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Abstract

This 2½ day field trip will present an overview of a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) project whose objective was to estimate pre-mining groundwater chemistry at the Questa molybdenum mine, New Mexico. Because of intense debate among stakeholders regarding pre-mining groundwater chemistry standards, the New Mexico Environment Department and Chevron Mining Inc. (formerly Molycorp) agreed that the USGS should determine pre-mining groundwater quality at the site. In 2001, the USGS began a 5-year, multidisciplinary investigation to estimate pre-mining groundwater chemistry utilizing a detailed assessment of a proximal natural analog site and applied an inter-disciplinary approach to infer pre-mining conditions. The trip will include a surface tour of the Questa mine and key locations in the erosion scar areas and along the Red River. The trip will provide participants with a detailed understanding of geochemical processes that influence pre-mining environmental baselines in mineralized areas and estimation techniques for determining pre-mining baseline conditions.

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