From Utah With Love and Thanks for All the Uranium
Three new minerals discovered by a Michigan Tech alumnus are secondary crusts found in old uranium mines. They're bright, yellow and hard to find.
The mines closed four decades ago, but that doesn’t stop air and water from traveling the long tunnels of Red Canyon. The old opening at the mine — the adit — cuts straight into the hill and has helped make new minerals. The adit opens to a dry panorama in southern Utah.
"Have you ever seen 'The Hills Have Eyes?' It's that kind of creepy, barren desert landscape," says Travis Olds '12 and now a graduate student at Notre Dame studying uranyl mineral compounds. He adds that he and others find mineralogy so exciting because of "the idea that there are things we still don't know — and someone can see a pretty crystal and appreciate it."
Olds specifically studies uranyl minerals because, as radioactive materials, it is important to know where they are found and how they change in different environments. Within the past year, he found three new uranium minerals in Red Canyon: leesite, leószilárdite and redcanyonite. He characterized them along with a small team including alumnus Shawn Carlson '91 and staff scientist Owen Mills '08 who runs the Applied Chemical and Morphological Analysis Lab (ACMAL) at Michigan Tech.
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