Mission Areas

Energy and Minerals

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The Energy and Minerals Mission Area conducts research and assessments that focus on the location, quantity, and quality of mineral and energy resources, including the economic and environmental effects of resource extraction and use.

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Image shows squares of permafrost
December 22, 2017

The Department of the Interior has announced petroleum assessments from the 

Image shows a river winding through a green landscape
December 22, 2017

Less than 80 miles from Prudhoe Bay, home to the giant oil fields that feed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, lies the site of USGS’ latest oil and gas assessment: the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and adjacent areas. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the NPR-A covers 22.8 million acres, more than the entire state of South Carolina.

Image shows a composite of things that use critical minerals
December 19, 2017

It would be no exaggeration to say that without minerals, no aspect of our daily lives would be possible.

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Old Perpetual Geyser
Date Published: April 11, 2017

A joint study between the USGS Water and Energy Mission Areas has the main goals of quantifying groundwater resources and geothermal energy potential in much of eastern Oregon, northeastern California, southwestern Idaho, and northernmost Nevada. This study area lies within a broadly-defined Northwest Volcanic Province (NVP) that has been dominated by volcanic eruptions that have shaped the...

geologists doing Alaskan field work with helicopter
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Geologic, geophysical, and geochemical studies evaluate Alaska’s mineral endowment of strategic and critical minerals not found elsewhere in the United States.

Image: Southeast Missouri Helicopter Survey
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Geophysical tools and techniques allow us to see geologic units and structures on and beneath the Earth’s surface to understand how mineral resources are distributed.

Map of Undiscovered Cooper Estimate in the Middle East
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Mineral resource assessments are a tool used for determining the potential for undiscovered domestic and global deposits of minerals such as copper. Land management agencies, industry and the public use this unbiased mineral resource information to help determine future resource development.

Image: Red and Bonita Mine
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Understanding potential and existing environmental impacts promotes sustainable development of needed mineral materials and responsible stewardship of our natural resources.

clean laboratory
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Laboratories provide data to help characterize and improve understanding of mineral resources and materials. Diverse technique and method development support our Program's research and provide data to other land management agencies and the public.

minerals information sources icon
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Information on domestic and international supplies and uses of mineral commodities is essential to the U.S. economy and to national security. Statistics and information on domestic and international minerals production, consumption, and materials flow is collected based on surveys of the domestic mineral industry and foreign governments.

quartz albite zircon
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Understanding the formation of major mineral deposits, which provide for society’s needed resources, can have broad impact on the economy and the environment.

Remote sensing map
Date Published: January 31, 2017

Comprehensive data storage and delivery systems serve mineral resource and related data to USGS scientists and the general public.

rare earth oxides
Date Published: January 17, 2017

Demand for critical mineral commodities is on the rise with increasing applications in consumer products such as phones and tablets. Research and assessment activities address the need for more up-to-date information on the nation's and the world's critical mineral resources.

Midcontinent aeromagnetic anomalies
Date Published: January 17, 2017

Geological, geochemical and geophysical studies in the midcontinent region of the U.S. help to better understand the region’s potential for critical mineral resources in rocks that are deeply buried.

Poudre River looking upstream.
Date Published: August 12, 2016

Water quality and aquatic life standards that are set by Federal and state regulatory agencies are used to evaluate the quality of our nation’s water and the health of aquatic ecosystems. These standards currently are based on hardness of the water and are determined for single metals, not for mixtures of metals that are typically found in natural systems. Metal mixtures can potentially be...

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MCS 2017 cover
January 31, 2017

Minerals Information Periodicals and Data Products

Periodical publications that provide statistical data on production, distribution, stocks, and consumption of significant mineral commodities. Information on minerals-related issues, including minerals conservation, sustainability, availability, materials flow, and the economic health of the U.S. minerals industry is also available.

wind turbines
April 26, 2016

National Wind Turbine Map & Database

USGS has recently undertaken a project to develop a methodology for assessing wind energy impacts on wildlife at a national scale. The USGS data set provides industrial-scale onshore wind turbine locations in the United States through July 22, 2013.  

