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

Grand Canyon geology murder mystery to launch at Tucson book festival

Arizona Geology Blog - Fri, 2015-03-13 19:34
Our friend and colleague, Tucson-based geologist cum author, Susan Cummings Miller, will launch her sixth Frankie MacFarlane murder mystery, Chasm, at the Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday.

Susan will be talking about Frankie’s latest adventure, which takes place in the Grand Canyon, and signing copies of the book at booth signings at the Mostly Books, Clues Unlimited, and UA Bookstore booths.  Susan shared her schedule for the weekend events:    Saturday, March 14        8:30-9:30 a.m“Hot Off the Press,” an exclusive book launch for Friends of the Festival and Sponsors at the UA Bookstore. Meet Susan Cummins Miller, J.A. Jance, Rhys Bowen, C.J. Box, and other authors launching their latest books at the Festival. Moderator: Jennifer Lee Carrell. Features Q & A, signing, coffee, and pastries. Friends of the Festival need to RSVP no later than Tuesday, March 10, at Friends@TucsonFestivalof
         11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. “Is There a Western Literature?” Panel includes: Susan Cummins Miller (moderator), Margaret Coel, Craig Johnson (aka, "Longmire"), and Carrie La Seur. Integrated Learning Center Room 120. Signing follows.
        2:30-3:30 p.m. “Strong Female Protagonists.” Panel includes: Susan Cummins Miller, Alex Kava, and Becky Masterman. Judith Starkston (mod.). UA Bookstore. Signing follows.
        4-4:45 p.m. Signing for Chasm, the 6th Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, Mystery at Mostly Books, Booth #148.
    Sunday, March 15        10-11 a.m. Signing for Chasm, the 6th Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, Mystery at Sisters in Crime-Desert Sleuths Chapter, Booth #122.
       11 a.m.-12 noon. Signing for Chasm, the 6th Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, Mystery at Sisters in Crime-Tucson Chapter, Booth #231.
      1-1:30 p.m. Signing for Chasm, the 6th Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, Mystery at Clues Unlimited, Booth #291.
      2:30-3:30 p.m. “Unconventional Sleuths.” Panel discussion includes Susan Cummins Miller, Libby Fischer Hellmann, and Daniel Palmer. Robin Shambach (mod.). Koffler Room 218. Signing follows.
      4-4:30 p.m. Signing for Chasm, the 6th Frankie MacFarlane, Geologist, Mystery at Mystery Writers of America-Southern California Chapter, Booth 145.
Categories: 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
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