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State geological maps show new information about underground activities in Wyoming

View of the east half of the Jackson Lake Quadrangle, which was mapped on a detailed scale for geologic hazards.
Wyoming State Geological Survey
View of the east half of the Jackson Lake Quadrangle, which was mapped on a detailed scale for geologic hazards.

The state has published two new geologic maps that provide insight into what is happening beneath the ground in the greater Jackson and Casper areas.

One of the maps the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) published highlights geologic hazards in the east half of the Jackson Lake Quadrangle, which includes Teton, Park and Fremont counties.

James Mauch, a WSGS geologist, said hazards can include things like landslides and faults that could affect infrastructure.

“We're interested in the intersection of the geologic hazard with the important infrastructure in rapidly developing Teton County,” said Mauch.

He added that one area of concern is the highway from Dubois to Moran.

“That highway cuts through one of the most landslide prone parts of the states, and has been impacted by landslide activity multiple times in the past decades,” Mauch said.

Mauch said mapping these hazards can help with the safety of future development in the rapidly growing area. The team even discovered two new faults in the region.

“These faults have experienced multiple surface rupturing earthquakes in the last 20,000 years, and that the most recent surface rupturing earthquake occurred sometime in the last 15,000 years,” he said.

The area was mapped on a 1:100,000-scale, which is incredibly detailed, Mauch said, adding that the area has never been mapped on that scale before. It is part of a larger effort to map the entire state’s surficial geology on that scale.

Another WSGS map published this summer, shows mineral and energy resources near Casper, which can help the industry better understand the area for future resource extraction.

The map highlights energy resources in the Oil Mountain area, which is between the Powder River Basin and Wind River Basins, both areas rich in resources.

“We're able to connect the dots between the data collected from oil wells and water wells in the basins on either side with surface data and that gives us a more complete picture of the geology,” said Dereck Lichtner, a WSGS geologist.

The new map shows the Oil Mountain area is likely rich with resources such as groundwater, coal and uranium, which is of interest to the energy industry.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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