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Mining brines from dormant volcanoes could provide the metals needed for a sustainable future – MINING.COM – MINING.com

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According to the team led by petrologist Jon Blundy, this trapped, subterranean brine is a potential ‘liquid ore’ containing a slew of valuable metals, including gold, lithium and several million tonnes of copper, all of which could be exploited by extracting the fluids to the surface via deep wells.

Employing this method could potentially reduce the cost of mining and ore processing. In addition to this, since geothermal power would be a significant by-product of this green-mining approach, operations would be carbon-neutral.

Trapped, subterranean brine is a potential ‘liquid ore’ containing a slew of valuable metals

“Active volcanoes around the world discharge to the atmosphere prodigious quantities of valuable metals,” Blundy said in a media statement. “Green mining represents a novel way to extract both the metal-bearing fluids and geothermal power, in a way that dramatically reduces the environmental impact of conventional mining.”

To reach this conclusion, the researcher and his team at Oxford joined forces with Russian colleagues and worked on drill cores from a number of deep geothermal systems located in Japan, Italy, Montserrat, Indonesia and Mexico. 

Using volcanology, hydrodynamic modelling, geochemistry, geophysics and high-temperature experiments, they were able to confirm their predictions of metal-rich brines.

The scientists say that geophysical surveys of volcanoes show that almost every active and dormant volcano hosts a potentially exploitable ‘lens’ of metal-rich brine. This means that metal exploration may not be limited to relatively few countries such as Chile, the DRC, or the US, as it is currently because volcanoes exist all around the world.

The risks

There are risks to this proposal, though. The main ones are related to the technology that has to be used as the process involves drilling into rock at 2 kilometres depth and at temperatures of more than 450°C. On top of this, the extracted fluids are corrosive, which places limits on the types of drilling materials and they tend to dump their metal load in the well-bore, a problem known as ‘scaling.’ 

These limitations mean that more research needs to be done around the dynamics of fluid flow and pressure-temperature control in the well-bore and that there will be a need to develop resistive coatings to prevent well-bore corrosion.

Luckily, many of these challenges are already being addressed through deep, hot geothermal drilling projects. In some cases these projects have reached temperatures over 500 °C; and occasionally they have tapped into small pockets of molten rock, for example in Iceland and Hawaii.

The latter challenge, however, is being addressed already as the Oxford team has patented an idea for fluid extraction that guarantees that the fluids continue to flow into the well once drilled, taking into account the permeability and porosity of hot, ductile rock.

Whether there is a risk of triggering volcanic eruptions, the researchers say it is very small, but must be assessed even though they are not planning to drill into magma itself, but into the hot rocks above the magma chamber, which greatly reduces the risk of encountering magma.

The scientists have spent the last five years de-risking the concept, and are now ready to drill an exploratory well at a dormant volcano. This will clarify many of the risks and challenges associated with the technique and will herald a new advance in the understanding of volcanoes and their bounty of energy and metals.

In their view, a working ‘brine mine’ could be 5-15 years away, depending on how well the challenges can be addressed.

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NASA discovers double crater on the moon – CTV News

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The moon has a new double crater after a rocket body collided with its surface on March 4.

New images shared by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been circling the moon since 2009, have revealed the location of the unusual crater.

The impact created two craters that overlap, an eastern crater measuring 59 feet (18 metres) across and a western crater spanning 52.5 feet (16 metres). Together, they create a depression that is roughly 91.8 feet (28 metres) wide in the longest dimension.

Although astronomers expected the impact after discovering that the rocket part was on track to collide with the moon, the double crater it created was a surprise.

Typically, spent rockets have the most mass at the motor end because the rest of the rocket is largely just an empty fuel tank. But the double crater suggests that this object had large masses at both ends when it hit the moon.

The exact origin of the rocket body, a piece of space junk that had been careening around for years, is unclear, so the double crater could help astronomers determine what it was.

The moon lacks a protective atmosphere, so it’s littered with craters created when objects like asteroids regularly slam into the surface.

