Friday, August 26, 2016

4,278 Blog Posts & Counting!

Lee Allison first started the 'Arizona Geology: blog of the State Geologist of Arizona' in 2007 and faithfully posted until his death on 16 August 2016.  In nine years, Lee posted 4,278 blog posts. The content ranged widely from geologic news of the Arizona Geological Survey, to the moratorium on mining in the Arizona Strip, to regional, national and international events impacting the geosciences. Recent posts focused on the changing circumstances of the Survey as we transferred from state government to the University of Arizona.

One of Lee's most heartfelt projects was communicating advances in the geosciences far and wide. To honor Lee, AZGS staff will continue his Arizona Geology blog. We'll involve multiple bloggers addressing their passion for geoscience.

The Arizona Geology blog will always bear the indelible fingerprints of Lee Allison. And that is as it should be.

Our Arizona Geology e-Newsletter has an article on Lee and some of his accomplishments.
http://azgeology.azgs.az.gov/article/feature-article/2016/08/dr-m-lee-allison-1948-2016

AZGS Staff

Monday, August 22, 2016

Donations to Assn. of Women Geoscientists in the name of Dr. M. Lee Allison



Lee Allison, State Geologist and Director of the Arizona Geological Survey, passed away Tuesday, August 16th, at noon after suffering a critical head injury from a fall at his home on Saturday. Dr. Allison was a great supporter of AWG, both nationally and with the local chapters.

Lee’s passing is a tragic loss for his wife, family, staff of the Arizona Geological Survey, the geologic and geoinformatics communities, and Lee’s broad circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances around the world. He was an incredibly dynamic leader of our agency, and a world-wide leader in many areas that were important to him. We mourn his passing, and will do our best to carry on his legacy.

In lieu of a memorial service, Lee's wife, Ann, suggested donations be made to the Association for Women Geoscientists/Salt Lake Chapter to honor Dr. Allison. If you would like to make a donation, you can either do so online or by check. If you would like to donate online, go to www.awg.org and click on "Donate Now" in the top right corner. This will take you to our online store where you will see the "Dr. M. Lee Allison Memorial Scholarship" as the first item. If you would like to send a check, please make sure to make the check payable to "AWG Foundation", and write Dr. M. Lee Allison Fund on the memo line. Checks can be sent to:

Kate Johnson
AWG Foundation Treasurer
652 Glimmerglen Road
Cooperstown, NY 13326

or

AWG Salt Lake Chapter
P.O. Box 58691
Salt Lake City, UT 84158-0691

If you are writing a check:
The checks must include the word "Foundation" in order to be tax deductible. If you donate $250 or more, you will receive a written acknowledgment according to IRS requirements. For those donations less than $250, your tax deduction can be declared without a receipt (a copy of your check or a record of information listed on your credit card will suffice for taxes purposes)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dr. M. Lee Allison (1948 - 2016)




Dr. M. Lee Allison, State Geologist and Director of the Arizona Geological Survey, passed away Tuesday, August 16th, at noon after suffering a critical head injury from a fall at his home on Saturday. 

Lee’s passing is a tragic loss for his wife, family, staff of the Arizona Geological Survey, the geologic and geoinformatics communities, and Lee’s broad circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances around the world.  He was an incredibly dynamic leader of our agency, and a world-wide leader in many areas that were important to him. We mourn his passing, and will do our best to carry on his legacy.

There will not be a memorial service. Lee’s family has requested they not be contacted. Any messages of condolence can be addressed to AZGS team members; we will pass them along to his family.

Lee’s wife, Ann, suggested donations be made to the Association for Women Geoscientists/Salt Lake Chapter or to a scholarship fund that will be established at UMass to honor Lee.

Words of Emily Dickinson aptly apply: 
Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me.  The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality.

We miss you Lee.




Monday, August 08, 2016

Arizona's Doug Bartlett elected president of AIPG

Doug Bartlett, a Principal and co-founder with Clear Creek Associates in Scottsdale, has been elected President-elect of the American Institute of Professional Geologists for 2017.  He will serve as President in 2018 and Past President in 2019.    Doug is currently serving as Treasurer in the AIPG National Executive Committee.  [Photo courtesy of Clear Creek Associates]


"The American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), founded in 1963, is the largest association dedicated to promoting geology as a profession. It presently has more than 7,800 members in the U.S. and abroad, organized into 36 regional Sections. The Institute adheres to the principles of professional responsibility and public service and is the only international organization that certifies the competence and ethical conduct of geological scientists in all branches of the science with members employed in industry, government, and academia. AIPG emphasizes competence, integrity and ethics. AIPG is an advocate for the profession and communicates regularly to federal and state legislators and agencies on matters pertaining to the geosciences."

