Saturday, August 30, 2014

Portable seismometers pulled from Duncan, heading to Napa

AZGS geologists Jeri Young and Phil Pearthree pulled out four of the seven portable seismometers deployed in the area around June's M5.2 earthquake near Duncan, Arizona.  The portable instruments were installed in July to monitor the aftershocks from the June 28 event, detect small events, and provide accurate locations for all of the aftershocks.

However, the PASSCAL facility that owns the instruments needs to redeploy them in the Napa California area to monitor the aftershocks from last weeks M6.1 earthquake there.

Since they were installed, the portable instruments have recorded hundreds of aftershocks, with the largest a M4.1 event [right.  waveforms of aftershock as recorded by different stations]

New Geologic Map of Black Peak and Bobs Well 7.5" quadrangles released

AZGS has published a new geologic map of the Black Peak and Bobs Well 7.5" quadrangles as a digital map.  It is available at our online repository for free viewing and downloading.

Most of the map area is covered by sand dunes and related features of Cactus Plain. The dune field of Cactus Plain is on a low plateau formed primarily on older eroded sediments, with minor bedrock hills protruding from the plain locally. The oldest late Cenozoic deposits in Cactus Plain are undeformed fan deposits composed primarily of crystalline metamorphic clasts, obviously derived from the east and northeast. These deposits are overlain by, and locally may interfinger with, fine-g rained clay, silt, sand and minor limestone deposits that we consider to be part of the Bouse Formation. Bouse carbonate deposits are also extensively exposed on the flanks of Black Peak and related hills near the northern margin of the map area. On the western, north eastern, and southern margins of Cactus Plain, there are extensive well-rounded, lithologically diverse gravel and sand deposits that we tentatively correlate with the early Pliocene Bullhead alluvium. T h is major river aggradation sequence is found all along the Colorado River below the mouth of the Grand Canyon (House et al., 2008; Howard et al., in prep.).

The map was funded in part by the StateMap component of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program managed by the USGS.

Ref: Pearthree, P.A. and Spencer, J.E., 2014, “Geologic Map of the Black Peak and Bobs Well 7.5 Quadrangles, La Paz County, Arizona,” Arizona Geological Survey Digital Geologic Maps DGM-108 v1, scale 1:24,000.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Flagstaff's Wayne Ranney leading world tour of northern locales

Today's mail brought a slick brochure from Smithsonian Journeys offering a private jet tour next June around the world of northern locales hopping from Seattle to, among others, Mongolia to Siberia to Svalbard, Greenland, and Iceland before returning home 22 days later. The Boeing 757 private jet seats up to 78 passengers in "two-by-two, VIP-style leather seats."

And it's being led by Flagstaff-based geologist and fellow geo-blogger, Wayne Ranney [photo credit Smithsonian Journeys]    The Smithsonian bio for Wayne says in part:

Wayne Ranney is a veteran of expedition travel, and has lectured on and journeyed to all seven of the Earth’'s continents. With a lifelong interest in the natural and earth sciences, Wayne specializes in making the fascinating story of our planet come alive for fellow travelers. His travels have taken him to all areas of South America including Patagonia; the Polar regions from Antarctica to Iceland, the desert lands of Africa and the American Southwest, and most of Earth’'s outstanding landscapes. He was elected to the Explorers Club and has visited more than 80 countries. Wayne is a retired professor of geology but still teaches an occasional honors course at Northern Arizona University in his hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Now, I have a schedule conflict next June, so I won't be able to join Wayne and the other trip participants. The trip cost of $64,950 per person is also a bit daunting for someone on a state salary.

Small quake northeast of Kingman

There was a magnitude 1.7 earthquake just after 3a.m. local time this morning, about 27 miles northeast of Kingman, Arizona. [Right, orange star marks the epicenter. Credit, USGS]

An area 40 miles east of Kingman was hit with a cluster of quakes in the magnitude 3+ range two weeks ago.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Latest episode of Arizona Mining Review online

The August episode of Arizona Mining Review, our online video magazine, was broadcast yesterday and is now available on YouTube at

I interview Phil Pearthree about the new geologic map of the Phoenix valley, to help urban planners  identify remaining aggregate resources that are needed to support development.

