AZGS Web Posts

AZGS will be at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-03-13 16:07
If you can't find us at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend, it may because the organizers moved our normal booth location out of the Science City area to a spot on the west end of the University of Arizona mall. We'll be in a double space at booth 117.  

In addition to our geology publications, we also will have a wide variety of materials from our Arizona Experience store.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Centennial museum bill hearing scheduled in State House

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-03-12 16:51
The Arizona House Committee on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 1200 on Monday, March 16, in hearing room HHR1 in Phoenix at 2 p.m.

SB1200 transfers the former Mining and Mineral Museum building and collections to the Arizona Geological Survey to be re-opened as the Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.      The language in the bill is taken almost verbatim from the language establishing the Centennial Museum in 2010 that was never built due to lack of funding. [Right, view of main floor in former Mining & Mineral Museum. Credit, Jan Rasmussen].  The museum was emptied and many exhibits and displays loaned or given away and specimens on loan returned to their owners.

The new museum is expected to include agriculture, livestock, timber, and tourism in addition to the mining and mineral themes from the old museum that was closed in 2010.  A advisory council appointed by the Governor, representing all those stakeholder constituencies would oversee development of the new museum concept.

The Senate approved the bill two weeks ago, with a floor amendment exempting AZGS from paying rent on the building for the first year, so that those funds could be used for salaries, operations, maintenance, capital costs to re-open the building, creating displays, and education programs.  The museum is expected to be self-supporting after that first year, except for one state-funded curator.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

US89 readying to re-open after two years of reconstruction following massive landslide

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-03-11 20:08
 ADOT announced today that US89 will re-open on March 27, more than two years after a landslide tore up a section of the highway causing $45 million in direct costs and uncounted economic losses to the city of Page and commercial traffic routed across a long detour.   A massive rock buttress was constructed at the base of the slope because landslide deposits extend along essentially the entire mountain front.    The figures below show the  size and location of the buttress but because of the scale of the project it is difficult to fully comprehend it.   ADOT has an extensive photo gallery and history of the project online -

 Excerpts from ADOT's announcement are below:

Two years after a landslide ripped apart a 500-foot section of US 89 and split the communities of Bitter Springs and Page, the Arizona Department of Transportation anticipates reopening the highway to traffic on the afternoon of Friday, March 27, barring any potential weather delays or mechanical breakdowns during the paving process, which began today.

Page Unified School District buses are expected to be the first vehicles to pass through newly rebuilt roadway. Students from the Bitter Springs and Marble Canyon areas have been among the most impacted by the US 89 closure, which has remained in place following the Feb. 20, 2013, geologic event approximately two miles north of the US 89/US 89A junction near the community of Bitter Springs.

Following the paving of Temporary US 89 in August 2013, US 89T has served as the detour route for motorists headed to and from the Page and Lake Powell areas, but residents and students in the Bitter Springs and Marble Canyon communities have still had to go out of their way to travel to and from Page and Lake Powell.

Prior to the March 27 reopening, crews will be completing the paving, install rumble strips and guardrail, and add temporary striping and pavement markers along the roadway.
Prior to launching the $25 million repair project last summer, which included removing approximately one million cubic yards of rock material to realign the roadway and construct a downslope rock buttress at the base of the Echo Cliffs to stabilize the area, ADOT had to clear several hurdles to move the project forward.

The ultimate repair of US 89 is the final step in fulfilling ADOT’s three-pronged approach to the US 89 landslide incident, which included providing immediate emergency access, conducting a geotechnical investigation and restoring essential traffic to the area. Paving US 89T (Navajo Route 20) has been the short-term solution for motorists driving to and from Page.

After an extensive geotechnical assessment identified the necessary repairs in July 2013, ADOT retained an engineering firm and developed plans for the eventual repair; finalized all federally required environmental reviews that included cultural, biological and water quality measures; and completed plans for the required right-of-way easements.

ADOT, along with the Federal Highway Administration, Navajo Nation, Navajo Division of Transportation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, were able to expedite the environmental, utility and right-of-way clearance process, knowing that the use of US 89T was a temporary fix, especially for the Bitter Springs area communities.

The US 89 landslide repair project is eligible for reimbursement through the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program, which provides funding to state and local agencies for the repair or reconstruction of highways, roads and bridges that are damaged in natural disasters and catastrophic failures.