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Centennial Museum transfers to AZGS today

The Arizona Centennial Museum, which was never opened, transfers today to the Arizona Geological Survey, to be reconfigured as the Arizona Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resource Education Museum.

The facility operated for decades as the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum but was transferred to the Arizona Historical Society in 2010 to be revamped as the "Arizona Experience" museum in celebration of the 2012 Centennial.  However, funds were never raised to make the conversion and the museum has been vacant and empty since 2011.

Sen. Gail Griffin spearheaded the drive to transfer the museum to AZGS with the expanded vision.  The 26,000 square foot facility was originally built in 1929 as the Masonic Temple. It is a dominant fixture on the State Capitol Mall in Phoenix.

AZGS and AHS are collaborating on the transfer which includes the museum curator becoming an AZGS employee.  An inventory of all the museum assets is underway.    We expect to renew all of the loans of museum specimens and displays currently in place around the state.

 The state Dept. of Administration estimates $700,000 - $900,000 in repairs and updates are needed before building can be reoccupied.   AZGS is responsible as the building tenant for all repairs and remodeling.

The legislation transferring the museum also established an Advisory Council to be appointed by the Governor.

The University of Arizona Foundation has set up an account to accept donations for the new museum.    

We'll be posting information on how to nominate yourself or others to the Advisory Council, updates on the museum inventory, progress towards reopening the building, and plans for the new museum design.   A museum website is in development.



Sunday, July 24, 2016

Small quake felt in Arizona, New Mexico; aftershock to 2014 Duncan earthquake?

A magntiude 3.0 earthquake struck on the Arizona-New Mexico border just before 7 am this morning, and residents in both states report feeling it.  The preliminary epicenter calculated by the USGS is about 3-4 miles south of Duncan Highway - US70 between Lordsburg and Safford.  [right, orange star marks epicenter.  Credit, USGS]


AZGS has a temporary seismic station in the area following the Duncan M-5.3 earthquake of 2014, so we should be able to provide a more accurate location once those data are analyzed. We are still seeing numerous aftershocks from that event. 

Today's quake is roughly 10 miles south-southeast of Duncan and near the eastern edge of the aftershock zone from the 2014 main quake.  [Below, location of the 2014 Duncan main shock and aftershocks through September 2014.  Credit, Jeri Young, AZSG]  

I speculate that today's event is yet another in the ongoing aftershocks of that M=5.3 quake.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Small quake near Fredonia

 There was a magnitude 2.1 earthquake about 8 km ESE of Fredonia on Monday afternoon.  [Right, orange star marks epicenter. Credit, USGS]

There have been a couple of tiny quakes in northwest Arizona in the past week, each just over M=1 and away from the Fredonia event.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Legislators call for restoring AZGS state funding

Arizona State Senator Gail Griffin and Rep.  Bob Thorpe are quoted in a news story in Eos (https://eos.org/articles/advocates-push-to-restore-funding-for-arizona-geological-survey) this morning saying they want the legislature and governor to restore the state funding to the Arizona Geological Survey that was eliminated June 30.

According to the article, Sen. Griffin said she is working to include a line item in next year’s budget for the survey “to put back the funding that was stripped this past year.” It goes on to state that "Griffin said she hopes to discuss the issue with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a fellow Republican, this week."

Rep. Thorpe raised the idea of a emergency funding this year but "if nothing else, plan on this for the next fiscal year."

Sen. Griffin said, “I believe there are unintended consequences with this move, and I would like the situation to be reevaluated.”

[Right, photo used in the Eos article, shows AZGS geologist, Dr. Jeri Young uncovering one of the seismic station vaults near Douglas, AZ, that AZGS runs as part of the state's earthquake monitoring network.  Funding for the network is at risk. AZGS photo.]

