Taxonomy term


Down to Earth With: Bruce Benson

In a remarkable career spanning nearly 50 years, Bruce Benson has held just two jobs. In 1965, a year after earning his bachelor’s degree in geology, he founded the Benson Mineral Group, an oil and gas exploration and production company that he has owned and chaired ever since. From this foundation, Benson’s business interests have spread into salvaging, banking, mortgage servicing, cable television, geothermal power, real estate and even pizza.

19 Sep 2012

Energy Notes: May 2011-2012

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

19 Sep 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Tungsten

Tungsten, sometimes called wolfram, is a metal only found naturally in chemical compounds, such as in the ore minerals wolframite and scheelite. Tungsten has the highest melting point and one of the highest densities of all metals. When combined with carbon, it forms a compound that is almost as hard as diamond. These and other properties make it useful in a wide variety of important commercial, industrial and military applications. 

13 Sep 2012

Benchmarks: September 23, 1933: The U.S. oil industry arrives in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia currently produces about 11 million barrels of oil per day, edging out Russia and the U.S. to rank first in the world in production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The desert kingdom also has proven reserves of more than 260 billion barrels — spread among numerous fields (though most reside in a handful of giant fields) — amounting to about one-fifth of the world’s total. The country exports more oil than any other and exerts an undeniably prominent influence on the world oil market from its seat in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
03 Sep 2012

Energy Notes: April 2011-2012

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

19 Aug 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Hydraulic Cement

Hydraulic cements are the binders in concrete and most mortars and stuccos. Concrete, particularly the reinforced variety, is the most versatile of all construction materials, and most of the hydraulic cement produced worldwide is portland cement or similar cements that have portland cement as a basis, such as blended cements and masonry cements. Cement typically makes up less than 15 percent of the concrete mix; most of the rest is aggregates. Not counting the weight of reinforcing media, 1 ton of cement will typically yield about 8 tons of concrete.

13 Aug 2012

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist John Eichelberger

The 2010 eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull showed that volcanic hazards are blind to international borders. After the eruption ended and air traffic returned to normal, discussion among the public of “ash” and “jet turbine blades” cooled. Not so for volcanologist John Eichelberger, who, as the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator, deals with volcanic hazards daily, while working to improve monitoring of the United States’ many dangerous volcanoes and to internationalize research and risk reduction

13 Aug 2012

Benchmarks: August 24, 1873: The Mount of the Holy Cross is found, photographed and mapped

The rumors had persisted for decades, some said for centuries. Deep in the Colorado Rockies was a mystical mountain. Upon the face of a towering peak rose a massive cross, formed by snow accumulating in two huge cracks. In his 1868 book, “The Parks and Mountains of Colorado: A Summer Vacation in the Switzerland of America,” journalist Samuel Bowles wrote, “It is as if God has set His sign, His seal, His promise there — a beacon upon the very center and hight [sic] of the continent to all its people and all its generations.”
03 Aug 2012

Down to Earth With: Geomorphologist Gregory Tucker

As an undergraduate anthropology student, Gregory Tucker thought math was a boring subject with abstract rules that didn’t relate to his life. Today, that “boring” subject provides the foundation for Tucker’s innovative research involving numerical modeling and unique field studies that recently earned him the European Geosciences Union’s 2012 Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal, one of the highest prizes in geomorphology.

13 Jul 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Aluminum

Aluminum is the third-most abundant element in Earth’s crust, after oxygen and silicon. In nature, aluminum is bonded to iron, oxygen, potassium, silicon and other elements in common rock-forming minerals. In tropical conditions, potassium, silicon and other elements can be naturally leached from rocks to leave behind bauxite — a rock composed mainly of aluminum hydroxide with iron oxides and clay — which is the most commonly used aluminum ore. Aluminum has also been recovered from alunite, anorthosite and clay, but the cost of producing aluminum from these sources tends to be higher than from bauxite.

13 Jul 2012