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Virginia T. McLemore

Courses Taught

  • Teacher's workshop presentations
  • Geology of Industrial Minerals
    • Industrial minerals and rocks are literally the building blocks of our way of life and they are an exceptionally diverse and vital group of raw materials that underpin almost all aspects of human activity, infrastructure, and standard of living. Industrial minerals and rocks are used in the manufacture of many products, from ceramics to plastics and refractories to paper. Although industrial minerals permeate every aspect of daily life, their presence and their role are typically invisible. A widely used definition of industrial minerals and rocks is “any rock, mineral, or other naturally occurring substance of economic value, exclusive of metal ores, mineral fuels, and gemstones: one of the non-metallics”. This class will explore the different commodities that are considered industrial rocks and minerals, from exploration, development, mining, processing, and marketing. Field trips to industrial mineral mines will be included.

  • Geology and Mining of Uranium Deposits
    • This special topics class will summarize and discuss various topics on uranium deposits, including geology, exploration, mining, and environmental aspects. The class is intended for non-geology majors as well as geology majors. The class will meet once a week for 2-3 hours with additional time allotted for field trips. There may be some lectures by guest speakers. Each student will be responsible for discussing a topic or published paper during the semester. Field trips will include examination of sedimentary sequences and uranium deposits in the Socorro area and the San Juan Basin. Students will also complete a written class project and present an oral version to the class (current student work, if appropriate, will be accepted and students can work on this as a team).
  • Geology of Critical Minerals
    • A critical mineral is defined by Presidential Executive Order No. 13817 as “a mineral (1) identified to be a nonfuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States, (2) from a supply chain that is vulnerable to disruption, and (3) that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have substantial consequences for the U.S. economy or national security”. Critical minerals are mineral resources that are mostly imported into the U.S., are essential to our economy, and whose supply may be disrupted (Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts of the U.S. Economy, 2008; Schulz et al., 2017). Disruptions in supply chains can arise for any num­ber of reasons, including natural disasters, labor strife, trade disputes, resource nationalism, conflict, and so on. Strategic minerals are commodities that are essential to the national defense, but are subject to potential supply disruptions. The list of critical and strategic minerals consists of, but is not limited to: rare earth elements (REE), lithium, platinum group elements (PGM), antimony, rhenium, beryllium, tantalum, cobalt, chromium, tin, tantalum, tellurium, niobium, tungsten, gallium, yttrium, bauxite, nickel, zinc and germanium. These elements have captured international attention due to their application in a range of developing markets such as consumer electronic devices, electric and hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels, energy efficient lighting and medical diagnostic equipment. In this course, we will examine the economics, occurrence, geology, uses, and politics of some of these commodities. Field trips will examine deposits in New Mexico and adjacent states. Lab exercises will examine drill core and hand specimens.

  • Database systems and critical minerals

    • Databases are an integral part of our world, especially in our scientific professions. This course will present the fundamentals of databases—why are they important, when do we use them, how do we use them, how to develop a simple database, why they are important in identifying critical minerals. A database is an organized collection of structured information, or data, stored electronically. A database is usually controlled by adatabase management system (DBMS). Together, the data and the DBMS, along with the applications that are associated with them, are referred to as a database system, often shortened to just database. This course is intended for users of databases rather than designers of databases. Geologists, mining engineers, and especially exploration and environmental specialists will be using databases throughout their careers and students will be using various Bureau databases in this course to prepare them for future employment.

  • REE and critical minerals in coal
    • In this course, we will examine how coal is formed, where coal is found in New Mexico, source of REE and critical minerals in coal, evaluate the potential of REE and other critical minerals in coal deposits in New Mexico, including in mine waste products, and compare New Mexico coal deposits to other coal deposits in the world that contain REE and other critical minerals. Field trips will examine coal deposits in New Mexico. Lab exercises will examine drill core and hand specimens. We will also discuss how sampling plans are developed, petrographic and chemical analyses of coal, SOPs, mine safety, and other aspects of coal geology.

  • Mineral Deposits of New Mexico
    • All metallic mineral deposits in New Mexico, including silver and gold, base metals, molybdenum, manganese, and rare earth elements (REE), can be divided into six major periods of metallogenesis: (1) Proterozoic, (2) Paleozoic to Mesozoic, (3) Laramide, (4) Transition stage, (5) Extensional, and (6) Pliocene-Recent. There are more than 32 distinct types of deposits that are found in 230 metallic mining districts or geographic areas in New Mexico, with more than $21 billion worth of metals produced from deposits in New Mexico since the early 1800s. The most important types of deposit in the state, in terms of production, size, and future mining potential, are the Laramide porphyry copper, Laramide polymetallic vein, and Oligocene-Miocene volcanic-epithermal vein deposits. Changing technologies and economics suggest that other types of deposits, currently unrealized, may exist in the state. Known deposits of REE occurrences also could become important in the future, along with other critical and strategic minerals such as selenium, cadmium, gallium, and tellurium. Other metal commodities currently not considered could become important in the future as technology evolves. Many of these types of elements are typically found associated with other types of mineral deposits, especially precious and base metals deposits, and represent potential deposits in known mining areas. In this course, we will examine the economics, occurrence, geology, uses, and politics of some of these deposits in NM. Field trips will examine deposits in New Mexico. Lab exercises will examine drill core and hand specimens.

    Update July 11, 2022

Graduate Students