Saturday, July 16, 2016

We posted the Inspector General's report on USGS lab misconduct

The Dept. of Interior Inspector General’s report about misconduct at the USGS Inorganic Geochemistry lab is posted at the AZGS Documentary Repository at:

The pdf version is viewable and downloadable directly from

The USGS has a website about the lab data quality issue in general, with a public notice (5/25/2016) on their web site, available at:  http://energy.usgs.gov/GeochemistryGeophysics/GeochemistryLaboratories/GeochemistryLaboratoriesNotice.aspx

The USGS site apparently does not mention the Inspector General's report nor does it seem to be available or linked to from the site.  Here is the USGS intro page:


In October 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program was informed of a serious data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL), located in the USGS Central Energy Resources Science Center (CERSC) in Lakewood, Colorado. This data quality issue pertains to analyses performed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In the Inorganic Section, ICP-MS analyses are used to measure the concentrations (amounts) of trace elements and rare earth elements in water samples and in extracts prepared from solid samples, such as coal and rock. This data quality issue is the second major data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the EGL. The previous issue adversely affected data quality and scientific research over the time frame 1996-2008. Notices regarding the previous data quality issue can be found on the USGS Energy Resources Program web site and on the ScienceDirect web site.

After the October 2014 data quality issue was reported, a series of reviews were undertaken, initiated both within and outside the USGS. These reviews were necessary to fully understand the extent of data quality loss that occurred within this section of the EGL. From these reviews, the USGS has learned that this most recent data quality issue potentially affected ICP-MS analyses from 2008-2014. A listing of potentially affected analytical jobs can be found on the USGS Energy Resources Program web site:
  • Tabular .xlsx
  • Document .pdf (62KB)
During this time frame, some data were manipulated both to correct for calibration failures and to improve results of standard reference materials and unknowns. Some of the original files (“raw data”) from the ICP-MS instrument are unavailable, thus the measured concentrations cannot be re-checked for accuracy. As a result, the trace element and rare earth element concentrations reported from these ICP-MS analyses are considered suspect and are to be used with caution. Further, any publications based on these data should be re-evaluated, and revised as needed.

We continue to discuss the issue with USGS officials to better determine what impacts the data manipulation may have on Arizona reports and publications.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Colorado City's July 4th shaken by earthquakes



Fourth of July fireworks in Colorado City, northern Arizona, were accompanied by two small magnitude earthquakes: magnitude 3.0 at 9:10 p.m., and a M 2.5 event at 11:01 pm (MST).

Image showing the M 3.0 event, the M 2.5 event occurred in nearly the same location. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/uu60154867…

Over the past week there have been a total of 5 recorded earthquakes, the largest being the M=3.0 on July 4.  The others had magnitudes of from 1.6 to 2.5

The affected area is in the southern end of the Intermountain Seismic Belt which extend through Utah, Idaho, and Montana.


[Right, orange star marks the epicenter of the largest quake.  Below, yellow dots mark epicenters of all 5 events. Credit, USGS]


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Small quake near Colorado City

We had a magnitude 2.5 earthquake just after 11 pm on July 4, about 5.0 km (3.1 mi) ESE of Colorado City, Arizona. [Right, orange star marks the epicentral location.  Red lines are active faults.  Credit, USGS]




Volunteers unload AZGS library in Phoenix museum

A flood of volunteers showed up at the former mining and mineral museum in Phoenix today to unload thousands of volumes from the AZGS's libraries onto temporary shelving.

AZGS was forced to shut down our Phoenix office and dramatically reduce our Tucson assets as a result of consolidation of state agencies, which eliminated our state budget as of June 30 and transferred our duties to the University of Arizona.    

UA does not have space in Phoenix and only limited space in Tucson to house AZGS staff and resources.   Most of the Phoenix library was preserved by moving it into the former mineral museum for storage until we can find a way to re-open that facility.  We also sent key materials from our Tucson library to fill out the collection and protect them from disposal.  

We dismantled the library shelving in Tucson and reassembled it in Phoenix.  Volunteers came in today to take the library materials from moving carts and put them on the shelves. The carts were returned to the moving company.

We cannot thank this group of hard-working individuals enough for their help in these challenging times.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Settling in at the University of Arizona

It's been a busy week.  The Arizona Geological Survey moved to the University of Arizona, physically  and administratively.   On Monday, we packed up the Arizona Experience retail store and AZGS library shelves [right] to  move to the former mining and mineral museum in Phoenix for temporary storage until that facility is re-opened and we set up a library and gift shop/store.

