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Bureau awarded USGS data preservation grant

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Cores stored in a Bureau warehouse at New Mexico Tech.

Socorro, NM
— April 20, 2020

The Bureau of Geology received a grant from the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program to support a wide range of data preservation activities. The $155,000 award will support the conversion of legacy Bureau maps to modern digital formatting, reinforce shelving in one of the Bureau’s core sheds, develop an online archive of historic photos, and identify and inventory critical mineral deposits in New Mexico.

The first section of the grant supports the conversion of 15-20 legacy paper or digital maps to the modern standard Geologic Map Schema (GeMS) developed by the USGS.

“A lot of our legacy maps have inconsistent symbology. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it might not follow any standard and in some cases, the symbology may not be standardized within the document,” says Bureau Coordinator of Map Production Phil Miller, “[GeMS] makes for a consistent format and symbol-set for data from different agencies. Without using the [GeMS] standard, everybody has to figure out what data format the geologic information is in, and then how to parse that information to the research or the analytics that they want to conduct.”

The second section of the grant pertains to increased public access to the Bureau’s physical archives.

The Bureau stores drill cores at New Mexico Tech collected from across the state. New shelving in one of the core sheds will address safety issues and improve access to 85,690 feet of core drilled from 502 different wells.

“The cores support stratigraphy, carbon dating, porosity and permeability, and x-ray diffraction studies,” says Bureau Geological Archives Coordinator Amy Trivitt-Kracke, “Everybody from undergraduates to industry [use the cores for research].”

The grant will also support the development of an online database of historic photos of old mining camps and rock outcrop studies. The Bureau has over 6000 photos cataloged in the historical photos collection, with some of the earliest dating to the late 1800’s.

“These photos are often unique and should be seen by the world instead of hiding in archival boxes,” says Trivitt-Kracke, “They are part of New Mexico’s history and geology, and show a unique perspective of our state’s history.”

The third section of the grant supports the identification of specific mines and deposits of the critical minerals tungsten, alunite (used to make aluminum), gallium, tin and lithium.

Critical minerals are non-fuel minerals that are essential to the nation’s economy and whose supply may be disrupted by natural disasters, labor strife, trade disputes, resource nationalism or armed conflict. Some critical minerals may be entirely imported to the United States.

The identified mines and deposits will be entered into the New Mexico Mines Database and a new digital database will be created to contain existing chemical analyses, available drill core information and other information currently stored at the Bureau.

The development of critical mineral resources will directly benefit New Mexico’s economy. In addition, critical mineral development supports clean energy technologies, many of which contain critical mineral components.

Existing deposits must be identified before land exchanges, land withdrawals, or other land use decisions are made by government officials.

For more information contact:

Phil Miller, Coordinator of Map Production at

Amy Trivitt-Kracke, Geological Archives Coordinator at

Dr. Virginia McLemore, Principal Senior Economic Geologist at