Monday, December 08, 2008

Geology at the SME Arizona Conference

The annual SME Arizona Conference in Tucson drew a good 400 or so attendees despite the precipitous drop in metals prices in recent weeks. The geology program organized by Cori Hoag at SRK Consultants was outstanding.

AZGS's Jon Spencer [right, center, answering questons from Jan Rasmussen and Richard Lundin) led off with a reappraisal of the structural geology in the San Manuel- Mammoth mining districts, based on new mapping from the Statemap program. Jon concluded that there is more complicated, imbricate detachment faulting in the area with the Cloudburst Detachment plunging much deeper to the south, putting the Catalinas and Tortillitas on the hanging wall plate.

Dave Maher with Bronco Creek Exploration reprised his dissertation work on the origin and distribution of porphyry copper deposits in southern Arizona, proposing a new exploration philosophy of looking from the "bottom up" of decapitated ore systems by looking for what's missing in the reconstructed record.

Kris Hefton with Vane Minerals presented a combined geology-political assessement about the unexpected national controversy over exploration drilling for uranium in northern Arizona. Kris didn't pull any punches in identifying the causes and sources of the politicization of the process.

One of his points is that all of the uranium mineralization in breccia pipes in the region ends about 1,000 feet above the water table, and thus is not the threat to groundwater that many claimed is the basis for their opposition to exploration that could lead to development.

Ralph Stegen with Freeport, wrapped up the session with a detailed look at the Climax moly deposit in Colorado.

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