Mission Southwest: Mines, Water and Rocks

Published in MIT Campus News on May, 1, 2013 by Rin Yunis, Emily Shorin and Judy Pu, Class of '16

Editor's note: The following piece was written by first-year students and members of Terrascope Rin Yunis, Emily Shorin and Judy Pu. The students recently returned from a trip to the American Southwest, where they and their classmates visited active mines to learn about extraction and use of strategic minerals including lithium and the rare earth elements. The Terrascope program sponsors an annual field trip over spring break focused on the year's theme.

While many students either escaped to a beach or went home to see family, a group of 24 MIT undergraduates and 10 adult mentors headed to two states in the American Southwest for spring break. The group comprised of first-year students who had been part of the fall Terrascope class 12.000 (known as Mission 2016), undergraduate teaching assistants, graduate students, professors, Terrascope staff and two alumni mentors who had advised the class.

Sabrina Maddila and Holly Josephs searched for gem stones

The annual trip is part of the full Terrascope learning experience; an attempt to put into context the problem that the students had worked to solve in the fall. The subject of this year’s class was the “Future of Strategic Natural Resources,” which addressed the limited supply and increasing demand for resources such as rare earth elements, phosphorus and lithium that are needed for the production of many modern technologies and consumer goods. To see where the minerals they had studied in Mission 2016 came from, the group visited a series of mines in California and Nevada, including the Rockwood Lithium mine, Searles Valley Minerals Trona Facility, Rio Tinto borax mine, Oceanview Pegmatite Mine and Simplot silica mine...

Read the complete MIT News article 

Terrascope Alumni Mentors share their perspective on the trip