Wyoming Geo-Notes - Spring

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WSGS geologist Wayne Sutherland investigating the titaniferous black sandstone horizon in the Mesaverde Formation at Cottonwood Creek in the Bighorn Basin. Photo by Judy Sutherland.

New mineral investigations

The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) has received funding from the state Legislature to study several mineral resources, including rare earth elements (a continuation of a recent study), zeolites, lithium, and iron. "We are pleased to receive this funding to study these minerals and to assist the state and industry in determining whether they are viable for exploration," Director Tom Drean said.

Rare Earth Elements Investigation

The WSGS will take to the field again to continue its efforts to sample and map locations of the state’s rare earth elements (REE), with geologists also measuring and recording REE abundances for potential exploration. This project is a continuation of a recently completed study supported by the Legislature through Abandon Mine Reclamation funds. The original study was published in 2013 (WSGS Report of Investigation, No. 65.)...Read more.

Zeolite sample.

Zeolites Investigation

Zeolite is the name of a group of more than three dozen naturally-occurring minerals used for a wide variety of applications, from cat litter, to uses in the agricultural industry.

The WSGS will investigate Wyoming’s known and potential zeolite occurrences and deposits over the next two years. Geologists will collect samples and analyze them using several techniques...Read more.

Lithium Investigation

World demand for lithium is expected to continue to rise in the coming decades. The soft silver-white metal is used in batteries for cell phones and electric vehicles, ceramics and glass making as well as high strength to weight metal alloys. Currently, Chile, Australia, China, and Argentina produce most of the world’s lithium from hard rock mines or groundwater brines.

WSGS geologists will evaluate the state’s lithium deposits by analyzing lithium concentrations in selected rock formations, natural hot water springs, and groundwater brines associated with existing oil and gas wells. The two-year study will include a final report provided to the Legislature in 2016.

Hematite ore

Iron Investigation

The Wyoming Legislature has also allocated funds for the WSGS to conduct an investigation of Wyoming’s iron resources. This will be the first comprehensive study of iron by the agency. Recent interest along with exploration drilling and claim staking in the state — has been driven by what many perceive as new domestic needs for iron in the manufacturing industry and particularly in creating heavy cement...Read more.  

Bear River Basin Report

Bear river report

The WSGS, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, has completed its next groundwater study for the state’s updated river basin plans, as commissioned by the Wyoming Water Development Office.

The Bear River Basin report has been expanded from previous technical reports and provides a current assessment of the groundwater resources of the basin. The report covers the Bear River drainage as well as tributary areas in Idaho and Utah...Read more.

Wyoming Landslides


Landslides in Wyoming are common during spring and early summer when a freeze-thaw process occurs causing soil instability and fractures. Moisture can freeze in rock fractures and slightly expand and widen those fractures. When the ice melts, additional water then flows through the fracture, and then freezing and expanding again opens up the fracture even more. Repeated freeze and thaw cycles can weaken the rock along those fractures, which can then lead to rock falls and landslides. The added weight of water on potentially unstable slopes can also cause slippage and landslides.

WSGS has mapped more than 30,000 landslides in Wyoming, and maintains a database and statewide map of these locations on its website.

Coming soon

Geologic Map of Wyoming

The WSGS is soon to publish a statewide map based on its popular selling geologic map of Wyoming. The map features  different colors of the types and locations of bedrock throughout the state.

The original map was authored by J.D. Love and Ann Coe Christiansen and published in 1985 by the USGS. The revised version includes a new layout and legend and is based on an updated GIS dataset that has been combined with hill shading, slight color changes, and new base map information.

The Geologic Map of Wyoming will be available in June as a printed 1:500,000 scale map, or as a downloadable pdf from the WSGS website.

Gemstones Field Guide

Due to popular demand, the WSGS is reprinting Gemstones and Other Unique Minerals and Rocks of Wyoming, A Field Guide for Collectors. Copies will be available to purchase in June for $25 via the WSGS online store or at headquarters on the UW campus.

New Summary Reports

WSGS geologists have complied information on the locations and production of Wyoming’s bentonite and trona resources. Summary Reports on each one will be available as pdf downloads on the agency’s website in June.

WSGS Building Renovation

The WSGS is undergoing a building renovation at its office location on the campus of the University of Wyoming. The remodel includes new flooring, ceiling tiles, and lighting. It also includes a new front counter for serving members of the public who come in to purchase maps and other products. Due to the construction, the sales desk and office be closed from Thursday, April 17 until Monday, May 9.

WSGS Newsletter
Spring 2014


Wyoming Geo-Notes