Geologic vs. Geographic Constraints on Cement Resources
This study evaluates the importance of geologic and geographic factors in constraining the location of limestone mining operations for the production of cement in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Cities and their infrastructure requirea bundantc ement, which is manufactured from limestone and other quarry products, but expansion of cities limits the locations of these operations. Possible locations of limestone and cement operations are controlled by geologic factors including distribution and mineralogy of geologic formations as well as depth of overburden, and geographic factors including location of wetlands, cities, and other surface features that preclude development of quarries and manufacturing operations. Overlay analysis was used to evaluate the importance of these factors. Results show that, although limestone underlies about a third of the region, almost 50 percent of this limestone is unavailable for quarrying due to coverage by the built environment, protected natural areas, or excessive overburden thickness. When characteristics such as limestone quality are also accounted for, accessible resources shrink to as little as 2 percent of the total land area. Although the remaining 2 percent of land area may supply local needs for some years, geologic factors clearly must be included in long-term regional landuse planning.