Example GIS data layers
April 13, 2016

Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data

Interactive maps and downloadable data for regional and global geology, geochemistry, geophysics, and mineral resources. Includes web services providing data for users of Geographic Information System software (GIS). Links to portals for minerals information, geochemical data, and geophysical data.

eudialyte and bastnäsite samples
April 12, 2016

Mineral Deposit Models

Conceptual models describing the essential characteristics of groups of similar mineral deposits.

Energy Data
March 4, 2016

Energy Data

Browse all energy-related datasets.

Tools of the trade for a US Geological Survey engraver- the burin and the hand lens, resting on a contours engraving.
March 4, 2016

Energy Tools

View and download map-based energy data, search energy GIS data collections, browse the coal photomicrograph atlas and coal quality database, perform an advanced publications search, explore seismic reflection profiling data in Alaska, look at and print world geology maps, peruse the energy multimedia library, and more.

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Alaska Geologic Map
March 7, 2016

Digital geologic maps of the U.S. States with consistent lithology, age, GIS database structure, and format.

Image: Climax Molybdenum Mine
March 7, 2016

Mine plants and operations for commodities monitored by the National Minerals Information Center of the USGS. Operations included are those considered active in 2003 and surveyed by the USGS.

U.S. mine and mineral processing plant locations
March 7, 2016

Maps of facilities for both international and domestic locations.

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Year Published: 2018

Punctuated sediment discharge during early Pliocene birth of the Colorado River: Evidence from regional stratigraphy, sedimentology, and paleontology

The Colorado River in the southwestern U.S. provides an excellent natural laboratory for studying the origins of a continent-scale river system, because deposits that formed prior to and during river initiation are well exposed in the lower river valley and nearby basinal sink. This paper presents a synthesis of regional stratigraphy,...

Dorsey, Rebecca J.; O’Connell, Brennan; McDougall-Reid, Kristin; Homan, Mindy B.
Rebecca J. Dorsey, Brennan O'Connell, Kristin McDougall, and Mindy B. Homan, 2018, Punctuated sediment discharge during early Pliocene birth of the Colorado River; evidence from regional stratigraphy, sedimentology, and paleontology: Sedimentary Geology, v. 363, p. 1-33, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2017.09.018.

Year Published: 2018

Ore-forming adakitic porphyry produced by fractional crystallization of oxidized basaltic magmas in a subcrustal chamber (Jiamate, East Junggar, NW China)

Adakitic intrusions are supposed to have a close genetic and spatial relationship to porphyry Cu deposits. However, the genesis of adakitic intrusions is still under dispute. Here, we describe newly discovered intrusive complex rocks, which are composed of ore-bearing, layered magnetite-bearing gabbroic and adakitic rocks in Jiamate, East Junggar...

Hong, Tao; Xu, Xing-Wang; Gao, Jun; Peters, Stephen; Zhang, Di; Jielili, Reyaniguli; Xiang, Peng; Li, Hao; Wu, Chu; You, Jun; Liu, Jie; Ke, Qiang
Tao Hong, Xing-Wang Xu, Jun Gao, Stephen G. Peters, Di Zhang, Reyaniguli Jielili, Peng Xiang, Hao Li, Chu Wu, Jun You, Jie Liu, Qiang Ke, 2017, Ore-forming adakitic porphyry produced by fractional crystallization of oxidized basaltic magmas in a subcrustal chamber (Jiamate, East Junggar, NW China). Lithos, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lithos.2017.11.004.

Year Published: 2017

Evaluation of hypotheses for right-lateral displacement of Neogene strata along the San Andreas Fault between Parkfield and Maricopa, California

We used geological field studies and diatom biostratigraphy to test a published hypothesis that Neogene marine siliceous strata in the Maricopa and Parkfield areas, located on opposite sides of the San Andreas Fault, were formerly contiguous and then were displaced by about 80–130 kilometers (km) of right-lateral slip along the fault. In the...

Stanley, Richard G.; Barron, John A.; Powell, Charles L.
Stanley, R.G., Barron, J.A., and Powell, C.L., II, 2017, Evaluation of hypotheses for right-lateral displacement of Neogene strata along the San Andreas Fault between Parkfield and Maricopa, California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5125, 26 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175125.

