2013 Conference of the International Medical Geology Association (2529 August 2013)

Paper No. 20-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM

MINERAL RESOURCES, SCIENCE, AND CIVILIZATION


MEINERT, Lawrence D., U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Resources Program, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 913, Reston, VA 20192, Lmeinert@usgs.gov
Mineral resources are the building blocks of civilization. They are necessary for housing, transportation, agriculture, windmills, and cell phones among many other items that we take for granted. In fact there is scarcely any aspect of modern civilization that does not rely on mineral resources. The science of finding and understanding mineral resources is called economic geology. It involves application of basic scientific principles to understanding the origin, distribution, and characteristics of mineral deposits. One focus of current attention has been on rare earth elements and a recent express letter in the leading mineral resources scientific journal, Economic Geology, highlighted a major new rare earth element discovery in Afghanistan. But the history of rare earth elements goes back centuries to the discovery of the rare earth element Cerium in 1804 from the mineral cerite in the Bastnäs skarn deposit in Sweden. Thus, our modern use of mineral resources has ancient roots that can be used to better understand the mineral resource needs of the future.