AZGS Web Posts

Man killed in sinkhole collapse in Queen Creek

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2016-02-07 10:46

A 60-year old male farm worker died when a sinkhole opened up under him in an agricultural field in Queen Creek, Arizona, south of Phoenix, on Friday afternoon.
We are investigating whether the sinkhole could be part of a larger earth fissure that could extend to homes or roads.  Our initial review suggests that is not likely.  
Joe Cook, who heads our Earth Fissure Mapping Program reports that the site of the Friday death is not near any known earth fissures or in an area normally prone to forming fissures. Arizona Dept. of Water Resources does not show any active subsidence in that area either. In the news videos you can see the water is pouring in from the surface before they blocked the canal with dirt. Because it’s an agricultural area and there has been a lot of tilling and drainage manipulation/ponded water it’s possible this is collapse related to subsurface piping. The collapse appears to be on a bermed portion adjacent to the field and water looks to be routed/ponded there regularly. 
This video of the recovery effort courtesy of NBC News:

More local news reports at:

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Deregulation of geologists in Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-02-06 13:05

A bill was just filed in the Arizona House to deregulate geologists and landscape architects, removing those professions from the AZ Board of Technical Registration and replacing positions on that board with two public members.   

HB2613, if passed, will prohibit geologists from calling ourselves "professional geologists."  We would then be known as "design professionals."  [Photo credit, Resolution Copper]

The proposal is angering geologists across the state.  We are copied on emails flying around the community lining up opposition to the bill.

Stephen Noel, the geologist on the Board of Technical Registration emailed the following message to 

Fellow Arizona Registered Geologist:
On February 4, 2016, HB 2613 was introduced that,  among other things, would eliminate the registration of geologist in the state of Arizona.  As the geologist member on the Arizona Technical Board of Registration, I see first-hand the importance of registration of geologist and the benefits it provides to the health and safety of Arizona citizens and the environment.  Please send a note to your representative and express your opposition to this bill, and how deregulation will negatively impact the public health and safety of all Arizona Citizens based on your unique experiences.   
Time is of the essence, please send today! Thanks.
Stephen D. Noel, R.G.Arizona Registration No. 17065

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

New and updated Earth Fissure maps released for Maricopa, Pinal, and Cochise counties

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-02-03 13:05

AZGS has released six revised and upated earth fissures in south-central and southeastern Arizona for parts of Maricopa, Pinal and Cochise Counties. A single new earth fissure map for just east of the Picacho Mountains in Pinal County was issued.

Updated earth fissure study area maps, include: Luke and Chandler Heights in Maricopa County; Picacho and Friendly Corners (3 map sheets) and Santa Rosa Wash in Pinal County; and North Sulphur Springs Valley and Dragoon Road study areas in Cochise County. 
The maps and digital data are available at the Natural Hazards of Arizonaviewer. Individual fissure study area maps are online at the Arizona Geological Survey’s Online Document Repository. A Google Earth .kmz file is available for viewing the fissures on Google Earth. 
All new or revised earth fissure maps employ a base map displaying National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial photography and, when available, a local subsidence map, provided courtesy of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. 
A new fissure line category (yellow lines) portrays select fissures as confirmed that were otherwise not mapped by AZGS’ fissure mapping team. These include fissures mapped by reliable sources and those identified on multiple aerial photographs. Previously, if fissures could not be identified during field checks, the fissure was reported as unconfirmed.
Besides posing a threat to infrastructure, fissures are frequently used for illegal dumping of tires, appliances, construction debris, manure and other sundry items.  Because fissures extend downward towards the groundwater table, they represent a potential conduit for surface runoff to contaminate aquifer resources.
AZGS’s earth fissure mapping team will continue to monitor existing earth fissures and map new ones as they form.  AZGS geologists collaborate with hydrologists from the Arizona Dept. of Water Resources to better understand where and when fissures will occur, and with local environmental and geological engineers on ways to mitigate and minimize the impact of earth fissures.
[excerpted from the AZGS announcement]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Drop in copper prices moves Arizona out of #1 mining position

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2016-01-31 18:23
Arizona fell to second place in value of non-fuel minerals produced in 2015.  The USGS Mineral Commodities Summary for 2015 shows Arizona producing $6.8 billion of mineral vs $6.94 billion in Nevada. Nevada production is dominated by gold whereas Arizona is controlled by copper.