Year Published: 2017

Fluorine

Fluorine compounds are essential in numerous chemical and manufacturing processes. Fluorspar is the commercial name for fluorite (isometric CaF2), which is the only fluorine mineral that is mined on a large scale. Fluorspar is used directly as a fluxing material and as an additive in different manufacturing processes. It is the source of fluorine...

Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; Hayes, Timothy S.; Miller, M. Michael; Orris, Greta J.; Piatak, Nadine M.
Hayes, T.S., Miller, M.M., Orris, G.J., and Piatak, N.M., 2017, Fluorine, chap. G of Schulz, K.J., DeYoung, J.H., Jr., Seal, R.R., II, and Bradley, D.C., eds., Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1802, p. G1–G80, http://doi.org/10.3133/pp1802G.

Year Published: 2017

Platinum-group elements

The platinum-group elements (PGEs)—platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium—are metals that have similar physical and chemical properties and tend to occur together in nature. PGEs are indispensable to many industrial applications but are mined in only a few places. The availability and accessibility of PGEs could be disrupted...

Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; Zientek, Michael L.; Loferski, Patricia J.; Parks, Heather L.; Schulte, Ruth F.; Seal, Robert R.
Zientek, M.L., Loferski, P.J., Parks, H.L., Schulte, R.F., and Seal, R.R., II, 2017, Platinum-group elements, chap. N of Schulz, K.J., DeYoung, J.H., Jr., Seal, R.R., II, and Bradley, D.C., eds., Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1802, p. N1–N91, https://doi.org/10.3133/pp1802N.

Year Published: 2017

Rhenium

Rhenium is one of the rarest elements in Earth’s continental crust; its estimated average crustal abundance is less than 1 part per billion. Rhenium is a metal that has an extremely high melting point and a heat-stable crystalline structure. More than 80 percent of the rhenium consumed in the world is used in high-temperature superalloys,...

Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; John, David A.; Seal, Robert R. ; Polyak, Désirée E.
John, D.A., Seal, R.R., II, and Polyak, D.E., 2017, Rhenium, chap. P of Schulz, K.J., DeYoung, J.H., Jr., Seal, R.R., II, and Bradley, D.C., eds., Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1802, p. P1–P49, https:/doi.org/10.3133/pp1802P.

Year Published: 2017

Tin

Tin (Sn) is one of the first metals to be used by humans. Almost without exception, tin is used as an alloy. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3500 B.C. The major uses of tin today are for cans and containers, construction materials, transportation materials, and solder. The predominant ore...

Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; Kamilli, Robert J.; Kimball, Bryn E.; Carlin, James F.
Kamilli, R.J., Kimball, B.E., and Carlin, J.F., Jr., 2017, Tin, chap. S of Schulz, K.J., DeYoung, J.H., Jr., Seal, R.R., II, and Bradley, D.C., eds., Critical mineral resources of the United States—Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1802, p. S1–S53, https://doi.org/10.3133/ pp1802S.

Year Published: 2017

Connecting the Soda–Avawatz and Bristol–Granite Mountains faults with gravity andaeromagnetic data, Mojave Desert, California

The Soda–Avawatz and Bristol–Granite Mountains faults are considered by some to form the northeastern margin of the eastern California shear zone yet their connectivity and extents are obscured by surficial deposits and the estimates of total right-lateral offset from geologic data range from 0 to as much as 24 km. We use gravity and recently...

Langenheim, Victoria; Miller, David
Langenheim, V.E, and Miller, D.M., 2017, Connecting the Soda–Avawatz and Bristol–Granite Mountains faults with gravity and aeromagnetic data, Mojave Desert, California in Reynold, Robert E., ed., ECSZ Does it: Annual proceedings of the Desert Science Symposium, p. 83-92.

Year Published: 2017

Detrital zircon geochronology of quartzose metasedimentary rocks from parautochthonous North America, east-central Alaska

We report eight new U-Pb detrital zircon ages for quartzose metasedimentary rocks from four lithotectonic units of parautochthonous North America in east-central Alaska: the Healy schist, Keevy Peak Formation, and Sheep Creek Member of the Totatlanika Schist in the northern Alaska Range, and the Butte assemblage in the northwestern Yukon-Tanana...

