Arizona Geology Blog

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blog of the State Geologist of ArizonaLee Allisonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11520300956249160005noreply@blogger.comBlogger4228125
Updated: 3 hours 34 min ago

Talking about earthquakes and landslides with "Rosie on the House" this Saturday, April 30

Fri, 2016-04-29 14:23
I'm scheduled to be on the syndicated radio show "Rosie on the House" with host Rosie Romero, tomorrow morning, April 30, starting at about 7:10 a.m., to talk about the recent swarms of earthquakes in Arizona, and the AZGS project to identify all the landslides in the state.   [Right, map of known landslides in Arizona. Credit, AZGS]   
We will also talk about preparedness for natural hazards.  April 30 is National PreparAthon Day.  Rosie on the House is the most popular Saturday radio show in Arizona and is heard on 7 stations around the state.  The typical audience is 60-70,000 listeners at any given moment,  so it should be a great way to get info out about Arizona's natural hazards, how big a risk are they, and what we can to do be prepared.
https://www.rosieonthehouse.com/
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Senate debate on Arizona geologist de-licensing bill set for today

Thu, 2016-04-28 10:57


Today, the Committee of the Whole in the state Senate discusses and votes on HB 2613, which eliminates licensing of geologists and other professions.
The hearing will be webcast live at http://azleg.granicus.com/Mediaplayer.php?publish_id=2
The hearing is expected to start between 1:00 and 1:30pm today, with HB2613 first on the agenda. 
A number of Arizona geological professional organizations and companies oppose the bill.


Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill to transfer AZGS is being heard in the Senate today

Wed, 2016-04-27 16:20
The Senate Appropriations Committee is meeting now to hear the dozen or so budget bills, including SB1530, Agency Consolidation, which transfers the duties of the Arizona Geological Survey to the University of Arizona. The hearing is being webcast at http://azleg.granicus.com/Mediaplayer.php?publish_id=5

The budget and budget bills were only released this morning.

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear their version of the consolidation bill, HB2699 tomorrow (Thursday).     But as of this posting, the bill has not been filed yet.


Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Bill filed to transfer AZGS to University of Arizona

Wed, 2016-04-27 10:36
The bill was filed today to transfer the duties of AZGS to the University of Arizona. Senate Bill B1530 includes a number of other agency consolidations.

AZGS statutes stay largely the same, except for an opening statement that the agency is established within the University of Arizona, and the duties to support the Oil & Gas Conservation Commission are transferred to the Dept. of Environmental Quality.  There are a few technical corrections to update statutory language, but otherwise all duties are transferred to the university to carry out.

Surprisingly, the bill retains the requirement that the Governor will appoint the State Geologist/Survey Director, who serves at the Governor's pleasure.   I am not aware of any other position in the university that is appointed by the Governor.



Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Budget bill transfers AZGS duties to University of Arizona

Wed, 2016-04-27 08:34
The budget bill negotiated between Governor Ducey and Legislative leaders leaves intact the Governor's original proposal to zero out funding for the Arizona Geological Survey as of June 30, and transfer the agency duties to the University of Arizona.

AZGS stakeholders, mostly in the private sector, have raised concerns about possibly losing AZGS services and products. In recent weeks, alternative proposals were floated including leaving us in state government, assigning the proposal to a legislative study committee for the next year, or transferring AZGS to the State Mine Inspector's office.  The latter was proposed by State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson).   

The University had raised concerns about diverting education funds to support the Survey's state service mission because in the original budget proposal from January, UA was slated for a total budget increase of $2 million (out of a total of $8 million for all three universities).  The AZGS state appropriation is $941,000 and we bring in another $800,00 - $1,000,000 annually in overhead in grant funds that are directed at our state mission.   (We also bring in many millions more in grants that are not necessarily tied to state statutory responsibilities.)    Thus, the total cost to maintain the current level of AZGS services is about $2 million per year.