Arizona production value was down 14% from the prior year. In 2014, Arizona mineral production was valued at $8.06 billion, or 10.38% of the national production, while Nevada as at $7.49 billion.   

In addition to copper, Arizona's main mineral products were molybdenum concentrates, sand and gravel (construction), cement (portland), stone (crushed).   Arizona produced 8.69% of the value of the nation's non-fuel minerals in 2015.  [Right, AZGS active mines map]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill reintroduced to transfer mining and mineral museum to AZGS

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-01-30 19:50
Sen. Gail Griffin has reintroduced her bill, SB1440,  to transfer the former Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum in Phoenix, rom the Arizona Historical Society to AZGS to be re-opened as the Arizona Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.  The bill is essentially the same as the version that passed last year in the Legislature, 25-0 in the Senate, and 58-2 in the House.  Governor Ducey vetoed that bill.

The museum was transferred from the Dept. of Mines & Minerals Resources  (DMMR) to the Historical Society in 2010 in anticipation of converting it to the Arizona Experience museum for the 2012 Arizona Centennial, but funds were not raised.  The museum shut down in 2011 and has been vacant and closed since then.  DMMR was merged into AZGS in 2011.

Fans and advocates of the old museum have campaigned relentlessly to have it reopened.  The new museum would have a dramatically expanded mission, adding agriculture, livestock, forestry, and education to its portfolio.    SB1440 would transfer an unstated amount of funds for the rent, plus one curator position.  Additional funds would come from the fees paid for centennial license plates.

The bill faces an additional complication this time, since Gov. Ducey is proposing that AZGS's duties be transferred to the University of Arizona. 

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

[Corrected]: Consolidation would move AZGS into UA Geosciences Department

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-01-22 18:43
correction [1-25-16, 10 AM]:
The information below was early language that was dropped but mistakenly posted in the online budget document.  The options for where AZGS would be housed in UA are still under discussion

Governor Ducey's Office of Strategic Planning and Budget has released new details on his proposal to consolidate the Arizona Geological Survey into the University of Arizona. An addition to the Executive Budget states:
"For FY2017, the Executive recommends consolidating the Arizona Geological Survey with the Department of Geosciences within UA’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The State Geologist would continue to be a gubernatorial appointee."

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Consolidation would move AZGS into UA Geosciences Department

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-01-22 18:43
Governor Ducey's Office of Strategic Planning and Budget has released new details on his proposal to consolidate the Arizona Geological Survey into the University of Arizona. An addition to the Executive Budget states:
"For FY2017, the Executive recommends consolidating the Arizona Geological Survey with the Department of Geosciences within UA’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The State Geologist would continue to be a gubernatorial appointee."

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona Geological Survey's return on investment = 668%

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-01-22 13:57
Since 2011, the Arizona Geological Survey has successfully raised more than $35,800,000 in external research grants from federal, state, local, non-profit, and private sources.  Over that same period our total cumulative state appropriation was $5,364,100, for a Return on Investment of $6.68 of income for every $1 of state funds.   This compares favorably with top tier research centers across the country.

In addition, we have numerous funding proposals under review and have been told to expect new awards of at least $1.6 million this fiscal year.  That would increase our ROI number.

We compiled these numbers for inclusion in briefing materials we are preparing for the University of Arizona to help them understand and evaluate Governor Ducey's proposal to transfer the duties of the AZGS to the university.

These grant funds have been key to maintaining and even expanding state services despite significant state budget cuts during the Great Recession.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Moderate quake south of Arizona-Utah border

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-01-22 09:17
There was a magnitude 3.0 earthquake in northwest Arizona at 5:10 PM local time on Thursday. Preliminary location shows the epicenter in the southern part of the Intermountain Seismic Belt. [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill would eliminate licensing of assayers in Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2016-01-21 16:14
A bill in the Arizona Senate would eliminate the requirement for assayers to be licensed in Arizona.  SB1256, filed by Sen. John Kavanaugh (R-Fountain Hills) would drop Assayers from the list of professions regulated by the Arizona Board of Technical Registration. The Board previously voted to make this change.

Arizona appears to be the only state in the country to license assayers, initiated as a way to minimize mining fraud from unqualified, phony, or doctored assays. 

