Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Small quake west of Page, Arizona

A magnitude 2.8 earthquake struck about 22 miles west of Page, Arizona at 6:32 a.m. local time this morning.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter.   Red line is an active fault. Credit, USGS]

Monday, May 27, 2013

Demos of the geothermal data system to the oil and gas industry

We were in Pittsburgh last week, running live demos of the National Geothermal Data System at the annual meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists which drew over 5,000 attendees.   [Right, AZGS geologist/geoinformatics specialist Christy Caudill and I pose just before the exhibit hall opens to attendees]

We had a steady stream of folks stop by to try out the test version of NGDS which now has over 17,000 data sets, over 5 million records, and a wide variety of data types that are relevant not only to geothermal exploration and development but are valuable resources for geologic investigations and other natural resources.    Data are coming from state geological surveys, universities, and labs in every state.  Our first Canadian data are now online and more international connections are in development.

The system currently serves over 1.25 million oil and gas and water wells and we expect that number to triple by year end.   The open source, online, distributed system also makes data interoperable, a breakthrough approach that is dramatically reducing the time needed to integrate data from different sources.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Aquifer depletion, Arizona alluvial and Black Mesa basins

A national study of groundwater depletion since 1900 includes reviews of Alluvial Basins and the deep confined aquifer in Black Mesa Basin in Arizona.

The Alluvial Basins include 72 distinct basins in south-central Arizona, covering 212,000 square kilometers, filled with as much as 3,000 meters of unconsolidated alluvial fill.    The use of Colorado River water and recharge of basins, has halted or even reversed groundwater declines in some basins since 1980, but it appears that cumulative groundwater withdrawal as of 2008 was 102 cubic kilometers.

Groundwater withdrawal from the multiple zones in the Navajo ("N") aquifer in northeast Arizona has increased since the 1960s for municipal and industrial uses,  cumulatively totaling an estimated 0.22 cubic kilometers by 2008.

Ref: Konikow, L.F., 2013, Groundwater depletion in the United States (1900−2008): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013−5079, 63 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2013/5079. (Available only online.)

Updated Arizona subsidence maps and new interactive viewer now online

Brian Conway at the Arizona Dept. of Water Resources has updated the majority of the land subsidence maps on ADWR’s website using InSAR data through April 2013.  You can view the list of land subsidence areas at this link:

Brian also created a new interactive land subsidence map using Google Maps that replaces the PDF map from a few years ago.  You can access the map using this link:

Brian says the new map is very similar to the PDF map.  You can simply click on the land subsidence feature either on the map itself or on the table of contents on the left side of the map to gain access to the webpage for each individual land subsidence feature. [Right, latest subsidence map for Green Valley-Sahuarita area, south of Tucson.  The subsidence area underlies large pecan groves.  Copper mine pits and tailings piles can be seen in the topography to the west.   Credit, ADWR]

Friday, May 24, 2013

USGS: not enough uranium mining to meet high demand projections for power plants

A new report from the USGS warns that on the high demand basis for nuclear power through 2035, the identified resources from operating and developing mines is inadequate.

In the report, Critical Analysis of World Uranium Resources, they found that "This analysis indicates that mine development is proceeding too slowly to fully meet requirements for an expanded nuclear power reactor fleet in the near future (to 2035), and unless adequate secondary or unconventional resources can be identified, imbalances in supply and demand may occur."   [Right, head frame of the Arizona #1 uranium mine, currently operating in northern Arizona.  Courtesy, Denison Mines]

"At 2010 rates of consumption, uranium resources identified in operating or developing mines would fuel the world nuclear fleet for about 30 years. However, projections currently predict an increase in uranium requirements tied to expansion of nuclear energy worldwide.  In the low demand case, uranium identified in existing and developing mines is adequate to supply requirements. However, whether or not these identified resources will be developed rapidly enough to provide an uninterrupted fuel supply to expanded nuclear facilities could not be determined."

Ref: Hall, Susan, and Coleman, Margaret, 2013, Critical analysis of world uranium resources: U.S. Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5239, 56 p.   http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2012/5239/

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Geothernal project presentations available online

 The presentations from the annual Peer Review of US DOE funded geothermal projects are now posted online.  AZGS presented the progress and results on the National Geothermal Data System we run on behalf of the Association of American State Geologists. NGDS is in a beta test mode, with over 17,000 data sets comprising more than 5 million records currently.  That number is expected to double or triple by year end.

