Giant lithium treasure in McDermitt Caldera may fuel our battery-powered future

Credit: Alexander Schimmeck/Unsplash.

If you have a smartphone, laptop, or electric car, you’ve got some lithium in your life.

This metal is super important for making batteries, and now scientists think they’ve found a huge source of it in an area called McDermitt Caldera.

This area sits on the border between Nevada and Oregon and might have some of the biggest lithium deposits in the world.

A team made up of experts from Lithium Americas Corporation, GNS Science, and Oregon State University came up with this big news.

They published their findings in a scientific journal called Science Advances.

Thomas Benson, Matthew Coble, and John Dilles are the scientists who studied this area and have a theory about why there’s so much lithium there.

What’s So Special About McDermitt Caldera?

This place is not just any piece of land; it’s a caldera, which is a kind of crater formed by a volcano.

It’s huge—around 45 kilometers long and 35 kilometers wide.

Scientists think this caldera formed about 19 million years ago and is linked to the Yellowstone hotspot, which has a history of creating similar formations.

How Did They Find Out?

A few years ago, in 2017, another group of researchers found out that a part of McDermitt Caldera called Thacker Pass could have lots of lithium.

Lithium Americas Corporation got interested and bought a piece of the land.

They even started some small-scale mining but faced some resistance from local people and Native American communities. However, they got the go-ahead to mine there in the end.

Since then, the scientists have been taking samples from the ground to find the best spot for large-scale mining.

But the big question was, why is there so much lithium here? To answer that, they came up with a theory.

How Did All That Lithium Get There?

The scientists believe that a long time ago, a volcano erupted in this area and left behind some lithium.

Later on, magma from deep underground pushed its way up to the center of what is now McDermitt Caldera.

This movement formed a range of mountains and created cracks and gaps in the land. These openings allowed lithium to move up closer to the surface.

They also found that a change happened in the types of lithium available, turning much of it into a form that’s great for mining. This, they think, explains why there’s so much lithium in this area.

Why Does This Matter?

With the growing need for batteries in everything from phones to cars, we’re going to need more and more lithium.

Finding a huge source like McDermitt Caldera is a big deal. It can help us keep making batteries and maybe even make them cheaper in the long run.

So, the next time you charge your phone or drive an electric car, you might just be using lithium that came from this incredible discovery.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

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