The one difference now, is that the universities are reportedly set to receive an increase of $33 million.  We have not seen how much of that is targeted to UA, but the assumption is they will get substantially more than the original $2 million and thus will be able to absorb the costs of maintaining the Survey with the new funds.

The budget plan is not formally released and legislators still have to approve it.

update, 4-27-16, 09:51 - Senate Budget Plan posted online at  http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/senateplanasintroduced042616.pdf

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Quake swarm continues in northwest Arizona

Mon, 2016-04-25 08:38
The earthquake swarm continues in northwest Arizona near the Nevada border. There were more than a dozen events during the past week, with the largest being a magnitude 2.7 yesterday (Sunday) just after noon.  A magnitude 1.9 event just one minute later.   [Right, epicenters of last weeks quakes shown by yellow dots. The orange dots are from Sunday's quakes. Credit, USGS]

The swarm began on March 28 and more than 50 earthquakes have been recorded so far.   Swarms in other areas have lasted for months in some cases.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Earthquake swarm in NW Arizona up to 42 events, largest is magnitude 3.7

Tue, 2016-04-19 14:16
AZGS put out a news release today on the earthquake swarm in northwest Arizona that reported 42 earthquakes have been detected since March 28.  That was out of date very quickly. There was another event just before midnight on the 18th (ML=1.3) and a ML=2.3 just after noon today.  Our colleagues at the Nevada Seismic Laboratory who are providing key data on earthquake locations say this appears to be an unusual event, rather than something that happens regularly but just had not been detected before.  They indicate the instrument network should have been able to detect such events for the past couple of years at least.

Here is the AZGS release from earlier today:

A magnitude (ML) 3.7 earthquake shook northwestern Arizona south of Littlefield, Arizona, at 9:06 pm on 17 April 2016. This event is part of a swarm of more than 42 small magnitude earthquakes that began on 28 March with an ML > 2.1 event located approximately 29 miles SSE of Littlefield, Arizona. The most recent event, ML 1.3, occurred at 4:58 pm (MST) on 18 April.
The ML 3.7 event was the largest earthquake yet and was felt in Littlefield and Mesquite, Nevada, along the remote Arizona-Nevada border. The earthquake sequence includes 2 events >ML 3.0, 8 events >ML 2.0 with the remainder below ML 2.0. The depths of the earthquakes range from near-surface to approximately 14 km.

The earthquake swarm is situated along the physiographic boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province, an area of active crustal extension and seismicity.

We anticipate additional small magnitude aftershocks in the wake of the ML 3.7 event.

This apparent increase in earthquake activity of northwestern Arizona may be the result of efforts by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory (NSL) to capture and record small magnitude events along the Nevada-Arizona border. The Arizona Geological Survey’s broadband seismic network, comprising 8 seismometers, is unable to record small magnitude events in northwestern Arizona.

AZGS operates the seismic network without any state or federal funding so continues to look for ways to maintain the system and to increase statewide coverage of currently undetected earthquakes.

For additional information on the more than 3,000 historical earthquakes and active faults in Arizona, see the Natural Hazard in Arizona Viewer
Below is the list of the first 40 earthquakes recorded in the swarm.  We are continually updating it with new events.

