Mining industry ‘chomping at the bit’ for data from South Pass-Granite Mountains geophysical survey, WSGS says

    Fremont County residents may have noticed an unusual number of helicopters flying over the Lander area this summer as the state conducted a new geophysical survey of the South Pass-Granite Mountains region.

    h/t Wyoming State Geological Survey

    The survey site was selected after state officials “canvassed the mining industry” to find out “where they would like to see the survey flown,” Wyoming State Geological Survey director Erin Campbell told the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee during a meeting last week.

    Geophysical surveys are “the very first step in mineral exploration,” Campbell pointed out, so the South Pass-Granite Mountains operation represents “a huge time-saving and money-saving step” for companies “looking to stake a claim” in the area.


    Industry interest

    Full results from the South Pass-Granite Mountains survey aren’t available yet, but Campbell said “we have had great response” from mining industry representatives and geophysicists who are “chomping at the bit to see this data.”

    “At one company … I could tell the geophysicist was about to fall out of his chair he was so excited,” she recalled. “We are seeing great interest from the mining industry. (They) didn’t expect to see the data so soon and have it look so good.”

    Campbell showed the JAC a “preview” of the new data juxtaposed with a sample of the less-detailed information that was previously available for the area.

    Old data, left, compared with new data, right. h/t Wyoming State Geological Survey

    The new data was collected by helicopters tracing “flight lines that are about 300 meters apart,” Campbell said, guessing that people in the Lander area likely noticed choppers “flying back and forth” this summer.


    ‘Economic elements’

    Geophysical surveys gather data about “magnetics and radioactivity” that allow analysts to identify “mineral belts” at the ground surface, under the sediment, and in the sub-surface, Campbell explained.

    We can correlate these geophysical signatures with rock types that are known to contain certain economic elements,” she said, noting that “some rocks are more magnetic than others, and those are generally associated with things like nickel, iron, titanium, vanadium (and) cobalt.”

    “These trends in magnetism show trends in the rock type,” Campbell said. “So you can trace these magnetic stones (and) quickly identify areas to explore further.”


    Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, commended the WSGS for its outreach to the mining industry, pointing to the “recent development in the center part of the state where, indeed, some nickel deposits have at least been identified.”

    “(There is) strong interest, to the point that they’re mapping, through core drilling efforts, to identify the extent and quality of that resource, which is just extraordinary,” he said. “And in visiting with them, they really attribute their efforts to the conversation between our (WSGS) office and providing them with the information that you’ve gathered.”


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