Meeting increased demand for lithium has a dark side of potentially damaging the environment and public health – but fortunately there is also a lighter side. Recycling can reclaim valuable metals including lithium from the battery packs that might otherwise end up in landfills. Together, recovery from other industrial operations and recycling could eventually reduce the need to wrestle new metal supplies out of the ground.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the wave of the future. Improvements in lithium-ion battery packs are occurring rapidly and prices are falling. Obtaining sufficient lithium to meet the growth ahead for EV has a dark side, involving open-pit mining and brine evaporation pools that can be devastating for the environment. Fortunately, there is also a lighter side that is gaining momentum.
The demand for lithium is increasing dramatically – and sources of this metal are being sought from the high elevations of the Andes Mountains to the lowlands of Australia. Lithium is widely distributed on our planet, but since concentrations of this metal are typically quite low, relatively few ores that are economical to mine have been found to date. There are currently three major sources.
The demand for lithium is growing rapidly -- and the "Lithium Triangle" in the Andes Mountains encompass a significant source of this metal. Lithium-ion batteries are essential for powering electronics, electric vehicles, and for storing energy produced by the wind and sun. The future of lithium is truly “electrifying”!
Geologists love to have a bird’s eye view of landscapes. They are helpful for all types of research - tracing active faults and identifying copper ore deposits among them. In this post there are two stories about geology fieldwork - one about earthquakes in Egypt and the other about copper in Chile, tied together by arid landscapes and helicopters.
El Niños, the warm phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern, could be devastating for ancient Andean societies. Direct evidence of these events is scarce, but clever archaeological sleuthing has revealed details of event recurrence – and desperate measures taken by authorities to stop destructive flooding.
El Niño and La Niña weather patterns profoundly affect human societies – today, as well as during the past few thousands of years, especially in the strongly affected Peruvian Andes. Both are part of the climate pattern named the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
On the evening of Dec 20, 2020, an eerie orange glow appeared on the infrared monitoring cameras on the summit of Kilauea volcano in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The glow grew larger and larger, marking the beginning of a new volcanic eruption. Lava began pouring out from fissures in the summit crater and a steam cloud developed as the hot lava hit lake water and the water began to boil.
From maize-based chicha, or corn beer, in the Andes Mountains, to mead from honey in ancient Greece, and wine from grapes in Predynastic Egypt, fermented beverages have been a part of cultural rituals for many thousands of years. Celebrations that include copious amounts of alcoholic drinks and specially prepared foods have been widely practiced in numerous cultures over time.
Some of us really like the mineral quartz – and for excellent reasons. Quartz is a major building block of my favorite landscapes, found in the granitic rocks forming the Andes Mountains and the Sierra Nevada; the sandy beaches along the California coast; the vast sand dunes of Death Valley and the Sahara Desert, and the Red Rock geologic units in Arches, Capital Reef, Zion.....