Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center

Applied Geochemistry

The Applied Geochemistry Branch supplies expertise in hydrogeochemistry and biogeochemistry to characterize the natural water chemistry, processes controlling groundwater flow paths, water-rock interactions, and fate/transport of metals and other contaminants in ground and surface waters. Another focus is on constraining processes that form critical resource deposits and the development of geologic reference materials essential for validating analyses of earth materials. Branch scientists develop and adapt analytical geochemistry protocols and instrumentation for special applications to fulfill USGS science needs.

  • Research Chemistry
  • Processes Controlling Fate and Transport of Metals Associated with Legacy Mining
  • Multi-scale screening techniques for Legacy Mine Land (LML) sites using data mining and site-specific studies in the western U.S.
  • Macro and Micro Analytical Methods Development
Filter Total Items: 15
Date published: May 1, 2019
Status: Active

Salmon River Mountains Legacy Mining Studies

The objective of this study is to characterize the regional impact of legacy mining in the context of framework geology for the Salmon Mountains in central Idaho. This objective is addressed through three interrelated tasks: 1) framework geology, 2) watershed biogeochemical processes, and 3) characterization of trace metals in colloids (fine particles suspended in water).

Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Active

Processes Controlling Groundwater Quality in Uranium In-Situ Recovery (ISR) Mining

The project's primary objective is to evaluate the reducing capacity of an aquifer down-gradient of a roll-front ore zone to assess the mobility of uranium and other associated elements (e.g. arsenic, selenium, molybdenum, and sulfur). Assessing the reducing capacity of the aquifer requires characterization of the mineralogy, geochemistry, and microbiology and their variation across the...

Contacts: Jean M Morrison
Date published: August 1, 2018
Status: Active

Non-Traditional Stable Isotopes

Understanding the genesis of ore deposits and their behavior in the environment is a subject of great importance to the Nation. A relatively new tool to aid in these efforts to investigate the origin and environmental effects of ore deposits is the use of "heavy" metal stable isotopes. Our research objectives are to utilize various isotopic systems to advance our understanding of ore genesis...

Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Active

Metal Transport in Mineralized Mountain Watersheds

The central objective of this project is to develop a greater understanding of deep bedrock groundwater circulation and its contribution to surface water metal loads in mineralized mountain blocks composed of sedimentary rocks. This work is being performed in cooperation with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as part of a broader research program aimed at understanding processes...

Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Active

Integrated Hyperspectral, Geophysical and Geochemical Studies of Yellowstone National Park Hydrothermal Systems

We are researching the subsurface groundwater flow systems in Yellowstone and the relation of these systems to understanding the regional movement of water in a volcanic center. New geophysical data will be integrated with existing data sets from hyperspectral data from Yellowstone's thermal areas and thermal water geochemistry to help define regionally extensive mineral assemblages, the...

Contacts: JoAnn Holloway
Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Completed

Geochemical Signatures of Covered Mineral Deposits in the Northern Midcontinent

We are evaluating the potential of geochemical prospecting techniques that have shown promise in other covered terranes for mineral exploration in the northern midcontinent of the U.S. Novel components will be added to these methods with the objective of method advancement and improving our understanding of processes controlling the transmission of unique geochemical signatures from buried...

Date published: July 31, 2018
Status: Active

Development of USGS Geochemical Reference Materials

The project focus will be the development of traditional and microanalytical reference materials that support USGS geochemical investigations. Development of new microanalytical reference materials allows USGS scientists and outside customers to examine a greater range of sample types while maintaining a high degree of data reliability.

Date published: June 29, 2018
Status: Active

Sources, Forms, Extractability of Metals in Non-Ore Deposit Sources

This project will explore potential recovery and environmental consequences of metals in mining and mineral processing wastes as a function of ore deposit geology, and in debris from demolished or burned buildings. 

Date published: June 29, 2018
Status: Completed

Trace Metal Mobility in the Yellow Pine Mining District, Idaho

The study objective is to conduct an integrated, interdisciplinary study on source areas, biogeochemical transformations, and physical and biological pathways for trace metal transport in a tributary of the Snake River watershed, focusing on the Sugar Creek watershed. The historical Cinnabar mercury mine site is at the headwaters of Cinnabar Creek, a tributary to Sugar Creek. This integrated...

Date published: June 29, 2018
Status: Active

Geochemical Signatures and Environmental Impacts of Ore and Trace Mineralization in the Southern Midcontinent

The overall project objective is a comprehensive analysis of the natural and anthropogenic consequences of extensive ore and trace mineralization in the southern midcontinent of the U.S. with a focus on Missouri. This will be conducted at two scales: 1) landscape and 2) process-level.

1) Landscape scale using geospatial and machine learning techniques to combine multiple geochemical and...

Date published: June 19, 2018
Status: Active

Critical Elements in Carbonatites: From Exploration Targets to Element Distribution

Critical elements are essential to the modern economy and have potential supply chain disruptions, but compared to most base and precious metals, little work has been done in understanding ore-grade enrichments. Carbonatites are the primary source of the worlds light rare earth elements and niobium, and a potential source for heavy rare earths, scandium, tantalum, and thorium. Project...

Date published: September 30, 2016
Status: Completed

ASTRA: ASTeroid Resource Assessment

The study was conducted to determine if the USGS process for conducting mineral resource assessments on Earth can be applied to asteroids

Contacts: William Ridley