Salton Trough lithium and potash

Region West, Southwest
Mineral systems
Deposit types
Critical minerals
Other minerals

Information leading to the delineation of this focus area

Basis for focus area Focus area comprises a 5 km buffer around Salton Sea selected from the California state geologic map (Jennings and others, 2010).
Identified resources Identified resources for lithium and strontium. Historical production of brine with sodium and strontium.
Production Salton Sea KGRA mine (solution mining): 1,450,000 million tons NaCl/year, 206,000 million tons K2O.
Status Lithium production planned from Salton Sea geothermal plant by Controlled Thermal Resources.
Estimated resources Lithium reserve at 2.7 Mt LCE, but no K estimates. Estimate (1979) for Sr resource: 0.03%.
Geologic maps Powell and others (2018), scale 1:100,000; Jennings (1967), scale 1:250,000; Strand (1962), scale 1:250,000.
Geophysical data Inadequate aeromagnetic and aeroradiometric coverage.
Favorable rocks and structures Geothermal brines.
Deposits Salton Sea KGRA mine (MRDS dep_id: 10183871).
Evidence from mineral occurrences MRDS; USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) and California Water Integrated Water Quality System (CWIQS).
Geochemical evidence Analyses of geothermal and surface water samples, historically collected in the Salton Sea and throughout Mojave and Great Basin dry lakes, available in the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) and California Water Integrated Water Quality System (CWIQS) have elevated concentrations of K, Li and other critical minerals (data compiled by the USGS Utah Water Science Center). The Salton Sea KGRA mine (MRDS dep_id: 10183871) lists K, NaCl, Sr, Zn, Ba, Li, Fe, and Mn in brines.
Geophysical evidence Unknown.
Evidence from other sources Neupane and Wendt (2017).
Comments New 1:24,000-scale geologic mapping in southern Chocolate Mountains in progress; geophysical, and lidar data collection across Salton Trough in progress.
Cover thickness and description Resource within geothermal brines, depth and volume unknown.
Authors Lisa L. Stillings, Erica Key.
New data needs Geophysics, lidar, geologic mapping to better characterize Tertiary volcanics as suspected source of Li, K source undefined; Models for Li brines and clays both require a Li source, and the source will be Neogene volcanic and sedimentary rocks within a HUC or within a neighboring HUC. It would be fabulous if mapping could identify these lithologies and their location with respect to basins (in the center of a HUC). Any geophysics that can define basin depth, geometry, volume, cross-cutting structures would be helpful for calculating the volume of brine, where to drill in the basin, or whether basin fluids might flow into an adjacent basin.
Geologic mapping and modeling needs Earth MRI FY21 lidar, geologic mapping in progress in southern Chocolate Mountains and Cargo Muchacho Mountains.
Geophysical survey and modeling needs Earth MRI FY21 high-resolution, Rank 1 aeromagnetic and aeroradiometric surveys of Salton Trough in progress.
Digital elevation data needs Earth MRI FY21 Ql1/Ql2 lidar survey of Salton Trough in progress.