On Wednesday, movers loaded office files, about one-quarter of the AZGS geologic library, and selected equipment for the new offices in the former Arid Lands building just east of the UA campus.

On Thursday, AZGS moved in, started unpacking and setting up computers, email, and internet connections. 

Simultaneously, the moving trucks unloaded in Phoenix, and set up the Tucson library shelves. Next week, volunteers will be there to unload the dozens of carts of library books on the shelves [bottom].

 We were pretty successful in finding homes for much of the materials we could not take with us.  About half of the library was taken by state or university libraries, professional organizations, companies, and individuals.   The least critical library materials that were disposed of (seen on the floor in the above photo) probably amount to less than a quarter of the total inventory.

We had a steady stream of individuals grabbing copies of the more than 21,000 topo maps in our sales inventory.  The Arizona Railway Museum collected a complete set of nearly all 2,000 titles, along with historical versions.  The remaining ~15,000 maps were packed up by a sportsmen's organization for outdoor recreation users.

The AZGS state websites will continue in the interim while we move everything to arizona.edu addresses.

Our new space has only about one-fourth the size of our former state office space requiring a dramatic downsizing.   We are still identifying what costs we are responsible for at the university as well as counting the costs of the move.   That will impact our resources to fund staff positions for the rest of Fiscal Year 2017 which began July 1.



"Scientific misconduct" at USGS lab impugns water data from N. Arizona uranium studies

"Twenty-four research and assessment projects that have national and global interest were potentially affected by erroneous information" from a USGS geochemistry laboratory that had a “chronic pattern of scientific misconduct” where “data produced by the Inorganic Section were intentionally manipulated by the line-chemist in charge" including for "assessment of uranium in the environment in and around Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona for possible groundwater restoration."   [Right, USGS report published in 2010 on hydrology of uranium in northern Arizona that could be be called into question over potentially doctored data]


These are the findings of an investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Dept. of Interior, dated June 15, 2016, following an inspection of a "scientific integrity incident involving the Inorganic Section of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Energy Geochemistry Laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado."

Once the results of the inquiry became known, USGS closed the Inorganic Section, effective February 25, 2016. "USGS accused the chemist of data manipulation by intentionally changing the results produced by the mass spectrometer."

According to the report, the matter was discovered in late 2014, but had been taking place since 2008.  This covers the time period when the Secretary of Interior was conducting a review of impacts of potential mineral exploration and development, particularly of uranium, in northern Arizona.  As a result of the federal studies, the Secretary placed a 20-year moratorium on exploration and mining on nearly 1 million acres of federal lands in the region [Left.  Source, US BLM]

The fraudulent data could bring into question the scientific justification of the land withdrawal, and the current political effort to establish a 1.8 million acre national monument in the region specifically to protect the area from impacts on water from uranium mining.

The IG's report also added that they "noted that USGS has taken a long time to inform its many stakeholders about this scientific integrity incident. To date, only the direct lab customers as well as selected scientist collaborators and related journals have been notified. Considering that the incident was discovered in October 2014 and that its serious nature became apparent shortly thereafter, USGS has had ample
time to make a public announcement. Many organizations rely on USGS publications and could potentially make decisions or policy based on flawed information."


Ref: Scientific Integrity Incident at USGS Energy Geochemistry Laboratory, Report 2016-EAU-010, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, 15p, June 2016.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Letters, op-eds, and blogs express concern over defunding of geological survey

Geologists and geology advocates are making their opinions known about Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's government consolidation decision to defund the Arizona Geological Survey as of June 30.  The AZGS duties have been handed over to the University of Arizona, which is providing partial funding for one year while the Survey is expected to become fully self supporting from grants and fees for services.Our colleagues and complete strangers are forwarding letters, blog posts, and published articles that they wrote or discovered..

