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RESTON, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and a coalition of state geological surveys are investing about $325,000, to conduct geochemical sampling in across about 2 million square kilometers of the central United States, from the Midcontinent to the Appalachian Basin.

The state geological surveys of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio are collaborating in a reconnaissance geochemical and petrophysical study of Pennsylvanian black shales from the Cherokee-Forest City, Illinois, and Appalachian basins to investigate their critical mineral potential. Critical mineral concentrations in these metalliferous black shales could surpass concentrations in more traditional deposit types. Potential critical minerals in the project area include molybdenum, nickel, platinum group elements, the rare earth elements, uranium 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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