The partnership, led by the USGS and the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, will use airborne geophysical and lidar data collection, as well as geologic mapping and geochemical analysis of rock and brine samples, to identify mineral resource and geothermal energy potential.
The area of study will be the Walker Lane geologic area in western Nevada, which has a high quantity of sediments and clays rocks that the agencies believe contain significant amounts of critical minerals. The initial focus will be on critical mineral commodities such as lithium and will include rare earth elements, platinum group elements and chromium, as well as iron, nickel and copper.
The interagency initiative will be called Geoscience Data Acquisition for Western Nevada (GeoDAWN) and also will leverage machine learning to identify mineral deposits.
"We plan to provide periodic updates to interested stakeholders as we work together to strengthen American energy and critical mineral independence", wrote the DOE in a blog post.
"The data we'll be collecting are useful for many applications," said Sarah Ryker, USGS associate director for Energy and Minerals. "Not only are we helping identify the potential for mineral and energy resources that underpin our economy, but these data can help identify groundwater resources and even geologic hazards such as faults that could produce earthquakes."