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Australia, Canada and US unify critical minerals data

The US Geological Survey (USGS) has released a compilation of national-scale geological, geophysical and mineral resource datasets from Australia, Canada and the US through a collaboration between the three countries’ federal geological surveys.

The data release includes more than 40 earth science data layers, including a new map of variations in the Earth’s natural magnetic field for the entirety of Canada and the United States that scientists can use to develop three-dimensional representations of geology underground. The data layers are in widely accepted geographic information system formats.

North America

Various unified geophysical datasets of the United States and Canada from the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative. Sources/Usage: Public Domain.

The data release was prepared by the Geological Survey of Canada, Geoscience Australia and the USGS as part of the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative (CMMI). The CMMI combines the three geological surveys’ expertise to develop a better understanding of known critical mineral resources, determine geologic controls on the distribution of deposits from which critical minerals are currently being produced, identify new sources of supply through critical mineral potential mapping and quantitative mineral assessments, and promote critical mineral research in all three countries.


Unified geophysical datasets for Australia as part of the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative. Sources/Usage: Public Domain.

These data will also be useful to inform assessments of the three nations’ natural hazards, such as earthquakes and landslides, and other natural resources such as geothermal energy and groundwater. The data are seamless across the United States and Canada and can easily be compared with data from Australia.

In addition, the data layers can be used for artificial intelligence analytical techniques, such as machine learning. For example, a CMMI team led by the Geological Survey of Canada has already used the data layers to map the potential in Australia, Canada and the United States for certain types of zinc deposits which, in addition to zinc, are also known to contain other critical minerals such as germanium and gallium. The international team of scientists is now extending their efforts to model potential for other critical mineral systems.


A map of lead-zinc deposits created from the unified Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative geophysics datasets using machine-learning techniques.Sources/Usage: Public Domain.

This data release, and CMMI more generally, are part of a broad effort between Australia, Canada and the United States to collaborate on diversifying supply lines for critical mineral resources, secure trade of those resources, and ensure availability of the resources for each country's economy and security. The effort includes agreements that establish effective coordination between the three countries as well as scientific partnerships to provide a data-driven foundation.

The data layers can be accessed here. More information about the CMMI can be accessed here.


  • McCafferty, A.E., San Juan, C.A., Lawley, C.J.M., Graham, G.E., Gadd, M.G., Huston, D.L., Kelley, K.D., Paradis, S., Peter, J.M., and Czarnota, K., (2023) “National-scale geophysical, geologic, and mineral resource data and grids for the United States, Canada, and Australia: Data in support of the tri-national Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative”: US Geological Survey data release, doi: 10.5066/P970GDD5



Should be handy to help work out exactly what is going on in the newish field of natural hydrogen too, which is anywhere between an insignificant curiosity and something which could power society pretty much forever, as it appears to renew!

My own take? No conclusive data, so no firm idea, but my guess is that natural hydrogen is at least a reasonably substantial exploitable resource.

Areas like Lorraine should provide a far better idea soon.

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