Saturday, January 31, 2015

More aftershocks to Duncan and Oak Creek Canyon earthquakes

We had aftershocks on Wednesday from both of last year's more prominent earthquakes in Arizona.

A magnitude 2.5 quake (orange dot  on AZ-NM border) is likely an aftershock to last June's M=5.3 Duncan earthquake.  It occurred at 3:50 p.m. local time on January 28.  The yellow dot is another aftershock, M=3.4 that occurred earlier in the week.

Another magnitude 2.5 quake hit south of Flagstaff, at 9:33 a.m. the same day, an aftershock to the November 30, -M=4.7 earthquake that occurred in Oak Creek Canyon near the Kachina Village area between Flagstaff and Sedona.   Our calculated located is a few miles west of the USGS location (yellow dot). We think ours is the more accurate location because we are using the stations in the AZGS and NAU networks for the epicenter solution.

Record rain fills rivers and washes in Tucson area

Friday's record rains in the Tucson area are generating huge flows in the regions rivers, that typically run dry much of the year.  The Catalina Mountains received over 5" of rain during the storm. Rain continues this morning.  Mike Conway, Chief of the AZGS Geologic Extension Service, reports that

at midnight, flooding on Tanque Verde Wash reached ~5,500 cfs. That is a high for the area, and much greater than flow on other washes and rivers in the area – see the hydrographs from the USGS for the Santa Cruz River Basin and San Pedro River Basin -

For comparison, Mike says the Colorado River at Yuma rarely gets above 5,000 cfs.


We're #1! - Arizona top mining state again

The Super Bowl in Phoenix tomorrow may be getting most of the attention this week but in the mining industry, Arizona just moved into the championship role.

Arizona is the #1 mineral-producing state (non-fuel) in the U.S. for 2014, according to a new report from the US Geological Survey.  The 2015 Mineral Commodities Summary reports that Arizona produced $8.06 billion worth of minerals in 2014, or 10.38% of all non-fuel minerals in the nation, with the principal minerals being, in order, copper, molybdenum concentrates, sand and gravel (construction), cement (portland), stone (crushed).  [Right, copper plate ready to be shipped. Credit, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold]    Arizona production was up $520 million over 2013.

Nevada, which had been the top producer for the past few years, came in second with $7.490 billion or 9.66% of the national production, led by gold, copper, silver, lime, and diatomite.  This is a drop of over $1.5 billion from the previous year.

Arizona produces about two-thirds of the copper used in the US, and even though prices dropped over last year to the lowest in five years, the drop in price of gold had an even bigger impact on Nevada's industry.

The USGS Minerals Commodity Summary is compiled from information provided by State Geological Surveys and others, including AZGS.

[update 2-3-15, 0820: due to a typo, the original post stated production amounts were millions instead of billions of dollars. Thanks to the anonymous reader for catching the error]

Monday, January 26, 2015

New director named for Arizona Dept. of Water Resources

A news release from Governor Doug Ducey's office today announced the appointment of Thomas Buschatzke [photo credit, ADWR] as Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

Mr. Buschatzke has been assistant director for the department's Water Planning Division since 2011 overseeing Colorado River management, active management Areas, active management area planning and data management, assured and adequate water supply and recharge permitting, and statewide planning and tribal liaison functions.  In this role, Mr. Buschatzke is responsible for planning and policy programs for the management of the state's water supplies. He also manages multiple regulatory and permitting programs and ADWR's water conservation and drought management efforts.

Mr. Buschatzke previously served as a water resources manager for the City Manager's Office in Phoenix (2002-11); a hydrologist in the civil division for the city of Phoenix law department (1988-2002); and a water resources supervisor for the Department of Water Resources (1982-1988).
He has served on University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center External Advisory Committee and the Water Sustainability Program External Advisory Committee; the American Water Resources Association; the American Water Works Association; and the Colorado River Water Users Association.

Mr. Buschatzke received a Bachelor of Science in Geology from SUNY Cortland in 1977.
replaces Mike Lacey who was appointed by Gov. Brewer.  

