Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Small aftershock from Duncan quake

 A M=2.8 aftershock hit the area of June's M=5.2 Duncan earthquake in southeastern Arizona, just after midnight last night.   This is the largest event in over a week, although we continue to record many smaller shocks.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Small quake west of Page

A small earthquake, magnitude 2.3, struck 24 miles west of Page, Arizona, at 4:46 pm on Sunday.   [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Red line is an active fault. Credit, USGS]

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Groupo Mexcio to buy rest of Silver Bell copper mine

Grupo Mexico, parent company to Asarco, is reported to be buying the 25% of the Silver Bell copper mine that it doesn't already own.   Mineweb refers to a Wall Street Journal story that says Grupo will pay about $120 million to buyout Mitsui & Co's share.  [Right, Google Earth view of Silver Bell mine complex]

The mine is west of Avra Valley, near Marana, northwest of Tucson.

Asarco provides the following information about the Silver Bell mine:

Location:23 miles west of Interstate 10 on Avra Valley Road.
Operations: The mine operates four open-pits (North Silver Bell, El Tiro, West Oxide and East Oxide). All copper in these pits will be extracted from the ore utilizing either of two hydrometallurgical processes: dump leaching or rubblization. Approximately 50% of the ore will be mined and hauled to dumps for leaching. The remaining 50% will be rubblized. Rubblization is the process where material is drilled, blasted, and then leached in place. Each month 1,800,000 tons of ore and waste are mined, and 700,000 tons of ore is rubblized. The four open-pits and other plant facilities are situated on 19,000 acres. Mining affected areas of the facility total 3,900 acres.
Copper-bearing solutions from the dump leach and rubble areas are collected and pumped to the solvent extraction plant where the copper in solution is concentrated over 30 times before being pumped to the tank house. In the tank house, the copper is recovered from solution using the electrowinning process and plated on stainless steel starter sheets as high-purity cathodes. The current cathode production rate is 67 tons per day. Cathode copper produced in the solvent extraction / electrowinning (SX/EW) operation is sold to producers of copper rod, tubing and wire.
Product: Electrowon cathode copper
December 31, 2012 Employment:
Total: 175 employees; 138 hourly / 37 salaried.

Production Statistics:
Copper in SX-EW Cathode:
45.9 million lbs. (2012)
46.8 million lbs. (2011)

Request for info on Critical & Strategic Materials Supply Chain

Maeve Boland at the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) passed along this notice that the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy has issued a Request for Information on Critical and Strategic Materials Supply Chains, with a deadline for submissions of August 31, 2014.  [Photo credit, National Mining Association]

The RFI focuses mainly on the downstream side of things but Maeve offers that this would be a good opportunity to point out the importance of the upstream part of the supply chain, that we need geological research plus  information on materials flow through the full life cycle of materials , and that new materials and substitutes don’t work if we don’t have the raw materials to make them.

Full information is available at Please pass on the RFI to anyone who might be interested in responding.

The summary in the Federal Register states:
The U.S. economy's requirements for raw materials have and will change over time, especially with the introduction of new products and processing technologies. Furthermore, as the global economy grows, there are increasing concerns regarding the availability and access to the raw materials that will be necessary to sustain U.S. economic growth and advance other national policies. As the criticality of materials shifts over time, studying the early warning signs and the underlying forces of potential material supply disruption can inform proactive policy development for emerging critical materials. One of the roles of the Critical and Strategic Minerals Supply Chain Subcommittee (CSMSC Subcommittee) of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability is to develop a methodology for identifying critical materials and monitoring changes in criticality on an ongoing basis, providing “early warning” to policymakers and other stakeholders. The views of U.S. industry and other stakeholders are important to inform both an understanding of current conditions and the characterization of anticipated future demand for critical materials.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

AZGS book sale to celebrate new Tucson trolley

The AZGS-run Arizona Experience store is holding a 25% off sale on University of Arizona book titles beginning Friday, July 25 and running through Friday, August 1 to celebrate the launch of Tucson’s new street car. 

We will also be giving away free bottled water and city maps to riders. Come down and grab a great deal on a great book and help spread the word!

The store carries all AZGS publications, but also a wide array of Arizona products as well as maps and publications from the USGS, Forest Service, BLM, Arizona Game & Fish, State Parks, and many others.

Plus, we have a wonderful section of Arizona rocks and minerals for sale from a number of our premier mineral collectors and dealers.   Free parking in the rear, off of Congress St in the middle of the street car route.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rep. Kirkpatrick calls for permanent ban on new uranium mining near Grand Canyon

U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ, 1st Congressional district) tweeted this morning "Will you help me call for a permanent ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon?"

The link takes you to a re-election campaign website which shows a picture of the Grand Canyon [right] and says "Uranium mining is a real threat to the Grand Canyon. We have to preserve this wonder of the world for future generations. Please sign our petition to protect the Grand Canyon."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Large drilling program announced for St. John's CO2-helium field

A Kinder Morgan  representative told the Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission on Friday that the company is on track to complete their current evaluation drilling in the St. John's, Arizona carbon dioxide and helium filed [right, credit, Kinder Morgan] by year's end.  Then they anticipate filing permits for 14 additional wells.

