Thursday, September 26, 2013

UW Student James St. Clair Gets a Chance to Study Abandoned Mines in Wyoming

As an intern at Lowham and Walsh, James St. Clair, a graduate student in the geology and geophysics department at the University of Wyoming, had the chance to visit and conduct research on abandoned land mines throughout the state of Wyoming.

James was responsible for analyzing and monitoring the safety of abandoned mines in Wyoming. This type of research is crucial to the state of Wyoming for several reasons.

“We want to know if these mines could possibly present some hazards in the future,” James says. “Whether those problems are related to groundwater, or future subsidence, or in some cases, they can actually open up at the surface. That’s dangerous, because people can get in there and it could collapse.”

James performed different tests at these sites to determine their safety and what was happening beneath the surface.

“I took electrical resistivity equipment up there and I made images of the underground mines trying to assess the hazards that they might present,” he says.

Because of the large number of abandoned mines in Wyoming, entities in the state have set up ways to study these mines.

“The Abandoned Land Mine Division of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has inventoried a substantial number of these land mines and prioritized them according to what’s there and how important it is that they get reclaimed,” James says. “My job was to go and visit several of these sites,” he says. “They had already been visited 10 years ago, so we wanted to see how they've changed since then.”

Most of the sites James visited were located in northeastern Wyoming. The location was James’ favorite part of his internship.

“I really liked getting to spend some time in Northeastern Wyoming,” he says. “It’s a really nice area.”

By Robin E. Rasmussen

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