The Geothermal Technologies Office funds 154 research and development projects leveraging nearly $500 million in total combined investment, and 95 of the those projects presented at the annual Peer Review event. Each project represents a growing technology sector in conventional hydrothermal, low-temperature and co-produced, or Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technologies, as well as technical and non-technical research and analysis.
Each year, DOE requires a rigorous review of investments by independent, qualified peers to assess key achievements in geothermal development and to meet strategic DOE guidelines. Peer Review offers geothermal stakeholders an opportunity to learn about the projects funded by DOE across a wide spectrum of technical complexity and funding magnitude, from research and development to demonstration and analysis. The event also opens a dialogue with other respected researchers in geophysics, geochemistry, modeling, tools, and more.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Geothermal Technologies Office Peer Review meeting was held on April 22-25,  in Denver, Colorado.

ASU project uses crowd-sources to map global CO2 emissions

ASU's School of Sustainability is using a crowd-sourcing approach to map global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  The research team "developed a website with a Google Earth interface that makes it easy for everyday people around the world to enter information. The website, “Ventus,” aims to create a complete list of global power plants, something that does not exist and is needed to fully comprehend the global carbon emissions cycle."

Ventus: Crowdsourcing to map global CO2 emissions from ASU News on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New geologic map of Glen Canyon Dam area, Utah and Arizona

 The Utah Geological Survey has released a geologic map of the Glen Canyon Dam area of southern Utah and northern Arizona (provided as two plates-east and west parts), which is one of several maps recently completed by the Utah Geological Survey that provide complete geologic map coverage of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

The announcement says "Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1964, is anchored in Jurassic Navajo Sandstone, the oldest formation exposed in the map area. Jurassic and Cretaceous strata are cut by a few small faults and warped by broad shallow folds. Surficial deposits consist of extensive river and stream terrace gravel, eolian sand, and minor alluvium and talus. The map is based on new field mapping and aerial photograph interpretation and is provided as two plates in PDF format with a 12-page explanatory booklet that describes map units."

Ref: Preliminary Geologic Map of the Glen Canyon Dam Area, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Coconino County, Arizona, and Kane and San Juan Counties, Utah, by Grant C. Willis, UGS Open-file Report 607, 2012.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Webinar on Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries

Arizona mining companies are having a hard time finding qualified candidates for even high paying jobs, and that's symptomatic of  the industry nationwide.  

SME and GSA are offering a webinar on "Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries" on Thursday, May 23.

Following is the announcement from the two professional societies:
Access to energy and mineral resources is essential to support the United States' high standard of living, economy, and security. The outlook is bright for U.S. energy and mining jobs as these industries should continue to grow and pay well, but the nation will have to overcome a looming retirement bubble and low number of prospective employees skilled in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  Some innovative solutions are being pursued, but more action is needed if the nation is to maintain a skilled workforce able to supply its energy and mineral needs.  The National Research Council (NRC) report Emerging Workforce Trends in the Energy and Mining Industries:  A Call to Action examines the current and future workforce situation for the non-fuel mineral, oil and gas, coal, nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind, and carbon sequestration sectors and frames some steps the nation can take to help ensure it meets the country’s future needs in these industries.

Leigh Freeman and Jerry Ventre, professionals with the mining and solar industries, respectively, were members of the NRC committee that authored the report.  They’ll provide a brief synopsis of the report and take questions from the audience.
  • LEIGH FREEMAN is the principal and general manager of Downing Teal, Inc. He has over 30 years of domestic and international experience in the resource industries.  Early in his career, Mr. Freeman served in technical, management, and executive positions with large and small resource companies.  He serves in leadership roles for the Society of Mining Engineers, Society of Economic Geologists, Industrial Minerals Association, International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technologies, as well as Montana Tech, South Dakota School of Mines, University of Arizona, and Queen’s University. Mr. Freeman received his B.S. in geological engineering from Montana Tech of the University of Montana.

  • GERARD (“JERRY”) VENTRE is a consultant in photovoltaic (PV) systems engineering, specializing in workforce development, system design, and product assurance. He has over 35 years of experience in research, development, design, systems analysis, and education. For 20 of those years, he led the PV and distributed power programs at the Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida. During that time he also managed the U.S. DOE’s Photovoltaic Southeast Regional Experiment Station, with emphasis on test, evaluation, and application of PV and advanced technologies.  He received his B.S. degree in aerospace engineering, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Cincinnati.
The full "Workforce Trends" report may be freely downloaded at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18250 

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. There is no cost to attend this Webinar.

2pm Eastern / 1pm Central / 12pm Mountain / 11am Pacific time
Space is limited.  Reserve your Webinar seat now at:  https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/981208314

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