For more information, visit

Read more at:

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Hunt for Lost Dutchman mine is subject of reality tv show

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-10 20:13
I have not seen the show, but ads for the History Channel's "Legend of the Superstition Mountains" seem to be everywhere.  The reality tv show promotes the long standing legend of a hidden gold mine in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix.  

The show's web site touts "The promise of a $200 million mother lode has lured thousands of treasure hunters and continues to claim the lives of those eager to decipher the legend’s clues and riddles."

And that's the part that is worrisome.   For years, treasure hunters, many of them with no experience of trekking through rugged and arid terrain, would come by the AZGS office to pour over topographic maps hoping to strike it rich.

In 2010, 3 Utah men hiked in, looking for the Lost Dutchman.    Their remains were found 6 months later.  The estimates are that 50 and perhaps as many as 70, people have died exploring the mountains.   Members of sheriff search and rescue groups lament how many people go in woefully unprepared for the rigors, lulled by the mountains relative proximity to a major metropolitan area. Will the tv show spawn a new rush of would=be prospectors with gold in their eyes?
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Engraved copper plates used to print topographic maps

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-10 19:45
AZGS received dozens of engraved copper plates used to print topographic maps of Arizona. The plates are being surplussed to states and universities by the USGS which no longer uses them for producing maps.  After cleaning, we hope to put selected plates on display to demonstrate how maps used to be made, one layer (eg, topography, hydrography, streets) at a time.  They are also stunningly beautiful.  The plate at right is from the set used for the Grand Canyon.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Flat budget approved for AZGS

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-03-07 10:45
The Arizona Legislature approved the state budget for Fiscal Year 2016, beginning July 1.   It looks like the Governor's proposal for the Arizona Geological Survey, to maintain the same level of funding as the current year, was approved without discussion at $941,700.  The budget now goes to the Governor for his signature.

Since the start of the recession, AZGS has taken net reductions of about 45% plus we absorbed the Dept. of Mines and Mineral Resources in 2011 without base funding for that staff.

We have been successful in winning grants and contracts so that state general funds accounted for less than 10% of our revenues in the past three years.    That percentage is changing as some large grants end that had substantial subcontracts to external  organizations.   However, the net funding for internal AZGS operations is fairly level.   This requires us to constantly be seeking competitive grants to sustain our state operations.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Darwin Day resolution introduced in Arizona legislature

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-03-05 20:03
State Representatives Sherwood and Rios introduced a resolution in the Arizona House proclaiming February 12, 2015 as International Darwin Day in Arizona.   The resolution states:

Whereas, February 12, 2015 is the 206th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin; and
Whereas, Charles Darwin is recognized for the discovery of natural selection as the mechanism by which biological evolution occurs; and
Whereas, Darwin's discovery of natural selection continues to serve as the foundation for ongoing advances in science, health, philosophy, art, education and many other areas of modern life; and
Whereas, Darwin's strength of character is evident in the great courage, wisdom and honesty required to explore and publish the findings supporting natural selection as the mechanism by which biological evolution occurs; and
Whereas, the anniversary of Darwin's birth is an appropriate day on which to celebrate and to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity and the hunger for truth, which contribute to the well-being of all people; and
Whereas, the State of Arizona is rightfully proud of its commitment to growth in the biotechnology industry, scientific research and education, natural resource-based recreation and tourism, research hospitals, aeronautics and other areas made possible by ongoing innovation in the life sciences.
ThereforeBe it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona:
That the Members of the House of Representatives proclaim February 12, 2015 as International Darwin Day in Arizona.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

State Senate approves transfer of centennial museum to AZGS; bill moves to House

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-03-05 09:01

The Arizona State Senate yesterday approved SB1200, transferring the former Mining & Mineral Museum from the Arizona Historical Society to Arizona Geological Survey, to be re-opened as the Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.

The legislation transfers the current rent and curator budget from AHS to AZGS but a floor amendment by the bill sponsor's Sen. Gail Griffin, was approved that waives the rent for the first year with the funds to be used for operations and maintenance.

