This page features news about MBMG projects and people. Some of the articles are in PDF format and some are direct links to other sites.
Taking first-place honors at the 2016 Denver Gem and Mineral Show, this past September, were two museums. The Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., won the Donna Chirnside Memorial Award for best educational display by a museum with its exhibit of African minerals, and Montana Tech Mineral Museum, in Butte, received the Friends of Mineralogy Award for best educational exhibit by an institution with its display documenting Montana sapphire deposits.
• March-April 2017 — by Marie Huizing
Lolo Creek has barely a trickle of water as it pases Traveler's Rest State Park in early September. Lolo residents will soon have lots of research explaning how its watershed works and what steps the community might take to keep the creek flowing year round.
So the state of Montana, through its Groundwater Investigation Program, decided to invest in finding an answer.
“This is a fairly robust perennial stream and then in certain years in some parts it goes dry,” senior research hydrogeologist John Wheaton said. “That’s not common.
“There’s no smoking gun.”
PETER FRIESEN firstname.lastname@example.org
February 21, 2017
The topic, officially, was water. But during a scientific conference in Butte, Montana, earthquake expert Michael Stickney glimpsed something unexpected in a three-dimensional lidar image of the Bitterroot Valley in nearby Missoula.
In a bare-earth lidar image, with the land surface portrayed in detail, Stickney saw what no one knew existed: an active seismic fault with the potential to trigger a magnitude 6.5 to 7.5 earthquake.
“People have always thought the area was relatively immune to large earthquakes,” he said. No large quakes have ever been recorded there. “We knew the fault existed, but the best available evidence was that it was not active.”Release Date: January 23, 2017
by Heather Dewar
All that glitters is not gold: Montana's sapphire riches
“Jake Hoover was a gold miner,” says Bozeman businessman Don Baide. “And in the process of mining for gold, his sluice boxes started filling up with these blue pebbles. All his great expectations for that claim never came to pass, for Jake Hoover never struck that rich vein of gold he was seeking in central Montana.
The consolation? That blue chatter of pebbles in his sluice box was trying to tell him something else – an even richer secret from ages ago that would come to light only in that year, 1895.
Richard Berg, a retired geology professor from the Montana Bureau of Mines at Montana Tech in Butte, said the story is not just legend.
The Treasure State’s current — and possibly future — treasure lies with ordinary rock mining, a state official said Thursday at a mining symposium in Butte.
Ordinary rocks are the predominant mining commodity for the state.
Rock quarries and rock picking take up nearly half of the land Montana Department of Environmental Quality permits for mining, said DEQ geochemist Garrett Smith in a presentation
to about 40 people at the Minerals and Mining Symposium sponsored by the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology at Montana Tech.
Susan Dunlap email@example.com
• October 20, 2016
South of Bozeman, up a rutted trail access road, perched on a ridge reaching into the Gallatin National Forest, is a mining cabin — or, rather, the remnants of one. Its history? —A mystery, with the primary clue a metal plaque grown into a broken tree trunk. “AOMC MINING CLAIM,” reads lettering between bullet holes. “NE BOUNDARY.”
A first attempt at sussing out that history was a call to the Gallatin History Museum. There, a staff member suggested looking at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management land patents database, a registry of land grants from the federal government to individuals, — didn’t return a direct hit, however. Continuing the search for other sources we cooresponded with a geologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Phyllis Hargrave, who was kind enough to look at some photos from the mine site and pass on her thoughts.
“In the grand scheme of things this would be considered a small mine,” she wrote in an email, pointing to the comparatively small amount of mine waste and saying the shaft appeared to be shored up with trees instead of shaped timbers. “I bet they didn’t explore too much,” she said. “The iron rails may have never been used.” A piece of rusting equipment near the cabin looks like it may have been a portable saw mill, she noted.
