MBMG People and Projects in the News!!
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The Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives at 17 W. Quartz will continue its Brown Bag Lunch series at noon Wednesday, March 28, with a presentation by Mike Stickney, director of the Earthquake Studies Office at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. Stickney will talk about recent seismic activity in Montana, including last July’s earthquake near Lincoln and its ongoing aftershock sequence. He will also talk about the recent earthquake swarms in Yellowstone, and will touch on the unpredictability of earthquakes.
KALISPELL, Mont. — Some residents in northwest Montana have been buzzing about a recent series of earthquakes.
In the month of January, Bigfork, Somers and Whitefish have all had earthquakes that registered below magnitude 3.0.
Bigfork resident, Bill Mcguffie, says he was watching Jeopardy Monday evening at his home in Bigfork when he felt it.
"Then suddenly it was a huge jolt, maybe like an automobile running into the other end of the house," Mcguffie said. He knew what it was, another earthquake.
“We’ve had three this year,” he said.
"Historically, there have been big earthquakes in Montana,” said Mike Stickney from the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology at Montana Tech.
BUTTE, Mont. — A Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Research Hydrogeologist is working hard trying to get a training area for drone flying. The hard part is getting the county to approve it.
Officials said all of Montana Tech’s campus would be a fly zone, as well as trail areas west of campus by the World Museum of Mining and the Big M on the hill.
It's part of Hydrogeologist Jeremy Crowley’s UAV training program for students to research and fly drones.
Geologist Jeff Lonn points to a "scarp" where an earthquake separated land along the lower east face of the Bitterroots.
A mapping method used to look at floodplains in the Bitterroot Valley turned up something unexpected: a new fault line that just might cross under the Lake Como Dam.
Jeff Lonn, a geologist with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology in Butte, said Ravalli County was using Light Detection and Ranging — or LIDAR — equipment as part of a floodplain study. LIDAR uses laser to map the ground, showing what the land is like devoid of homes, grasses and trees.
The earthquake south of Lincoln that shook people from Spokane to Billings occurred along a fault not previously mapped by seismologists, which is not surprising in a region less studied than the seismically active West Coast.
Montana's quake risk is unique, although the exact causes of it remain in debate, said Mike Stickney, seismologist at the Earthquake Studies Office of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology on the Montana Tech campus in Butte.
"If you look globally, it is interesting and unusual to have a seismic belt such as we have form far from an active plate tectonic boundary," he said.
Photo by Tom Bauer, Missoulian
photo by Tracy Thorton, Montana Standard
Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Seismologist Mike Stickney said he wasn't aware of an "earthquake sky," but he said there are some fairly credible reports of lights in the sky around the time an earthquake hits. Stickney said most rock has grains of quartz in it, and quartz has electrical properties. When rocks are under pressure and squeezed in the right way, they may give off energy.
But Stickney added that such earthquake lights have been reported when earthquakes are above a 7.0 magnitude and cause a surface rupture. Thursday's early-morning quake was centered deep within the earth and was not big enough to cause a surface rupture.
Stickney said that while the phenomenon spotted close to sunset in Butte didn't seem likely to be connected to the earthquake that hit hours later, he wouldn't entirely rule it out. "I've tried to learn to say 'nothing is impossible,'" Stickney said.
That's one of the reasons an environmental studies major at the University of Montana joined about a half-dozen people who spent their Sunday learning about the Lolo Watershed Study, which is part of a pilot research partnership between the Montana Department Natural Resources and Conservation Service and the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. Carmen Carstarphen, a hydrologist with the bureau's ground water project, showing the group of interested Lolo residents a graph demonstrating the association between ground water and surface water.That's one of the reasons an environmental studies major at the University of Montana joined about a half-dozen people who spent their Sunday learning about the Lolo Watershed Study, which is part of a pilot research partnership between the Montana Department Natural Resources and Conservation and the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology.
Carmen Carstarphen, a hydrologist with the bureau's ground water project, showed the group of interested Lolo residents a graph showing the association between ground water and surface water.
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.
Photo by Rob Chaney, The Missoulian
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.”
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.”
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.
Marissa Lambert/Courtesy of the Gem Gallery — Uncut, rough sapphires from Rock Creek
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.
Photo by Walter Hinick, The Montana Standard
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.