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News Releases in 2016

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8.17.2016

Dr. M. Lee Allison (1948–2016)

Lee AllisonDr. 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.

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8.16.2016

Guide to the Geology of the Flagstaff Area - DTE 14

We just released John Bezy's "Guide to the Geology of the Flagstaff Area - DTE 14'. This 56-page booklet contains maps, pictures and illustrations in a jargon-free text.

Contact:
Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress, Ste 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
520.209.4146 (office)
520.971.3688 (cell)
Michael.Conway@azgs.az.gov

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7.7.2016

Arizona Geological Survey Social Media – a prolific outreach tool

Follow us on social media:

facebookTwitterYoutubeFlickrLinkedInArizona Geology Blog on Blogger


Over the past several years, the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) has invested heavily in social media - Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr and most recently LinkedIn – as a means of informing our constituents of our activities and of the geologic issues and hazards facing Arizona. Since 2007, Lee Allison, Director of AZGS, has hosted the Arizona Geology blog with thousands of blog posts. A few facts about AZGS social media.

Facebook. Our Facebook audience share has been growing by leaps and bounds, from April 13 to July 7 2016, AZGS followers skyrocketed from 6,000 to over 8,500. Our followers comprise 60% men and 40% women. Men dominate the 18 to 34 age window, with women catching up in the 35 age and above window.


Of our 8,500 followers, just over 4,000 are located in the United States; the remainder are spread out over dozens of countries, led by Mexico (322), India (317), Pakistan (281), Egypt (236), Brazil (220), Italy (208), Turkey (167), Peru (120), with Columbia (118) rounding out the top ten.
A majority of Facebook followers, usually on the order of 52 – 54%, choose to receive posts on mobile devices. The response to individual posts varies greatly, but we frequently reach more than 4,000 people per post. Our single best performing post, describing the ML 5.3 earthquake of June 2014 near Duncan, Arizona, reached over 100,000 people. Some recent posts about the 'Fate of AZGS' garnered large audiences and were shared far and wide among the geoscience community. 'The Earth Story,' with a Facebook audience of more than 700,000, posted an update lamenting the dire straits we find ourselves in as a result of moving out of state government to the University of Arizona.


Twitter. Since 2009, we've posted nearly 12,000 tweets, the majority being original. AZGS twitter follower's number 4,184. On average, we post ~ 4 times daily, including weekends. Over the 28 days, AZGS tweets earned 74,200 impressions, for a daily average of 2,650 impressions, a reasonable reflection of monthly productivity. In tweeting, as with all of our social media posts, we strive for accuracy and clarity, and we always provide a graphic.


YouTube. At our AZGSWeb Youtube channel, we host over 100 original videos. The earthquake videos perform particularly well – natural hazards are always a big hit – with views numbering in the 1000s. The 'Lake Mary Fault' video narrated by Dr. Dave Brumbaugh (Northern Arizona University) has been viewed over 9,300 times. The Arizona Mining Review, an e-video magazine showcasing mining issues of Arizona and the SW U.S., is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Flickr and LinkedIn. We came to these platforms just recently and we are still learning the ropes. Our flickr account hosts 100s of images of geologic features, most of which are from northern Arizona. With funding from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, we are working with Dr. Dale Nations to build the Northern Arizona Earth Science Image Catalog.


LinkedIn has us befuddled. It seems like an extraordinarily powerful tool for reaching the professional community, but we have yet to gain any traction.


As the social media landscapes evolves, we'll monitor it closely looking for opportunities to better serve our constituents and stakeholders – the Arizona public, government, business, education and industry.


Michael Conway (7/7/2016)
Tucson, Arizona

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5.5.2016

ML 3.8 Earthquake rattles northwestern Arizona

Tucson, AZ. A magnitude (ML) 3.8 earthquake shook Littlefield in northwestern Arizona, at 6:49 a.m. (MST) today. The event occurred at a depth of seven miles. This is the largest of a swarm of 55 temblors that began along the remote Arizona-Nevada border on 28 March with a ML 2.1 event.

