Taxonomy term

mining

Going subterranean: Repurposed mines become innovative labs

Around the world, old mines are finding new life as underground research facilities, offering scientists unique ways to answer some of science’s biggest questions — from investigations of natural resources, seismic activity and carbon sequestration, to less obvious topics like biofuel development and how life began on Earth — and, maybe, on other planets as well. 

05 Nov 2018

Benchmarks: October 11, 1899: Second Boer War begins, fueled by discovery of gold

The 1886 discovery of gold on a farm in the Witwatersrand region of southern Africa drove the growth of Johannesburg, and gold mining has aided the South African economy for more than a century since. But gold, and diamonds, also fueled the Second Boer War, one of the most destructive armed conflicts in Africa’s history. The war resulted in the deaths of nearly 100,000 people, including tens of thousands of Boer women and children who died in British concentration camps. The consequences of the war, including gold mining’s lasting environmental legacy, and the rise of Afrikaner nationalism that reinforced apartheid, are still felt today.

11 Oct 2018

Benchmarks: September 6, 1869: Pennsylvania's Avondale coal mine fire kills 110, igniting reform

In the mid-19th century, American industry was fueled by coal, which was provided largely by the anthracite coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania. The work drew tens of thousands of immigrants, including experienced English and Welsh miners, and many fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. But the work was dangerous, and each year thousands of workers died in the mines and many thousands more were seriously injured. 

06 Sep 2018

Isotopes suggest ancient turquoise mine was prolific

Few minerals are more iconic in the Desert Southwest than turquoise. The blue-green gemstone, which offers a stark contrast to the dusty red southwestern deserts, has been coveted for thousands of years by indigenous peoples, conquering Spaniards and now by a growing market around the world. Despite its past and present cultural significance, especially among indigenous populations, little is known about the early history of turquoise mining. Researchers have now uncovered previously unknown details about a historic turquoise mining site in Arizona that suggest it was more prolific than once thought.

05 Feb 2018

Congress mulls options for abandoned mines legislation

Amid the well-publicized discussions over healthcare, tax reform, the federal budget and disaster aid in summer and fall 2017, a quieter conversation over mining legislation reform was also going on in Congress. Democrats and Republicans in both chambers introduced legislation concerning abandoned mine lands (AML) in the current congres­sional session, and while no new bills have been passed, discussions continue on the contentious subject.

29 Jan 2018

Down to Earth With: Deep-sea biologist Stace Beaulieu

People often find their way to the geosciences after a college class sparks their interest. But not Stace Beaulieu, a senior research specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Mass. — she knew what she wanted to do at age 6. Beaulieu grew up in Florida and spent her childhood snorkeling and reading science magazines with pictures of deep-sea creatures that tantalized her imagination and piqued her curiosity. “I had a one-track mind pretty much from elementary school through grad school — I never changed my mind. I was so excited about learning about what was deeper. I still am today.”

02 Nov 2017

Travels in Geology: Austria's Salzkammergut: World heritage preserved in salt

Explore stunning mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, quintessential alpine villages and the world’s oldest salt mines, along with Mozart’s hometown, in Austria’s salt district.
11 Aug 2017

Drilling for gold inside a submarine volcano

Earth scientists have been given the green light to drill into an active submarine volcano for the first time, with the hope of discovering substantial new reserves of valuable metals, as well as new forms of extreme life.

31 Oct 2016

Bringing geoscience to bear on the problem of abandoned mines

With 3 million gallons of acidic, heavy-metal-laden water behind an earthen plug at high elevation, Colorado’s Gold King Mine was, literally, a situation just waiting to go downhill. The blowout last August shone a spotlight on the larger problem of abandoned mine lands. What role do geoscientists play in solving it?

19 Jun 2016

A labyrinth of silver mines uncovered on the shores of the Aegean Sea

By the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., silver mines under the ancient Greek city of Thorikos, now known as Lavrio, were the most important mines in Greece. Recent underground exploration of the network of tunnels found at the foot of the city’s Mycenaean-aged Acropolis is shedding new light on the scale — and miserable conditions — of the mines.

16 Jun 2016

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