Geology Home Page physical geology historical geology planetary gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by John Tedford
Santa Rita Mountains, Southern Arizona
Elevation is 9,453 Ft.
Location is in Pima and Santa Cruz County of Arizona
Region is Sonoran Desert
Topo Map is USGS Helvetia, Arizona
As you are traveling out to the base of the Santa Rita’s you will see this sign
explaining and showing sites of interest and what types of wild life or history.
Mining was very popular dating back to the 1700’s to Present Day
claims are seen as you travel to the eastern side of the base.
I counted eight gold mining claims as I was headed to the base.
These areas of Interest were also on the trail to the base.
Kentucky Camp was established for mining gold and other minerals.
As I approached closer to the base I took pictures of the rough
roads and had to
use four wheel drive in some places.
Even though it was 80 degrees outside if you look closely there
is snow on the
upper left ridge.
The trail ended at the N.E. side of the Santa Rita’s I drove up
Then I looked out the other side of the Santa Rita’s on the Santa
Cruz County Side
and a beautiful Sonoran Desert Basin. Looking to the upper right side of the picture
is the tailings dam of one of the active mines near Sahuarita Arizona.
This drive by 4x4 takes about one hour. However, the scenery is
I also picked up a very common rock, quartz.
There were a lot of pieces of quartz. I’m assuming this is
the reason for all the
current and active gold claims up in this area.
Santa Rita Mountains Copper Interest
The Santa Rita Mountains are very rich in minerals, and Copper being the most common.
Santa Rita Mountains, United States | Arizona
Canadian-backed mine proceeds despite overwhelming local opposition.
The proposed Rosemont Mine sits near the
northern crest of the Santa Rita
Mountains in southeastern Arizona. The open pit copper mine would have a
general mine footprint of roughly 10 square miles. The mine pit, tailings dump,
waste rock dump, and buildings alone account for 4,500 acres of National Forest
lands subject to the 1872 Mining Law, which asserts that mining is the most
important use of public lands.
Within the communities of Rosemont Mine
there is an overwhelming opposition
in fears of contamination of natural resources or destruction of plants and wild life.
On December 12, 2013, Augusta Resources
announced it has
received a key permit
from the Coronado National Forest needed to build the mine.
However, the US Environmental Protection
Agency has the ability to deny the mine's
Clean Water Act permit, and isn't necessarily bound by the 1872 Mining Law EPA notified
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the Arizona regulatory agency's "certification is
unlikely to provide sufficient measures to safeguard the water quality of the Cienega Creek
watershed, including stream reaches" that, under Arizona law, are designated as outstanding
waters and cannot be degraded.
In early May 2016, a revised biological
opinion was issued by the US Fish and Wildlife
Service which found that the mine"“is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence"
of a dozen threatened and endangered species including the only known wild jaguar in
the U.S." While not the decision hoped for, allied groups believe this lays a strong
foundation for legal challenges, and we remain hopeful that the decision will be struck
down in federal court. Major challenges also remain with the Pima County air quality
permit needed to construct the mine.
However, due to the Jaguar from Mexico
the mine has been put on hold even though
there is a very rich copper deposit within the Santa Rita Mountain region.
Original Photography and Research by John Tedford