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February 24, 2015
USGS Identifies Areas with Critical Mineral Resource Potential in North-Central Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Feb. 23, 2015—New maps highlighting areas with potential for placer gold and five other critical mineral deposit types in the Bureau of Land Management’s Central Yukon Planning Area in central and northern Alaska are being released today. The maps were created using a geographic information system-based method for identifying areas with mineral resource potential across large regions. The maps are of particular importance because they identify potential sources for critical elements in short supply globally that are essential for modern society.

“These maps are designed to help land managers make more informed decisions with regard to areas with mineral resource potential across Alaska,” said James Jones, the lead author of the study, and a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, “What I’m most excited about is our new data-driven method that identifies numerous areas across a vast region with potential for discovery of a variety of important commodities.”

The new mapping method, developed by the USGS in cooperation with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys as part of a strategic and critical minerals initiative, was applied to the CYPA region at the request of the BLM to aid in their resource management planning. This study evaluated potential for rare earth element deposits associated with alkali-rich intrusive rocks, placer gold deposits, platinum group element deposits associated with iron- and magnesium-rich, silica-poor igneous rocks like basalts, carbonate-hosted copper deposits, sandstone uranium deposits, and tin-tungsten-molybdenum-fluorspar deposits associated with some specialized granites.

"This level of analysis will benefit the BLM's planning process tremendously,” said Steve Cohn, BLM Alaska Deputy State Director, Resources. “This evaluation taps into the USGS' vast database of mineral-sample and mineral-occurrence information. It was designed at a scale to compliment the BLM's other resources data using the USGS' expertise with commodity and strategic minerals. This effort represents a significant advancement in mineral resource evaluations."

The maps indicate estimated potential as either low, medium, or high for a given mineral deposit group in each watershed, based on the availability of lithologic, geochemical, and geophysical data in each.

Core datasets used include the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Geochemical Database, the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys web-based geochemical database, data from the upcoming USGS geologic map of Alaska, the USGS Alaska Resource Data File, and airborne radiometric surveys from the National Uranium Resource Evaluation.

 

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