Another aftershock to last summer's Duncan M=5.3 earthquake

It looks like we had another aftershock from last June's magnitude 5.3 earthquake near Duncan, along the New Mexico border.  The magnitude 3.4 event occurred at 3:22 p.m. local time on Sunday.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Agreement on making geoscience data available worldwide

The OneGeology Board meeting wrapped up yesterday with plans to provide umbrella coordination to develop interoperability among regional geoscience data networks as part of the consortium's strategic goal of providing access to geoscience data worldwide.

Chris Pigram [right, center], CEO of Geoscience Australia and Chair of the OneGeology Board, hosted the meeting at GA headquarters in Canberra.

We are going to start by linking data systems in the U.S. (USGIN, managed by the Arizona Geological Survey), European Union (developing under the INSPIRE initiative) and East-Southeast Asia (under the CCOP- Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia).   Conversations will be initiated with related systems being organized on other continents.

One of the major topics of the 3-day session was on long-term sustainability for OneGeology, with a diversified set of revenue sources identified including country memberships dues, government and foundation grants, consortia support for specific technical projects, industry sponsorship, and conferences.

OneGeology is an international consortium of over 130 organizations in 117 countries, with the majority of the members being Geological Survey Organizations.  The web portal initially provided access to maps from the participants creating a digital geologic map of the world at a scale of 1:1 million or better.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State land wilderness bill in Arizona legislature

House Bill 2314 in the Arizona Legislature is titled "Public Lands Policy Coordination Office," but its primary purpose is to "Create a wilderness preservation system in this state" on lands owned by the State other than Trust Lands.  [Right, Arizona Capitol].    It is complexly written and we are still analyzing what it means, particularly for natural resources on the lands proposed for wildnerness status.

AZGS would be given two tasks in the bill:

G.  The agency managing and administering a protected wilderness area shall coordinate with the Arizona geological survey to develop and conduct surveys of a protected wilderness area on a planned, recurring basis in order to determine the mineral values, if any, that may be present in the protected wilderness area.  The surveys must be taken in a manner that is consistent with wildlife management and preservation principles.  A copy of a completed survey shall be made available to the public, the governor and the legislature.

I.  Any newly issued lease, permit or license for land within a protected wilderness area shall contain stipulations, as determined by the agency managing and administering the protected wilderness area in consultation with the state land department and the Arizona geological survey, for the protection of the wilderness character of the land, consistent with the use of the land for the purpose for which it is leased, permitted or licensed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bill would ban hydraulic fracturing in Arizona

A bill introduced into the Arizona legislature would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" for oil and gas.  The bill amends the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality statutes.

HB2463 defines it as   "Hydraulic fracturing" means the process of pumping a fluid into or under the surface of the ground in order to create fractures in rock for the purpose of the production or recovery of oil or natural gas."

The specific language in section 49-211 states "Hydraulic fracturing prohibited A person may not engage in hydraulic fracturing in this state and may not collect, store or treat water in this state if that water is used in, generated by or resulting from the process of hydraulic fracturing."   [Right, schematic diagram of hydraulic fracturing process. Credit, US EPA]

There is no hydraulic fracturing going on in Arizona and it was only used historically in a few exploration wells that never went into production.    Residents in Santa Cruz County have been concerned about two proposed oil and gas exploration wells in the area even though the operator has stated repeatedly that they are not going to frack those wells.  The company also does not have permits to do so.

The bill was introduced by Representatives Mendez, Sherwood, Andrade, and Velasquez.

Magnitude 3.1 earthquake in northwest Arizona

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake struck at 4:21 p.m. local time on Saturday, about 40 miles ESE of Kingman.  It was followed less a half hour later with a magnitude 2.1 aftershock in the same area.   [Right, location of mainshock epicenter in orange.  Credit, USGS]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

EPA open house and public hearing on Florence Copper in situ recovery project

The US Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled an open house and public hearing on the proposed in situ copper recovery operation proposed in Florence. The open house will be held 4-6 pm, January 22, 2015, in Florence High School at 100 S. Main in Florence.

The EPA public hearing will take place in the same location from 7-10 pm.

Florence Copper would pump a mild acidic solution through wells drilled into the underground copper deposit and recover the dissolved copper at the surface. [Right, schematic geologic cross section showing in situ recovery process. Credit, Florence Copper]  Opponents are worried about the potential for groundwater pollution and possible impacts on proposed housing developments in the area.