Uravan is an abandoned uranium mining town in western Colorado. Established in 1936 to extract vanadium ore, the mining community provided uranium for the first atomic bomb during World War II. The aerial photograph from 1944 shows the area in early development. Uranium mining and product demand declined in the 1960s and collapsed by the early 1980s. The 1978 aerial photograph shows the full extent of the land utilized for the mining activity. The 1986 Landsat image shows the area in the year that environmental cleanup began. A massive reclamation effort is underway to restore the site, as depicted in the 2011 Landsat image.
Note: the blue tones in the satellite imagery represent water in the open mines and in the settling ponds.
The USGS archives hold over 70 years of remotely sensed imagery, including Landsat and various aerial photography collections. These images provide the opportunity to tell the stories of how the Earth changes over time. Scientists, regional environmental planners, and educators use the aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the changes caused by natural and anthropogenic activities.
Resolutions of USGS archive data restrict the ability to show the same area and maintain high image quality.