Steve Fortier talks about projects and resources at the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

Hudbay announces $8 million Rosemont Copper drilling program

I reported a couple weeks ago that Hudbay Minerals, new owner of the Rosemont Copper project [right, credit Rosemont Copper], was planning a drilling program to confirm the extent and quality of the ore body.   Yesterday they put out a news release described the drilling plans:

HudBay Minerals Inc. (“Hudbay”) will employ approximately 70 consultants and contractors over the next four months in an $8 million confirmatory drill program on Rosemont project private land. Project site preparation is underway and drilling is anticipated to begin in September.

The US Forest Service has been notified of the drill program, including the access routes to ensure public safety. The drill program components were designed to ensure compliance with existing environmental plans, permits and other constraints, such as dark skies concerns and water recycling. Archeological sites and wildlife locations are being avoided in the program. The Forest Service has made a determination that the use of approximately 1.5 miles of existing Forest Service roads would not cause a significant disturbance of surface resources and therefore would not require a plan of operations.

The drilling program’s goal is to improve the company’s understanding of the geology and mineralization and to collect rock characteristic information to validate the current mine plan. The drilling program does not include any areas outside of the currently proposed mining zones within the Rosemont Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The program will engage six diamond drilling rigs at the site, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to complete the core sampling of approximately 85,000 linear feet. Hudbay expects the drilling program to be completed by the end of 2014.

Hudbay is not anticipating that the drilling program will modify the current mine plan that was analyzed in the Rosemont FEIS that was recently completed. If such a modification were to be required, then Hudbay would submit an updated plan for consideration by the US Forest Service.

Supporting the drilling at the designated Rosemont project pit, the Rosemont Camp facility and Hidden Valley ranch will be used for temporary office trailers and storage to accommodate additional work needs for the program. With the start of the work, there is no public access allowed on Rosemont project private property in keeping with Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) compliance. Personnel and signs will be in place to direct the public around the private property.
Water for the drilling program will be provided by wells on private property that are located at the Rosemont Junction and Rosemont Camp areas. Well cleaning, development, and drilling has been on-going and will continue through September to ensure adequate supply of water for the drilling program.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Preliminary Announcement: Basin and Range Province Seismic Hazards Summit III

The Utah Geological Survey and Western States Seismic Policy Council will convene a Basin and Range Province Seismic Hazard Summit III (BRPSHSIII) January 12 - 17, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The purpose of BRPSHSIII is to bring together geologists, seismologists, geodesists, engineers, emergency managers, and policy makers to present and discuss the latest earthquake-hazards research, and to evaluate research implications for hazard reduction and public policy in the Basin and Range Province.

BRPSHSIII will include a paleoseismology workshop, fieldtrip along the Salt Lake City segment of the Wasatch fault, poster session, and a proceedings volume.  Paper contributed to the proceedings volume will be published digitally in the Utah Geological Survey's Miscellaneous Publication series.  Digital versions of posters will also be included in the proceedings volume.

BRPSHSIII will include a proceedings volume and a poster session. The papers contributed to the proceedings volume will be published digitally by the UGS, and digital versions of posters can also be included in the volume. Manuscripts are due to the proceedings volume editor by November 31, 2014. If interested in contributing a paper or poster on Basin and Range seismic-hazard research or public policy, please submit a title by September 30, 2014 to:

William Lund, Proceedings Volume Editor | Utah Geological Survey | tel 435-865-9034 | fax 435-865-9037

For additional information and online registration, see the BRPSHSIII webpage at

[taken from the announcement]

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Asteroids named after two ASU professors

Asteroids have been named after two ASU professors, Phil Christensen and Dave Williams. The two planetary geologists, both faculty members in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Nikki Cassis at ASU reports that Asteroid (10461) Dawilliams was discovered on December 6, 1978, by E. Bowell and A. Warnock at Palomar Observatory. It orbits about 2.42 astronomical units from the Earth in the Main Belt, the vast asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. [right, image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Also honored with an asteroid named for his work is Christensen, the instrument scientist for the OSIRIS-Rex Thermal Emission Spectrometer, a mineral-scouting instrument on the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu. He was also the principal investigator for the infrared spectrometers and imagers on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Exploration Rovers.

The asteroid is named (90388) Philchristensen and like Williams’ it too is a Main Belt asteroid that is relatively small – approximately 4.6 kilometers (2.8 miles) across. It was discovered November 24, 2003 by the Catalina Sky Survey. It also poses no risk of collision with Earth.

