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Research — Economic Geology

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There are 5 projects that match your criteria:
Critical Minerals in Mine Wastes

There are tens of thousands of inactive mine features in 274 mining districts in New Mexico (including coal, uranium, metals, and industrial minerals districts). However, many of these mines have not been inventoried or prioritized for reclamation or reprocessing. Many of these mines have existing mine wastes, generated during mineral production, which could have potential for critical minerals, especially since the actual mineral production was generally for precious and base metals and not critical minerals. The purpose of this project is to inventory, characterize and estimate the critical mineral endowment of mine wastes using USGS sampling procedures. This project is important to the state of New Mexico because critical mineral resources must be identified before land exchanges, withdrawals or other land use decisions are made by government officials. Future mining of mine wastes that potentially contain critical minerals will directly benefit the economy of New Mexico. Possible re-mining and/or reprocessing of mine wastes could clean up these sites and pay for reclamation. Furthermore, this project will include training of younger, professional geologists and students in economic and reclamation geology by the PIs.

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Lemitar Carbonatite: Exploring the Hidden World of Minerals: A Spectroscopic Adventure!

At the forefront of cutting-edge research at New Mexico Tech, we have been utilizing Raman spectroscopy to unravel the mysteries locked within minerals. By harnessing the power of visible and ultraviolet lasers, we can unlock a plethora of information. So, you may be asking, what is Raman spectroscopy? In simple terms, it's a technique that uses laser light to interact with the atomic vibrations of a material, producing a unique "fingerprint" of its molecular composition. By analyzing the scattered light, we are able to identify and characterize minerals such as apatite, fluorite, and calcite.

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MINES Thermodynamic Database

The MINES Thermodynamic Database is an initiative to generate a revised internally consistent thermodynamic dataset for minerals, aqueous species and gases for simulating geochemical processes at hydrothermal conditions in the upper crust (≤5 kbar and ≤600 °C) with focus on ore forming processes.

Alexander GysiEconomic Geologist

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Natural Accumulations of Carbon Dioxide in New Mexico and Adjacent Parts of Colorado and Arizona

Some Uses of CO2

  • Enhanced oil recovery
  • Refrigeration with dry ice
  • Carbonation of beverages
  • Noncombustible gas in fire extinguishers
  • Shredding of old tires
  • Stripping of insulation from scrap wire
  • Removal of corn kernals from cob during food processing
  • Removal of hair from hogs in slaughterhouses
  • Cooling of metal cutting tools
  • Stripping of paints
  • Noncombustible atmosphere that can be introduced into grain silos to prevent grain dust explosions
  • Noncombustible atmosphere for welding combustible materials
  • Nontoxic aerosol propellant
  • Branding of livestock
  • Stimulation of plant growth in greenhouses
  • Excellent solvent when in the supercritical state

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Capillary Raman Cell Experiments: The rare earth elements are in hot water (and feeling salty)!

Somewhere in the Earth’s crust a hot fluid is seeping through tiny cracks and fissures in the rock. The fluid is water and it carries with it a cargo of dissolved ions like chloride, sulfate, or carbonate. It might also carry dissolved metal ions useful to humans such copper, gold, or, in the case that we are considering, rare earth elements (REE). Fluids like this play important roles in forming ore deposits where the REE are present in high enough amounts to be mined. We want to understand how the REE interact with other dissolved ions and the water itself in order to better understand the conditions that allow water to mobilize, transport, or deposit REE.

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