Dusel-Bacon, Cynthia; Holm-Denoma, Christopher S.; Jones, James V.; Aleinikoff, John N.; Mortensen, James K.
Dusel-Bacon, C., Holm-Denoma, C.S., Jones, J.V. III, Aleinikoff, J.N., and Mortensen, J.K., 2017, Detrital zircon geochronology of quartzose metasedimentary rocks from parautochthonous North America, east-central Alaska: Lithosphere, v. 9, no. 6, p. 927–952; GSA Data Repository Item 2017332; https://doi.org/10.1130/L672.1

Year Published: 2017

Geochemical variations during development of the 5.46 Ma Broadwell Mesa basaltic volcanic field, California

The 5.46±0.04 Ma Broadwell Mesa basalt and associated basaltic volcanic field in the western Bristol Mountains, California, formed a ~6 km2 volcanic flow field with architecture including numerous lava flows, a ~1.1 km2 lava lake, and a ~0.17 km2 cinder cone. The local number of lava flows varies from one along the margins of the field to as many...

Buesch, David C.
Buesch, D.C., 2017, Geochemical variations during development of the 5.4 Ma Broadwell Mesa basalt volcanic field, California: in Reynolds, R.E., ed, “ECSZ DOES IT: Revisiting the Eastern California Shear Zone”, California State University Desert Studies Consortium, p. 103-117.

Year Published: 2017

Mineralogical characterization of weathered outcrops as a tool for constraining water chemistry predictions during project planning

Weathered samples from naturally exposed outcrops of troctolite associated with a magmatic Ni-Cu sulphide deposit were characterized by synchrotron-based micro-X-ray fluorescence mapping (µ-XRF) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), as well as by lab-based X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and wet chemical methods....

Diedrich, Tamara; Fix, Paul; Foster, Andrea L.
T. Diedrich, P. Fix, and A. Foster (2017) Mineralogical characterization of weathered outcrops as a tool for constraining water chemistry predictions during project planning. Proceedings of IMWA 2017, "Mine Water and Circular Economy" , Wolkersdorfer C, Sartz L., and Hakkinen A, Editors, p. 712-719

Year Published: 2017

Miocene−Pleistocene deformation of the Saddle Mountains: Implications for seismic hazard in central Washington, USA

The Yakima fold province, located in the backarc of the Cascadia subduction zone, is a region of active strain accumulation and deformation distributed across a series of fault-cored folds. The geodetic network in central Washington has been used to interpret large-scale N-S shortening and westward-increasing strain; however, geodetic data are...

Staisch, Lydia; Kelsey, Harvey; Sherrod, Brian; Möller, Andreas; Paces, James B.; Blakely, Richard J.; Styron, Richard
Lydia Staisch, Harvey Kelsey, Brian Sherrod, Andreas Möller, James Paces, Richard Blakely, Richard Styron; Miocene−Pleistocene deformation of the Saddle Mountains: Implications for seismic hazard in central Washington, USA. GSA Bulletin doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B31783.1