The naming of asteroids is serious business, presided over by the International Astronomical Union, an organization of professional astronomers.

Upon its discovery, an asteroid is assigned a provisional designation by the Minor Planet Center of the IAU that involves the year of discovery, two letters and, if need be, further digits. When its orbit can be reliably predicted, the asteroid receives a permanent number and becomes eligible for naming. Proposed names must be approved by the IAU’s Committee on Small Body Nomenclature.

Although many objects end up being named after astronomers and other scientists, some discoverers have named the object after celebrities. All four Beatles have their names on asteroids, for example, and there is even one named after James Bond – Asteroid (9007) James Bond.

“I was very surprised to receive this honor from the astronomical community. Only a select few of the Dawn at Vesta participating scientists, who did exemplary work during the mission, were so honored,” said Williams, whose expertise in mapping of volcanic surfaces has been key to developing geologic maps of planetary bodies that include Mars, Io and Vesta.

Christensen and Williams share this honor with several colleagues in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. The following all have namesakes in the sky:
  • Professor Erik Asphaug - Asteroid (7939) Asphaug
  • Professor Jim Bell - Asteroid (8146) Jimbell
  • Foundation Professor and SESE Director Lindy Elkins-Tanton - Asteroid (8252) Elkins-Tanton
  • Professor Emeritus Ronald Greeley - Asteroid (30785) Greeley, and Greeley’s Haven (on Mars)
  • Regents Professor Emeritus Carleton Moore - Asteroid (5046) Carletonmoore
  • Regents’ Professor Sumner Starrfield - Asteroid (19208) Starrfield
  • Professor Meenakshi Wadhwa - Asteroid (8356) Wadhwa
Taken in part from the ASU news release

Kilometer-long crack opens in Hermosillo - an earth fissure?

A kilometer-long fissure opened up along Mexican Highway 4 between Hermosillo and the Gulf of California coast recently.   Hermosillo Desde el Cielo flew a drone along the fissure capturing excellent video of the  8-m deep feature.

The local newspaper is reporting that farmers had built levees to collect rainwater.  Such features show up in the drone video, striking perpendicular to the fissure.

AZGS geologists who reviewed the video and reports say it looks like earth fissures found in Arizona and other areas subject to rapid groundwater withdrawal and subsidence.

In Arizona we've seen fissures open up in hours during heavy monsoon rains, as the water enters small cracks that extend down hundreds of feet in depth.  The water rapidly erodes the soft basin sediments, carrying them for hundreds or thousands of feet laterally.

The pooling of rainwater on the ground over an incipient fissure could provide the volumes of water comparable to that of a big rain storm, and cause similar erosion.   So, in this scenario, the fissure does not so much open by extension as the sides are quickly washed away into the long deep narrow incipient crack.   However, it's unprecedented to see one this big form so quickly.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ho hum, another M3.2 Duncan aftershock

Aftershocks continue in the Duncan area with a M3.2 event on Tuesday night at about 8:16 pm.
[right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

Smaller aftershocks are more common but are not being reported by the USGS.  AZGS is monitoring all the aftershocks with a temporary seismometer network deployed around the main shock area.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Record number of downloads of AZGS maps and publications

The AZGS’s online document repository delivered more than 27,500 downloads of geologic maps, open-file reports, bulletins, bulletins, circulars and special papers, all in PDF format, during the fiscal year that ended July 31 . The Document Repository is available free, online at  

Currently, there are more than 1,000 discrete titles available providing more than 1,500 geologic objects – maps, reports, bulletins, and more.  This constitutes almost every publication AZGS and it predecessors have produced in the past 125 years.

Monday, August 18, 2014

ADWR land subsidence report released

The Arizona Dept. of Water Resources has released its second report on statewide monitoring of land subsidence.

"Land Subsidence Monitoring Report 2" is online for free viewing and downloading. [Right, index maps of active land subsidence areas in Arizona, from the report]

The subsiding basins are all in the Basin and Range province of Arizona, and are those with extensive agriculture or urban development.

Using InSAR and GPS data, "ADWR has identified more than 25 individual land subsidence features in Arizona, collectively covering more than 1,200 square miles of the state."

ADWR has posted 199 land subsidence maps online for downloading.