Story and photos by Eric Dietrich Chronicle Staff Writer, Aug 11, 2016
Last week nearly 300 people gathered at Flathead Valley Community College for a presentation that was unrelated but coincidentally about the valley’s deep aquifer. Scientists from the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, the agency that researches geologic, groundwater and mineral resources across the state, presented the initial findings of a two-year study of the valley’s key water source. The event, scheduled months before news of the water bottling plant surfaced, was intended as an educational presentation about the critical role the aquifer plays in the region and was not in any way connected to the water bottling controversy, according to organizers.
“The deep aquifer is a phenomenal resource that can both be used and conserved,” said John Wheaton, senior research hydrogeologist with the MBMG.
Published Apr 11, 2016
By Dillon Tabish
The Ground Water Investigation Program at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (GWIP) seeks to provide answers to communities about the status of local groundwater. GWIP researches pressing groundwater issues selected by the Montana Ground Water Assessment Steering Committee, which was legislatively authorized by the Montana State Legislature. GWIP examines such questions as groundwater/surface-water interactions and stream depletion, changing aquifer recharge by improved efficiency in irrigation methods, hydrologic effects of land-use changes, and water-quality impacts from septic tank density.
Published on Sunday, 21 February 2016, Kelley Christensen
Deep in the heart of Butte: A special report — Parrot Plume: What you should know
Below the center of Butte flows water tainted with poisons drawn from a mass of mining and smelting waste that has been a pollution problem for more than a century.
The deadly bright-blue plume “is the most contaminated mine water in the state of Montana,” hydrogeologist Joe Griffin says.
No one argues that point. But a raging dispute centers on what to do about it — and about the tailings from the Parrot mine and smelter that are feeding the deadly brew of metals-laced water.Susan Dunlap firstname.lastname@example.org
• July 19, 2015
Research hydrologist Tom Michalek describes test wells and water table monitoring at a site near Bozeman. Data from the test wells are used to model the interaction between land use, surface water and ground water in the Gallatin Basin.
Water is arguably Montana's most precious natural resource, and it is undeniably essential to the local economy.
But the rain and melting snows in the mountains that feed the state's streams and rivers are only half the story. The unseen groundwater aquifers below our feet are the other.
Gallatin County's aquifer level has been affected by the significant changes in how the land above is used. Key among those changes have been farmers' switch from flood irrigation to pivoting or wheel-line sprinklers and domestic housing and commercial real estate development.
By Troy Carter, Chronicle Staff Writer, July 5, 2015
“What you found is an extraordinary occurrence,” Tom Guensburg, interim dean of the Physical Science Division at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., wrote to the MBMG's Jay Gunderson after investigating the site last month. “It could be the most diverse starfish fauna known from the Jurassic, a time when modern starfish orders make their earliest known appearances. This is good stuff.”
July 05, 2015 6:00 am • By Brett French
The MBMG GWIP hydrogeologists have been working in the Hamilton area for the past year to gather information on the area's groundwater. Their findings are expected to be available in a public report released sometime in 2016.
February 18, 2015
• By Perry Backus
Ravalli County commissioners gave the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology the OK to pursue how growth is affecting ground and surface water levels.
By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, email@example.com POSTED: 9:10 PM Feb 18 2015/UPDATED: 11:29 PM Feb 18 2015
At the behest of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Water Resource Division, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology is leading a Big Sky study to determine the amount of groundwater available in the Meadow Village area by drilling and mapping out the complex bedrock geology that determines the groundwater flow system.
Part of MBMG, the Ground Water Investigation Program is overseeing 17 wells being drilled to monitor both water levels and water quality in the meadow’s alluvial aquifer, an underground natural water source that stores groundwater adjacent to the west fork of the Gallatin River.
Understanding this aquifer’s characteristics and capacity to hold water is imperative since it’s the primary water supply for residents and businesses in the Meadow Village and Town Center, according to Kirk Waren, Senior Hydrogeologist with MBMG.
