Sunday, July 24, 2016

Small quake felt in Arizona, New Mexico; aftershock to 2014 Duncan earthquake?

A magntiude 3.0 earthquake struck on the Arizona-New Mexico border just before 7 am this morning, and residents in both states report feeling it.  The preliminary epicenter calculated by the USGS is about 3-4 miles south of Duncan Highway - US70 between Lordsburg and Safford.  [right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]

AZGS has a temporary seismic station in the area following the Duncan M-5.3 earthquake of 2014, so we should be able to provide a more accurate location once those data are analyzed. We are still seeing numerous aftershocks from that event. 

Today's quake is roughly 10 miles south-southeast of Duncan and near the eastern edge of the aftershock zone from the 2014 main quake.  [Below, location of the 2014 Duncan main shock and aftershocks through September 2014.  Credit, Jeri Young, AZSG]  

I speculate that today's event is yet another in the ongoing aftershocks of that M=5.3 quake.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Small quake near Fredonia

 There was a magnitude 2.1 earthquake about 8 km ESE of Fredonia on Monday afternoon.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

There have been a couple of tiny quakes in northwest Arizona in the past week, each just over M=1 and away from the Fredonia event.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Legislators call for restoring AZGS state funding

Arizona State Senator Gail Griffin and Rep.  Bob Thorpe are quoted in a news story in Eos ( this morning saying they want the legislature and governor to restore the state funding to the Arizona Geological Survey that was eliminated June 30.

According to the article, Sen. Griffin said she is working to include a line item in next year’s budget for the survey “to put back the funding that was stripped this past year.” It goes on to state that "Griffin said she hopes to discuss the issue with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a fellow Republican, this week."

Rep. Thorpe raised the idea of a emergency funding this year but "if nothing else, plan on this for the next fiscal year."

Sen. Griffin said, “I believe there are unintended consequences with this move, and I would like the situation to be reevaluated.”

[Right, photo used in the Eos article, shows AZGS geologist, Dr. Jeri Young uncovering one of the seismic station vaults near Douglas, AZ, that AZGS runs as part of the state's earthquake monitoring network.  Funding for the network is at risk. AZGS photo.]

Saturday, July 16, 2016

We posted the Inspector General's report on USGS lab misconduct

The Dept. of Interior Inspector General’s report about misconduct at the USGS Inorganic Geochemistry lab is posted at the AZGS Documentary Repository at:

The pdf version is viewable and downloadable directly from

The USGS has a website about the lab data quality issue in general, with a public notice (5/25/2016) on their web site, available at:

The USGS site apparently does not mention the Inspector General's report nor does it seem to be available or linked to from the site.  Here is the USGS intro page:

In October 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program was informed of a serious data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL), located in the USGS Central Energy Resources Science Center (CERSC) in Lakewood, Colorado. This data quality issue pertains to analyses performed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In the Inorganic Section, ICP-MS analyses are used to measure the concentrations (amounts) of trace elements and rare earth elements in water samples and in extracts prepared from solid samples, such as coal and rock. This data quality issue is the second major data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the EGL. The previous issue adversely affected data quality and scientific research over the time frame 1996-2008. Notices regarding the previous data quality issue can be found on the USGS Energy Resources Program web site and on the ScienceDirect web site.

After the October 2014 data quality issue was reported, a series of reviews were undertaken, initiated both within and outside the USGS. These reviews were necessary to fully understand the extent of data quality loss that occurred within this section of the EGL. From these reviews, the USGS has learned that this most recent data quality issue potentially affected ICP-MS analyses from 2008-2014. A listing of potentially affected analytical jobs can be found on the USGS Energy Resources Program web site:
  • Tabular .xlsx
  • Document .pdf (62KB)
During this time frame, some data were manipulated both to correct for calibration failures and to improve results of standard reference materials and unknowns. Some of the original files (“raw data”) from the ICP-MS instrument are unavailable, thus the measured concentrations cannot be re-checked for accuracy. As a result, the trace element and rare earth element concentrations reported from these ICP-MS analyses are considered suspect and are to be used with caution. Further, any publications based on these data should be re-evaluated, and revised as needed.

We continue to discuss the issue with USGS officials to better determine what impacts the data manipulation may have on Arizona reports and publications.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Colorado City's July 4th shaken by earthquakes

Fourth of July fireworks in Colorado City, northern Arizona, were accompanied by two small magnitude earthquakes: magnitude 3.0 at 9:10 p.m., and a M 2.5 event at 11:01 pm (MST).

Image showing the M 3.0 event, the M 2.5 event occurred in nearly the same location.…

Over the past week there have been a total of 5 recorded earthquakes, the largest being the M=3.0 on July 4.  The others had magnitudes of from 1.6 to 2.5

The affected area is in the southern end of the Intermountain Seismic Belt which extend through Utah, Idaho, and Montana.

[Right, orange star marks the epicenter of the largest quake.  Below, yellow dots mark epicenters of all 5 events. Credit, USGS]

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Small quake near Colorado City

We had a magnitude 2.5 earthquake just after 11 pm on July 4, about 5.0 km (3.1 mi) ESE of Colorado City, Arizona. [Right, orange star marks the epicentral location.  Red lines are active faults.  Credit, USGS]

Volunteers unload AZGS library in Phoenix museum

A flood of volunteers showed up at the former mining and mineral museum in Phoenix today to unload thousands of volumes from the AZGS's libraries onto temporary shelving.

AZGS was forced to shut down our Phoenix office and dramatically reduce our Tucson assets as a result of consolidation of state agencies, which eliminated our state budget as of June 30 and transferred our duties to the University of Arizona.    

UA does not have space in Phoenix and only limited space in Tucson to house AZGS staff and resources.   Most of the Phoenix library was preserved by moving it into the former mineral museum for storage until we can find a way to re-open that facility.  We also sent key materials from our Tucson library to fill out the collection and protect them from disposal.  

We dismantled the library shelving in Tucson and reassembled it in Phoenix.  Volunteers came in today to take the library materials from moving carts and put them on the shelves. The carts were returned to the moving company.

We cannot thank this group of hard-working individuals enough for their help in these challenging times.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Settling in at the University of Arizona

It's been a busy week.  The Arizona Geological Survey moved to the University of Arizona, physically  and administratively.   On Monday, we packed up the Arizona Experience retail store and AZGS library shelves [right] to  move to the former mining and mineral museum in Phoenix for temporary storage until that facility is re-opened and we set up a library and gift shop/store.

On Wednesday, movers loaded office files, about one-quarter of the AZGS geologic library, and selected equipment for the new offices in the former Arid Lands building just east of the UA campus.

On Thursday, AZGS moved in, started unpacking and setting up computers, email, and internet connections. 

Simultaneously, the moving trucks unloaded in Phoenix, and set up the Tucson library shelves. Next week, volunteers will be there to unload the dozens of carts of library books on the shelves [bottom].

 We were pretty successful in finding homes for much of the materials we could not take with us.  About half of the library was taken by state or university libraries, professional organizations, companies, and individuals.   The least critical library materials that were disposed of (seen on the floor in the above photo) probably amount to less than a quarter of the total inventory.

We had a steady stream of individuals grabbing copies of the more than 21,000 topo maps in our sales inventory.  The Arizona Railway Museum collected a complete set of nearly all 2,000 titles, along with historical versions.  The remaining ~15,000 maps were packed up by a sportsmen's organization for outdoor recreation users.

The AZGS state websites will continue in the interim while we move everything to addresses.

Our new space has only about one-fourth the size of our former state office space requiring a dramatic downsizing.   We are still identifying what costs we are responsible for at the university as well as counting the costs of the move.   That will impact our resources to fund staff positions for the rest of Fiscal Year 2017 which began July 1.

"Scientific misconduct" at USGS lab impugns water data from N. Arizona uranium studies

"Twenty-four research and assessment projects that have national and global interest were potentially affected by erroneous information" from a USGS geochemistry laboratory that had a “chronic pattern of scientific misconduct” where “data produced by the Inorganic Section were intentionally manipulated by the line-chemist in charge" including for "assessment of uranium in the environment in and around Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona for possible groundwater restoration."   [Right, USGS report published in 2010 on hydrology of uranium in northern Arizona that could be be called into question over potentially doctored data]

These are the findings of an investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Dept. of Interior, dated June 15, 2016, following an inspection of a "scientific integrity incident involving the Inorganic Section of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado."

Once the results of the inquiry became known, USGS closed the Inorganic Section, effective February 25, 2016. "USGS accused the chemist of data manipulation by intentionally changing the results produced by the mass spectrometer."

According to the report, the matter was discovered in late 2014, but had been taking place since 2008.  This covers the time period when the Secretary of Interior was conducting a review of impacts of potential mineral exploration and development, particularly of uranium, in northern Arizona.  As a result of the federal studies, the Secretary placed a 20-year moratorium on exploration and mining on nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the region [Left.  Source, US BLM]

The fraudulent data could bring into question the scientific justification of the land withdrawal, and the current political effort to establish a 1.8 million acre national monument in the region specifically to protect the area from impacts on water from uranium mining.

The IG's report also added that they "noted that USGS has taken a long time to inform its many stakeholders about this scientific integrity incident. To date, only the direct lab customers as well as selected scientist collaborators and related journals have been notified. Considering that the incident was discovered in October 2014 and that its serious nature became apparent shortly thereafter, USGS has had ample
time to make a public announcement. Many organizations rely on USGS publications and could potentially make decisions or policy based on flawed information."

Ref: Scientific Integrity Incident at USGS Energy Geochemistry Laboratory, Report 2016-EAU-010, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, 15p, June 2016.