Thursday, March 31, 2016

Earthquake "swarm" continues along Arizona - Nevada border

There have been 7 earthquakes recorded in northwest Arizona along the Nevada border during the past few days.  The latest one of magnitude 1.0 occurred around 4 pm local time yesterday (March 30).  The largest one was a magnitude 2.3 on March 28.   The smallest one is only magnitude 0.8.

The cluster is visible on the map south of Mesquite.  [Credit, USGS]

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Aftershock to yesterday's small quake on Arizona - Nevada border

There was a magnitude 2.0 earthquake at 2:55 a.m. local time this morning close to yesterday's M=2.3 and 1.8 quakes.    Was this an aftershock?    I'm not used to seeing earthquakes as small as M=2.3 generating aftershocks, so it may be just coincidence.   [Right, today's epicenter marked by orange star. Credit, USGS]

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Senate vote imminent on geologist de-licensing bill

An email sent out to Arizona members of AIPG reports that the bill to eliminate licensing of geologists and other professions in Arizona (HB2613) is set to be discussed in Senate Caucus today and could be voted on by the entire Senate by Wednesday or Thursday this week.

AIPG, other local professional associations, and industry groups are attempting to amend the bill to remove geologists from it.  

In a related action, the Senate Commerce and Workforce Development Committee adopted an amendment removing the requirement that the State Geologist of Arizona must be registered. Instead anyone meeting the requirements of a "trained geologist" can be appointed to the position.   A 'trained geologist" means a person who has:
1.  earned a geology degree from an accredited educational institution
2. participated in geological work experience outside of an educational institution for at least four years

Two small quakes along Nevada border

A magnitude 2.3 earthquake occurred along the Arizona-Nevada border this morning at 5:11 a.m. local time, followed by a magnitude 1.8 event (aftershock?) just over an hour later, and just southeast of the first event.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter of the main shock.  Credit, USGS]

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Op-ed supports preservation of AZGS mission, services

Tucson-based consulting geologist David Briggs published an opinion piece in the Arizona Independent newspaper urging the preservation of the services and products of the Arizona Geological Survey, in response the Gov. Ducey's plan to transfer our duties to the University of Arizona, effective this coming July 1.

David's concluding  paragraph states:

In January 2016, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released his Proposed Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, where he recommended consolidating the AZGS with the University of Arizona.  This proposed restructuring of state government has raised concerns among many in the Arizona’s geological community, who fear it will severely limit the Arizona Geological Survey’s ability to serve the citizens of Arizona.  I urge those who will ultimately determine the fate of the Arizona Geological Survey to find a way for it to continue the important work it has done for the citizens of Arizona.
The details of the transfer are being worked out by officials in the Governor's office and the University. Some of the plan may be revealed with the fiscal year 2017 budget bills are released, which is expected in the next few weeks.

Arizona natural hazards viewer is AGI Map of the Day

The interactive map of natural hazards in Arizona produced by AZGS, was highlighted by the American Geosciences Institute as the Map of the Day on the AGI Critical Issues website. 

AZGS interactive map of natural hazards includes:
  • Earthquakes since 1852
  • Active faults and earth fissures
  • Flood potential
  • Fire risk index
The map is searchable by street address so that hazard information can be quickly and easily found for specific locations. Links are available for further information and mitigation tips, and all of the data can be downloaded for further use and analysis.

We are developing a statewide inventory of landslides, with over 4,500 compiled so far, which will be added as another layer to the map soon.

AGI says the Critical Issues Program provides a portal to decision-relevant, impartial, expert information from across the geosciences. The website aggregates material from a wide array of geoscience information providers in one place.

