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GMEG - Mineral and Environmental Resources

Project activities in the Tucson Office

See USGS in Arizona for information on USGS activities in the State, or visit the Tucson Science Center

Probabilistic Mineral Resource Assessments - Project Leader Jim Bliss - Probabilistic mineral resource assessments performed by the USGS estimate the amount of undiscovered resources, and the uncertainty associated with the estimate, of particular commodities within an area. The assessments range in scale from global to national to region, with their intended audience having a similar range from international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, and Congress to federal intelligence agencies to local federal offices and state agencies. The assessment information can influence foreign policy decisions, but are mostly used by land managers in formulating land-use policies and decisions.

Assessment Techniques for Concealed Mineral Resources - Co-Project Leader Mark Gettings: 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.

Minerals at Risk and for Emerging Technologies - Project Leader: Keith Long - Our technologically complex economy is increasingly reliant on the use of scarce metals and minerals and demand for these metals and minerals is increasing rapidly. Previous USGS mineral resource assessment efforts have focused on common metals and minerals that are consumed in large quantities and are usually a primary mine product. Rare metals and minerals may be primary industrial products, but are more often by-products commonly recovered at metal refineries, or by other less conventional methods. To assess resources of scarce minerals and metals, the USGS must investigate the occurrence of these commodities in commonly mined ores, as well as in rare or little known deposit types, and our technological ability to recover these materials.

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 - Project Leader: Pam Dunlap- 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.

Western Minerals Outreach- Project Leader: Dave Frank - 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.

Completed projects:

Porphyry Copper Deposit Life Cycles - A Regional Approach - Project leader: Bob Kamilli- The project team will work simultaneously at three scales of investigation: province scale; regional scale (focus starting in the Ray-Globe-Miami-Superior area, but branching out over time to the Sierrita-Tucson Basin and Safford-Morenci areas); and deposit scale (Ray at first and then shifting to Dos Pobres and possibly other deposits). The methodologies are organized into five tasks that cut across the scales of investigation and sites: (1) Mesozoic and Cenozoic crustal framework, (2) regional distribution of chemical elements, (3) characteristics and evolution of hydrothermal systems, (4) dispersion and concentration of materials from porphyry copper and related deposits in the region, and (5) historic lifecycle analysis of porphyry copper exploration and mining.

Complex Systems analysis of basin margins in Southwestern North America - Project leader: Mark Gettings- This project uses complex systems modeling as a unifying concept to undertake a spectrum of geoscience related problems including geologic factors of non-point source pollution; human and animal diseases controlled by geologic factors; genesis, life cycle, environmental, and socio-economic factors of ore deposits; and factors controlling the distribution of physical and chemical transport properties. The project goals are to create a general framework for solving problems that can include political, economic, social, and ecological factors in addition to traditional factors from the physical sciences (e.g. temperature, stress field, depth of burial) and to apply the framework to several geoscience problems.

SIMWS-Sources of Industrial Minerals in Western States -Project Leader: Jim Bliss - The Western Industrial Minerals Project provides a means for researchers to pursue potentially fertile research topics, anticipate and develop new scientific approaches, investigate modeling applications, & develop or improve methods. The objectives of the project are:

Southwest Mineral and Environmental Investigations - Project Leader: Mark Gettings- Major goals of this project are to delineate the shallow-subsurface features of the complex sub basins of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro, identifying their water-bearing potential, test experimental methods to improve the remote detection of subsurface basin features, design a pilot geochemical study to evaluate the point source contamination aspect of a porphyry type deposit on aquifers in an arid environment, and to determine the crustal setting of the deposits in the region by geologic framework studies to elucidate the timing and structural evolution of magmatism and mineral deposition in the region.

National Industrial Minerals - Project Leader: Greta Orris - Objectives of this project include: 1) Increase Minerals Program expertise in selected industrial minerals and deposit types, including our capability to assess these materials; 2) Identify and characterize geologic-economic relationships for selected priority industrial mineral commodities and deposit types; 3) Increase our understanding of how surficial processes and industrial mineral commodities and their deposits reflect and impact the environment.

Link to all Mineral Resources Program projects in the Western Region


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