The group of licensed assayers is opposed to eliminating licensing and is seeking to find another state agency to take over this duty.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Wulfenite proposed as Arizona State Mineral

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2016-01-16 18:45
A bill filed in the Arizona House (HB2496) by Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson) would designate wulfenite as the State Mineral of Arizona.    [Right, wulfenite from the Red Cloud mine. Photo credit, Jan Rasmussen]

Copper is the current State Metal, hence Arizona's moniker as the "Copper State."   Turquoise is the State Gemstone, adopted in 1974.

Petrified wood, or araucarioxylon arizonicum, is the official state fossil.

A full list of Arizona State Symbols is available at the Secretary of State's website at

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Governor proposes transferring Arizona Geological Survey to the University of Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2016-01-15 16:21
Governor Ducey's Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposes transfer of the Arizona Geological Survey duties and responsibities to the University of Arizona, beginning July 1, 2016.

The Governor's budget proposal states:
The Arizona Geological Survey was originally housed at the University of Arizona. While the Survey was formally established as an independent State agency in 1988, it retains strong collegial and logistical ties with University faculty and staff. Both engage in rigorous academic geoscience research that greatly benefits the state. For FY 2017, the Executive recommends consolidating the Arizona Geological Survey with in the University of Arizona. This model, adopted by 20 states, is designed to enhance synergies by streamlining services and location of geological mapping data to better serve stakeholders. It presents potential for greater opportunities to successfully leverage research grant funding, can provide a direct pipeline of student researchers to the survey, and should help attract high-profile geologists.

The Executive recommends moving the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the Department of Environmental Quality. If the Legislature approves the proposal, the details of the shift of duties will be worked out between the Governor's Office and the University.  

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill would ban 'fracking' in Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2016-01-14 20:02
A bill submitted to the Arizona House today would prohibit hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and gas production.  House Bill 2407 amends statutes of the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality to state that "A person may not engage in hydraulic fracturing in this state and may not collect, store or treat water in this state if that water is used in, generated by or resulting from the process of hydraulic fracturing."
Hydraulic fracturing is being blamed for earthquakes in Oklahoma, Kansas and other areas, when in fact the quakes are likely being caused by the deep underground injection of wastewater from oil and gas production in those regions, a practice common in the industry worldwide for decades. However, the use of hydraulic fracturing has resulted in increased water production.

A few exploration wells have been hydraulically fractured in Arizona in past decades but none in recent years, and none of the 16 or so producing wells in Arizona were fracked.  There are no proposals to do so anywhere in the state.   A permit to 'frack' requires approval from the Oil & Gas Conservation Commission and the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Governor approves filling 4 positions for Dept of Water Resources

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2016-01-11 16:52
Governor Doug Ducey, in his State of the State address today, called for filling four positions in the Arizona Department of Water Resources, with one hydrologist and three planners.   ADWR staffing has decreased from 250 before the Great Recession to 125 today.
The Governor said,

"If there’s one thing Arizona is best in the nation at – it’s water. We sit in the Capitol city in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation in the middle of a desert.   Thanks to revolutionary planning efforts like our 1980 Groundwater Management Act, and leaders from Carl Hayden to Mo Udall to Jon Kyl, Arizona has grown and thrived.

We’re building on that, and we have a plan in motion. Right now, a team of our top water experts, users and providers are charting the path forward. I’ve directed them to:
  • Investigate new, long-term sources for water in our state.
  • Explore additional conservation opportunities.
  • And identify future infrastructure needs so we don’t end up like sorry California
I’ve also given the green light to the Arizona Department of Water Resources to use existing dollars to hire new staff that the water community has been requesting for years – experts who can take these plans and make them work."
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

AZGS leverages grant funds to carry out state functions

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2016-01-06 07:48
The Arizona Geological Survey leveraged each dollar of state funding last fiscal year with more than 4 dollars of grants and contracts to help carry out our statutory duties.  AZGS has not only maintained but expended state services despite an effective 60% reduction in state funding since the start of the Great Recession.   This is documented in the AZGS Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report,  which we delivered to the governor as required by statute and posted it online for public view at

The infographic below provides a snapshot of selected outreach activities and products.  The full report offers a more detailed recap of accomplishments, services, and products available to our stakeholders and customers.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Moderate quake south of Fredonia

