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  • Writer's pictureTortolita Alliance

TA Alert-Aerial Recon For Minerals

On June 16, 2024, a Dove Mountain resident reported to the Tortolita Alliance (TA) that an aircraft was flying over their home and making repeated flights across the Marana/Dove Mountain area.  That resident utilized the Flight24 smartphone app to record the flight.

The aircraft registration (C-GSGU) was retrieved from the Flight24 app and was found to be registered to Sander Geophysics in Ottawa, Canada.  At first it appeared that this flight was sanctioned by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as they are doing Low-Level Airplane Flights to Image Geology Over Parts of Southeastern Arizona.  TA contacted the local USGS office in Tucson and they contacted their colleagues and found that this flight was not sanctioned by USGS.

TA contacted Sander Geophyscis and found that this flight was sanctioned by a private company called Viridien (formerly CGG).    Sander Geophysics provided the following information:

"As I mentioned during our phone discussion just now, we were flying in Arizona but the survey is now finished.  While we were flying that survey, passive instruments in the aircraft were measuring the Earth’s naturally occurring magnetic field, gravity field and gamma radiation from the ground to help map the geology in the area.  The aircraft wasn't spraying anything or emitting dangerous signals, so there was no harm in being under the aircraft."

Viridien is an advanced technology, digital and Earth data company.  Viridien is actually performing this aerial data reconnaissance over a 21,236 square mile area in Southeast Arizona including Marana.   Viridien’s Southeast Arizona Project has the following stated goal:

"The Southeast Arizona Project brings together a comprehensive, consistent, cross-disciplinary dataset of all available data that contributes to a mining exploration workflow. The project includes fully quality-checked, harmonized and integrated datasets across all stems using Viridien's GeoVerse technology architecture, creating a true one-stop shop for Arizona mining data."

This project is similar to the USGS's Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI). The stated goal is, "The goal of Earth MRI is to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework in the United States and to identify areas that may have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources. Enhancement of our domestic mineral supply will decrease the Nation’s reliance on foreign sources of minerals that are fundamental to our security and economy."

The bottom line is Viridien is apparently performing this extensive aerial reconnaissance to sell the data and their services for potential mining operations.

There is no immediate concern but the information gleaned from this aerial reconnaisnace could lead to potential mining operations. Reminder: 43% of the land in Marana is owned by the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) including the Tortolita Preserve.

TA will keep its ears to the ground (pun!) and provide any new information has it develops!


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