Thursday, January 30, 2014

Changes proposed for post-closure procedures for aquifer protection permits

Legislation in the Arizona Senate would make changes to post-closure procedures for facilities with aquifer protection permits.    Among other provisions, SB1274 would change the existing statute from actions that "Verify that the closure design has eliminated discharge to the extent intended," to "Verify that the approved closure design is routinely inspected and maintained."

Bill would exempt qualifying small mines from certain regs

Arizona Senate Bill 1165 would exempt small mines with surface areas less than 10 acres from having to use the best available technology for aquifer protection, if they meet a variety of requirements.

The changes to the statutes follows below:

 49-243.  Information and criteria for issuing individual permit; definition

R.  A mining facility that has a total surface area of ten acres or less and that has a tailings pond with a total surface area of five acres or less is exempt from adopting the best available demonstrated control technology if the mining facility does all of the following:
1.  Pays a fee that is determined by the director by rule and that is due after two years of operation.
2.  Establishes a reclamation plan after two years of operation.
3.  Uses an approved design for the tailings pond.
4.  Complies with a well water testing schedule as determined by the director.
5.  Establishes and operates a stormwater diversion system that is consistent with the requirements of federal and state law with respect to a one hundred year storm event.
S.  For any application that a permit applicant for a mining operation with a total surface area of ten acres or less submits, the following apply:
1.  If the director does not respond within sixty days after submittal to the department of the plan of operation, the plan of operation is deemed approved.
2.  For a mining operation that is adjacent to another mining operation that has previously submitted a report on discharges to that same aquifer, the department shall accept and apply the adjacent mine's report on discharges to that aquifer to the application of the mining operation with a total surface area of ten acres or less for no more than three years after the report is submitted and only for as long as the adjacent mine continues to operate.  On termination of the adjacent mine's operation, the mining operation with a total surface area of ten acres or less shall provide its own report.
3.  Payment of a bond or other surety to another state agency or to a federal agency with respect to that mining operation constitutes compliance with any financial responsibility requirements prescribed by this article for that applicant at that mining operation.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Earthquake swarm in southern Nevada

There's been what looks like an unusual swarm of 40+ earthquakes in southern Nevada, near the Utah border that began yesterday (Jan. 28).     The swarm seems to have begun with a magnitude 4.1 earthquake yesterday morning with dozens of small quakes since then as well as with another, M=4.0 event early last evening.   [Map credit, USGS]

Our colleagues at the Utah Geological Survey blogged about it earlier in the day when there had been about two dozen earthquakes.

Tucson gem and mineral showcase is off and running

The Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase got underway this week at dozens of locations across the city, in advance of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, that will be held February 13-16 in the convention center.  The latter is organized by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society.

The theme for the big show this year is "60 Years of Diamond, Gems, Silver, and Gold."

The other 45 or so shows are independent venues that have grown over the years to make the next two weeks the biggest such event in the world.    Vendors are still setting up in some locales and some shows like that at Westward Look Resort, run for a limited time.    [Right, dealers were unpacking earlier this week at the Days Inn Hotel just a block from AZGS in downtown Tucson]

Senate hearing on Critical Minerals bill

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing yesterday on S.1600, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013.    The hearing was webcast and recorded. You can watch the entire 2-1/2 hour proceedings online at  [Right, screen shot of Sen. Lisa Murkowski from the webcast]

A summary from AAAS says the bill "would address the ability of the U.S. to protect its stock of up to 20 minerals (e.g., lithium). The legislation, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013, would authorize the Department of Interior to identify and track critical mineral deposits crucial for U.S. defense, energy, and commercial needs. In addition, it would direct the Department of Energy to conduct research into alternative minerals."

Monday, January 27, 2014

New study: Young Grand Canyon formed by integration of older paleo-canyons

The "fervently debated" age of Grand Canyon is a hot topic again today with advance online publication in Nature Geoscience of a paper by Karl Karstrom and colleagues, titled "Formation of the Grand Canyon 5 to 6 million years ago through integration of older palaeocanyons."

The authors say that "although parts of the canyon are old, we conclude that the integration of the Colorado River through older palaeocanyons carved the Grand Canyon, beginning 5–6 million years ago."  

You can listen to the NPR interview with the authors at

A Geologist in the Grand Canyon - an interactive map tour

Join Arizona Geological Survey geologist Steve Rauzi and a team of Conoco geoscientists as they raft through Grand Canyon examining the Precambrian Chuar Group. The trip, which occurred in 1996, begins at Lees Ferry and ends at river-mile 225.

The expedition resulted in two publications by the Arizona Geological Survey: OFR-98-17 -- Geologic Description, Sampling, Petroleum Potential, and Depositional Environment of the Chuar Group, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1998, 92 p., 2 sheets and OFR-02-1 -- Geologic Description, Sampling, and Petroleum Source Rock Potential of the Awatubi and Walcott Members, Kwagunt Formation, Chuar Group of the Sixtymile Canyon Section, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 2002, 84 p., 1 sheet. The reports are available for download at the Arizona Geological Survey Document Repository at

[description taken from the map site]

Saturday, January 25, 2014

News story on Arizona mining museum legislation

There's a story in today's Arizona [Phoenix] Republic titled, Bill would reopen Arizona mining museum that provides the background and driving forces behind Senate Bill 1023, introduced by Sen. Eddie Ableser, (D-Tempe), that would direct the Arizona Geological Survey to establish a mining and mineral museum.    Similar bills were introduced in the previous two sessions.

Rep. Russ Jones (R-Yuma) is quoted as saying that "The Arizona Geological Survey would require a huge sum of money and an increase in staffing to restore the museum."

