AZGS Web Posts

Making copper the official state metal of Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-02-06 15:44
 Arizona has a state fossil - petrified wood, and a state gemstone - turquoise.   Under a new bill, SB1441, Arizona would designate copper as the state metal.

 The list of official state emblems includes:
a)      state colors- blue and old gold;b)      state fossil- petrified wood;c)      state bird- cactus wren; d)     state flower- saguaro blossom;e)      state tree- palo verde;f)       state neckwear- bola tie;g)      state gemstone- turquoise;h)      state animals- ringtail, Arizona ridgenose rattlesnake, Apache trout and Arizona tree frog;i)        state butterfly- two-tailed swallowtail;j)        state nickname- The Grand Canyon State; andk)      state firearm- Colt Single Action Army Revolver. 
Many states have a state mineral but Nevada designated silver as the official state metal in 1977.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Mining claims in Arizona dropped by 9,000 in 2014

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-02-02 16:57
Mining claims on federal lands in Arizona decreased by approximately 9,000 in 2014 from their highest level in at least a decade, to the lowest level since 2008.  The causes may be in part the lower commodity prices last year, but the federal land agency fee increases may be the bigger factor, with marginal or low priority claims being dropped, particularly by small companies and individuals.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

More aftershocks to Duncan and Oak Creek Canyon earthquakes

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-01-31 16:30
We had aftershocks on Wednesday from both of last year's more prominent earthquakes in Arizona.

A magnitude 2.5 quake (orange dot  on AZ-NM border) is likely an aftershock to last June's M=5.3 Duncan earthquake.  It occurred at 3:50 p.m. local time on January 28.  The yellow dot is another aftershock, M=3.4 that occurred earlier in the week.

Another magnitude 2.5 quake hit south of Flagstaff, at 9:33 a.m. the same day, an aftershock to the November 30, -M=4.7 earthquake that occurred in Oak Creek Canyon near the Kachina Village area between Flagstaff and Sedona.   Our calculated located is a few miles west of the USGS location (yellow dot). We think ours is the more accurate location because we are using the stations in the AZGS and NAU networks for the epicenter solution.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Record rain fills rivers and washes in Tucson area

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-01-31 10:22

Friday's record rains in the Tucson area are generating huge flows in the regions rivers, that typically run dry much of the year.  The Catalina Mountains received over 5" of rain during the storm. Rain continues this morning.  Mike Conway, Chief of the AZGS Geologic Extension Service, reports that
at midnight, flooding on Tanque Verde Wash reached ~5,500 cfs. That is a high for the area, and much greater than flow on other washes and rivers in the area – see the hydrographs from the USGS for the Santa Cruz River Basin and San Pedro River Basin -
For comparison, Mike says the Colorado River at Yuma rarely gets above 5,000 cfs.


Categories: AZGS Web Posts

We're #1! - Arizona top mining state again

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-01-31 09:49
The Super Bowl in Phoenix tomorrow may be getting most of the attention this week but in the mining industry, Arizona just moved into the championship role.

Arizona is the #1 mineral-producing state (non-fuel) in the U.S. for 2014, according to a new report from the US Geological Survey.  The 2015 Mineral Commodities Summary reports that Arizona produced $8.06 billion worth of minerals in 2014, or 10.38% of all non-fuel minerals in the nation, with the principal minerals being, in order, copper, molybdenum concentrates, sand and gravel (construction), cement (portland), stone (crushed).  [Right, copper plate ready to be shipped. Credit, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold]    Arizona production was up $520 million over 2013.

Nevada, which had been the top producer for the past few years, came in second with $7.490 billion or 9.66% of the national production, led by gold, copper, silver, lime, and diatomite.  This is a drop of over $1.5 billion from the previous year.

Arizona produces about two-thirds of the copper used in the US, and even though prices dropped over last year to the lowest in five years, the drop in price of gold had an even bigger impact on Nevada's industry.

The USGS Minerals Commodity Summary is compiled from information provided by State Geological Surveys and others, including AZGS.

[update 2-3-15, 0820: due to a typo, the original post stated production amounts were millions instead of billions of dollars. Thanks to the anonymous reader for catching the error]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

New director named for Arizona Dept. of Water Resources

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-01-26 17:50
A news release from Governor Doug Ducey's office today announced the appointment of Thomas Buschatzke [photo credit, ADWR] as Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

Mr. Buschatzke has been assistant director for the department's Water Planning Division since 2011 overseeing Colorado River management, active management Areas, active management area planning and data management, assured and adequate water supply and recharge permitting, and statewide planning and tribal liaison functions.  In this role, Mr. Buschatzke is responsible for planning and policy programs for the management of the state's water supplies. He also manages multiple regulatory and permitting programs and ADWR's water conservation and drought management efforts.

