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Sources of Industrial Minerals in Western States-SIMWS

Project status is complete. Please check the project list for currently active projects


Project tasks

Project summary:

The Sources of Industrial Minerals in Western States (SIMWS) 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

  • to develop new and emerging approaches, methods, and modeling applications in industrial minerals
  • to allow pursuit and investigation of promising science research topics
  • to ensure a national perspective for scientific activities in industrial minerals.

The overarching goals for this project are to advance the state of the science that we bring to industrial minerals questions and to address the most pressing needs for industrial minerals information. The project will focus on research concerning:

  1. processes and characterization (distribution, deposit geology, quality, and other characteristics) of industrial minerals
  2. environmental consequences of extracting industrial minerals
  3. identification of mineralogical and geochemical characteristics of industrial minerals that, if mined, may have an impact on the health of humans and other biota
  4. development and transfer of methods to characterize industrial minerals, potential environmental impacts, and health issues
  5. utilization of a common, highly organized, web-based outlet for industrial minerals information
  6. the geosocietal factors of industrial minerals development and reclamation.

This knowledge provides the basis for sound scientific decision making, strategy development, and mitigation activities by local, state, and federal agencies charged with minimizing the impacts of mining natural industrial resources in the United States and has important applications to all Regions and impact industrial mineral mining at the National level. Selected SIMWS publications can be found in U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin-2209 Contributions to Industrial-Minerals Research, a biennial series of chapters, present research strategies, results, and updates of investigations of industrial minerals by USGS scientists and cooperators.

Work on this project will result in a better understanding of selected industrial minerals in the western United States & elsewhere, & will provide a better understanding of their potential for development. Assessment of these commodities will require development of better methods to estimate industrial mineral resources and execution of these estimates for land managers and policy makers. The fact that many industrial minerals have low in-place value requires that economics must be addressed at the beginning of any assessment and requires new & modified assessment methodology. Development of megaquarries for industrial minerals mining and production will profoundly affect some industrial minerals cost & availability. Research emphases also needs to be guided by societal needs together with environmental well being. Research needs to be integrated so that multiple issues are considered, & products are useful to multiple users and stakeholders.

Strategy and Approach:

The strategy for the first phase of the project (years 1-2) is to utilize information gained from limited fieldwork combined with existing information from industrial minerals activities throughout the United States, and to develop cooperative activity ties, & links with studies among the three regions. Work in subsequent years will be built upon results obtained in the first 2 years.

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