An official website of the United States government. Here's how you knowHere's how you know
Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
Latest Earthquake | Chat Share
The purpose of this project is to trace the lithium (Li) geochemical cycle in the Great Basin, with an emphasis on the pathways that lead to the development of lithium clay and brine resources.
Lithium (Li) is one of the 35 critical mineral resources identified by USGS as necessary to the U.S. economy and national security. Lithium is mined from pegmatites, brines, and clays, but it is the production from brines that dominates international supply. The U.S. has one mine in Nevada that produces lithium from a brine but the output is small in comparison to other, non-U.S. brine resources. With the project demand for lithium and improvements in the extraction technology, lithium-bearing clays could become a larger portion of the U.S. lithium resource portfolio. The discovery of new resources requires expert knowledge of where lithium resides in the Earth's surface and how it is concentrated.
The Great Basin and surrounding regions contain lithium in rhyolites and ignimbrites, brines, geothermal waters, and surface and deep clays in closed basins. The ignimbrites are "part of a larger ignimbrite province that extends from Idaho thru the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico" (Henry and John, 2013). Lithium brine in Clayton Valley NV has been mined for lithium since 1966 and the lithium clay deposit at the McDermitt caldera on the NV-OR border is the largest single lithium resource in the U.S. (~2 Mt). These lithium-bearing resources are components of our larger, "working" model for the genesis and evolution of lithium brine and clay resources in the western U.S.
We will evaluate the Great Basin and surrounding regions for the components of the lithium brine and clay model by tracing the lithium pathway from source to sink, then use this information to improve our estimates of known lithium resources in brines and clays. Products will be produced in preparation for a future mineral resource assessment for undiscovered lithium resources.
Project tasks will evaluate the following:
Two additional project tasks will utilize the findings from the other project tasks:
Specific study areas include:
Return to Mineral Resources Program | Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Below are other science projects associated with this project.
Below are partners associated with this project.