This earthquake sequence now includes three events greater than ML 3.0, 12 events greater than or equal to ML 2.0, and the remainder smaller than ML 2.0. Reported earthquake depths range from near-surface to approximately 14 km.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred on an oblique, steeply west-dipping, normal fault.

The earthquake swarm is situated along the physiographic boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province, an area of active crustal extension and seismicity.

We anticipate additional small magnitude aftershocks in the wake of today's ML 3.8 event.

See the interactive Natural Hazards in Arizona viewer for earlier events. For earlier news release regarding this earthquake swarm, http://www.azgs.az.gov/news_releases2016.shtml.

For additional information on the more than 3,000 historical earthquakes and active faults in Arizona, see the Natural Hazard in Arizona Viewer.

Contact:
Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress, Ste 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
520.209.4146 (office)
520.971.3688 (cell)
Michael.Conway@azgs.az.gov

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4.19.2016

Magnitude 3.7 Earthquake shakes northwestern Arizona in vicinity of recent earthquake swarm

Tucson, AZ. A magnitude (ML) 3.7 earthquake shook northwestern Arizona south of Littlefield, Arizona, at 9:06 pm on 17 April 2016. This event is part of a swarm of more than 42 small magnitude earthquakes that began on 28 March with an ML > 2.1 event located approximately 29 miles SSE of Littlefield, Arizona. The most recent event, ML 1.3, occurred at 4:58 pm (MST) on 18 April.

The ML 3.7 event was the largest earthquake yet and was felt in Littlefield and Mesquite, Nevada, along the remote Arizona-Nevada border. The earthquake sequence includes 2 events >ML 3.0, 8 events >ML 2.0 with the remainder below ML 2.0. The depths of the earthquakes range from near-surface to approximately 14 km.

The earthquake swarm is situated along the physiographic boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province, an area of active crustal extension and seismicity.

We anticipate additional small magnitude aftershocks in the wake of the ML 3.7 event.

This apparent increase in earthquake activity of northwestern Arizona may be the result of efforts by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory (NSL) to capture and record small magnitude events along the Nevada-Arizona border. The Arizona Geological Survey’s broadband seismic network, comprising 8 seismometers, is unable to record small magnitude events in northwestern Arizona.

AZGS operates the seismic network without any state or federal funding so continues to look for ways to maintain the system and to increase statewide coverage of currently undetected earthquakes.

For additional information on the more than 3,000 historical earthquakes and active faults in Arizona, see the Natural Hazard in Arizona Viewer.

Contact:
Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress, Ste 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
520.209.4146 (office)
520.971.3688 (cell)
Michael.Conway@azgs.az.gov

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4.5.2016

Earthquake Swarm in northwestern Arizona 29 March – 4 April 2016

Figure 1: Seismograms from AZ stations for the ML 2.6 April 3rd event.

Tucson, Arizona. On March 29th, a magnitude (ML) 2.3 earthquake occurred about 23 miles south-southwest of Littlefield, Arizona. This event marked the onset of a swarm of 18 small magnitude earthquakes that continued through April 3rd. The largest event, ML 2.6, occurred at 8:36 am on April 3rd. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

The magnitude, date, and location of events are tabled below. The Google Earth map shows the locations of individual events which form a distinctly northwest trend. Also included for the ML 2.6 event are seismograms from the Arizona Geological Survey’s Arizona Broadband Seismic Network. 

Active faults in the vicinity of the earthquake swarm include the Mesquite/Overton Arm, about 10 miles north along the western front of the Virgin Mountains, and the Grand Wash Fault system 11 miles to the east. The latter represents the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Provinces, an area with extensive historical earthquake activity.

Both fault systems are normal faults with down-dropping western blocks, characteristic of many active faults in the Basin and Range Province of northwestern Arizona and Nevada. 

Figure 2: The location of the 19 events in northwestern Arizona; red circles with magnitudes of each event; red lines show location of known, active faults; Background image by Google Earth.

