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June 5, 2006
Kathleen  Johnson 703-648-6110 kjohnson@usgs.gov
Sue Kropschot 703-648-6629 skropsch@usgs.gov

USGS Announces Mineral Research Grants

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Today, June 5, 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announces the recipients of the third year of the Mineral Resources External Research Program, a grant and/or cooperative agreement opportunity designed to support minerals research. The grant award is split among 15 topics supporting researchers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, British Columbia, and New Zealand who will conduct research that support the goals of the USGS Mineral Resources Program.

This research opportunity invited proposals from universities, state agencies, industry, or other private sector organizations to conduct research that will help improve stewardship of public lands and resources; formulate national and international economic and security policy; sustain prosperity and improve quality of life; and protect and improve public health, safety, and environmental quality.

The fifteen 2006 grant awards are:

Robert Blodgett from the independent firm Bob's Stratigraphy in Anchorage, AK will compare fossil collections in Russia and Alaska to study the formation of Arctic Alaska. Because one of the world's largest zinc-lead-silver deposits occurs in Arctic Alaska, this work will help other scientists predict where rocks with potential for similar deposits might be found.

John Proffett from the independent firm Proffett Exploration, Inc., in Eagle River, AK will conduct a study of the Yerington porphyry copper deposit in Nevada to create 3-dimensional models of the mineral system before it was buried and deformed. This research will provide tools for predicting undiscovered deposits that were formed before the Great Basin began to develop.

Tom Trainor from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks will research factors that control the mobility of antimony in mine tailings in the Tintina gold province of Alaska and the Yukon. In contrast to metals such as mercury, arsenic, and lead, little research has been conducted on the geochemical behavior of similarly toxic antimony in these environments.

Eric Seedorff from the University of Arizona will investigate porphyry copper deposits in southern Arizona that have been broken up by faults and other geologic processes. This research will both improve the understanding of events that affected known porphyry systems and help identify undiscovered deposits in areas with similar geologic settings.

Christopher Kim from Chapman University in Orange, CA will research a new method of determining the types of mercury and arsenic that occur in samples from mine sites in the Coast Range of California. His work will provide new tools for assessing risk resulting from materials with very low concentrations of these potentially toxic metals.

John Ridley from Colorado State University will examine crustal fluids in the eastern Tintina gold province of Alaska and the Yukon. This study will use state-of the-art techniques to characterize fluids trapped in several types of gold deposits, helping to determine the nature and distribution of fluids involved in deposit formation. The study will integrate with ongoing geologic studies to provide a better framework for future assessments of potential for undiscovered mineral deposits in the region.

Timberley Roane from the University of Colorado-Denver will be conducting research on a biological assessment tool for metal-impacted watersheds in central Colorado. This work will document and compare the microbial community structure at a variety of sites to correlate metal availability with biological toxicity. This research will complement the data being collected as part of ongoing USGS studies in central Colorado and may have applications elsewhere in the U.S.

David Mueller and Thomas Graedel from Yale University in New Haven, CT will be conducting materials flow research to better understand the service lifetimes of a variety of products. This research will provide data that will improve estimation of parameters in the mineral cycle, including in-use stocks, product flows, and stock replacement requirements. It will also improve our understanding of recycling efficiency, dissipative loss to the environment, flows into landfills, and imports/exports of used and discarded products.

Virginia Gillerman from the Idaho Geological Survey, will compare the age and characteristics of deposits that contain iron, copper, thorium, and rare earth elements near Lemhi Pass, Idaho with copper- and cobalt-bearing deposits in the Blackbird mining district, Idaho. This study will determine whether a previously unrecognized class of ore deposits is present in the northwestern U.S.

Martin Appold from the University of Missouri-Columbia will conduct state-of-the-art analyses on fluids responsible for both large and small zinc-lead deposits of the Ozark Plateau of Missouri and Arkansas. Understanding the fluids that formed these deposits will improve estimates of potential for undiscovered deposits in the U.S. and around the world.

Jean Cline from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas will conduct research on fluid pathways and metal transport at Getchell, a world-class gold deposit in Nevada. The results of this research expand the understanding about geologic events that led to the formation of economically important gold deposits like those at Getchell. This understanding will significantly advance USGS scientists' ability to provide estimates of potential for gold deposits elsewhere in the U.S. and the world.

Matthew Heizler from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology will lead a group of graduate students in the determination of precision dates for the Colorado mineral belt. Using an innovative combination of research and teaching, the work will both provide new data that is important for ongoing USGS projects in Colorado and train a new generation of scientists in practical applications of dating for mineral deposits.

Andreas Luttge from Rice University in Houston, TX will use innovative state-of-the-art technology to determine the rates of decomposition of minerals, comprised of metals and sulfur compounds. Data on the dissolution of rock materials under normal surface weathering conditions should allow the prediction of release of metals and acidity, information that will be key to predicting and remediating environmental consequences of exposure of materials to surface conditions by natural or man-made processes.

Kenneth Hickey and Richard Tosdal from the University of British Columbia will conduct a study that will provide new information on heat flow related to fluids that form world-class gold deposits in the Great Basin in Nevada. The data generated by this study will be used by researchers and exploration geologists to better understand how mineral deposits were formed in the Great Basin, a region well-endowed in mineral resources and comprised largely of Federal land.

Jeffrey Mauk from the University of Auckland will conduct research on magnetite associated with a variety of mineral deposit types in the northwest U.S., a region that is receiving increasing attention for its mineral resource potential. The innovative research will help determine whether magnetite, a mineral composed largely of iron and oxygen, has characteristics that can be used to identify new mineral deposits.

Our mineral endowment is one of our Nation's most important assets – it fuels our economy, impacts our environment, and enhances all of our lives. For more information on USGS mineral research see: http://minerals.usgs.gov.


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