RESTON, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will invest more than $2 million to map critical mineral resources in central Minnesota in partnership with several Minnesota state partners.
USGS partners with Minnesota to map critical mineral potential with cutting-edge data
Mapping effort will identify areas in the state with critical mineral resource potential that could strengthen the national economy
The funding comes in part from an investment by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the USGS Mineral Resources Program’s Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI), which provides $320 million over five years through the USGS to advance scientific innovation and map critical minerals vital to the Nation’s supply chains, economy and national defense.
The work will modernize our understanding of the Nation’s fundamental geologic framework and improve knowledge of domestic mineral resources both in the ground and in mine waste, a key step in securing a reliable and sustainable supply of the critical minerals that power everything from household appliances and electronics to clean energy technologies like batteries and wind turbines.
The USGS, the Minnesota Geological Survey, the University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will collaborate on an airborne geophysical survey of the Cuyuna Iron Range, a region known for past production of iron and unusually high concentrations of manganese.
“The critical mineral potential for this region is broad and important, including some of the largest identified manganese resources in the United States,” said Anahita Tikku, a USGS scientist involved with the project. “As such, it is exciting to be able to better characterize and study this area with new high-resolution airborne magnetic and radiometric data.”
“This USGS program offers the Minnesota Geological Survey an opportunity to improve our understanding of geologic resources in the state, including materials needed for cleaner sources of energy. It accelerates our ongoing mission to provide the geologic information necessary to protect and manage mineral- and water resources across the state,” said Anthony Runkel, Interim Director and Lead Geologist, Minnesota Geological Survey.
The critical mineral commodities that are the focus of these surveys are:
Cobalt, used in rechargeable batteries and superalloys
Manganese, used in steelmaking and batteries
Nickel, used to make stainless steel, superalloys and rechargeable batteries
Platinum group elements, used in catalytic converters
The airborne surveys will include the collection of magnetic and radiometric data. These different methods can be used to map rocks at the surface beneath trees and vegetation, and in some cases, several miles underground. Magnetic data, which image the deepest rocks, can be used to identify ancient faults, magma bodies and other geologic features, while radiometric data indicate relative amounts of potassium, uranium and thorium in shallow rocks and soil and can also be used to characterize mine waste.
The new geophysical data will be processed to develop high-resolution three-dimensional representations of bedrock composition and structure to depths more than 3,280 feet (1 kilometer) below the surface.
The 3D models and maps are important for improving our understanding of critical mineral resource potential, water resources, groundwater pathways near legacy mining areas, parameters for infrastructure and land use planning, and potential risks of naturally occurring radon.
More information can be found here. To learn more about how the USGS is investing the resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, visit our website. To learn more about USGS mineral-resource and commodity information, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter.
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