UA HiRISE camera - 10 years of amazing Mars photos

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter marked 10 years of circling the Red Planet earlier this month, sending back a continuing stream of amazing photos from the HiRISE camera managed by the University of Arizona.   Phil Plait, who blogs at Bad Astronomy, posted a wonderful retrospective of spectacular HiRISE images, including some I had not seen before.  The one below shows an avalanche cloud caught live in 2010 [Credit, NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona]

Thursday, March 24, 2016

National landslides hazards bill introduced in US House

AZGS has been working with our colleagues to help craft the National Landslides Hazards Reduction Act which was introduced in the US House by Rep. Suzan DelBene  of Washington.  Rep. DelBene's district includes the Oso landslide which killed 42 people just two years ago.  

HR4776 includes provisions for a federal-state cooperative effort to conduct landslide hazards inventories and assessments in each state with federal matching funds.

AZGS also worked to include a section on creating a national landslide inventory database.    [Right, the highway 89A Bitter Springs landslide southwest of Page, AZ]

Free AGI webinar on critical minerals and materials, March 30

The American Geosciences Institute's Critical Issues Program is pleased to offer a free webinar, "Underpinning Innovation: The Science and Supply of America's Critical Minerals and Materials", on March 30, 2016, 1:00PM EDT. 

To register for this free event, please visit:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. We will post a recording of the webinar on the Critical Issues website after the event. If you cannot make the webinar but want to be informed about the recording, please register and we will notify you as soon as the recording is available.
Critical Issues Webinar: Underpinning Innovation: The Science and Supply of America's Critical Minerals and Materials

Critical minerals and materials are key components of the innovation economy. Minerals are a part of almost every product we use on a daily basis, either as the raw materials for manufacturing processes or as the end products themselves. Advanced technologies for communications, clean energy, medical devices, and national security rely on raw materials from mines throughout the world. In 2010, China curtailed exports of rare earth metals and sparked major concern about the security of global supply chains for a range of vital minerals and materials.
This webinar is based on a Congressional briefing organized by AGI on behalf of the Mineral Science & Information Coalition (3 March 2016). The webinar will address the efforts being taken at the federal level to ensure a steady supply of critical minerals and materials.
·       Lawrence D. Meinert, Program Coordinator, Mineral Resources Program, USGS
·       Steven M. Fortier, Director, National Minerals Information Center, USGS
·       Rod Eggert, Professor, Colorado School of Mines; Deputy Director, Critical Materials Institute, Ames Laboratory

AGI would like to recognize their webinar co-sponsors: American Chemical Society; American Exploration & Mining Association; American Physical Society; Critical Materials Institute; Geological Society of America; Industrial Minerals Association -North America; Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration; Society of Economic Geologists; U.S. Geological Survey.

[reprinted from the AGI announcement]

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Coming down to the wire on bill to de-license geologists in Arizona

The Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists sent out this update regarding HB2613, which eliminates licensing for geologists and a number of other professions. AIPG and other professional organizations oppose the bill:

We are coming down to the wire.

The Senate Commerce Committee heard the bill yesterday and passed it along party lines.  Several Republican senators expressed concern about the bill when they voted to pass it. 
 The next step is for the Bill to go to the Senate floor – first for Committee of the Whole where there could be additional amendments considered, then to a 3rd read where they would officially vote on the engrossed version.  If any amendments are adopted where the Bill is different than the House version it would need to go back to the House where the Bill sponsor ([Rep.] Petersen) could either concur with the amendments or not concur.  If he concurs with the amendments it would need a final vote in the House.  If he does not concur it would then get thrown into conference committee.  Bottom line is we are hoping for a floor amendment in Senate Committee of the Whole that would remove sections F and G of the Bill.  


….G. “Trained Geologist” means a person who has:
               1)Earned a Geology degree from an accredited Educational Institution.
               2) Participated in geologic work experience outside of an educational institution for at least 4 years.

Providing an option for individuals to practice geology in the state would result (Section F) in allowing those individuals with a sketchy background (had their license suspended or revoked in Az or another state due to malpractice, have committed a felony, and/or have committed an ethical violation) to pursue being able to provide Geologic Service to the unsuspecting public without being vetted by the BTR [Arizona Board of Technical Registration] through their permit and renewal process.