The museum was closed in 2011 in anticipation of it being converted to the Arizona Experience Centennial Museum but the private funds expected to pay for it never materialized.  [Right, mining diorama from the former museum, when it was operated by the AZ Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources.   ADMMR was merged with AZGS in 2011, after the museum was transferred to AHS]

The revamped museum would be expected to add livestock, agriculture, timber, and range management programs to the museums themes, similar to the vision for the centennial museum concept.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona Mining Review episode covers Mining Day at the Capitol

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-03-04 18:35
The latest episode of our online video magazine, Arizona Mining Review, is now available on our YouTube channel.  This episode was hosted by AZGS Economic Geology Section Chief, Nyal Niemuth, who interviewed some of the legislative land industry leaders who attended Mining Day at the Capitol.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Amendments to museum transfer bill

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-03-03 20:25
State Senator Gail Griffin amended her bill, SB1200, that transfers the former Mining & Mineral Museum to AZGS to reopen it as a Mining, Mineral, & Natural Resources Education Museum.  [Right, artists vision of the original plans for the Centennial Museum]

The Senate engrossed version would change the membership of the Advisory Council to add one member from the gem community, one from timber interests, a State Senator and a State Representative.    The number of members from agriculture and livestock interests would be reduced correspondingly.

The amended version also would waive rent on the building for the first year, allowing the $428,300 that would be transferred from the Historical Society, to be used for operations or for maintenance and repairs, according to different sections of the bill.  The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

The Arizona Dept. of Administration reported last December that $2.1 million in building upgrades are required to re-open the building.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

State agency transition documents posted online

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-03-02 20:20
Prior to the November election, former Governor Jan Brewer directed a number of state agencies, commissions, and boards to prepare reports for the incoming governor and his administration.  The transition documents describe not only a lot of the organizations' operations but also list challenges they face.

AZGS was not asked to prepare a transition report but readers of this blog may find the reports from other resource and environment agencies of interest, including from Water Resources, State Lands, Environmental Quality, Game & Fish, and others.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Small quake south of Kingman

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-03-02 09:21
A magnitude 2.8 earthquake struck at 5:17 pm on Sunday, about 21 miles SSE of Kingman.   [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona SciTech Fest underway with events statewide

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-03-01 15:19
This year's SciTech Festival launched on January 30, with  a splash of events around the state.    A sampling of upcoming events is below. The full list online at

- Gila Valley Health, Safety & Science Festival, Graham County / Safford, 2/27/15 - 2/28/15, Friday 7:00am - 3:00pm, Saturday 8:00am - 9:00pm, Yuma Airshow, Yuma County / Yuma, 2/28/15, 8:00am - 4:00pm, 2015 Arizona Renaissance Festival Student Days, Pinal County / Gold Canyon, 3/3/15 = Elementary, 3/5/15 = Jr./Sr. High, 9:00am - 2:30pm, & Community STEM Night at Villago Middle School, Pinal County / Casa Grande, 3/4/15, 5:00pm - 7:00pm, Iterating Education, Cochise County / Sierra Vista, 3/4/15, 5:30pm - 7:30pm,
- Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light, North Valley / Scottsdale, 2/26/15 - 3/1/15, time varies by date, Inaugural Buckeye SciTech Trail, West Valley / Buckeye, 2/28/15, 10:00am - 2:00pm, Night of the Open Door - ASU Tempe Campus, Southeast Valley / Tempe, 2/28/15, 4:00pm - 9:00pm, Geeks' Night Out, Southeast Valley / Tempe, 3/5/15, 4:00pm - 7:00pm, STEM Month at The Learning BUG: Math, Coconino County / Flagstaff, 2/28/15, 10:00am - 1:00pm, Camp Verde Meteorite Exhibit, Yavapai County / Camp Verde, 3/1/15 - 8/31/15, 10:00am - 4:00pm,
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Asarco to layoff 160 in Arizona due to copper price plunge

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-03-01 10:11
Asarco is laying off 160 workers, with 130 at the Hayden and Ray operations and 30 at the Mission mine [right, credit, Asarco], due to the drop in copper prices.   Asarco's announcement stated:
Last week Asarco gave notice to union representatives in advance of potential reduction in workforce at the Ray Mine, Hayden Mill, Mission Mine and consideration for shutting down the Moly Plant. Final numbers have not yet been determined.

Asarco anticipates that it will continue to mill at full capacity in Mission while reducing operations at the Ray Mine and Hayden Mill. The Hayden Smelter and Amarillo Refinery will continue to process concentrates and supply rod and cathode to our customers.

The action was in response to falling copper prices which have decreased by approximately 80 cents per pound over the last year with the price now at $2.59.

Market conditions will continue to be closely monitored.

Pima County, Gila County and Pinal County officials have been made aware of the situation as well as other elected and government officials to keep them fully informed.”

