Taxonomy term

mining

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

All that glitters... Acid mine drainage: The toxic legacy of gold mining in South Africa

More than a century of mining near Johannesburg, South Africa, has left the region littered with mounds of waste and underlain by a network of abandoned mine shafts. Together, they are producing a toxic brew of acid mine drainage.

23 Sep 2011

Hot as Hell: Firefighting foam heats up coal fire debate in Centralia, Pa.

By some accounts, Hell on Earth is located directly below Centralia, Pa.: Smoke rises from the cracked ground, smoldering sinkholes open without warning, and what is left of the town’s abandoned houses and surrounding woodlands is scorched and covered in a layer of smelly sulfur. Once a productive mining town in eastern Pennsylvania’s valuable anthracite coal region, Centralia has been reduced to a smoky ghost town, lacking even a zip code, by an underground coal fire that has been burning for nearly 50 years.

05 May 2010

Benchmarks: April 1, 1877: Prospector begins search for Tombstone's silver

On April 1, 1877, Ed Schieffelin arrived at Fort Huachuca in southeastern Arizona. Schieffelin, a prospector who had tried his luck all across the West, came to the desert looking for untapped riches. The soldiers at the fort warned him that the only thing he’d find was his own tombstone. But by Aug. 1, Schieffelin found what he was looking for: silver. He named his first mining claim Tombstone.

22 Apr 2010

Pages