“The geology here has limitations to the good, fresh water you can get out of the system,” Waren said. “That’s a fact.”
Posted November 4, 2014
By Joseph T. O’Connor— Explore Big Sky Managing Editor
The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Groundwater Investigation Program has spent five years measuring and modeling the surface water and the behavior of groundwater beneath about 19 square miles surrounding Four Corners.
LAURA LUNDQUIST, Chronicle Staff Writer
Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2014
MBMG's new digs in Billings.
Montana Tech has purchased an office building in downtown Billings, Montana to house the Billing branch office of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (MBMG). The MBMG has rented office space on the campus of Montana State University-Billings for the past 15 years. The purchase of the new building was approved by the Montana Board of Regents at their November meeting.
The approximately 6,026 square foot building is located at 101 Grand Avenue, right next to Billings Senior High School. The office officialy opened on May 30th. The Billings office currently has nine professional staff members along with several students from MSU-Billings and Rocky Mountain College who will work in the building. MBMG currently has projects in every county in Montana; the Billings office typically addresses geologic ahd hydrogeologic issues throughout central and eastern Montana, including energy development, agriculture/irrigatin, and groundwater availability.
"It's kind of like predicting an earthquake" The geology behind the Rims' rock slides
“Mother Nature always wants to flatten the Earth, to put it in layman’s terms,” said Jay Gunderson, a research geologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology’s Billings office. “Erosion always takes over.”..(May 13, 2014 8:00 pm • By Mike Ferguson. Billings Gazette)
MBMG announces a new Ground Water Investigation Program Leader
Ginette Abdo has been selected to lead the Ground Water Investigation Program (GWIP). Ginette has been with the MBMG for quite some time–first as an Assistant Research Hydrogeologist and Assistant Curator of our Mineral Museum, and then as a Senior Research Hydrogeologist–and was one of the leaders in the original work that got GWIP started.
John Wheaton, her predecessor, has set the bar pretty high, but we know she will lead us to great new places.
She will start her new position on February 1st, 2014.
There are more water rights in the Gallatin Valley basin than there is water to supply the people who hold those rights. That's one of the messages area water court officials wanted to get across to statelegislators and others who attended a tour of the Gallatin River watershed Friday.
County leaders evaluate water levels along Gallatin River
NBC Montana has been following the latest facts about irrigation issues in the Gallatin Valley all summer. We toured the Gallatin River with lawmakers and conservationists to get a first hand update on water levels and drought conditions on the river.
Lawmakers evaluated sections of the river from the Gallatin Gateway to Four Corners. While out on the river we could see how in some areas, water levels were lower.
Tom Michalek is a hydrogeologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in Butte. Michalek told us some people in the area are having issues getting enough water to support their products.
"When you have less water, some people don't get the water they need," said Michalek.
Rock of Ages — scientists are still pondering the mystery of Butte's Ringing Rocks
Claudia Rapkoch interviews MBMG's Kaleb Scarberry regarding this geologic phenomena!
Montana’s geographic wonders have long inspired musicians and songwriters, but an ancient anomaly allows even the least musically inclined among us to be a rock star. The only instrument you need is a hammer.
The Ringing Rocks, located roughly 20 miles east of Butte is a symphonic wonder that has been millions of years in the making. Having lived in Butte for almost 20 years, we’d heard about the rocks for many years but not until recently did we bundle up our young son for an afternoon of outdoor adventure. After all, what could be more fun for a four-year-old than your parents encouraging you to play with rocks?
Pit safety talk draws crowd - sloughing, water level among residents' concerns
• Posted March 20, 2013
By John Grant Emeigh
A sloughing of the southeast corner of the Berkeley Pit that occurred on Feb. 8 can be seen in this photo taken Tuesday 3/19/13. The wall has been the site of three small slides in the past year. Photo by Walter Hinick
Sliding pit walls raise concern
• Posted March 10, 2013
By John Grant Emeigh
Photo by Walter Hinick