Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Revised locations of Oak Creek Canyon earthquake aftershocks

The locations of the two Oak Creek Canyon earthquake aftershocks are further north than reported by the USGS. AZGS geologist Jeri Young recalculated the positions using additional stations from the AZGS-run broadband seismic network.

The yellow pins mark the USGS locations with the 5-3-15 M=2.6 event and the 5-5-15 M-3.2 event.  The red circles mark the corrected locations. The large red circle marks the main shock.

The AZGS locations move both quakes, especially the M3.2 event, further north and place them along the Oak Creek Canyon fault zone, and closer to the epicenter of the main, M=4.7 shock from Nov. 2014.

Oak Creek Canyon - Kachina Village aftershocks

There have been two notable Flagstaff-Sedona area earthquakes since Sunday, both likely aftershocks from the November 30, 2014, M=4.7 earthquake that occurred in Oak Creek Canyon near the Kachina Village area between Flagstaff and Sedona.

A magnitude 3.2 event occurred at 2:04 a.m. local time today, 6 miles north of Sedona, 17 miles SSW of Flagstaff [Southern orange star in figure at right].

A magnitude 2.6 quake struck at 3:26 p.m. local time on Sunday, midway between Sedona and Flagstaff, and 3 miles south of Kachina Village. [Northern orange star.  Base map from USGS]

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Arizona county geologic maps posted online

In 1959 and 1960, our predecessor, the Arizona Bureau of Mines at the University of Arizona, published the Arizona County Geologic map series. Until now, these important maps were only available in printed form. We are going digital. 

We've published the entire series of county maps online, starting with Apache and Navajo counties. All maps are available free at the AZGS online document repository. The map scale is 1:375,000 and the contour interval is 500 feet. It is posted at http://repository.azgs.az.gov/uri_gin/azgs/dlio/1618.

The Coconino County map is at http://repository.azgs.az.gov/uri_gin/azgs/dlio/1620. Coconino County is situated in northern Arizona and encompasses, Grand Canyon, the San Francisco volcanic field, part of the Colorado Plateau, and the Arizona Strip.
Released to date:
Apache and Navajo Counties (one map)
Coconino County
Cochise County
Gila County
Graham and Greenlee Counties
Maricopa County
Mohave County
Pima and Santa Cruz Counties
Pinal County
Yavapai County
Yuma County

[updated from the AZGS announcement]

EarthCube All Hands Meeting organized by AZGS

AZGS is organizing the annual All Hands Meeting for the National Science Foundation's EarthCube program, to be held in Arlington VA, May 27-29.   EarthCube is testing the ability to build a community-led cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences.   AZGS is running the Test Enterprise Governance project which is in the midst of a year-long demonstration phase testing out community recommendations on coordination, collaboration, and communication.    AZGS also manages the EarthCube website, www.earthcube.org.     

The AZGS project coordinators put together a brief video showcasing expectations for the upcoming meeting.  Each of the 25+ funded projects in the EarthCube program will be demonstrating their progress and in particular, showing how their work can be used by geoscientists to work more effectively in the digital environment.

AZGS will be reporting on the results of the Demonstration Governance phase and our recommendations for a longer-term strategy to facilitate community agreement on a system architecture. 

Mars crater named after ASU's Ron Greeley

A large, ancient crater – nearly as wide as Arizona – now carries the name of Greeley Crater, in honor of Ron Greeley, the Mars science pioneer and longtime professor of planetary science at Arizona State University.

Ron was involved in almost every major solar system robotic mission flown since the late 1960s and advanced the study of planetary science at ASU.

The crater, which spans 284 miles, lies in Noachis Terra, the geologically oldest terrain on Mars. Although the crater's exact age is not known, the smaller impact craters superimposed on it plus its preservation state all suggest an age of at least 3.8 billion years.

It is centered just east of Mars' "Greenwich meridian" and is 37 degrees south of its equator.
Kenneth Tanaka, a planetary geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff and longtime colleague of Ron's, proposed the name, noting that it was the oldest, relatively well-preserved impact crater on Mars that remained still unnamed.
Tanaka announced the crater’s naming in his keynote talk at the 24th annual Arizona/NASA Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 17 in Tempe.

The International Astronomical Union, the world's authority for feature names on extraterrestrial bodies, formally approved the name on April 11. The union's rules require that a person must be deceased for at least three years before any commemoration can be made; Ron died in October 2011.

[this post was drawn from the announcement by ASU's  School of Earth & Space Exploration]

Friday, May 01, 2015

Duncan aftershock felt by residents

A magnitude 2.3 earthquake near Duncan Arizona, at 10:24 pm Monday night was likely another aftershock from last June's magnitude 5.3 quake.   What is interesting is that this small event was felt by local residents.  Typically, it takes a magnitude 3 or larger for it to be felt.

AZGS has a temporary seismometer deployed in the area, so we were able to come up with a more accurate location (red dot on photo map) than the one posted by the USGS using their regional network.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Geologic mapping projects funded

The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) has  awarded the AZGS $170,940 to support geologic mapping near Oatman in Mohave County, Quartzsite in La Paz County, and northwest of Safford in Graham County.