Scientific American blogger Dana Hunter posted a piece on the SciAm blog Rosetta Stone, entitled, "Help Save the Arizona Geological Survey," with the subtitle "The Arizona Geological Survey's budget has been slashed by the state's short-sighted government. There are as many reasons to save the agency as there are geologic wonders, riches and hazards in Arizona. Let the governor know that the AZGS must be fully funded! In this article I'll tell you why it's so important."   She describes the geologic hazards we face in Arizona, that are part of AZGS's duties to identify and mitigate, including volcanoes, landslides, earth fissures, floods, debris flows, earthquakes, radon hot spots, and arsenic in groundwater.  I don't know Dana, but she describes herself as a "science blogger, SF writer, and geology addict."

Matthew Loader, a geologist from the Natural History Museum in London, copied us today on a letter [right] he sent to Gov. Ducey, in which he notes that Arizona's "mineral wealth is of vital strategic importance in the security of the metal supply to the US economy for years to come."  




Saturday, June 25, 2016

AZGSexit moves forward

As Britain exits the European Union, the Arizona Geological Survey is exiting Arizona state government for a new future as a research and service center at the University of Arizona.  We have one year of partial transition funding to become entirely self-supporting from grants and fees for services.

AZGS shut down the retail store on Thursday, emptied out the library of all remaining volumes, and gave away ~25,000 topographic maps in preparation for the physical move that begins on Monday.  There is no room in our campus space for these materials and activities.

The Phoenix office assets were moved to the old mining museum today, with volunteers scheduled to arrive July 5 to transfer the library materials from carts and gondolas to the bookshelves we are sending up from Tucson.

[Top, map users pull topo maps from storage shelves. A non-profit organization took all the remaining maps to make them available for outdoor recreation activities.  Second from top, Stephanie Mar unloads remaining publications from the library shelves in preparation for dismantling and moving them to Phoenix for storage.  Bottom left, most of the library was taken by other libraries, geologists, companies, and interested parties.  The bulk of what remained were old technical journals, mining magazines, and out of date references.   Bottom right, store manager Nancy Greene finishes packing the store for moving to the Phoenix museum to become the basis of a gift shop-store when that facility is re-opened, perhaps in a year or two.]

Friday, June 24, 2016

Nyal Niemuth, the eyes and ears of Arizona mining, retires after 35 years

Nyal Niemuth retired yesterday, after more than 35 years with the State of Arizona, most with the Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources, and the last 5 years with AZGS after the two agencies were merged.   [Photo credit, Mining Foundation of the Southwest]

Nyal served as Chief Engineer at ADMMR and became Chief of the Economic Geology section at AZGS.  He is universally known across Arizona and beyond, as the "go-to" guy to find out what's happening and what's happened in mining and mineral resources in Arizona.  Miners and would-be miners know that if you are exploring or developing mineral resources in Arizona, you want to check in with Nyal first to find what information already exists.

Nyal timed his retirement with the closure of the AZGS Phoenix office as part of the transfer of duties to the University of Arizona.  Nyal is already promising to come back as a volunteer to help move the massive mineral files and library to storage at the old mining and mineral museum near the Capitol in order to preserve them.

For the past 6 months, Nyal also assumed the temporary duties of Oil & Gas Administrator, supporting the Arizona Oil & Gas Conservation Commission.  Those duties are being transferred to the Dept. of Environmental Quality as of July 1.




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Crowds swarm AZGS library to pick up publications and maps

AZGS opened its Tucson library, publications storeroom and topographic map room to the public today to take anything they wanted before the office closes next week to move to the University of Arizona. 

Geologists, mining engineers, teachers, students, and science fans hauled off hundreds (thousands?) of books, reports, circulars, geologic maps, and other materials.    The topo map room was crowded all day as people searched among the 2,000+ titles for maps of interest.


Special thanks to volunteers Dan Aiken, Simone Runyon, and J.D. Miser who helped visitors find particular items, helped carry out boxes of books, and guided people to the right basement repository.  
We are surprised at the amount of interest in so many different items in the library including many seemingly obscure mining journals and gray literature materials.

We recognized many consulting and independent geologists who took advantage of the downsizing to add selected items to their professional libraries. 

The state geologic map was a particular hit to the non-scientists.   Lots of families came through with kids in tow.
The giveaway continues through 4 p.m. Thursday.  The AZGS retail store closes permanently at 5 p.m. After that, we will be emptying the library shelves in preparation for dismantling them to send to the Phoenix mineral museum until that facility is reopened.  The bookstore displays and remaining inventory will also be sent to the museum as the basis for the museum gift shop - bookstore.