Nonmetallic industrial minerals represent the largest sector of the domestic nonfuel minerals industry both in terms of production and their contribution to gross national product. Nonmetallic industrial minerals are geologic materials that are mined for their commerical value, but are not fuel and are not sources of metals (metallic minerals). Individually and in aggregate, the significance of nonmetallic industrial mineral commodities in our lifestyle and economy cannot be overstated. In an average year, metallics account for about one-third of the U.S. non-fuel mineral production, aggregates (ex. sand, stone, gravel) account for one third, and the other non-metallics account for the remaining one third. For this reason alone, USGS continues to maintain and foster expertise and research on nonmetallic industrial mineral resources and contributes to the discovery, development, and science of industrial mineral deposits. In 2012, this project initiated a multi-year effort to characterize domestic nonmetallic industrial mineral resources that are important for national infrastructure, agriculture, and energy development. Initial activities include (1) a national-scale compilation of production data, providing a snapshot of the nonmetallic industrial mineral deposits that were of significance through the 20th century and earliest part of this century, (2) an overview of frac sand, (3) an introductory study of potash, and (4) sand and gravel in southwestern Wyoming.
Nonmetallic industrial minerals represent the largest sector of the domestic nonfuel minerals industry. In 2012, we began a multi-year effort to characterize the domestic nonmetallic industrial mioneral resources that are important for national infrastructure, agriculture, and energy development. In 2007, at the 43rd Forum of the Geology of Industrial Minerals, USGS research geologists Bill Langer and Anna Wilson presented a paper explaining a novel approach for organizing and visualizing the industrial mineral commodities that were produced in 17 Western States during a century of U.S. growth. Utilizing data from the Minerals Yearbook from 1906 to 2005, they were able to find recorded production for 28 industrial minerals in the 17 States over that time period. The 2007 study will be updated and modified as necessary.
We plan to publish an updated report about the agricultural importance, geologic deposit models, geochemistry, sources (both historical and new), mining technology, and global supply chain of potash. The updated report will address recent research that investigates potash sources from silicate minerals and rocks that may be effective when used in agricultural applications.
Contact: Anna Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
This research is conducted in collaboration with the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative Project, a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary study. We are refining a geospatial map of sand and gravel deposits relative to Quaternay and unconsolidated to loosely consolidated deposits.
Contact: Mary Ellen Benson, email@example.com
We plan to publish a report on sedimentary phosphate (phosphorite) that uses current theories of phosphogenesis to support a new integrative classification system for the formation of phosphorite deposits. A new geospatial map with U.S. phosphate deposit and occurences is also planned.
Frac sand is used by the petroleum industry as a proppant in hydraulic facturing to increase the flow of oil and gas from unconventional reservoirs. The objectives of this task are to describe the physical characteristics and geologic origin of frac sand, identify the formations known to produce or to have potential to produce frac sand, and track where frac sand is being used.
Benson, M.E., and Wilson, A.B., 2015, Frac sand in the United States—A geological and industry overview: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1107, 78 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151107.
Benson, M.E., and Wilson, A.B., 2015, Frac sand sources in the United States: Frac sand insider resource guide, a supplement to Rock Products, May 2015, p. 33-59.
Yager, D.B., 2016, Potash—A vital agricultural nutrient sourced from geologic deposits: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016-1167, 28 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161167.
Benson, Mary Ellen, and Wilson, Anna Burack, 2015, A geological overview of frac sand in the United States: Denver, CO, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Annual Conference and Expo., Technical Program, p. 43.
Benson, Mary Ellen, and Wilson, Anna Burack, 2014, A geological overview of frac sand in the United States [PDF file, 1.43 MB]: Pittsburgh, PA, 2014 Frac Sand Insider Conference, November 17, 2014.
Wilson, Anna Burack, and Benson, Mary Ellen, 2015, Where in the U.S. is the naturally-occurring Frac Sand?: Denver, CO, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration Annual Conference and Expo., Technical Program, p. 43-44.
Wilson, Anna Burack, and Benson, Mary Ellen, 2014, Where in the U.S. is the naturally-occurring Frac Sand? [PDF file, 1.73 MB]: Pittsburgh, PA, 2014 Frac Sand Insider Conference, November 17, 2014.
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center