Geologists Use Low-Level Helicopter Flights to Map Mineral Deposits In Salmon Region
September 22, 2021
MOSCOW, Idaho — Sept. 23, 2021 — The result of a geophysical survey in a remote part of eastern Idaho could have economic impacts on the Gem State by identifying locations to extract cobalt and other minerals.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Idaho Geological Survey(IGS), a state agency housed at the University of Idaho in Moscow, are leading an airborne geophysical survey over 1,200 square miles located west of Salmon.
Using equipment that detects the magnetic and radiometric signature of the region, low-level helicopter flights over Idaho’s cobalt belt, a rugged mountainous region of the Salmon National Forest, aim to learn how much cobalt and other mineral resources, including copper and rare earth metals, are in ancient rock layers.
“We have historic and regional data in the area,” said Claudio Berti, director and state geologist of IGS. “This study will provide high resolution geophysical information to add to what we already know about the structures and subsurface geometry of the rocks that contain the minerals.”
Cobalt was deemed a critical mineral by a presidential executive order and the Idaho cobalt belt contains the largest undeveloped cobalt resources in the United States, according to the USGS. The study’s data will provide fundamental information on elemental composition of the rocks. It will support the interpretation of regional geologic structures, allowing for a deeper and novel understanding of the complex geology of the Salmon region, Berti said.
Further exploration could bolster the region’s economy by providing jobs and supporting local retail and service industries, Berti said.
To acquire funding for the survey, IGS has partnered with the Idaho Cobalt Company, a subsidiary of First Cobalt Corp., New Jersey Mining Company and Idaho’s Revival Gold Inc., fostering a public-private partnership meant to benefit Idaho-based industry and the local economy, Berti said.
IGS and USGS under the federal Earth Mapping Resource Initiative jointly designed the survey. The data will be made public. The month-long flights in the area will last until early October, Berti said.
Claudio Berti, Ph.D.
Director and State Geologist
Idaho Geological Survey
University of Idaho Communication and Marketing
About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at uidaho.edu