Geologic mapping is one of the primary functions of the AZGS.  For the past 23 years, we have been aggressive participants in the USGS-run National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, successfully competing in the StateMap program component that matches state funds.

Since 1992, the AZGS has been awarded $3,943,335 in StateMap funds; because these funds are matched dollar for dollar by State funds, nearly $8 million has been invested in geologic mapping in Arizona over the past 23 years. The result: more than 161 geologic map products (nine of which are still pending publication), most at the 1:24,000 map scale, comprising about 8000 square miles (see the accompanying figure).

Senior geologist Dr. Jon Spencer, chief of the Mapping Section, and Dr. Phil Pearthree, chief of the Environmental Geology Section, jointly oversee a staff of five geologists that engage in mapping part to full time. Mapping priorities are set by the AZGS's Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee made up of representatives of state and federal agencies, universities, and the private sector.

Geologic map products are released in the fall of each year at the online Arizona Document Repository as free, PDF downloads.

For more information on geologic mapping in Arizona, see “Index of geologic maps available from the Arizona Geological Survey v 1.1” (2015).

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mineral museum transfer bill vetoed

Governor Doug Ducey vetoed SB1200 today, which would have transferred the former Mining & Mineral Museum to the AZGS to be converted into a Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.    In his letter to Senate President Andy Biggs, Gov. Ducey wrote:

"Today I vetoed Senate Bill 1200.  Although I commend the work of the bill's sponsor, we must evaluate the use of state buildings holistically, rather than individually.  At this point, there is not a plan or organizational structure in place to ensure the successful transition of the mining and mineral museum. While I appreciate the desire to preserve and celebrate the unique characteristics of Arizona's past, it would be premature to sign this legislation at this time."

The museum has been closed since 2011, when it was slated to become the Centennial Museum, but private funds were never raised to make the conversion.  [Photo credit, miningmineralmuseum.com]

Sunday, April 05, 2015

County geologic maps going online

In 1959 and 1960, our predecessor, The Arizona Bureau of Mines - University of Arizona, published the popular Arizona county geologic map series. Until now, these important maps were only available in printed form; we are going digital.

Over the next two weeks, we'll publish the entire series of county maps online, starting with the geologic map of Apache and Navajo counties. All maps will be available free at the AZGS online document repository. The map scale is 1:375,000 and the contour interval is 500 feet. [Right, Coconino County Geologic Map]

Follow our Facebook and twitter feeds for posts announcing the release of individual maps.
Released to date:
The entire suite will reside at the Arizona Geological Survey Map Series collection at our AZGS Online Document Repository.

Coming soon:
  • Gila County
  • Graham and Greenlee Counties
  • Maricopa County
  • Mohave County
  • Pima and Santa Cruz Counties
  • Pinal County
  • Yavapai County
  • Yuma County (La Paz County) 
[post modified from AZGS announcement]

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Museum transfer approved by legislature

The Arizona Senate approved SB1200 this morning by a vote of 25-3 and transmitted it to the Governor.  The bill transfers the former mining and mineral museum from the Arizona Historical Society to AZGS to be re-opened as the "Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum."   It was closed in 2011 to be converted to the Arizona Experience centennial museum but the private funds were not forthcoming to finance it.   [Photo credit, http://www.miningmineralmuseum.com/]

The museum was formerly operated by the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources, which merged with AZGS in 2011.

The legislation also transfers the budget for the rent and a curator from AHS to AZGS.   AZGS will be responsible for finding additional funds for developing exhibits and education programs, setting up a gift shop to fund operations, hiring staff, and operations costs.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

NASA and industry partner to impact asteroid into Arizona to mine for rare earths

NASA and a consortium of mining companies announced plans today to capture a metal-rich asteroid  as it passes by Earth, with the intent of sending it to Arizona, where it will be mined for rare earth elements.  Rare earth minerals are in increasing demand for technology applications including hybrid cars and cell phones, but China dominates the world market raising concerns about supply disruptions.
NASA proposes sending a small rocket to asteroid Heise-2014 discovered by an amateur astronomer last year who is the world's wealthiest breeder of thoroughbred seahorses, that would nudge it out of orbit and towards lands controlled by the McCrory Asteroid Mineral Alliance (MAMA) west of Phoenix, Arizona.   A company spokesperson downplayed the chances that the asteroid would be significantly off target when it lands (or "impacts" as the news media says).    Company president  Art McCrory, issued a statement from at an undisclosed location on the Canadian shield, saying,  "A gazillion tons of rock and metal hurled towards Arizona at 25,000 miles per hour, what could go wrong?"   He closed by wishing us luck and asking that we let him know how it works out before retreating to his underground bunker with the former Miss Rhenium of 2006.

NASA noted that Meteor Crater, Arizona was formed by an impacting body without damaging property 50,000 years ago, so there should be no worries this time around either.   In fact, NASA and MAMA may sell tickets to view the landing from ringside seats.  Dark glasses will be provided to spectators.