No. DATE ML LAT LONG Depth (km) 1 4/18/2016 2.1 36.4730 -113.9650 0 2 4/18/2016 1.6 36.4920 -113.9950 1.2 3 4/17/2016 0.9 36.4870 -113.8830 0 4 4/17/2016 1.3 36.5020 -114.0000 8.2 5 4/17/2016 1 36.4970 -114.0040 0 6 4/17/2016 1.6 36.4930 -113.9890 0 7 4/17/2016 1.7 36.4800 -113.9920 2.4 8 4/17/2016 2.3 36.4820 -113.9830 2.1 9 4/17/2016 1.8 36.4710 -113.9710 0 10 4/17/2016 3.7 36.4720 -113.9740 4.8 11 4/15/2016 2 36.8670 -113.4470 13.7 12 4/14/2016 1.3 36.5050 -114.0090 6.6 13 4/11/2016 0.6 36.5020 -113.9310 0 14 4/11/2016 0.6 36.5540 -113.9200 8.3 15 4/9/2016 0.4 36.5340 -113.9680 8.7 16 4/9/2016 0.6 36.4990 -114.2000 7.2 17 4/9/2016 0.9 36.4880 -114.0050 0.5 18 4/8/2016 3.4 36.4975 -113.4372 22 19 4/7/2016 2.7 36.4860 -113.9970 7.8 20 4/6/2016 2.4 36.4950 -114.0070 7.9 21 4/4/2016 1 36.4890 -113.9890 6.3 22 4/3/2016 1.1 36.5140 -114.0240 0 23 4/3/2016 2.6 36.4560 -113.9790 6.1 24 4/3/2016 0.7 36.5210 -114.0310 0 25 4/3/2016 1.1 36.4810 -113.9710 0 26 4/3/2016 1.1 36.4890 -113.9710 10.9 27 4/3/2016 1 36.4890 -113.9890 6.3 28 4/2/2016 1.2 36.4880 -113.9870 10.5 29 4/2/2016 1 36.4730 -113.9790 10.7 30 4/2/2016 1.7 36.4920 -113.9980 5.8 31 4/1/2016 1.5 36.4930 -114.0020 9.8 32 4/1/2016 2 36.4980 -113.9920 0 33 3/31/2016 1.6 36.4860 -113.9220 3.1 34 3/30/2016 1 36.5240 -114.0140 8.8 35 3/30/2016 1.7 36.4390 -113.9690 0 36 3/29/2016 1.6 36.5060 -114.0040 0.9 37 3/29/2016 1.8 34.4950 -113.9800 13.2 38 3/29/2016 0.8 36.4830 -114.0040 3.8 39 3/29/2016 2.3 36.5400 -114.0130 15 40 3/28/2016 2.1 36.5380 -114.0110 0
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Magnitude 3.7 earthquake is largest one yet in Arizona swarm

Sun, 2016-04-17 04:41
There was only one earthquake greater than magnitude 1.0 in the past week in the area of the quake swarm in northwest Arizona until Saturday night when a magnitude 3.7 event struck just after 9 p.m. local time, followed by three apparent aftershocks in less than an hour.  The main event is the largest one yet in the swarm of the past few weeks, surpassing the previous one of M=2.7.   [Right, orange star marks the epicenter of the M=3.7 quake, with contours showing distribution of shaking.   Red lines are active faults.  Credit, USGS]

There are reports of the earthquake being felt in the sparsely populated region.

[Below, magnitudes, location, and time of Saturday night quakes in the swarm area.]


Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Small quake in Intermountain Seismic Belt south of Utah

Sat, 2016-04-16 09:06
A small earthquake, magnitude 2.0 hit in the midst of the active faults of the Intermountain Seismic Belt at 4:28 a.m. Friday morning, just south of the Utah border.  This does not appear to be related to the earthquake swarm of the past couple of weeks going on about 50 km to the southwest.   There have been only a few small events in that area in the past week.  [Right, orange star marks Friday's epicenter. Red lines are active faults. Credit, USGS]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Hunt for helium ramps up in Arizona

Tue, 2016-04-12 15:35
Three companies now have active exploration programs underway in Arizona to develop underground helium resources.

Ranger Development, a Texas-based joint venture, made a presentation last Friday to the Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission on their efforts to reopen the Pinta Dome and Twin Bridges helium fields in the Holbrook basin of eastern Arizona.   The fields are at the northern edge of the Holbrook salt basin and potash deposit.

They described the two fields as some of the richest in the world in terms of percentages of helium in the reservoir.   In most situations, 1% helium is considered economic.  In the Arizona fields, helium accounts for ~8% with the remainder almost entirely nitrogen, according to the Ranger presentation. They said Arizona is the "Saudi Arabia of helium."

The two fields were shut-in in the 1970s due to low prices resulting from the US government selling the gas at a low price from the national reserves rather than the fields being depleted.  Since then, there has been little incentive for the private sector to explore and develop helium resources. However, the US is getting out of the helium business, and extended sales from the reserve while private sources are developed.  There is a global shortage of helium, pushing up prices.  Helium prices are about $90 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) on the spot market, but Ranger said there is a great variability allowing them to sell their product at $125 to as high as $200 per MCF.   They expect to have the processing plant running by May, 2016 to separate the helium from nitrogen and start commercial production.  The plant will handle 2 million cubic feet of gas (MMCF) per day. The primary reservoir target is the Coconino Sandstone, followed by the Supai Formation.

Ranger Development filed permits for wells with the Oil & Gas Conservation Commission for new drilling, and got a spacing exemption for two wells to address local geologic conditions.  They  estimate about 1 billion cubic feet of gas remaining in each of the two fields. 

Meanwhile Blackstone Exploration got permits approved by the Commission for 5 new gas wells in the area, which are expected to target helium as well.  

A third company has advised us that they are getting ready to file their drilling permits.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Earthquake activity ramps up in southeastern Arizona

Tue, 2016-04-12 10:08
There have been at least 22 small earthquakes in the last 24 hours south of Duncan in southeastern Arizona, near the New Mexico border, according to Dr. Jeri Young, who manages the state seismic monitoring network here at AZGS.   A magnitude 3.0 earthquake at 8:22 a.m. today is the largest one detected.  There are reports of shaking being felt  by residents in the area.   [Right, orange star marks the epicenter of the M=3.0 event. Credit, USGS]

The earthquakes are occurring in the same area that experienced a magnitude 5.3 quake in June 2014.   Aftershocks have continued in the area since then.


Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Earthquake in northwest Arizona - magnitude 3.4

Fri, 2016-04-08 07:59
There was a magnitude 3.4 earthquake in northwest Arizona at 2:23 a.m. local time this morning.   The preliminary USGS location puts it about 30-40 km east of the ongoing earthquake swarm west of the Grand Wash Cliffs.  We are examining the records to see if adding data from the Arizona seismic network will change the location.   [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Red lines are active faults, which are part of the Intermountain Seismic Belt. Credit, USGS]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Earthquake swarm continues, M=2.7 is largest one yet

Thu, 2016-04-07 08:25
The earthquake swarm in northwest Arizona continues with two events occurring shortly before 1 a.m. this morning, one at magnitude 2.7 and another two minutes later with magnitude 2.2.   The locations are being replotted by Dr.Jeri Young here at AZGS, using data from the Arizona Broadband Seismic Network that we manage.  This could result in the epicenters being revised by a number of kilometers based on previous re-calculations.  [Right, today's quakes are shown in orange. The blue dot is Wednesday's event.  The yellow dots are some of the previous events.  Red lines are active faults. Credit, USGS]

The swarm began March 28 and we now have recorded 22 events, ranging in magnitude 0.7 to today's 2.7.     This is a remote area and there are no reports of anyone feeling the quakes, let alone any damage.   The area sits between the Mesquite and Grand Wash faults, at the eastern edge of the Basin and Range Province which is still stretching east-west, and at southern end of the Intermountain Seismic Belt.

The Arizona seismic network is funded by internal funds generated by the Arizona Geological Survey. We receive no state or federal funds to operate the network or process the data.   

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Another small quake today in NW Arizona swarm

Wed, 2016-04-06 15:02
We had a magnitude 2.4 earthquake this morning at 10:12 a.m. local time in area between the Mesquite and Grand Wash faults in northwest Arizona along the Nevada border.  This brings the total to 19 events since March 28. This is the second largest quake in the series, with the biggest one at M=2.6.  However, given the remote location, these magnitudes will have some margin of error in location and size.   [Right, orange star marks the epicenter of this latest quake. Credit, USGS]

Meanwhile, our news release on the weekly swarm of earthquakes in the area has been picked up by news media nationwide.    Alexa Liacko, reporter for Tucson's  KGUN channel 9 news, interviewed me this afternoon about the quakes and what it means for Arizonans [below].