To elaborate on that, we have not made any estimates on what it would take to carry out the provisions of the bill if it were to be enacted.  While many advocates of a mineral museum urge reopening the former facility, there is nothing in the bill mandating where it would be located.  [Right, home of the former Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum in Phoenix]

Monday, January 20, 2014

Resolution introduced to designate Ash Fork as "Flagstone Capital" of Arizona

State Representative Tobin has introduced House Resolution 2001designating Ash Fork as the "Flagstone Capital" of Arizona.  [Right, Cornerstone Materials operations yard, Ash Fork.  Source, Cornerstone Materials] The full text follows:

Whereas, in 1882, Ash Fork, Arizona was founded when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad pushed through the area; and

Whereas, the arrival of the railroad spearheaded the Ash Fork flagstone industry.  Noticing the abundance of flagstone in the Ash Fork area, railroad employees started to quarry flagstone to build bridges.  Additionally, the presence of the railroad enabled the people of Ash Fork to send flagstone to other locations for the construction of public buildings, churches and office buildings; and

Whereas, in 1893, Ash Fork tragically burned to the ground.  The area was soon reconstructed on the other side of the railroad tracks using Ash Fork's famous flagstone; and

Whereas, the Ash Fork flagstone industry continued to grow and prosper after the 1893 fire.  Its citizens eventually decided to unofficially designate Ash Fork as the "Flagstone Capital"; and

Whereas, Ash Fork is currently supported in large part by the flagstone industry; and

Whereas, the Ash Fork Historical Society and the Ash Fork Development Association have both voted on and approved of the designation of Ash Fork as the "Flagstone Capital."


Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona:

That the Members of the House of Representatives support the designation of Ash Fork, Arizona as the "Flagstone Capital."

New USGS geologic map of eastern Flagstaff quad

The USGS released the Geologic map of the eastern quarterof the Flagstaff 30’ x 60’ quadrangle, in Coconino County, northern Arizona, which was mapped by George Billingsley and others.    Our first reaction is that this is great map and includes photographs of prominent geologic feature - Meteor Crater, bedrock fractures, etc...

Abstract: The eastern quarter of the Flagstaff 30′ x 60′ quadrangle includes eight USGS 1:24,000-scale quadrangles in Coconino County, northern Arizona (fig. 1, map sheet): Anderson Canyon, Babbitt Wash, Canyon Diablo, Grand Falls, Grand Falls SE, Grand Falls SW, Grand Falls NE, and Meteor Crater. The map is bounded by lat 35° to 35°30′ N. and long 111° to 111°15′ W. and is on the southern part of the Colorado Plateaus geologic province (herein Colorado Plateau). Elevations range from 4,320 ft (1,317 m) at the Little Colorado River in the northwest corner of the map area to about 6,832 ft (2,082 m) at the southwest corner of the map. This geologic map provides an updated geologic framework for the eastern quarter of the Flagstaff 30′ x 60′ quadrangle and is adjacent to two other recent geologic maps, the Cameron and Winslow 30′ x 60′ quadrangles (Billingsley and others, 2007, 2013). This geologic map is the product of a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Navajo Nation. It provides geologic information for resource management officials of the U.S. Forest Service, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the Navajo Nation Reservation (herein the Navajo Nation). Funding for the map was provided by the USGS geologic mapping program, Reston, Virginia. Field work on the Navajo Nation was conducted under a permit from the Navajo Nation Minerals Department. Any persons wishing to conduct geologic investigations on the Navajo Nation must first apply for, and receive, a permit from the Navajo Nation Minerals Department, P.O. Box 1910, Window Rock, Arizona 86515, telephone (928) 871-6587.

Ref: Billingsley, G.H., Block, D., and Redsteer, M.H., 2013, Geologic map of the eastern quarter of the Flagstaff 30’ x 60’ quadrangle, Coconino County, northern Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3279, pamphlet 24 p., scale 1:50,000, ISSN 2329-132X (online)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Arizona gravity and aeromag maps posted online

AZGS has posted two classic statewide geophysical maps at our online document repository for free downloading:

Residual magnetic intensity values are given in gammas. The original total field data were corrected for diurnal variation as observed at the Tucson Magnetic Observatory during the flight period.

Ref: Sauck, W.A. and Sumner, J.S., 1970, Residual Aeromagnetic Map of Arizona. University of Arizona Geophysical Society, 1 map sheet, map scale 1:1,000,000.
Gravity data were obtained from surveys by the Laboratory of Geophysics of the University of Arizona, U.S. Defense Mapping Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, Exxon Corporation, and mining companies and contractors.

Ref: Lysonski, J.C., Sumner, J.S., Aiken, C. and Schmidt, J.S., 1980, Residual Bouguer Gravity Anomaly Map of Arizona (IGSN 71). University of Arizona Geophysical Society, 1 map sheet, map scale 1:1,000,000.   

We greatly appreciate the permission from University of Arizona Geoscience Dept. Chair Pete Reiners and the UA Geophysical Club to make these available.

UA’s Chuck Hutchinson receives ESIP’s Martha Maiden Award

Charles “Chuck” Hutchinson, professor emeritus at the University of Arizona in Arid Lands Studies, received the Martha Maiden Award last week at the Earth Science Information Partnership (ESIP) Winter Meeting in Washington, DC.  [Right, Chuck and ESIP President Karl Benedict. Credit, Carol Meyer, ESIP]

The award is given annually "to recognize outstanding service to the Earth science information community. This award honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership, dedication and a collaborative spirit in advancing the field of Earth Science information."

It is named after prominent data manager, Martha Maiden, NASA Program Executive for Earth Data Systems, who coincidentally announced her retirement at the end of February during the meeting.

Chuck Hutchinson is a geographer with specializations in remote sensing and arid lands. In particular, he has worked on inventory and monitoring techniques for agriculture and natural resources using satellite and aerial video systems.