Monday, January 26, 2015

New director named for Arizona Dept. of Water Resources

A news release from Governor Doug Ducey's office today announced the appointment of Thomas Buschatzke [photo credit, ADWR] as Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

Mr. Buschatzke has been assistant director for the department's Water Planning Division since 2011 overseeing Colorado River management, active management Areas, active management area planning and data management, assured and adequate water supply and recharge permitting, and statewide planning and tribal liaison functions.  In this role, Mr. Buschatzke is responsible for planning and policy programs for the management of the state's water supplies. He also manages multiple regulatory and permitting programs and ADWR's water conservation and drought management efforts.

Mr. Buschatzke previously served as a water resources manager for the City Manager's Office in Phoenix (2002-11); a hydrologist in the civil division for the city of Phoenix law department (1988-2002); and a water resources supervisor for the Department of Water Resources (1982-1988).
He has served on University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center External Advisory Committee and the Water Sustainability Program External Advisory Committee; the American Water Resources Association; the American Water Works Association; and the Colorado River Water Users Association.

Mr. Buschatzke received a Bachelor of Science in Geology from SUNY Cortland in 1977.
replaces Mike Lacey who was appointed by Gov. Brewer.  

Another aftershock to last summer's Duncan M=5.3 earthquake

It looks like we had another aftershock from last June's magnitude 5.3 earthquake near Duncan, along the New Mexico border.  The magnitude 3.4 event occurred at 3:22 p.m. local time on Sunday.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Agreement on making geoscience data available worldwide

The OneGeology Board meeting wrapped up yesterday with plans to provide umbrella coordination to develop interoperability among regional geoscience data networks as part of the consortium's strategic goal of providing access to geoscience data worldwide.

Chris Pigram [right, center], CEO of Geoscience Australia and Chair of the OneGeology Board, hosted the meeting at GA headquarters in Canberra.

We are going to start by linking data systems in the U.S. (USGIN, managed by the Arizona Geological Survey), European Union (developing under the INSPIRE initiative) and East-Southeast Asia (under the CCOP- Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia).   Conversations will be initiated with related systems being organized on other continents.

One of the major topics of the 3-day session was on long-term sustainability for OneGeology, with a diversified set of revenue sources identified including country memberships dues, government and foundation grants, consortia support for specific technical projects, industry sponsorship, and conferences.

OneGeology is an international consortium of over 130 organizations in 117 countries, with the majority of the members being Geological Survey Organizations.  The web portal initially provided access to maps from the participants creating a digital geologic map of the world at a scale of 1:1 million or better.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State land wilderness bill in Arizona legislature

House Bill 2314 in the Arizona Legislature is titled "Public Lands Policy Coordination Office," but its primary purpose is to "Create a wilderness preservation system in this state" on lands owned by the State other than Trust Lands.  [Right, Arizona Capitol].    It is complexly written and we are still analyzing what it means, particularly for natural resources on the lands proposed for wildnerness status.

AZGS would be given two tasks in the bill:

G.  The agency managing and administering a protected wilderness area shall coordinate with the Arizona geological survey to develop and conduct surveys of a protected wilderness area on a planned, recurring basis in order to determine the mineral values, if any, that may be present in the protected wilderness area.  The surveys must be taken in a manner that is consistent with wildlife management and preservation principles.  A copy of a completed survey shall be made available to the public, the governor and the legislature.

I.  Any newly issued lease, permit or license for land within a protected wilderness area shall contain stipulations, as determined by the agency managing and administering the protected wilderness area in consultation with the state land department and the Arizona geological survey, for the protection of the wilderness character of the land, consistent with the use of the land for the purpose for which it is leased, permitted or licensed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bill would ban hydraulic fracturing in Arizona

A bill introduced into the Arizona legislature would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" for oil and gas.  The bill amends the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality statutes.

HB2463 defines it as   "Hydraulic fracturing" means the process of pumping a fluid into or under the surface of the ground in order to create fractures in rock for the purpose of the production or recovery of oil or natural gas."

The specific language in section 49-211 states "Hydraulic fracturing prohibited A person may not engage in hydraulic fracturing in this state and may not collect, store or treat water in this state if that water is used in, generated by or resulting from the process of hydraulic fracturing."   [Right, schematic diagram of hydraulic fracturing process. Credit, US EPA]

There is no hydraulic fracturing going on in Arizona and it was only used historically in a few exploration wells that never went into production.    Residents in Santa Cruz County have been concerned about two proposed oil and gas exploration wells in the area even though the operator has stated repeatedly that they are not going to frack those wells.  The company also does not have permits to do so.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Mendez, Sherwood, Andrade, and Velasquez.

Magnitude 3.1 earthquake in northwest Arizona

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake struck at 4:21 p.m. local time on Saturday, about 40 miles ESE of Kingman.  It was followed less a half hour later with a magnitude 2.1 aftershock in the same area.   [Right, location of mainshock epicenter in orange.  Credit, USGS]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

EPA open house and public hearing on Florence Copper in situ recovery project

The US Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled an open house and public hearing on the proposed in situ copper recovery operation proposed in Florence. The open house will be held 4-6 pm, January 22, 2015, in Florence High School at 100 S. Main in Florence.

The EPA public hearing will take place in the same location from 7-10 pm.

Florence Copper would pump a mild acidic solution through wells drilled into the underground copper deposit and recover the dissolved copper at the surface. [Right, schematic geologic cross section showing in situ recovery process. Credit, Florence Copper]  Opponents are worried about the potential for groundwater pollution and possible impacts on proposed housing developments in the area.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

AZGS hires first-ever Deputy Director

The Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) recently hired Chris Hanson as its first ever Deputy Director. Chris joins the AZGS with more than 17 years leadership experience, including senior positions with the American Society of Civil Engineers as Director of the Coasts, Oceans, Ports & Rivers Institute, and also with the National Society of Professional Engineers, International Dark Skies Association, and the Critical Path Institute.

Chris' experience also includes working in state government earth science and environmental programs, having served previously with AZGS to help develop its successful $21 million grant funded project with the U.S. Department of Energy to populate and deploy the National Geothermal Data System, and with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in both field operations and in its planning office. Chris has earned the Certified Association Executive designation through the American Society of Association Executives.

Over the past 15 years, Chris has focused on developing, implementing, and managing complex scientific and technical programs across diverse disciplines. This makes him the ideal selection as our deputy director. 

AZGS operates in an entrepreneurial model where grants and contracts account for 90% of its funding to support AZGS's mission to make the state safer from natural hazards and to support the wise use of Arizona's natural resources. AZGS is also increasingly a leader in national and international cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Legislation filed to have AZGS establish a mining and mineral museum

Arizona State Senator Ed Ableser introduced a bill to have the Arizona Geological Survey establish "a mining and mineral museum as the state depository for collecting, cataloging and displaying mining artifacts and specimens of various ores, gemstones and lapidary material and other valuable mineral specimens."

Senate Bill 1016, went through its first reading today and was assigned to the Appropriations Committee.  

Sen. Ableser introduced similar legislation in previous sessions but none of them moved out of committee.   Although the bill does not state it explicitly, most readers interpret it to mean AZGS would restore the former Mining & Mineral Museum [right] in Phoenix, run by the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources.  The museum building was transferred to the Arizona Historical Society in 2010 in anticipation of converting it to a Centennial Museum, but the funding never materialized to support that.  ADMMR was merged with AZGS in 2011.

Advocates for the mineral museum have been trying to get it restored since then.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Global overview of potash released by USGS

The USGS has released it's long-awaited global review of potash resources.   The report, "Potash—A global overview of evaporite-related potash resources, including spatial databases of deposits, occurrences, and permissive tracts." 

The senior authors, Greta Orris and Mark Cocker, work out of the USGS Minerals Office in Tucson and have provided progress reports on the study in recent years to local professional meetings.

Arizona's Holbrook basin has only widely recognized as a world-class resource following the 2008 AZGS report describing the size and nature of the resource.    The breakup of the Uralkali potash marketing cartel two years disrupted potash development efforts worldwide, including proposals fot two underground mines in Arizona, capable of producing 1 -2 million tonnes per plant per year.   The cartel has since reformed, but the markets are settled. ruffled further by the great recession.

Orris, G.J., Cocker, M.D., Dunlap, P., Wynn, Jeff, Spanski, G.T., Briggs, D.A., and Gass, L., with contributions from Bliss, J.D., Bolm, K.S., Yang, C., Lipin, B.R., Ludington, S., Miller, R.J., and Slowakiewicz, M., 2014, Potash—A global overview of evaporite-related potash resources, including spatial databases of deposits, occurrences, and permissive tracts: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–S, 76 p., and spatial data,

[taken in part from the USGS announcement]

Tucson 2014 Mineral Lecture Series podcasts now online

A series of mineral-collecting talks from the 2014 Tucson gem, mineral, and fossil showcase were recorded by BlueCap Productions and released over the past several weeks as free podcasts.

The presentations were originally organized and hosted by the Pueblo Gem & Mineral Show, at their show location just off Interstate 10.   The speakers and topics are listed below: