Major U.S. geological survey aims to uncover minerals critical for batteries and microchips

Thursday, June 1, 2023 - 12:07 in Earth & Climate

From the air, Maine is a uniform sea of green: Forests cover 90% of the state. But beneath the foliage and the dirt lies an array of geological terrains that is far more diverse, built from the relics of volcanic islands that collided with North America hundreds of millions of years ago. Two years ago, sensor-laden aircraft began to survey these geochemically rich terrains for precious minerals. Researchers spotted an anomalous signal streaming out of Pennington Mountain, 50 kilometers from the Canadian border. State geologists bushwhacked through the paper mill–bound pine forests, taking rock samples. They eventually uncovered deposits containing billions of dollars’ worth of zirconium, niobium, and other elements that are critical in electronics, defense, and renewable energy technologies. “It was a perfect discovery,” says John...

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