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-12-29 08:40
A magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck about 24 miles SSE of Fredonia yesterday at 3:33 p.m. local time.  There are reports of light shaking being felt from the south rim of Grand Canyon to Orderville in southern Utah.  [Right, red star marks epicenter of quake. Light blue areas are where the quake was reported felt. Credit, USGS]

update 9:37 a.m. 12-29-15: 

The recording below from the broadband seismic station on the North Rim picked up the quake nicely [top arrow] and a possible minor aftershock less than 4 hours later [lower arrow]

The Google Earth image at the bottom shows the revised location (lower red squiggle) determined using the AZGS-run Arizona Broadband Seismic Network vs the original location from the USGS (upper red squiggle marked "USGS") which did not use our stations.   There are also reports of the quake being felt in Havasupai Canyon.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Freeport's Executive Chairman resigns

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-12-28 15:54
Freeport McMoRan's founder, James R. Moffett, is resigning as Executive Chairman of the Phoenix-based copper and gold company, according to news reports.   The Wall Street Journal said  "Moffett served as chief executive of the company and its predecessors between 1984 and 2003. He co-founded McMoRan Oil & Gas Co. in 1969 and lead its eventual merger with Freeport Minerals Co. In 1988, under his leadership, the company discovered Indonesia’s Grasberg mine, one of the world’s biggest for gold and copper."    It attributed his resignation to pressure from investor Carl Icahn, and the two-thirds drop in company stock in the past year.

The Arizona Republic stated that "For years, Freeport-McMoRan had been Arizona's most profitable and most valuable corporation in terms of stock-market capitalization. The company was worth around $38 billion as recently as the summer of 2014 but now is worth just $8 billion."

Freeport operates the giant Morenci copper mine in eastern Arizona [right, credit Freeport McMoRan].  The company projected sales of 4.3 billion pounds of copper in 2015.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

USGIN content model proposed for all US earth observation data

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-12-23 11:49

We are excited to report that the USGIN Content Model schema is recommended for adoption by the White House-led US Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) "Common Framework for Earth-Observation Data."

This framework would apply to ~$30 billion of earth observation data collected each year by US agencies.
AZGS manages the US Geoscience Information Network ( on behalf of the Association of American State Geologists, and in collaboration with the USGS.  USGIN was deployed as the data integration framework for the DOE-funded National Geothermal Data System (  We have been promoting it for adoption for other data management uses.   

The comment period is now open through January 15, 2016.

USGIN is referenced page 28:

“Parameter Names –for naming data parameters in metadata fields, the recommendation of the Common Framework is to use:”
“Content Models
·U.S. Geoscience Information Network “community” content models ( ” The document with instructions on submitting comments is available at
A blog post with additional information is available at
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

USGS launches new website for Gold King Mine spill

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-12-21 19:56

The USGS has launched a new website -  which provides water data, images, reports and interactive maps related to the Gold King Mine accidental spill which happened on August 5, 2015 near Silverton, Colorado.  [Right, Animas River below Silverton, CO, on Aug. 13, 2015.  Credit, USGS]

The website serves as a one-stop-shop and single source of  USGS information and data related to the spill and provides links to:

 ·         Water quality databases for recent and historical sample analyses along the spill area.

 ·         Interactive maps of current and past USGS water-quality sampling sites and real-time streamgages in the San Juan River watershed, including Cement Creek and Animas River.

 ·         Satellite imagery of the watershed area including both pre and post-event data.

 ·         A selected bibliography of past USGS reports on abandoned mine lands and natural sources of metals and acidity to streams in the Silverton area.

 ·          A gallery of Gold King Mine photos taken by USGS field personnel the week of August 10, 2015.[modified from the USGS announcement]

The Arizona Geological Survey maintains an interactive web map with sample locations and results from all of the state and federal agencies monitoring the spill and its aftermath, at  You can search for any samples that exceeded drinking water standards, and over what time period.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Suzette Kimball confirmed as Director of the USGS

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-12-21 13:28
The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Suzette M. Kimball as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey.  President Obama announced his intent to nominate Kimball as Director in January 2014, and she has been leading the agency in an acting capacity since February 2013.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts
Syndicate content