Why California's Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

Having found a gold lining to the West's otherwise devastating drought, prospectors are flocking to the record-low rivers of the Sierra Nevada foothills. A mini gold rush has kicked off in previously inaccessible riverbeds, not far from the site of California's original gold rush. » 3/30/14 1:21pm 3/30/14 1:21pm

Here's what lurks inside the world's deepest pits

In our quest for natural resources, humans have dug very, very deep into the Earth. We haven't raised a Balrog yet, but we've accidentally lit pit fires that burn for decades, and we've caused earthquakes. Here are some insane pictures of the deepest pits we've ever dug. » 11/26/13 3:13pm 11/26/13 3:13pm

Scientists find radioactive fracking waste in Pennsylvanian stream

A group of Duke University scientists have found concentrations of radium, a highly radioactive substance, in a stream near a facility that treats wastewater left over from hydraulic fracturing. The concentrations are 200 times higher than background levels — and they're in the water supply. » 10/03/13 2:43pm 10/03/13 2:43pm

Opal Mining: A Damn Good Way to Get Yourself Killed

Opal-mining is one of the world's most harrowing pursuits, but potentially one of the most rewarding as well. To find opals, a modern treasure hunter must dig random holes in areas of known deposits, and then lowering him- or herself down a 20 meter shaft. Besides the obvious problem of claustrophobia, and the danger… » 1/25/13 8:18am 1/25/13 8:18am

The vast, abandoned salt mines that lurk beneath Detroit

Over 1,000 feet beneath the city of Detroit is a 1,500 acre sprawl of tunnels created by salt miners at the turn of the twentieth century. Over at Environmental Graffiti, there's a fascinating story about the rise and fall of Detroit as the great city of salt production. Discovered in the late nineteenth century,… » 5/21/12 7:40am 5/21/12 7:40am

Is James Cameron's next big venture asteroid-mining?

James Cameron, Google founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, and Ross Perot, Jr. are just a few of the big names backing a brand new space exploration company called Planetary Resources, that next Tuesday will "unveil a new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity's prosperity." » 4/19/12 6:40am 4/19/12 6:40am

This Russian town is plagued by massive, spontaneous sinkholes

In a story seemingly invented for future landscape architecture thesis projects, we find the city of Berezniki, Russia. "In the West," the New York Times explains, "mines are usually located far from populous areas, to reduce the risks of sinkholes to homes and other buildings. But Berezniki, a city of 154,000 that began… » 4/13/12 3:05pm 4/13/12 3:05pm

A video tour through an abandoned Japanese mining village nobody…

In the late 1970s, the mining industry dried up at the isolated mountain town of Nichitsu in Japan's Saitama prefecture. Residents began to move away, leaving entire houses filled with possessions to time and the elements. Nichitsu has since become a hotspot for urban exploration. The above video is a tour of the town… » 9/04/11 8:00am 9/04/11 8:00am

Now is the time to start mining helium on the Moon

Fossil fuels aren't the only vital resource we're running out of - our once mighty helium reserves are dwindling, and the price of the gas has already skyrocketed. The US reserves could be depleted in less than 20 years, and the entire Earth could run out helium by the end of this century, which could cripple industry. … » 2/22/11 11:05am 2/22/11 11:05am