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Solar farm on mine lands is biggest in region - expect more to come

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-02-28 20:09
I had the pleasure of giving brief remarks at the formal ribbon cutting of the 35 megawatt Avalon Solar facility near Sahuarita on Friday [photo credit, TEP].    The plant will reach 56 MW later this year, making it the largest solar resource in Tucson Electric Power's territory.   The site is on 500 acres of Asarco disturbed lands but not lands used directly in mining. The Avalon solar project grew out of an EPA effort to develop renewable energy on lands already disturbed, including mined lands.   This could be the first on many such facilities.   Asarco officials expect that the Mission mine tailings piles will be ideal sites for new solar farms when those areas are closed.    

A number of people asked for copies of my remarks, so I'm posting them here:

I’m honored to be included in the ceremonies here today to launch the Avalon Solar facility.
It is so exciting to see this marriage of mining and solar energy.  
Renewable energy requires infrastructures built with metals and minerals.    We need sand and gravel, aggregate, limestone for cement, steel for the frame, silicon for the solar panels, and copper – lots of copper – for the motors, generators, transformers, and transmission lines, to turn the suns energy into electricity and move it where we need it.
Arizona was the #1 mining state in the US last year, with primary production exceeding $8 billion, coming from copper, molybdenum, sand and gravel, aggregate, and cement; all minerals needed to build solar power facilities. 
Apple Computer is building a $2 billion data center in Mesa that will be powered, like all of its data centers, entirely by renewable energy, and in the Arizona plant, entirely with solar energy.Our modern society demand for base metals is increasing by 5% annually for use in cell phones, hybrid vehicles, and other technologies, including building solar and wind energy arrays such as built here.  
If trend continues according to a study published in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, metal production in next 15 years has to match the amount of metals produced since the dawn of civilization.
Wise use of our natural resource – our mineral resources – is the crux of building an environmentally sustainable society. 
The marriage of mining and renewable energy is also symbolic as well as practical and environmentally beneficial.   There is a growing realization of the benefits of mining and generating our power locally.
In 2007 the word of the year was “locavore.”   A locavoreis a person interested in eating food that is locally produced, not moved long distances to market. The locavore movement in the United States and elsewhere was spawned as interest in sustainability and eco-consciousness has become more prevalent.
We are seeing a movement now to promote [and let me quote] “more metal production near centers of demand, similar to the locavore movement.   Green technologies should incorporate domestic mining, which reduces the financial and environmental costs of transporting metals from far flung sources and decreases the carbon footprint, while providing jobs and wealth to the local community.”    The same holds true for energy production.   The Avalon Solar project is a prototype of what mining can contribute to sustainable energy, sustainable economy, and sustainable environment.
You here today are what I call the new environmentalists– you are leading the fight for a more sustainable world by efficiently providing the resources for our technological society, and by doing so, reducing global environmental impacts, and transitioning us to a renewable energy society.   A sustainable environment demands that we mine and produce our energy locally.  
Thank you for what you do for Arizona, the nation, for the economy, and for the environment.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona favorability rises in mining industry perceptions

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-02-27 20:14

The Fraser Institute’s 2014 survey ranking jurisdictions worldwide for their favorability for mining has just been released. 
“Since 1997, the Fraser Institute has conducted an annual survey of mining and exploration companies to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulation affect exploration investment. Survey results now represent the opinions of executives and exploration managers in mining and mining consulting companies operating around the world. The survey includes data on 122 jurisdictions worldwide, on every continent except Antarctica, including sub-national jurisdictions in Canada, Australia, the United States, and Argentina.”
Arizona is ranked 18th in the world in investment attractiveness, moving up 4 places from last year (and 6th in the US).  We are down 4 places in Policy Perception (mostly due to federal land management is our understanding).    We jumped dramatically from 25th to 12th in Best Practices Mineral Potential.   We are ranked 20th in Current Mineral Potential, behind only Nevada and Wyoming in the US.
Comments about Arizona from respondents:
  • ·         Objections to in-situ copper mining at Florence.
  • ·         2+ years to receive drilling permit on US BLM mining claim.
  • ·         It was positive to have a joint industry-government conference to reduce the time required to process permit applications and implementation of regulations
I am delighted to report that Arizona moved up to the #2 rated US jurisdiction for our Geological Database compared to #6 last year.  That’s an area we at AZGS are working on aggressively, digitizing hundreds of thousands of pages of mining records for free online downloading.   A second table shows 52% of respondents gave top rating to Arizona's Quality of Geological Database (includes quality and scale of maps, ease of access to information, etc), exceeded in the US only by Wyoming at 54%.    No respondents identified Arizona's geological data as a significant deterrent to investment.

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