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Questa Rock Pile Weathering Stability Study

Chevron, Inc. (formerly Molycorp, Inc.) funded a major consortium to assess and identify the future risk of weathering on physical failure of existing rock piles based on the physical, chemical and mineralogical composition and weathering of the piles at Chevron's Questa mine, in Taos County, New Mexico. A team of scientists from several universities and consulting firms conducted studies to answer the question "Will the rock piles become gravitationally unstable over time?" These scientists depended upon field measurements and sampling, laboratory analysis, and numerical modeling to answer this question. The team members and their responsibilities are provided in the following table. Numereous papers, abstracts, and theses resulting from this study. Funding ended in 2009, but several areas of research are continuing unfunded.

Team memberResponsibilities
New Mexico Tech Bureau of Geology and Mineral ResourcesField sampling and mapping, physical characterization, sample management, geochemical analysis, isotope analysis, electron microprobe analysis, weathering, geophysical surveys, and GIS
The University of UtahProject management, database management, geochemical modeling and GIS
Weber State UniversityMicrobial characterization
University of British ColumbiaLong-term stability modeling
Minnesota Department of Natural ResourcesMineralogy and geochemical modeling
Geochemica, Inc.Weathering cell experiments
Spectral International Inc.Geochemistry consultant
University of California at BerkeleyMineralogy and remote sensing

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