The northwest trend of this earthquake swarm (Figure 2) is similar to other earthquake sequences observed in central and northern Arizona. In addition, strong lineaments in the nearby landscape suggests that there are potentially active faults immediately north of the largest event. More investigative mapping is needed to determine if the lineaments in the general area are indeed active faults.

The 2.0+ events were resolved from data of the Arizona Integrated Seismic Network, while the small magnitude events were approximately located by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory. The small magnitude and dearth of seismometers in this remote area precludes more precise locations. Calculating depths of the individual events in northwestern Arizona’s rugged terrain was similarly difficult, resulting in a broad range of depths from 0.0 miles to 8.6 miles.

Over the past 22 months, moderate-size earthquakes have been reported in the Phoenix area - the Black Canyon City ML 4.1 and 4.0 events on the night of Nov. 2, 2015, which were felt widely in the Valley of the Sun; the Kachina Village ML 4.7 event of Nov. 30, 2015, felt in both Sedona and Flagstaff; and the ML 5.3 earthquake that rattled Duncan in eastern Arizona and resulted in aftershocks that were felt more than one year after the main shock.  


Table of earthquake events associated with the Mesquite swarm in northwestern Arizona,
29 March – 3 April 2016

Most Recent
to Oldest

Earthquake Date

Magnitude (ML)

Latitude (N)

Longitude (W)

1

04/04/2016

1

36.489

113.989

2

04/03/2016

1.1

36.514

114.024

3

04/03/2016

2.6

36.456

113.979

4

04/03/2016

0.7

36.521

114.031

5

04/03/2016

1.1

36.481

113.971

6

04/03/2016

1.1

36.489

113.971

7

04/03/2016

1.0

36.489

113.989

8

04/02/2016

1.2

36.488

113.987

9

04/02/2016

1.0

36.473

113.979

10

04/02/2016

1.7

36.492

113.998

11

04/01/2016

1.5

36.493

114.002

12

04/01/2016

2.0

36.498

113.992

13

03/31/2016

1.6

36.486

113.922

14

03/30/2016

1.0

36.524

114.014

15

03/30/2016

1.7

36.439

113.969

17

3/29/2016

1.6

36.506

114.004

18

3/29/2016

0.8

36.483

114.004

19

3/29/2016

2.3

36.54

114.013

From a report by Dr. Jeri Young, AZGS Research Geophysicist.

Contact:
Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress, Ste 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
520.209.4146 (office)
520.971.3688 (cell)
Michael.Conway@azgs.az.gov

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2.18.2016

20,000 documents from Arizona's mining and mineral history online and accessible at AZGS Mining Data website

Tucson – Phoenix, AZ. Unpublished, one-of-a-kind Arizona mining documents - once filed away in cabinets and cardboard boxes - are now online, discoverable, and accessible at the Arizona Geological Survey Mining Data website.

More than 20,000 files, maps, and reports contributed by dozens of exploration geologists and mining firms are now available. The website exposes more than 8,500 geologic and engineering reports; 6,800 maps – geologic maps, mining claim maps, maps with assays, plats, underground maps and cross sections; and 5,500 historic photographs dating from the 1890s to 2000.

"The ability to deliver such a large volume of historical mining maps and documents to the public, free of charge, fills a critical need for bolstering mining efforts in Arizona. It provides an invaluable resource for planning future mineral exploration efforts," according to Lee Allison, State Geologist and Director of the Arizona Geological Survey.

This new online resource is being premiered in time for the 2016 Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Annual Conference and Expo in Phoenix from February 21 – 24. The collection includes major exploration holdings from the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources, Walter E. and Grover Heinrichs, James Sell, A.F. Budge Mining Ltd., Cambior Exploration, among many others.

Since the 1850s, Arizona has been a mecca for prospectors, exploration geologists and mining firms seeking copper, gold, silver, molybdenum, zinc, lead, manganese, tungsten, uranium, and coal, turquoise and semi-precious gems. Collectively, they left a mile-high paper trail of hundreds of thousands of pages, tens of thousands reports, well logs, letters, photographs, and geologic and mine maps.

