Fact Sheet 2008–3084
Central Colorado is one of the fastest-growing regions in the Western United States. Population along the Front Range increased more than 30 percent between 1990 and 2000 (http://www.demographia.com/db-metro3newworld.htm) with some counties within the study area, such as Park County, experiencing greater than 100-percent growth (http://www.censusscope.org/us/s8/rank_popl_growth.html). This growth has caused tremendous demand for natural resources and has created challenging land-management issues related to the interface between wilderness and urban expansion. Management of this wilderness/urban interface will benefit from current digital geoscience information collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Central Colorado Assessment Project that began in 2003. Approximately 20,800 square miles (53,800 km2) of land divided almost equally between the public and private sectors were part of the assessment.
The study area includes much of the Colorado Mineral Belt, a northeast-trending zone that contains 30 economically significant metal deposits. Historically, the area provided much of Colorado’s metal production. The only active gold and molybdenum mines in Colorado lie within the study area. Recently, metal and uranium exploration activity has increased sharply in response to record prices for metals and uranium. This further underscores the need for up-to-date geoscience information presented in compatible GIS databases to facilitate rapid land-management decisions.
Cooperative studies by USDA Forest Service, National Park Service supported by the USGS Mineral Resources Program (MRP), and National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Programs (NCGMP) contributed to the mineral-resource assessment and included regional geologic mapping at the scale 1:100,000, collection and geochemical studies of stream sediments, surface water, and bedrock samples, macroinvertebrate and biofilm studies in the riparian environment, remote-sensing studies, and geochronology. Geoscience information available as GIS layers has improved understanding of the distribution of metallic, industrial, and aggregate resources, location of areas that have potential for their discovery or development, helped to understand the relation of tectonics, magmatism, and paleohydrology to the genesis of the metal deposits in the region, and provided insight on the geochemical and environmental effects that historical mining and natural, mineralized rock exposures have on surface water, ground water, and aquatic life.
Posted September 2008
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Klein, T.L., Church, S.E., Caine, J.S., Schmidt, T.S., and DeWitt, E.H., 2008, Central Colorado Assessment Project—Application of integrated geologic, geochemical, biologic, and mineral resource studies: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2008-3084, 4 p.