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Projects in the Reno Office

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Ongoing Projects

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.

Database and Information Analysis - This project provides for a Database and Information Analysis (DIA) team in each of the four WR MRP field offices (exclusive of Alaska) and for their coordination.  In addition, the DIA staff will assist their MRP colleagues in performing minerals-related assessments by utilizing the spatial analytical capabilities inherent in a geographic information system (GIS).

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. Areas to the east of the western Great Basin (including the Humboldt River Basin), as well as the Western Cascades arc in Oregon and Washington, recently have received comprehensive geologic and mineral resource investigations. However, mineral resource information for much of the northwestern Great Basin and Modoc Plateau south of the High Cascades in California and for the central Coast Ranges is not comprehensive or the existing data compilations are outdated, creating a critical gap in regional geologic and resource knowledge and databases.

Western Minerals Outreach - This project provides easily accessible, accurate, and up-to-date mineral resource information by maintaining minerals-related databases, responding to minerals information requests, disseminating outreach materials, marketing products, and interpreting the significance and impact of our science on the general and professional public.

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. Quantitative methods and models are required in order to make resource assessments explicit and reproducible, to allow uncertainty to be presented, and to allow alternative method comparisons. We need to know the uncertainty of estimates if we are to reduce it. The projectís focus is on being able to make unbiased quantitative assessments in a format needed in decision-support systems so that the consequences of alternative courses of action with respect to minerals can be examined.

Humboldt Basin Study - The Humboldt River basin includes many of the nation's largest gold deposits. Using geological, geophysical, and geochemical data, the project will assess the potential for undiscovered mineral deposits in the basin. It also will examine the environmental signatures of mineral deposits in the study area and generate a geoenvironmental map of the Humboldt River basin. This work was requested by BLM and will provide them with important long-term land-use planning information

Geologic and Geoenvironmental Studies of the Western Phosphate Field (aka: Western U.S. Phosphate) - A response to Federal Land Management needs, will characterize the extent of phosphate mineralization within the Western Phosphate Field (WPF) and the impact of the presence and development of phosphate resources on the environment.  Concentrating initially in Southeast Idaho, this integrated multidisciplinary study will enhance our ability to evaluate phosphate mineralization and to anticipate and mitigate environmental impacts, such as selenium toxicity and risk to wildlife, that are spatially associated with the existence and societal use of phosphate.

Geoenvironmental Assessment Methodology for Watersheds - The total impact from mineral resource-related development to a watershed is a complex and poorly understood function of the regional geology, hydrology, deposit type, mining techniques, methods of tailings disposal, metal mobility from tailings, climate, and the ecosystem of the watershed. How these variables interrelate remains a primary challenge in the research of the total environmental impacts of mineral-resource development.  This project will provide a coordinated effort to advance the philosophical approach and protocols associated with the environmental behavior of mineral deposit types and corresponding lithologic terranes. Federal land-use planning agencies have expressed a strong need for real-time environmental assessments to support decisions on characterization and remediation issues from the local- to regional-scale.

Metallogeny of the Great Basin: Crustal Evolution, Fluid Flow, and Ore Deposits - Key objectives of this project were

Mineral Systems of Siberia, Mongolia, Northeastern China, South Korea, and Japan (Northeast Asia) - This project will provide a critical data base and companion geologic information for the USGS Mineral Resource Surveys Program (MRP), collaborators, supporters, and customers. Although the project area is purported to have vast mineral potential, little hard information exists in English. The project will fill that gap by providing vital basic data on major deposits, major mineral commodities, host rock geology and geophysics, and regional metallogenic and tectonic interpretations. Gathering of these data is critical for mineral potential analysis, land-use planning, joint resource extraction ventures, mineral-related environmental concerns, and other societal needs.

Sources of Industrial Minerals in Western States - 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; and to ensure a national perspective for scientific activities in industrial minerals.

Western Region Gold Deposits - The Great Basin is one of the world's great metallogenic provinces and produces about 11% of the world total of gold annually (approximately 67% of the United States production) from mines developed from a variety of deposit types. The impact of these mines on nearby robust local economies, on the nation's economic sustainability, and on our national balance of trade are profound, and will continue to be so well into the 21st century. This project focuses on critical questions regarding the genesis of precious-metal deposits in this region in order to develop state-of-the-art mineral and geoenvironmental models used in crucial land-use planning decisions affecting federal lands in the west and in designing exploration strategies by the mining industry. This project also is the cornerstone of the USGS's participation in a consortium with academia (CREG at Mackay School of Mines, Reno, NV), mining industry, and Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG).


Mineral and Environmental Resources also has offices in Menlo Park / Spokane / Tucson

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