Alaska Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI)

Science Center Objects

Our objective is to provide a strategic framework for planning, coordination, and execution of the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) in Alaska. Earth MRI aims to improve knowledge of the U.S. geologic framework through new geological and geophysical mapping and to identify areas that have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources.

Return to Geology or Earth MRI

Half-meter-thick quartz veins cut across outcrops of granitic gneiss on Divide Mountain along the Alaska-Yukon border

Half-meter-thick quartz veins cut across outcrops of granitic gneiss on Divide Mountain along the Alaska-Yukon border, August 2015. 
​​​​​​​(Credit: Jamey V. Jones III, USGS. Public domain.)

Science Issue and Relevance

The U.S. is dependent on imports for many critical mineral commodities. The USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (EarthMRI) goal is to improve knowledge of the U.S. geologic framework and to identify areas that have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources. Alaska has significant known or suspected critical mineral potential and is a priority focus region of the USGS Mineral Resources Program and the national Earth MRI. The USGS's initial role is to develop a plan for acquiring geologic, geophysical, and topographic data to help characterize the distribution of critical minerals and identify areas in which more data would improve our understanding of undiscovered critical mineral resources as well as be applied to meet other national, regional or local needs.

Methods to Address Issue

In recognition of Alaska’s unique scientific opportunities and challenges and priority status within the USGS Mineral Resources Program, we are assessing existing USGS Alaska geologic databases and other relevant databases to identify fundamental gaps in the geologic and geophysical understanding of the Alaska’s many metallogenic regions. We work with both the national Earth MRI project and Alaska partners to develop strategic plans for new airborne geophysical surveys and focused geologic research. We use a mineral systems approach at the state scale to inventory information and outline areas of greatest data needs and opportunities.

Earth MRI - Yukon Tanana Uplands Alaska

Helicopter landing to pick up geologists mapping in the eastern Yukon-Tanana upland near Tok, Alaska​​​​​​​.
​​​​​​​(Credit: Jamey V. Jones III, USGS. Public domain.)