Mr. Buschatzke previously served as a water resources manager for the City Manager's Office in Phoenix (2002-11); a hydrologist in the civil division for the city of Phoenix law department (1988-2002); and a water resources supervisor for the Department of Water Resources (1982-1988).
He has served on University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center External Advisory Committee and the Water Sustainability Program External Advisory Committee; the American Water Resources Association; the American Water Works Association; and the Colorado River Water Users Association.

Mr. Buschatzke received a Bachelor of Science in Geology from SUNY Cortland in 1977. Tom
replaces Mike Lacey who was appointed by Gov. Brewer.  
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Another aftershock to last summer's Duncan M=5.3 earthquake

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-01-26 12:34

It looks like we had another aftershock from last June's magnitude 5.3 earthquake near Duncan, along the New Mexico border.  The magnitude 3.4 event occurred at 3:22 p.m. local time on Sunday.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Agreement on making geoscience data available worldwide

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-01-21 16:08
The OneGeology Board meeting wrapped up yesterday with plans to provide umbrella coordination to develop interoperability among regional geoscience data networks as part of the consortium's strategic goal of providing access to geoscience data worldwide.

Chris Pigram [right, center], CEO of Geoscience Australia and Chair of the OneGeology Board, hosted the meeting at GA headquarters in Canberra.

We are going to start by linking data systems in the U.S. (USGIN, managed by the Arizona Geological Survey), European Union (developing under the INSPIRE initiative) and East-Southeast Asia (under the CCOP- Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia).   Conversations will be initiated with related systems being organized on other continents.

One of the major topics of the 3-day session was on long-term sustainability for OneGeology, with a diversified set of revenue sources identified including country memberships dues, government and foundation grants, consortia support for specific technical projects, industry sponsorship, and conferences.

OneGeology is an international consortium of over 130 organizations in 117 countries, with the majority of the members being Geological Survey Organizations.  The web portal initially provided access to maps from the participants creating a digital geologic map of the world at a scale of 1:1 million or better.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

State land wilderness bill in Arizona legislature

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-01-20 20:10
House Bill 2314 in the Arizona Legislature is titled "Public Lands Policy Coordination Office," but its primary purpose is to "Create a wilderness preservation system in this state" on lands owned by the State other than Trust Lands.  [Right, Arizona Capitol].    It is complexly written and we are still analyzing what it means, particularly for natural resources on the lands proposed for wildnerness status.

AZGS would be given two tasks in the bill:
G.  The agency managing and administering a protected wilderness area shall coordinate with the Arizona geological survey to develop and conduct surveys of a protected wilderness area on a planned, recurring basis in order to determine the mineral values, if any, that may be present in the protected wilderness area.  The surveys must be taken in a manner that is consistent with wildlife management and preservation principles.  A copy of a completed survey shall be made available to the public, the governor and the legislature.
I.  Any newly issued lease, permit or license for land within a protected wilderness area shall contain stipulations, as determined by the agency managing and administering the protected wilderness area in consultation with the state land department and the Arizona geological survey, for the protection of the wilderness character of the land, consistent with the use of the land for the purpose for which it is leased, permitted or licensed.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill would ban hydraulic fracturing in Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-01-18 19:30
A bill introduced into the Arizona legislature would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" for oil and gas.  The bill amends the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality statutes.

HB2463 defines it as   "Hydraulic fracturing" means the process of pumping a fluid into or under the surface of the ground in order to create fractures in rock for the purpose of the production or recovery of oil or natural gas."

The specific language in section 49-211 states "Hydraulic fracturing prohibited 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."   [Right, schematic diagram of hydraulic fracturing process. Credit, US EPA]

There is no hydraulic fracturing going on in Arizona and it was only used historically in a few exploration wells that never went into production.    Residents in Santa Cruz County have been concerned about two proposed oil and gas exploration wells in the area even though the operator has stated repeatedly that they are not going to frack those wells.  The company also does not have permits to do so.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Mendez, Sherwood, Andrade, and Velasquez.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Magnitude 3.1 earthquake in northwest Arizona

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-01-18 19:15
A magnitude 3.1 earthquake struck at 4:21 p.m. local time on Saturday, about 40 miles ESE of Kingman.  It was followed less a half hour later with a magnitude 2.1 aftershock in the same area.   [Right, location of mainshock epicenter in orange.  Credit, USGS]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

EPA open house and public hearing on Florence Copper in situ recovery project

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-01-14 17:15

The US Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled an open house and public hearing on the proposed in situ copper recovery operation proposed in Florence. The open house will be held 4-6 pm, January 22, 2015, in Florence High School at 100 S. Main in Florence.

The EPA public hearing will take place in the same location from 7-10 pm.

Florence Copper would pump a mild acidic solution through wells drilled into the underground copper deposit and recover the dissolved copper at the surface. [Right, schematic geologic cross section showing in situ recovery process. Credit, Florence Copper]  Opponents are worried about the potential for groundwater pollution and possible impacts on proposed housing developments in the area.  