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission continued for 6 years

Wed, 2016-04-06 09:45
Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB1059, continuing the Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission for 6 years, until July 1, 2022.  The Sunset Review panel had originally recommended an 8 year continuation but the Arizona House cut that to match the Sunset Review for the Dept. of Environmental Quality.    Gov. Ducey has proposed shifting the duties to provide technical and admin support to the Commission from AZGS to ADEQ, starting July 1, 2016, as part of his consolidation plans which involve transferring the AZGS duties to the University of Arizona.


The Legislative Fact Sheet on the continuation bill states:

In July 1991, the Legislature eliminated the Arizona Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC) agency and attached the OGCC governing board to the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS). The OGCC consists of the State Land Commissioner and five members appointed by the Governor, only three of whom may be of the same political party. Appointed members must be United States citizens and Arizona residents of at least five years (A.R.S. § 27-514).
The OGCC administers and enforces state laws with the purpose of: 1) conserving and preventing waste of oil, gas and geothermal resources; 2) providing for protection of owners of land wherein these resources lie; 3) encouraging responsible development of these resources; 4) encouraging a continuous and economic supply of and demand for these resources; and 5) safeguarding the health, property, environment and public welfare of the citizens of this state (A.R.S. § 27-502).
The OGCC fulfills its mission by: 1) issuing permits for oil, gas and geothermal wells; 2) monitoring and inspecting wells and facilities for compliance with rules; 3) maintaining rules; 4) compiling and maintaining drilling, production and subsurface data for public use; 5) coordinating enforcement with the Attorney General; and 6) preparing and publishing geologic studies to encourage exploration for and development of Arizona’s oil, gas and geothermal resources.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Update on northwest Arizona earthquake swarm - 19 events so far

Tue, 2016-04-05 14:30
 On March 29th, a magnitude (ML) 2.3 earthquake occurred about 23 miles south-southwest of Littlefield, Arizona. This event marked the onset of a swarm of 18 small magnitude earthquakes that continued through April 3rd. The largest event, ML 2.6, occurred at 8:36 am on April 3rd. There were no reports of damage or injuries.  [Top right. The location of the 19 seismic events in northwestern Arizona; red circles with magnitudes of each event; red lines show location of known, active faults; vertical white line is the NV-AZ border. Background image by Google Earth.]

The magnitude, date, and location of events are tabled below. The Google Earth map shows the locations of individual events which form a distinctly northwest trend. Also included for the ML 2.6 event are seismograms from the Arizona Geological Survey’s Arizona Broadband Seismic Network.

Active faults in the vicinity of the earthquake swarm include the Mesquite/Overton Arm, about 10 miles north along the western front of the Virgin Mountains, and the Grand Wash Fault system 11 miles to the east. The latter represents the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Provinces, an area with extensive historical earthquake activity.

Both fault systems are normal faults with down-dropping western blocks, characteristic of many active faults in the Basin and Range Province of northwestern Arizona and Nevada.

The northwest trend of this earthquake swarm (see above) is similar to other earthquake sequences observed in central and northern Arizona. In addition, strong lineaments in the nearby landscape suggests that there are potentially active faults immediately north of the largest event. More investigative mapping is needed to determine if the lineaments in the general area are indeed active faults.  

The 2.0+ events were resolved from data of the Arizona Integrated Seismic Network, while the small magnitude events were approximately located by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. The small magnitude and dearth of seismometers in this remote area precludes more precise locations. Calculating depths of the individual events in northwestern Arizona’s rugged terrain was similarly difficult, resulting in a broad range of depths from 0.0 miles to 8.6 miles.  [Bottom right, seismograms from AZ stations for the ML 2.6 April 3rd event.]

Over the past 22 months, moderate-size earthquakes have been reported in the Phoenix area - the Black Canyon City ML 4.1 and 4.0 events on the night of Nov. 2, 2015, which were felt widely in the Valley of the Sun; the Kachina Village ML 4.7 event of Nov. 30, 2015, felt in both Sedona and Flagstaff; and the ML 5.3 earthquake that rattled Duncan in eastern Arizona and resulted in aftershocks that were felt more than one year after the main shock. 


Table of earthquake events associated with the Mesquite swarm in northwestern Arizona,
29 March – 3 April 2016

Most Recent
to Oldest
Earthquake Date Magnitude (ML) Latitude (N) Longitude (W) 1 04/04/2016 1 36.489 113.989 2 04/03/2016 1.1 36.514 114.024 3 04/03/2016 2.6 36.456 113.979 4 04/03/2016 0.7 36.521 114.031 5 04/03/2016 1.1 36.481 113.971 6 04/03/2016 1.1 36.489 113.971 7 04/03/2016 1.0 36.489 113.989 8 04/02/2016 1.2 36.488 113.987 9 04/02/2016 1.0 36.473 113.979 10 04/02/2016 1.7 36.492 113.998 11 04/01/2016 1.5 36.493 114.002 12 04/01/2016 2.0 36.498 113.992 13 03/31/2016 1.6 36.486 113.922 14 03/30/2016 1.0 36.524 114.014 15 03/30/2016 1.7 36.439 113.969 17 3/29/2016 1.6 36.506 114.004 18 3/29/2016 0.8 36.483 114.004 19 3/29/2016 2.3 36.54 114.013


This material taken from a report prepared by Dr. Jeri, Young, AZGS, and posted at http://www.azgs.az.gov/news_releases2016.shtml#apr5
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Revised locations for earthquake swarm in northwest Arizona

Sat, 2016-04-02 10:34
The first 8 earthquakes in this week's swarm in northwest Arizona have been relocated by Dr. Jeri Young at AZGS using our local seismograph stations to improve accuracy from the USGS regional network.    The vertical white line in the figure at right is the Nevada-Arizona border.   Magnitudes of the quakes are shown in white.

The Mesquite and Grand Wash faults are shown in red.

Three more quakes occurred in the area after this figure was prepared.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Three more quakes in swarm in area of known faults

Sat, 2016-04-02 10:31
There were three more small earthquakes in northwest Arizona along the Nevada border on Friday, bringing the total to 11 since March 28.

The most recent ones were:
Magnitude 2.0 at 11:41 a.m.
Magnitude 1.5 at 12:01 p.m.
Magnitude 1.7 at 8:45 p.m.   (all in local times)


USGS geologist George Billingsley's map of area shows the Coxcomb, a long ridge at the southern extreme of the area hit by this recent seismicity [right]. The yellow circle encompasses some of the 1.0 M events.  The M2.0+ events are just off the map to the NNW.


Categories: AZGS Web Posts

World's tiniest dinosaur remarkably well preserved

Fri, 2016-04-01 08:28
The world's smallest dinosaur has been recovered from the waste rock pile outside an old mine adit in northwestern Arizona.   The distant cousin of the famous Tyrannosaurus-Rex ("T-Rex") would have weighed less than a pound when alive, according to discoverer, Gil Davidson, author of the scientific paper published today in the International Bulletin of Economic Taphonomy (IBET).

Davidson noted the specimen, which paleontologists have dubbed "T-Minus", is completely preserved, apparently through an unknown chemical process in the rocks.

Exploration is underway for other specimens at the site, which is next to an elementary school playground.


[This is our post for April 1 and we stand by it.]

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Earthquake "swarm" continues along Arizona - Nevada border

Thu, 2016-03-31 09:02
There have been 7 earthquakes recorded in northwest Arizona along the Nevada border during the past few days.  The latest one of magnitude 1.0 occurred around 4 pm local time yesterday (March 30).  The largest one was a magnitude 2.3 on March 28.   The smallest one is only magnitude 0.8.

The cluster is visible on the map south of Mesquite.  [Credit, USGS]




Categories: AZGS Web Posts
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