 15, from 10:30 - 11 a.m.

Save 25% on all books at the UA Press website with discount code AZTFOB15.   The discount is good through March 16.  If you aren't attending the book festival, you can order online.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts
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