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Image shows squares of permafrost
2017 (approx.)
Permafrost forms a grid-like pattern in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million acre region managed by the Bureau of Land Management on Alaska's North Slope. USGS has periodically assessed oil and gas resource potential there. These assessments can be found here .
Image shows a river winding through a green landscape
2017 (approx.)
Fish Creek wanders through the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million acre region managed by the Bureau of Land Management on Alaska's North Slope. USGS has periodically assessed oil and gas resource potential there. These assessments can be found here .
October 26, 2017
The U.S. is increasingly reliant on supply of mineral raw materials from other countries. Advanced technologies are increasingly making use of nearly the entire periodic table of the elements. Dynamic studies of critical and strategic mineral supply and demand can identify emerging potential supply risks. The USGS - National Minerals Information Center has assumed a leading role in mineral...
July 6, 2017
Mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a variety of other wildlife live on and pass through the Nevada National Security Site each day. It’s a highly restricted area that is free of hunting and has surprisingly pristine areas.This 22-minute program highlights an extraordinary study on how mountain lions interact with their prey. It shows how the scientists use helicopters and...
April 19, 2017
See the actual drone footage at: https://www.usgs.gov/media/videos/prescribed-burn-tall-timbers-research-... Footage of drone during a prescribed fire at Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida (April 19, 2017).
Minerals in mobile devices infographic
April 6, 2017
This infographic displays the different minerals located in mobile devices. Included within this infographic are: Display: Silica Sand and Bauxite Silica Sand: A mobile device's glass screen is very durable because glassmakers combine its main ingredient, silica (silicon dioxide or quartz) sand, with ceramic materials and then add potassium. Bauxite: Gallium provides light emitting diode (LED)...
Close up of Conglomerate (Gold Ore)
March 23, 2017
Rock : Conglomerate (Gold Ore) Contains sediments of Precambrian age; contains about 8 grams of gold per ton of rock. Mineral Origin : Witwatersrand formation, South Africa. The gold in the Witwatersrand Basin area was deposited in Archean river deltas having been washed down from surrounding gold-rich greenstone belts to the north and west. Primary mineral commodity : Gold Primary Mineral...
Close up of Spodumene
March 23, 2017
Mineral origin: Hallman Beam Mine, Cherryville, NC Primary mineral commodity: Lithium Uses: batteries for cell phones, laptops, and electric and hybrid vehicles
Close up of Alumina-Zirconia
March 23, 2017
Mineral : Alumina-Zirconia Abrasive Mineral Origin : Manufactured in Huntsville, AL (Sample on loan from J.B. Hedrick) Primary Commodity : Aluminum and zirconia Primary Commodity Uses : This abrasive is primarily used in metal casting and the foundry process
Close up of Chalcopyrite
March 23, 2017
Mineral : Chalcopyrite Mineral Origin : Bingham Canyon, UT Primary Commodity : Copper Primary Commodity Uses : Copper is used primarily in electronics, mostly in building construction and industrial electronics.
Close up of Feldspar
March 23, 2017
Mineral : Feldspar Primary Commodity : Feldspar Primary Commodity Uses : Feldspar is one of the most common minerals on the planet and is mostly used for glassmaking and ceramics.
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Image shows a river winding through a green landscape
December 22, 2017

Less than 80 miles from Prudhoe Bay, home to the giant oil fields that feed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, lies the site of USGS’ latest oil and gas assessment: the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and adjacent areas. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the NPR-A covers 22.8 million acres, more than the entire state of South Carolina.

Image shows coal being loaded into trucks at a coal mine
October 26, 2017

It is difficult to overstate the importance of energy to the American economy.  Managing this vital sector depends on knowing how many energy resources we have, how many we use and need, and how these resources are transported

Image shows a view of Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa
October 25, 2017

Resource managers, regulators, and stakeholders of Montana and British Columbia’s Lake Koocanusa now have a new approach for understanding the implications of different levels of selenium, and to explore alternative selenium criteria for waters in the Lake.

Image shows four men in visibility gear and hard hats at a coal mine
October 23, 2017

Although often associated with helping fuel the Nation’s growth during the Industrial Revolution, coal is very much part of our space-age present. In 2016, coal-fired power plants provided 30.4 percent of the country’s electricity, and it is an important source of employment in many states.

Drill Rig at the Mt. Elbert Test Site
October 20, 2017

In the past decade, the development of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other shales has dominated the national consciousness regarding natural gas. But in Alaska, another form of natural gas has been the focus of research for decades—methane hydrate.

Image shows a rock cairn on a snowy peak with the sun on the horizon
October 16, 2017

When can ice yield fire? That’s the burning question at the heart of one of USGS’s longest-running research programs to date: the exploration of gas hydrates.

Image shows two scientists in hard hats collecting a research core aboard a drill rig
October 11, 2017

Eureka often accompanies this EarthWord.

Image shows an excavator in front of a coal seam
October 6, 2017

No, this EarthWord isn’t a trait of adult petroleum basins, but it is related to how old they are...

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