That's the news this April 1, 2015.    [Happy April Fool's Day!]

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Springtime in the Sonoran desert

Our back yard in the Tucson Mountains

Museum transfer bill approved by House; back to Senate for final consideration

SB1200, the bill to transfer the former mineral museum to AZGS to convert into a natural resources education center, passed the Arizona House today, on a vote of 58-2. It now goes back to the Senate for reconsideration because of the amendments added.  [right, diorama of an open pit mine from the former Mining & Mineral Museum]

Saturday, March 28, 2015

3rd Annual Arizona Geological Society Doug Shakel Memorial Student Poster Event

Third Annual Arizona Geological Society Doug Shakel Memorial Student Poster Event
The AGS will host a special meeting on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building #4 (ISTB-4) on the Arizona State University campus (781 South Terrace Road,  Tempe , Arizona  85281).
Prizes to be awarded: 

First Prize: $500; Second Prize $250; Third Prize $150; Three honorable mentions at $50. 
Special geological gifts will be given to each entrant.

8:00 AM: Students arrive at the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building #4 and mount their posters on poster boards. The event will be held in the third floor lobby, better known as the Crater Carpet. Appropriate tacks will be provided. (No more taped posters falling off the walls!) Parking is free on Saturdays in the big parking garage next door. (See Google map)
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM: Viewing of posters and beginning of judging by Carl Bowser, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Nyal Niemuth, Chief, Phoenix Branch Manager and Mineral Exploration, Mining, and Economic Geology;  and Gordon Haxel. Scientist Emeritus, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff.
9:30 AM - 9:45 AM: Coffee break
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM: 3-minute oral summaries of each poster by each presenter.
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Buffet Lunch (free for students, whether or not they present a poster if they make a reservation). 
Those attending the Buffet Lunch must make reservations no later than 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 11, 2015. 
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM:  Tour of the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building and the showing of some nifty science films in the IMAX-like theater.
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM:  Presentation of awards for the best posters.

Please call or email Bob Kamilli if you have any questions:
Office Phone: 520-670-5576;
Cell phone: 520-349-9336 

Here are some important details for students, who wish to participate in this event. 
Registratation for the Buffet Lunch must be made no later the 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Copper is the official metal of Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey today signed legislation making copper the official metal of the state of Arizona.  [Right, copper plates produced in Arizona. Credit, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold]

According to the announcement from the governor's office, Senate Bill 1441 was sponsored by State Senator Steve Smith after a fourth-grade class at Copper Creek Elementary School in Tucson had the idea and reached out to him about it.

“These students helped create a bill that had bipartisan support and will now be forever part of Arizona’s history,” said Governor Ducey. “A crucial driver of our economy, copper is represented on our state seal and is one of Arizona’s ‘5 C’s’ along with climate, cattle, citrus and cotton.

Arizona produces nearly 2/3 of all the copper used in the U.S. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Battle over museum transfer heats up

The bill to transfer the former Mining & Mineral Museum from the Arizona Historical Society to the Arizona Geological Survey is generating heated debate.   Although both AHS and AZGS have taken official neutral positions on SB1200, supporters and opponents are squaring off.  [Right, artists rendition for the proposed Centennial Museum to be built in the former museum space The building is currently vacant.]   The Arizona Capitol Times posted the most detailed report on the museum transfer published so far, by reporter Rachel Leingang at

The Friends of the Arizona Historical Society circulated a letter urging opposition to the bill, arguing 
  • The Historical Society is efficiently and effectively maintaining the Mining and Mineral Museum  and it should stay where it is.
  •  Leaving the Museum where it is currently will allow it to progress and flourish.
  • It makes sense and is good government for the Museum to stay with the state agency that runs museums.   
The lobbyist for AHS also raised the issue with the House Appropriations Committee that AZGS does not run museums.

Proponents of the transfer sharply disputed the claims in the letter from the Friends of the AHS during the same hearing, particularly the statement that AHS inherited a museum that was already closed.   In fact, AHS took the Mining and Mineral Museum in 2010 and shut it down in 2011 in anticipation of converting it to the Centennial Museum.

Today, the proponents started a petition drive aimed at the Governor, calling on allies to counter the letters and calls coming from the other side.

In an email sending around the petition that we received this afternoon, supporters are told:

"Feel free to print copies and get signatures wherever you can. At work or at school.  In the supermarket or stuck in traffic.  On the golf course, or at the gym.  Chase down the fishing boat or ATV ahead of you this weekend.

Put some on telephone poles and restroom walls.  Ask K Mart and Costco to put it on their bulletin board. Have kids give one to the teacher. Take some along when you walk the dog (possible dual use). Offer prison inmates a cigarette for a signature. Tell the kids they don't have to do their homework if they sign. Tell the mail man you will never let the dog out again if he / she signs. Ring doorbells and tell people they won the Readers Digest Sweepstakes (just sign here).

Be creative. Be sneaky. Be determined. BE SUCCESSFUL"
 SB1200 must now go to the full House for consideration.