USGS - science for a changing world

GMEG - Mineral and Environmental Resources

Project activities in the Menlo Park Office

U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 901
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591
(650) 329-5472

Assessment Techniques for Concealed Mineral Resources - Areas of cover are practically the only remaining areas for the identification of new mineral resources within the U.S. Cover includes pre-, syn-, and post-mineralization rocks, colluvium/alluvium and water that conceal a mineral resource from recognition at the surface of the earth. Research into methods of identifying covered mineral resources are needed to improve the accuracy and validity of mineral resource assessments. Elucidation of existing techniques and discovery of new techniques for quantitative measures to assist in mineral resource assessment are also needed.

Mineral Systems of the Ancestral and Modern Cenozoic Cascades Arcs and central California Coast Ranges, Western USA - Robust quantitative mineral resource assessments require both comprehensive knowledge of the regional geology and the mineral deposits of the assessment areas, and detailed genetic models of deposit types used in the assessments. A comprehensive understanding of the geology, hydrothermal systems, and mineral resources of the Cascades arcs and central California Coast Ranges is essential for land-use managers to be able to plan for future multiple uses and for increasing reliability of the forthcoming National Mineral Resource Assessment. Project Leader: David John

Quantitative Global Mineral Resource Asessment - In response to the growing demand for information on the global mineral-resource base, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting the Quantitative Global Mineral Resource Assessment Project (GMRAP), a cooperative international project, begun in 2002, to assess the world's undiscovered nonfuel mineral resources.

Western Region MRP GIS - This project provides 1) coordination and standardization of digital activities for the MRSP in the Western Region (exclusive of Alaska 2) GIS support for other MRSP projects within the Western Region (exclusive of Alaska) 3) Geoscience information and interpretations to land management agencies and develops new interagency research projects with those agencies. - Project Leader: Pam Dunlap

Menlo GIS Team - GIS Research and Support in MRSP Resource Activity Area, West Central Area- Menlo Park. - Task Leader: Bob Miller

Western Minerals Outreach - The project is designed to communicate accurate, up-to-date mineral resources information and demonstrate its relevance and significance to a broad range of users in an effective and efficient manner. Project Leader: Dave Frank

Completed projects:

Advanced Resource Assessment Methods - The fundamental reason for the Mineral Resource Program is to provide useful minerals information to policy makers. Needed information comes from two situations: estimates of resources, reserves, or composition of known mineral deposits and estimates of resources in undiscovered deposits. This project addresses the clear need to improve undiscovered deposit estimation. The project objective is to improve methodologies, tools, and models for quantitative mineral-resource and mineral-environmental assessments. Project Leader: Donald Signer

Geologic and Geoenvironmental Studies of the Western Phosphate Field - This five-year (1998-2002) research effort employs integrated, multifaceted, multidisciplinary, multiagency scientific investigations designed to improve our understanding of ore deposition and extent, alteration, weathering, ore concentration, and trace element concentration, mobilization, and transport processes. This research is expected to contribute to development of solutions and (or) alternative management practices for the environmental problems associated with the presence and mining of these deposits. - Project Leader: Jim Hein

Resources and Hazards of Hydrothermal Systems in Cascades Volcanoes - Hydrothermally-altered rocks are present on many of the active volcanoes in the Cascades in the northwestern United States. Hydrothermal alteration of active volcanoes is a manifestation of ore-forming processes and is characteristic of mineral deposits formed in stratovolcanoes similar to those in the Cascades. Hydrothermal alteration of stratovolcanoes can result in rocks highly enriched in sulfur and toxic metals that can be leached into surface and ground waters. Hydrothermal alteration also can result in severely weakened volcanic edifices that may be susceptible to failure and catastrophic landslides. This project aims at understanding the processes that lead to hydrothermal alteration including depth, duration, temperature, and sources of fluid components. Results will be used to develop genetic models of ore deposition, the degassing of magmas, the hydrologic structure of volcanoes, and the contribution of rock-alteration effects to volcanic hazards. Project chief: David John

Synthesis and analysis, northern California, Nevada, Utah - This project will establish the databases that contain the information necessary for mineral resource and environmental assessment. These databases will be easy to access and use, both online and via transportable media. - Project Leader: Vic Mossotti

Uncertainty and Risk Analysis in Mineral Resources - Government agencies must deal with increasing demands for quantitative resource assessments, effects of cover and, at the same time, they face declining budgets. Government agencies and the mining exploration industry need to develop risk and value analysis, and probabilistic decision-making and exploration investment performance measures in order to significantly improve return-on-investment. This project can, if successful, significantly improve the allocation of research monies to activities that can best reduce uncertainties in assessments. In addition, it can make the exploration for minerals a more efficient process, thereby helping reduce costs of raw materials. Project Leader: Donald Signer

Western Region Gold Deposits - As recommended by a recently completed National Research Council Review, this project forms the cornerstone for the USGS's participation in a newly establish consortium with academia, private industry, and the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology to construct accurate geochemical and structural models of gold deposits in the northern Great Basin. - Project Leader: David John

Mineral Systems of Siberia, Mongolia, Northeastern China, South Korea, and Japan (Northeast Asia) - Goals of this multi-year project are to create a critical database and companion geologic information for the USGS Mineral Resource Surveys Program, collaborators, and customers by providing basic scientific data and interpretations for land-use planning studies that deal with both mineral potential and mineral-related environmental concerns. - Project Leader: Warren Nokleberg

Geoenvironmental impacts of mercury and arsenic - The main objective of this project is to define the geochemical processes that control the distribution, speciation, and transport of arsenic and mercury from mined and undisturbed mineral deposits in mercury and gold mineral belts, and in geologic environments where naturally elevated levels of arsenic and mercury occur in association with mineral deposits. These geochemical processes are studied in order to discriminate between natural and anthropogenically induced environmental impacts. Studies are carried out in areas where environmental impacts of arsenic and mercury are of major concerns to humans, fisheries, and wildlife with the objective of providing sound scientific information to aid in the understanding of causes and provide a basis for mitigation of these environmental problems. These studies provide the characterization of arsenic and mercury phases and speciation that is required for scientifically sound bioavailability studies. - Project Leader: Jim Rytuba

Workshop on Modeling Complex Systems -Completed November 20-21, 2002

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