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Lesson 13: Mineral Resources

Berkeley pit, Butte, MT; photo by Marli MillerThis week we'll continue our study of Earth's resources with a look at mineral commodities and the environmental consequences of their exploitation (as at Butte, Montana, right). There is an old adage that, "If it isn't grown, it's mined," and that's pretty much true. As Keller points out, a great many of the items we use every day are derived from minerals and future shortages of specific minerals may have drastic effects on our lifestyles. Here in California there is a also historical aspect to this week's topic because, as you know, the state as a whole—and Siskiyou County in particular—were changed dramatically by the wave of settlement that accompanied the "Gold Rush" when people from around the world sought to claim a share of the state's mineral wealth. Gold mining is mostly an avocation in the county today, but you cannot travel to Yreka or the Scott Valley without seeing the stamp mills and dredger spoils that testify to the region's mining heritage.

In chapter 15 Keller describes how natural processes concentrate elements to produce mineral resources and explains how a specific deposit may be either a resource or a reserve depending on technology and economic conditions. He goes on to examine the environmental consequences of mining and related activities, and concludes with a brief look at how we can clean up mining wastes and the inevitability of recycling finite mineral resources in the future.

As you read through the introduction to mineral resources in our text and study the accompanying websites it will be helpful to take careful notes. Writing out key facts in your own words or making neatly labeled drawings will help you better understand the significance of what you've read and spot any gaps in your knowledge. Having complete notes will also make it easier for you to review for this week's quiz and and access what you've learned when you want to refer back to it for future assignments. Be sure that you are prepared to meet the learning objectives outlined below before you move on to the quiz at the bottom of the page. Finally, in lieu of a typical exercise this week we will be starting our second writing assignment. Your job will be to draft an abstract of the article you outlined two weeks ago. Even though abstracts are short, writing one that succinctly captures the key observations and conclusions of an article is a challenge, so be sure to take your time ask questions via the discussion board or private messages.

Weekly Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this week's lesson, a student is expected to be able to:

Reading and Browsing Assignment

Exercise 13: First Abstract (Due by 9:00 AM on 14-Nov-2011)

Once you recieve your outline back it will be time to prepare your first abstract. In the left-hand column of this page click on "Resources" and then scroll down to "Writing Assignments" and click on "Abstract of article".During week 10 you completed the first two steps of this assignment, and this week we'll be completing step three.

Quiz 14: Mineral Resources (Due by 9:00 AM on 14-Nov-2011.)

After you feel you have met the learning outcomes outlined above, please complete Quiz 13 in the Etudes "Assignments, Tests, and Surveys" area. There are ten questions, each worth one point. If you can answer all of them correctly it means that you know your way around the basics of mineral resource issues pretty well and are ready to move on to a more detailed look at energy resources next week. Remember, answers will be available for review after 10:00 AM on the Tuesday after the quiz closes, so please look over the results of your quiz and contact me if you have any questions about either content or scoring.