The documents comprising this online repository were originally provided to the Arizona Mines and Mineral Resources Department by exploration geologists and mining firms. 

The Mining Data site includes an applied search tool filtered by key words, mine names, collections, time and place. The geographic search tool provides for a radius search of 1 to 100s of miles from a point of interest for these georeferenced data.

Contact:
Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress, Ste 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
520.209.4146 (office)
520.971.3688 (cell)
Michael.Conway@azgs.az.gov

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2.3.2016

Revised Earth Fissure Maps for Cochise, Maricopa and Pinal Counties released

Tucson, Arizona. The Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) continues to map, monitor, and inform the public regarding earth fissures in south-central and southeastern Arizona. Six freshly revised earth fissure maps are now available for parts of Maricopa, Pinal and Cochise Counties. A single new earth fissure map for just east of the Picacho Mountains in Pinal County was issued.

Updated earth fissure study area maps, include: Luke and Chandler Heights in Maricopa County; Picacho and Friendly Corners (3 map sheets) and Santa Rosa Wash in Pinal County; and North Sulphur Springs Valley and Dragoon Road study areas in Cochise County. 

The maps and digital data are available at the Natural Hazards of Arizona viewer. Individual fissure study area maps are online at the Arizona Geological Survey’s Online Document Repository. A Google Earth .kmz file is available for viewing the fissures on Google Earth. 

All new or revised earth fissure maps employ a base map displaying National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial photography and, when available, a local subsidence map, provided courtesy of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. 

A new fissure line category (yellow lines) portrays select fissures as confirmed that were otherwise not mapped by AZGS’ fissure mapping team. These include fissures mapped by reliable sources and those identified on multiple aerial photographs. Previously, if fissures could not be identified during field checks, the fissure was reported as unconfirmed.

Besides posing a threat to infrastructure, fissures are frequently used for illegal dumping of tires, appliances, construction debris, manure and other sundry items.  Because fissures extend downward towards the groundwater table, they represent a potential conduit for surface runoff to contaminate aquifer resources.

AZGS’s earth fissure mapping team will continue to monitor existing earth fissures and map new ones as they form.  AZGS geologists collaborate with hydrologists from the Arizona Dept. of Water Resources to better understand where and when fissures will occur, and with local environmental and geological engineers on ways to mitigate and minimize the impact of earth fissures.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Earth fissures are cracks, seams, or separations in the ground produced during differential land subsidence that accompanies extensive groundwater harvesting. The earliest appearance of fissures in Arizona was near Eloy in 1927. Individual fissures range in length from hundreds of feet to miles, and in width from inches to tens of feet. Currently, geoscientists believe that fissures initially form at the groundwater table and then propagate upwards hundreds of feet to the surface. Because fissures are commonly oriented perpendicular to local drainages, they are capable of capturing surface runoff.  In-rushing waters may result in rapid erosion of sidewalls and gully development causing dramatic and sudden changes in fissure geometry -- length, depth, and width.   

Earth fissures are a geologic hazard in the arid valleys of central and south-central Arizona. As urban and suburban centers encroach on subsiding areas of basins/valleys, residents and structures are placed in closer proximity to fissures. Property owners are encouraged to 1) set structures as far away from fissures as possible, and 2) prevent water from entering fissures.

Reports of earth fissures are confined to Cochise, Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties in central and south-central Arizona.  In 2007, AZGS released 1:250,000-scale planning maps of the four counties showing the approximate locations of earlier reported earth fissures. These earth fissure planning maps are available free, online at the Earth Fissure Center at www.azgs.az.gov/efc. AZGS is charged by state statute with mapping earth fissures in Arizona. 

Contact:
Michael Conway
Arizona Geological Survey
416 W. Congress, Ste 100
Tucson, AZ 85701
520.209.4146 (office)
520.971.3688 (cell)
Michael.Conway@azgs.az.gov

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