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

Copper prices at 4-year low

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-01-07 06:38
Copper prices fell on world markets to a 4-year low yesterday, with New York March futures settling at $2.7585 a pound.    That's down from $3.38 a year ago.

Arizona produces about 2/3 of the copper used in the U.S. and Phoenix-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold is the world's largest primary copper producer, so the price has potentially significant impacts to the economy.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts
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