Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center

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Modeling Near-Surface Processes in Mineral Systems

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Project Objectives

The project will develop models to forecast the chemical effects of a mineral deposit (its "footprint") on surrounding soils, water and in some cases, biota. Important variables and conditions such as mineral deposit type, climate, and specific mineral assemblages that influence a deposit's footprint will be highlighted. The models undertaken here will provide a more accurate estimate of background levels, and how those differ from post-mining conditions, than is currently possible. Initial deposit types for which models will be developed include massive sulfide and porphyry deposits.

Relevance & Impact

The models resulting from this project will be useful to state and Federal government agencies interested in managing lands that include mineral deposits, to the mining industry to help develop mitigation, remediation and monitoring strategies, and to the public to distinguish the effects of mining from natural processes of mineral deposit weathering.

The regional understanding of interactions between mineralogy and variables such as climate, hydrology, and soil composition will provide a broader context for the observed footprint of any single deposit. Scientific understanding of the chemical and ecologic processes occurring in the near-surface will increase. A publically-available dataset of chemical and other features of deposits across the United States, and in some cases outside of the U.S., will be a free resource for study by professionals worldwide. Our ability to transfer findings from data-rich to data-poor locations will be better understood.

Project Chiefs:

Name Position Phone Email Address
Dennis Helsel, retired Project Chief    
Karen Kelley Associate Project Chief 303-236-2467

Mineral Resources Program
Eastern Central GMEG Alaska Minerals Information Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Spatial Data