This was the first time a piece of space junk unintentionally hit the lunar surface that experts know of. But craters have resulted from spacecraft being deliberately crashed into the moon.

For example, four large moon craters attributed to the Apollo 13, 14, 15 and 17 missions are all much larger than each of the overlapping craters created during the March 4 impact. However, the maximum width of the new double crater is similar to the Apollo craters.

UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Bill Gray, an independent researcher focused on orbital dynamics and the developer of astronomical software, was first to spot the trajectory of the rocket booster.

Gray had initially identified it as the SpaceX Falcon rocket stage that launched the US Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, in 2015 but later said he’d gotten that wrong and it was likely from a 2014 Chinese lunar mission — an assessment NASA agreed with.

However, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the booster was from its Chang’e-5 moon mission, saying that the rocket in question burned up on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

No agencies systematically track space debris so far away from Earth, and the confusion over the origin of the rocket stage has underscored the need for official agencies to monitor deep-space junk more closely, rather than relying on the limited resources of private individuals and academics.

However, experts say that the bigger challenge is the space debris in low-Earth orbit, an area where it can collide with functioning satellites, create more junk and threaten human life on crewed spacecraft.

There are at least 26,000 pieces of space junk orbiting Earth that are the size of a softball or larger and could destroy a satellite on impact; over 500,000 objects the size of a marble — big enough to cause damage to spacecraft or satellites; and over 100 million pieces the size of a grain of salt, tiny debris that could nonetheless puncture a spacesuit, according to a NASA report issued last year.

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7 Amazing Dark Sky National Parks – AARP

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James Ronan/Getty Images/Steve Burns

Great Basin, Arches, and Voyageurs National Park

Can’t afford to join a commercial space mission offered by Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson? Consider the next best thing: seeing a starry, starry night in a sea of darkness, unimpeded by artificial light, at one of the International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. It’s a rare treat, since light pollution prevents nearly 80 percent of Americans from seeing the Milky Way from their homes.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA) has certified 14 of the nation’s 63 national parks as dark sky destinations. So visitors can take full advantage of such visibility, many of them offer specialized after-dark programs, from astronomy festivals and ranger-led full-moon walks to star parties and astrophotography workshops. If you prefer to stargaze on your own at a park, the National Park Service recommends bringing a pair of 7-by-50 binoculars, a red flashlight, which enhances night vision, and a star chart, which shows the arrangement of stars in the sky.

Here are seven of the IDSA-certified parks where you can appreciate how the heavens looked from the Earth before the dawn of electric light.




AARP Membership -Join AARP for just $9 per year when you sign up for a 5-year term

Join today and save 43% off the standard annual rate. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life. 



Award-winning travel writer Veronica Stoddart is the former travel editor of USA Today. She has written for dozens of travel publications and websites.​​

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A Mystery Rocket Left A Crater On The Moon – Forbes

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While we think of the moon as a static place, sometimes an event happens that reminds us that things can change quickly.

On March 4, a human-made object (a rocket stage) slammed into the moon and left behind a double crater, as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission.

Officials announced June 23 that they spotted a double crater associated with the event. But what’s really interesting is there’s no consensus about what kind of rocket caused it.

China has denied claims that the rocket was part of a Long March 3 rocket that launched the country’s Chang’e-5 T1 mission in October 2014, although the orbit appeared to match. Previous speculation suggested it might be from a SpaceX rocket launching the DISCOVR mission, but newer analysis has mostly discredited that.

On a broader scale, the value of LRO observations like this is showing how the moon can change even over a small span of time. The spacecraft has been in orbit there since 2009 and has spotted numerous new craters since its arrival.

It’s also a great spacecraft scout, having hunted down the Apollo landing sites from orbit and also having tracked down a few craters from other missions that slammed into the moon since the dawn of space exploration.

It may be that humans return to the moon for a closer-up look in the coming decade, as NASA is developing an Artemis program to send people to the surface no earlier than 2025.

LRO will also be a valuable scout for that set of missions, as the spacecraft’s maps will be used to develop plans for lunar bases or to help scout safe landing sites for astronauts.

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