Right: Students split drill cuttings with a soil splitter as part of the Questa Mine rock pile study.
by Shawna Carter
SOCORRO, N.M., Nov. 8, 2005 — For the past two years, New Mexico Tech undergraduate and graduate students have been assisting in an ongoing Molycorp-sponsored research project that focuses on the effects of weathering on the physical stability of the Questa Mine rock piles in northern New Mexico.
The Questa Rock Pile Weathering Project, led by Virginia McLemore, Senior Economic Geologist with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, requires a massive amount of interdisciplinary research.
In order to complete the scope of the project, McLemore and her Questa Rock Pile Weathering Project team have incorporated several New Mexico Tech students into their workforce.
Students working on the Questa Rock Pile Weathering Project team gain beneficial hands-on experience in the field and in the laboratory, McLemore points out.
“These students are trained to use equipment that they probably would not have had exposure to inside a normal classroom environment,” she says.
Since much of the laboratory analysis of field samples is done by Tech students, the Questa Rock Pile Weathering Project team has found its student workers to be indispensable, McLemore says.
“The hands-on experience along with safety training and on-the-job training these students receive through the Questa Rock Pile Weathering Project make these students valuable to future employers,” she adds.
Samuel Tachie-Menson, a New Mexico Tech graduate student working on the Questa Rock Pile Weathering Project, has also had an article detailing the student involvement with the project accepted for publication in a scientific journal to be released in January 2006.