by Rachel Armstrong

SANTA FE — New Mexico Tech, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and several other state government entities have teamed up to assist with the development of an electronic inventory of maps for abandoned underground mines in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR) at New Mexico Tech, the New Mexico Bureau of Mine Inspection, and the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department will work jointly under a $50,000 grant from MSHA to inventory and electronically scan mine maps.

“The funding will allow for the cataloging and preservation of maps currently in the agencies’ possession, and for the development of procedures to integrate the maps into the state’s Mines Database,” states Dr. Maureen Wilks, NMBGMR Geologic Librarian.

“The project will also serve as an opportunity to identify areas of the state where underground mining has occurred, but where maps of these mines have not yet been obtained by the state,” Wilks adds.

This project is designed to increase the protection of mine workers and the public from the hazards of abandoned underground mines. The funds were appropriated to MSHA by Congress in response to the 2002 Quecreek disaster in Pennsylvania where nine miners were trapped underground by water from an adjacent abandoned mine.

For more information concerning the project or grant, contact Maureen Wilks at NMBGMR, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801, or call 505.835.5322.