AZGS contributes funding to the state program.

M3.1 aftershock from Duncan quake

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake occurred at 9:13 pm on Friday evening, in the aftershock area of the M5.2 Duncan earthquake. [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit USGS]

The main shock was on June 28 and aftershocks are continuing intermittently, with the largest being M4.1.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Afterschocks continue from Duncan earthquake

The Duncan area of eastern Arizona had another measurable aftershock early this morning, following the June 28, M5.2 event.  A M2.8 quake occurred at 3:33 am local time close to other recent aftershocks.   We expect aftershocks to continue for weeks and possibly months.   [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bill Dresher, first State Geologist of Arizona

We learned late today that Dr. William H. Dresher passed away on August 9.   Bill was named the Dean of the College of Mines and Director of the Arizona Bureau of Mines at the University of Arizona in 1971, and became the first person to hold the title of  “State Geologist." He served as Director and State Geologist until 1981.

In 1977, the Bureau became the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Technology, comprising the geological survey and a mineral technology branch. The Survey was moved out of the University in 1988 to become the Arizona Geological Survey.

Services are scheduled for Thursday, August 14 at 11am with a reception to follow, at Casas Adobes Congregational United Church of Christ, 6801 N. Oracle Rd, Tucson. 520-297-1181.

A short bio is posted on the Camp Miller 2011 Reunion page:

William H. Dresher was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Northeast High School and earned a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University in 1953. He received his Ph.D. in Metallurgy from the University of Utah in 1956. After graduation, he worked for Union Carbide Corporation where, as Assistant Director of Research, he supervised research and development on the extraction and purification of uranium, vanadium, tungsten, molybdenum, and asbestos.

In 1971, he became the Dean of the College of Mines at the University of Arizona, where he increased the College's enrollment and research income, established a degree program in Mineral Economics, and successfully lobbied the Arizona State Legislature for the establishment of a formal state geological survey.

In 1981, He became President of the International Copper Research Association, Inc. (INCRA), supervising product development and providing the leadership that made INCRA an effective organization to promote and defend the use of copper worldwide. In 1989, he became Vice President of Technology of the International Copper Association, Ltd. (ICA). In 1995, he retired from ICA to establish his present consulting practice.

He has represented minerals technology in the National Research Council and was a member of Ronald Reagan's transition team in the field of minerals policy. He is a past president of the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America, a past member of the Board of Directors of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS), and a Distinguished Member of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME). He has been a member of the Mining Foundation of the Southwest since 1971, where he serves on the Board of Directors, and in 1999, served as Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. He is currently the chairman of the SciEnTeK-12 Foundation – an organization that encourages young people to enter careers in science and engineering.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

M 3.0 aftershock from Duncan earthquake

We experienced another aftershock to the June 28, M5.2 Duncan earthquake, with a magnitude 3.0 event at 9:39 pm local time Saturday night.   [Right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

Smaller aftershocks continue to be recorded by the AZGS seismic network but not reported by the USGS.

Friday, August 08, 2014

HudBay plans new drilling for Rosemont copper deposit

Officials of HudBay Minerals, new owner of Augusta Resources, which is the parent company to Rosemont Copper, were introduced today at the Arizona Mining Alliance monthly luncheon meeting in Tucson.    Over 200 attendees from the regional mining and business communities were present.

Rosemont Vice President Lance Newman announced they will be drilling 85,000 feet of new core holes, all on private land they own within the current open pit boundaries at the proposed mine site. It is in conjunction with an extensive geological and technical review of Rosemont's work to date.     Lance described how HudBay staff are immersed in an in-depth study of many years of data, reports, and studies generated for the project as they get up to speed on all the details of the operation.  He emphasized that HudBay is committed to development of the Rosemont mine as one of their centerpiece operations.   In my interpretation, the new drilling is intended to try to convert inferred resources and reserves to more demonstrated reserve category.    [Right, geologic cross section through proposed pit. Credit, Rosemont Copper]

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Grand Canyon is theme of national Geologic Map Day

The annual Earth Science Week celebration is October 12 – 18 this year, with Friday, October 17 being Geologic Map Day.  The theme this year is “Earth’s Connected Systems.”  

We just learned that the Geologic Map Day team chose the Grand Canyon as the poster for this year.    So, here is a sneak peak of that poster.