Kinder Morgan propose a roughly $1 billion investment in the field, with three-quarters of it for drilling and field development and one-quarter for a pipeline to move the CO2 to an existing pipeline in New Mexico that moves CO2 east to oilfields for enhanced oil recovery.

The Oil & Gas Commission was holding their regular quarterly meeting in Phoenix.

Latest M 3.0 Duncan aftershock close to New Mexico border

I seem to have missed another magnitude 3.0 aftershock last Thursday from the June 28 magnitude 5.2 Duncan earthquake. This latest event occurred at 2:12 am, and was almost on the New Mexico border, further east than the other large aftershocks.  [Right, orange star marks the epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

Saturday, July 19, 2014

UA plots of Duncan earthquake seismograms

The University of Arizona's Global Seismology and Tectonics group in the Geosciences Dept. created a webpage for the magnitude 5.2 Duncan (southeast Arizona) earthquake of June 28. One of the graduate students in the research group, Jon Delph, put together plots of the earthquake record from the Tucson permanent station [right] as well as several other North American permanent stations.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

HudBay Minerals acquires 92% of Augusta Resources stock; management changes coming

HudBay Minerals announced today that stockholders tendered 92% of Augusta Resources stock to the company. August is the parent of Rosemont Copper which is permitting a large open pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona, that could produce 5% of US copper for 40 years. [Right, proposed mine site.  Credit, Rosemont Copper]

HudBay Minerals Inc. and Augusta Resource Corporation announced today that Hudbay has taken up 116,233,761 common shares ("Augusta Shares") of Augusta that were validly deposited under Hudbay's offer to acquire all of the outstanding Augusta Shares not already owned by Hudbay or its affiliates for consideration per Augusta Share of 0.315 of a common share of Hudbay and 0.17 of a warrant to acquire a common share of Hudbay (the "Offer"). The Augusta Shares taken up under the Offer, together with those already owned by Hudbay, represent approximately 92% of the issued and outstanding Augusta Shares.
Hudbay has extended the Offer until 5:00 p.m. (Toronto time) on July 29, 2014 (the "Expiry Time") to enable Augusta shareholders who have not yet tendered their Augusta Shares to accept the Offer.

As I predicted earlier this week, HudBay plans on putting their own people in key positions in Augusta Resources (and Rosemont Copper as well?):

 It is anticipated that members of Hudbay's current management team will assume management positions with Augusta and replace Augusta's current senior management team and certain members of the Augusta Board of Directors will be replaced by nominees of Hudbay. In particular, David S. Bryson, Alan T. C. Hair, Patrick Donnelly and Patrick Merrin will be appointed to the Augusta Board of Directors, joining current directors Lenard F. Boggio, Timothy Baker and W. Durand Eppler. Gilmour Clausen, Christopher M. H. Jennings, Robert P. Pirooz, Robert P. Wares and Richard W. Warke will resign from the Augusta Board of Directors.

The two companies also announced a loan of C$40 million from HudBay "intended to provide short-term working capital amounts to Augusta."

Slide wildfire video describes firefighting strategy

The Southwest Fire Science Consortium posted a video report on the Slide wildfire on Vimeo.   They described it:

The Slide Fire ignited on May 20, 2014, 2014 in Oak Creek Canyon between Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona. Firefighters first raced to keep the fire from destroying over 300 homes and cabins in the canyon, and later prevented the fire from moving into residential areas outside of Flagstaff. While the strategy chosen to manage the Slide Fire using large, low-intensity burnouts on the perimeter of the fire was primarily aimed at increasing firefighter safety and taking advantage of natural terrain features, it had the added benefit of providing benefits for the forest and landscape. The management of this fire reflects the changing nature of wildfire in the western US. This video was narrated by Tim Harrison and written and produced by Josh McDaniel for the Southwest Fire Science Consortium.

You can find out more about wildfire science in the Southwest by visiting

The Slide Fire from Josh McDaniel on Vimeo.

We've been monitoring the area for heavy rains that could cause debris flows ("mudslides").

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Participate in EarthCube governance

The Arizona Geological Survey has been running the NSF EarthCube Test Enterprise Governance project for the past year, gauging community requirements for cyberinfrastructure in the geosciences. We now have a community-driven plan and design that we are sharing publicly.  Participation in EarthCube is open and we'll describe opportunities to be involved.  [Right, Susan Winters, Brian Wee, and Jennifer Arrigo strategize at one the EarthCube workshops organized by AZGS earlier this year. Credit, AZGS]

 Join us as we move into the next phase of building EarthCube!

Interested in participating in EarthCube's Demonstration GovernanceMark your calendar for one of the upcoming EarthCube Community Webinars on Thursday, July 17 at 9am MST/12PM EDT, or Monday, July 21 at 12pm MST/3pm EDTCall-in details are posted here.

The purpose of these webinars is to discuss priorities, expectations, and next steps for all of those interested in participating in EarthCube Demonstration Governance standing committees and teams.These groups, the Technology/Architecture Standing Committee, Science Standing Committee, Engagement Team, and Liaison Team, will be responsible for carrying out specific critical functions for EarthCube and EarthCube Governance. Therefore, the EarthCube community will be empowered to decide how they will accomplish these functions by defining decision-making processes and leadership roles.

We encourage all members of the EarthCube community who have already expressed interest, have an interest, or just want to learn more about how to participate in these groups to join us. As always, these sessions are open to all.