Earth MRI Funds Critical Minerals Projects in Pennsylvania

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A total of $100,000 will fund new research and preserve important data across the Keystone State

The U.S. Geological Survey and the Association of American State Geologists are pleased to announce $100,000 in funding for critical minerals projects in Pennsylvania. These funds are for fiscal year 2020 under the USGS Mineral Resources Program’s Earth Mapping Resources Initiative, or Earth MRI.

These funds include grants to the Pennsylvania Geological Survey for geologic mapping in Adams County and geochemical analyses in areas along the Appalachian Mountains of central and western Pennsylvania.

“These new projects in Pennsylvania represent the next step in our ambitious effort to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework in the United States and to identify areas that may have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources,” said Jim Reilly, director of the USGS. “The identification and prioritization of prospective areas was done through our strong partnership with the state geological surveys in a series of workshops in Fall 2019.”

“This program will revitalize and update the science and geologic research and data compilation that is needed in many states for the United States to identify new geologic associations,” said John Yellich, director of the Michigan Geological Survey and president of AASG.

“The Earth MRI effort is an outgrowth of the strong partnership between the AASG members and the USGS,” said Warren Day, Earth MRI lead scientist for the USGS. “The USGS is grateful for the scientific input and support from the state geological surveys, resulting in a robust body of information useful for many applications beyond mineral resources.”

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey’s geologic mapping will focus on Adams County, which has historic mining from the colonial period up until the 1970s. The new mapping will focus on cobalt potential, as well as metals like copper, gold, iron and silver.

The geologic mapping efforts, which are managed through the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, will refine scientific understanding of the geologic framework of areas of interest. In addition to helping identify mineral potential, these maps also support decisions about use of land, water, energy and minerals, and help to mitigate the impact of geologic hazards on communities.

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey will also participate in two geochemistry reconnaissance surveys. The first survey will focus on clays associated with Appalachian coal beds that have the potential for lithium and rare earth elements, as well as other critical mineral commodities like gallium and indium. The second survey will look at the rare earth element potential of phosphate rocks in the Appalachian Mountains. The two surveys will be done in cooperation with the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, and the Iowa, Kentucky and Maryland geological surveys.

The geochemistry reconnaissance surveys will provide information on mineral commodities in several formations that span multiple states. These projects will help geologists better define the poorly understood distribution of critical minerals in unconventional geologic settings across the eastern and central parts of the U.S.

In 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13817, a Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals. This executive order called on agencies across the federal government to develop a strategy to reduce the nation’s susceptibility to critical mineral supply disruptions.

In May of 2018, DOI released a list of 35 minerals deemed critical to the U.S. economy and security, based on a methodology by the USGS. This list forms the foundation of the full federal strategy. More information on USGS research to address the federal strategy on critical minerals can be found here.

Earth MRI is a partnership between the USGS, state geological surveys and industry to acquire new geologic maps, geophysical surveys and lidar data to better understand the fundamental geologic framework of areas across the nation with potential for hosting critical mineral resources. More information can be found here. To learn more about USGS mineral resource and commodity information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter.