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RESTON, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and a coalition of state geological surveys are investing about $525,000, to conduct geochemical sampling the Western Phosphate Field, a region of 350,000 square kilometers in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana.

This project is a four-state cooperative effort involving state surveys from Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Montana and is administered by the Idaho Geological Survey. The project centers on collecting new geological and geochemical data to assess the rare earth element resource potential of the Western Phosphate Field within the framework of a marine chemocline mineral system. Potential critical minerals in the project area include chromium, fluorite, the rare earth elements and vanadium.

The grants for the geologic mapping come from a $74 million investment allocated earlier this year to the USGS Mineral Resources Program’s Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI), provided through annual appropriations and investments from the Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Overall, the Infrastructure Law is providing an appropriated $510.7 million investment to the USGS to advance scientific innovation and map critical minerals.

The geochemical reconnaissance surveys will collect geologic samples from areas of interest, then analyze them for what kinds of minerals may be found. This analysis provides initial information on under-studied geologic settings, thus helping plan and prioritize future years’ data collection and mapping. The surveys are usually the first step in identifying which areas should be studied for critical mineral potential, as well as other natural resources like energy or groundwater.

Earth MRI is a partnership between the USGS and state geological surveys across America to modernize our understanding of the Nation’s fundamental geologic framework and mineral resources through new geologic maps, geophysical and topographic surveys, and geochemical sampling. The 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided additional funding that has accelerated this new mapping in areas with potential for hosting critical mineral resources both still in the ground and in mine wastes.

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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