Taxonomy term

mining

Finding and tracking conflict minerals in the heart of darkness

Conflict minerals such as tantalum, used in electronics, are fueling violence. But the financial, technology, mining and geologic communities are coming together to identify, track and remove these tainted minerals from the global supply chain, with the goal of helping reduce war.

18 Oct 2015

Thorny plant marks West African diamond deposits

West Africa is famous for diamonds, brought up from the depths of Earth’s mantle eons ago during explosive volcanic eruptions. On the surface, the eroded remains of these eruptions, known as kimberlite pipes, are infamously hard to find under the thick jungles of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and only a few of the deep, narrow pipes contain profitable diamonds. Now, a researcher has identified an unusual feature that might point the way toward such pipes, and possibly revolutionize the search for diamond-rich deposits: a tall, thorny palm-like plant that seems to only grow atop kimberlites.
 
23 Aug 2015

Colonial mining left its mark in Andean ice cores

When Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia, they found a landscape rich in silver. Now, scientists have found evidence of Europe’s voracious demand for the metal hidden in tropical ice cores, which contain a record of colonial mining pollution stretching back to the 1600s.
11 Jun 2015

Benchmarks: June 1,1840: Setting out for the Copper Country

On the morning of June 1, 1840, Michigan’s first state geologist, Douglass Houghton, stepped onto a small barge about to set sail on Lake Superior. The step marked the beginning of the first geological survey of the Keweenaw Peninsula — the northernmost portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which juts out into the center of the lake. Houghton and his crew would spend the summer exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and recording the region’s geologic resources, including rich copper deposits known only locally at the time. That would change, however, after Houghton’s team detailed its findings in an 1841 report that spurred the nation’s first major mining boom.

01 Jun 2015

Could U.S. phosphate deposits help meet growing rare earth demand?

The modern world runs on rare earth metals — they are essential ingredients in light bulbs, smartphones, wind turbines and military weapons, among other uses. Currently, China supplies more than 95 percent of the global demand for rare earth elements (REEs), giving it a virtual monopoly. But new research suggests that the United States may contain vast domestic reserves of its own that could dwarf known deposits.

 
05 May 2015

Lidar reveals Roman gold mines

The Romans’ thirst for gold was legendary, fueling mining operations that rival the scope and scale of modern mines. The Las Médulas mines, for example, near what is now León in northwest Spain, were massive, extending for many kilometers along the Erica River Valley. A new look at this region using lidar has revealed the extent of the ancient mining works, as well as the complex hydraulic systems used by the Romans in the first century B.C. to extract the gold.

07 Mar 2015

Comment: Rebuilding geology faculty in Afghanistan

A Pentagon program to improve geology and mining education in Afghanistan enlisted a team of geologists from Nebraska, Missouri and Turkey, including the author, to help. 

24 Feb 2015

January 26, 1905: The world's largest gem-quality diamond is unearthed

Each day, thousands of visitors to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History view the rare and spectacular Hope Diamond, a 45-carat blue diamond. And dozens of diamonds bigger than the Hope — with names like Excelsior, Incomparable and Jubilee — have also been retrieved, cut and polished to perfection.

26 Jan 2014

Mobile mapping with lidar hits the road

About a decade ago, Light Detection and Ranging technology, also known as lidar, burst onto the geoscience scene. The tool was quickly adopted by researchers, from archaeologists and geomorphologists to seismologists and atmospheric scientists.

By mounting lasers and detection and positioning instruments on an airplane or satellite, researchers could map everything from Mayan ruins lost beneath thick jungle canopies to erosion along shorelines to the structure of particulate plumes emitted from power plants to the topography of entire countries.

26 Apr 2012

Down to Earth With: Lee Allison

Lee Allison was head of the Arizona Geological Survey. EARTH interviewed him in 2012 and spoke with him about the latest issues in Arizona geology and the complicated politics of potash and uranium mining.

27 Jan 2012

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