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

AZGS hires first-ever Deputy Director

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-01-13 17:14
The Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) recently hired Chris Hanson as its first ever Deputy Director. Chris joins the AZGS with more than 17 years leadership experience, including senior positions with the American Society of Civil Engineers as Director of the Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute, and also with the National Society of Professional Engineers, International Dark Skies Association, and the Critical Path Institute.

Chris' experience also includes working in state government earth science and environmental programs, having served previously with AZGS to help develop its successful $21 million grant funded project with the U.S. Department of Energy to populate and deploy the National Geothermal Data System, and with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in both field operations and in its planning office. Chris has earned the Certified Association Executive designation through the American Society of Association Executives.

Over the past 15 years, Chris has focused on developing, implementing, and managing complex scientific and technical programs across diverse disciplines. This makes him the ideal selection as our deputy director. 

AZGS operates in an entrepreneurial model where grants and contracts account for 90% of its funding to support AZGS's mission to make the state safer from natural hazards and to support the wise use of Arizona's natural resources. AZGS is also increasingly a leader in national and international cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Legislation filed to have AZGS establish a mining and mineral museum

Arizona Geology Blog - Mon, 2015-01-12 16:26
Arizona State Senator Ed Ableser introduced a bill to have the Arizona Geological Survey establish "a mining and mineral museum as the state depository for collecting, cataloging and displaying mining artifacts and specimens of various ores, gemstones and lapidary material and other valuable mineral specimens."

Senate Bill 1016, went through its first reading today and was assigned to the Appropriations Committee.  

Sen. Ableser introduced similar legislation in previous sessions but none of them moved out of committee.   Although the bill does not state it explicitly, most readers interpret it to mean AZGS would restore the former Mining & Mineral Museum [right] in Phoenix, run by the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources.  The museum building was transferred to the Arizona Historical Society in 2010 in anticipation of converting it to a Centennial Museum, but the funding never materialized to support that.  ADMMR was merged with AZGS in 2011.

Advocates for the mineral museum have been trying to get it restored since then.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Global overview of potash released by USGS

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-01-11 20:12
The USGS has released it's long-awaited global review of potash resources.   The report, "Potash—A global overview of evaporite-related potash resources, including spatial databases of deposits, occurrences, and permissive tracts." 

The senior authors, Greta Orris and Mark Cocker, work out of the USGS Minerals Office in Tucson and have provided progress reports on the study in recent years to local professional meetings.

Arizona's Holbrook basin has only widely recognized as a world-class resource following the 2008 AZGS report describing the size and nature of the resource.    The breakup of the Uralkali potash marketing cartel two years disrupted potash development efforts worldwide, including proposals fot two underground mines in Arizona, capable of producing 1 -2 million tonnes per plant per year.   The cartel has since reformed, but the markets are settled. ruffled further by the great recession.

Citation:Orris, G.J., Cocker, M.D., Dunlap, P., Wynn, Jeff, Spanski, G.T., Briggs, D.A., and Gass, L., with contributions from Bliss, J.D., Bolm, K.S., Yang, C., Lipin, B.R., Ludington, S., Miller, R.J., and Slowakiewicz, M., 2014, Potash—A global overview of evaporite-related potash resources, including spatial databases of deposits, occurrences, and permissive tracts: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–S, 76 p., and spatial data,

[taken in part from the USGS announcement]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Tucson 2014 Mineral Lecture Series podcasts now online

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-01-11 13:21
A series of mineral-collecting talks from the 2014 Tucson gem, mineral, and fossil showcase were recorded by BlueCap Productions and released over the past several weeks as free podcasts.

The presentations were originally organized and hosted by the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show, at their show location just off Interstate 10.   The speakers and topics are listed below:

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Morenci copper mine expansion one of big mining stories of 2014

Arizona Geology Blog - Sun, 2015-01-11 09:20
One of the biggest Arizona mining stories of 2014 was the completion of Freeport's expansion at the giant Morenci mine.  An easy way to appreciate its significance are these excerpts below from pages 10 and 13 of a Freeport presentation last November.

Morenci's production estimate for 2014 makes it the 4th biggest copper mine in the world, and largest in the U.S.

[Figures from Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

We take for granted that the ground beneath our feet is stable

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-01-09 07:38

Arizona's Ken Fergason, with AMEC Earth & Environmental, is currently President of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists.  He is interviewed in the new issue of International Innovation.

Ken notes that "People take for granted that infrastructure around them is safe, that the groundwater beneath their homes is clean, that the school their children attend was properly constructed, that the dam supplying water and recreation is not in danger of failure, and that the ground beneath their feet is stable."

Ken has been an advisor to the AZGS on our Earth Fissure mapping program, and is active in the Arizona Land Subsidence Working Group.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts
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