Sunday, September 28, 2014

Magnitude 3.4 earthquake near Miami, Arizona

There was a magnitude 3.4 earthquake on Sept. 20, 17 miles NNW of Miami and 63 miles east of Phoenix, at 1:03 p.m.   [Right, the orange star marks the epicenter.   Credit USGS]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Near record peak discharge on San Pedro River

Although we got very little rain in Tucson from Hurricane Odile remnants, southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora got a lot of rain. The southernmost stream gauge on the San Pedro River is at Palominas, a few miles north of the U.S. – Mexico border. Its peak discharge of 18,500 cfs at 10:15 am this morning is the 2ndlargest flood at this gauge since 1926.  

Dr. Phil Pearthree, chief of the AZGS Environmental Geology Section, warns that we could see some bank erosion and rearrangement of our youngest geologic units along the river, although he expects that the flood peak and the effects of the flood will diminish to the north.   [Right, geologic map along the San Pedro River. AZGS]

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Industry encouraged to participate in Fraser Institute "Survey of Mining Companies"

I want to encourage Arizona mining company executives to participate in this year's survey of government jurisdictions based on their attractiveness to mining investment.  We review the findings each year for Arizona and share them with state and legislative leaders.  

The Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, conducts this annual global survey and "the results help identify the countries, states, and provinces whose mining policies either attract or repel investors. Participants also offer critical insight into the policy issues that matter most to the global mining industry."

We also interview the survey director on our online video magazine "Arizona Mining Review" to answer questions about Arizona's favorability.

To participate in this year’s survey, visit
To learn more about this project, please contact Taylor Jackson, survey coordinator, at (604) 688-0221 ext. 553 or


From Fraser Institute:   Our Survey of Mining Companies: 2013 (published March 2014) ranked the investment climate of 112 jurisdictions around the world based on the opinions of mining executives representing 690 mineral exploration and development companies. Participating companies reported exploration spending of $4.6 billion US in 2012 and $3.4 billion US in 2013.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Permits issued for helium exploration

The Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission has approved permits for two new wells in the Holbrook area, reportedly to evaluate helium potential.  State permits #1194 and #1195 are posted on the AZOGCC website.    The permits were issued to Ranger Development LLC, based in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The well proposed in Sec. 33-20n-26e is located in the old Pinta Dome helium field [right, from AZGS report "Oil, Gas and Helium in Arizona: Its Occurrence and Potential," 1961]. The well in 31-20n-27e is located in the old Navajo Springs field.

A day of flooding across Arizona

We sent AZGS employees home a little early today after the City of Tucson sent their non-essential staff home at 3 p.m. News reports said the city had closed or was closing bridges across the Santa Cruz River, which lies only a block west of our offices.  There were fears that the high waters might undermine the river banks and threaten the structural integrity of the bridges.   I left at 5 p.m. worried that I would not be be able to get over the river to get to our home in the Tucson Mountains.  But the river level was down as I drove over it.  City workers were measuring the water flow, and local tv crews were capturing it all.  [Right, flooding on Interstate 10 in downtown Phoenix]

Visitors to Tucson are often surprised at the general lack of culverts and storm drains.   Streets typically follow the lay of the land, dropping down as they cross washes and gulleys.    Runoff from rain storms flows down washes and right across the roads.  Motorists are repeatedly warned not to cross washes with even what seem to be low levels of flowing water, not realizing the power of that water to sweep away vehicles or at least strand them.

AZGS geologists were responding to reports of heavy runoff eroding and undercutting roadways and other structures.    

Governor Jan Brewer issued a declaration of emergency in response to flooding statewide:

            PHOENIX – Governor Jan Brewer today declared a State of Emergency in response to record flooding in Arizona.  

            On September 8, 2014, powerful rains combined with remnants of Hurricane Norbert caused record precipitation and flooding throughout Arizona. The storms resulted in significant impacts to transportation infrastructure throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area in Maricopa County, including the closure of State Route 51, Interstate 10 and 17 and U.S. Route 60. The heavy rains also threatened lives, caused residential damages, forced evacuations in La Paz County and required emergency response search and rescue missions, including the American Red Cross opening shelters in Maricopa and La Paz Counties. The threat of flooding remains high due to heavily saturated soils and the anticipation of additional waves of precipitation.

            Governor Brewer is authorized under to A.R.S. § 26-303(D) to declare a State of Emergency to provide financial support for eligible response and recovery costs.  Maricopa and La Paz Counties have declared a state of emergency and are requesting the state’s financial assistance to recover from the flooding. The Governor’s Declaration:

a.         Declares that a State of Emergency exists in Maricopa and La Paz Counties due to flooding, effective September 8, 2014; and

b.         Acknowledges that this weather system is still passing through the State of Arizona, and will be amended to include additional counties as the situation requires; and

c.         Directs that the sum of $200,000 from the general fund be made available to the Director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management; and

d.         Directs that the State of Arizona Emergency Response and Recovery Plan be used to direct and control state and other assets and authorize the Director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management to coordinate state assets; and

e.         Authorizes the Adjutant General to mobilize and call to activate all or such part of the Arizona National Guard as is determined necessary to assist in the protection of life and property throughout the State.        

            Preliminary damage assessments will be scheduled by the Arizona Department of Emergency Management’s Recovery Office in conjunction with the counties, as requested. Response costs and damage to public infrastructure have not yet been estimated by the counties.

            Visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network website – – for emergency updates, preparedness and hazard information, and multimedia resources.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Small quake near Holbrook

A magnitude 2.6 earthquake hit about 6 miles northeast of Holbrook at 2:07 a.m. this morning. This area rarely sees measurable earthquakes.  [Right, orange star marks the epicenter. Credit, USGS]

Saturday, September 06, 2014

New global potash commodity report from USGS

The USGS has released the 2014 minerals commodity study for potash, which describes the global disruption of the market and price last year due to the breakup of the Russia-Belarus marketing company.  

We're following developments because the Holbrook basin [right, thickness map of potash. source AZGS] holds a significant potash resource at shallow depths and located on a major rail line and interstate. The US imports about 85% of the potash used in the country, mostly for fertilizer.  The one mine in Michigan shut down, while a new mine opened in New Mexico.

The USGS reported:
A Canadian company continued development of a new underground potash mine in southeastern New Mexico. Initial production was expected to begin in 2016, with annual production of 568,000 tons of SOP and 275,000 tons of SOPM.

In 2013, progress continued in the development of new mines and expansion of existing facilities in more than 15 countries worldwide. Projects in Canada, Laos, and Russia were expected to be completed by 2017. Other important projects in Belarus, Brazil, Congo (Brazzaville), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Russia, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan were not expected to be operational until after 2018.
World consumption of potash, for all applications, was expected to increase by about 3% per year over the next several years.
 The Holbrook basin proposed developments seem to be on hold while the market sorts itself out.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Did lithium mines seal the deal for Tesla battery factory going to Nevada?

Tesla has chosen Reno, Nevada as the site for its  $5 billion factory to supply lithium batteries for its electric cars, beating out competitors including Arizona. 

A story today by Dorothy Kosich at quotes John Boyd, a principal of the site selection firm The Boyd Company, as telling the Wall Street Journal, “I think the single most important factor is the [site’s] low-cost green power, including solar, wind and geothermal energy for the plant. He also cited Nevada’s lack of corporate and personal income taxes as positive factors."

Arizona may have sent mixed messages on this front, offering tax breaks and other incentives, but with concurrent debates at the Arizona Corporation Commission over continuing utility subsidies for solar power, and proposals to roll back the requirement for utilities to provide 15% of their electrical power from renewable energy resources.

Dorothy also points out that  "Nevada currently is home to the only brine lithium operation in the United States. Rockwood Lithium, which produces lithium carbonate from brines near Silver Peak, Nevada, has invested $75 million in an expansion of its U.S. lithium production. Pure Energy Minerals holds contiguous claims near the Silver Peak operation."   She notes that Western Lithium’s King Valley project is often promoted thusly: “Nevada is uniquely positioned to support the world-wide increase in renewable energy production and demand for electric vehicles through lithium mining—the key ingredients to the high-performance batteries, which will power electric vehicles and be used in utility-scale energy storage projects.”

How much did Nevada's support for producing the minerals needed for manufacturing batteries play into Tesla's decision?

[updated 9-6-14]

Position Opening: Deputy Director, Arizona Geological Survey

The Arizona Geological Survey (, an independent state agency reporting directly to the Governor, seeks to hire a Deputy Director at its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, with strong team-building, leadership, management, and communication skills and the ability to design, implement, and manage complex, multidisciplinary scientific programs in support of agency and state needs. The agency has never had a Deputy Director position, but increased demands to manage the growing staff, carry out the portfolio of large complex projects, and seek state and grant funding, require establishment of the position. 

Job Summary
Acts in a senior capacity to manage the internal operations of the agency that are necessary to carry out its programs and activities. Assists the Director and Section Chiefs in developing the agency’s programs, maintain scientific and technical proficiency of staff members and the agency, helps construct and implement the agency’s annual work plans and priorities based on available resources, allocates agency human and fiscal resources, and responds to requests and inquiries from the Governor, Legislature, local, state, and federal agencies, business and industry, news media, professional organizations, and the public.  Supervises the agency’s Section Chiefs.   Acts on behalf of department director in the Director´s absence; represents the agency with its stakeholders, clients, and partners.  Carries out geoscience projects in the incumbent’s area of scientific expertise or as needed.  

Education and Experience Requirements
·         Degree in Geological or Earth Sciences or closely related field, and at least 5 years of experience in the management of scientific programs; advanced degree encouraged
·         Managerial experience overseeing complex projects involving teams of geologists, computer and information scientists, and other professionals and support staff with diverse educational and work experience backgrounds 

Position Type: Permanent position, E1, in Arizona State Government, salary range, $51,499 - $97,335.
The State of Arizona offers a comprehensive benefits package that can be effective within the first two weeks of your employment that includes affordable health, dental and vision insurance, accrued vacation and sick leave, 10 holidays per year; long-term disability; retirement plan; and life insurance. Optional employee benefits include deferred compensation, short-term disability, flexible spending account for medical/dependent care expenses and supplemental life insurance.  We also offer free covered garage parking, Tuition Reimbursement and Public Transit Discounts. Position is located in Tucson.

How to Apply:
Fill out an application at: or applications may be sent in the form of a resume and cover letter to Please include “Deputy Director” in your subject line to distinguish your application from other recruitments currently open. First review of applicants will take place September 20, 2014 and continue until the position is filled. 

Arizona State Government is an EOE/ADA Reasonable Accommodation Employer.
All newly hired employees will be subject to the E-Verify Employment Eligibility Verification Program.