Pinterest icon

Online mining for riches in historic Arizona mine data: James (Jim) Doyle Sell collection adds new records to AZGS Mine Site

Article Author(s): 

Casey Brown

Figure 1. Drilling progress map with assay data, Superior East, Gila and Pinal Counties Arizona. From the James Doyle Sell collection. The Arizona Geological Survey Mining Data online repository is richer by thousands of mine reports, geologic maps, and mine working maps, due in part to the digital release of the donated James Doyle Sell collection (fig. 1). On July 2, 2014, the James Doyle Sell collection, which include more than 800 Arizona mine file records, was added to the Arizona Geological Survey Mine Site. The Sell mining collection comprises over 1,800 folders containing geologic reports and mineral exploration data from around the world, but primarily from Arizona and other states in the Southwest. Currently, only those files related to Arizona are online. For a listing of his other files, see

James (Jim) Sell was a native Arizonan, born in Casa Grande in 1930; he passed away on 18 Feb. 2011. For 32 years, Jim worked for ASARCO, where he served for some years as Southwest Exploration Manager. During his long career, Jim engaged in 100s of exploration and mining projects. A meticulous fellow, Jim kept records of most of these endeavors and donated his entire collection to the Arizona Dept. of Mines and Minerals Resources (ADMMR). In 2011, the ADMMR merged with the Arizona Geological Survey, which assumed responsibility to curate and publish its many mining collections. Jim Sell served the U.S. Army as a radio operator in the Korean War. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal and two Bronze Star Medals. On his return home, he studied at the Colorado School of Mines, graduating in 1955, and then earning an M.S. degree at University of Arizona. Sell was a highly respected member of the Arizona Geological Society and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration.

In June 2014, the Arizona Geological Survey completed a major milestone in digitizing and releasing historic mining records from the former Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. After months of cataloging and geolocating 1000s of mining artifacts, we uploaded 5,000 new files (mostly maps, fig. 2A & B) to

Figure 2. A) Geologic map with drill hole data, depths and grades of mineralization of copper mineralization, from the Kennecott Copper Corporation’s, Safford Project, Lone Star Mining District, Graham County, Arizona.Figure 2. B) Mine workings plan for the Old Guard Mine, Cochise County, Arizona.

The maps, which span the 20th century, reflect the changing nature of mining and exploration in Arizona over the past 100 years. Maps from the early to mid-century period largely fall into one of two categories: 1) plan maps showing mining claims along with geology and surface features; and, 2) longitudinal sections of the underground workings of mines. The latter frequently include sample locations and associate widths and metallic grades. Later 20th century maps, in contrast, focus on surface exploration efforts covering large areal extent. They tend to display land ownership, bedrock geology, alteration, geochemistry and geophysical investigations.

Figure 3. Map Search page at Arizona Geological Survey Mining Data website.Maps can be searched by document type on the Search page (fig. 3) or found as part of a mine’s complete records when searching on the Map page.

Outreach. On Thursday, June 12, 2014, AZGS Librarian, Casey Brown, presented “Digitizing, Cataloging, & Exposing Arizona Historical Mine Records on the Web” to an audience of about 30 people, including data consumers – geologists, archaeologists, and mining archaeologists - and data curators – archivists, librarians and other information professionals - at the Arizona Historic Preservation Conference in Rio Rico, Arizona. The talk generated intense interest in the nature and accessibility of mine data at the Arizona Geological Survey Mining Data site; what sort of information we have and how can it be accessed.

Digital Librarian
Arizona Geological Survey

Visit the Arizona Experience Store
Visit the Arizona Experience Store
AZGS Digital Document Repository
AZGS Earth Fissure Viewer
State Geothermal
Mining, data