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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 23:52
Summary: This release of information serves as an updated summary of U.S. Geological Survey information as it relates to the current understanding of the South Napa earthquake. Yesterday’s more comprehensive news release can be found here.

Contact Information:

Justin  Pressfield ( Phone: 916-335-1211 ); Susan  Garcia ( Phone: 650-329-4668 );




This release of information serves as an updated summary of U.S. Geological Survey information as it relates to the current understanding of the South Napa earthquake. Yesterday’s more comprehensive news release can be found here.

The area surrounding the epicenter of the mainshock is continuing to experience a number of aftershocks. As of Tuesday Aug. 26, 4 PM PDT, there have been more than 80 aftershocks; only four of these have had magnitudes greater than 3. The greater-than-magnitude 3 aftershocks include:

  • M3.0 Tuesday 6:45 AM PDT
  • M3.9 (largest aftershock) Tuesday 5:33 AM PDT
  • M3.6 Sunday 5:47 AM PDT
  • M3.5 (4 minutes after mainshock) Sunday 3:24 AM PDT

There are also updated probabilities of additional aftershocks. These will continue to be updated on the USGS website for this event.

At this time (two days after the mainshock) the probability of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock (M5 or greater) in the next 7 days is approximately 12 percent.

Most likely, the recent mainshock will be the largest in the sequence. However, there is a small chance (approximately 2 percent) of an earthquake equal to or larger than this mainshock in the next 7 days.

In addition, USGS anticipates approximately 1 to 10 small (M3-M5) aftershocks in the next 7 days.

“Scientists from the USGS continue to work day and night to do careful field research in the area of the South Napa earthquake,” said Tom Brocher, Director of the USGS’s Earthquake Science Center. “The flow of new and refined information is allowing us to continue to inform the emergency managers and the public about this incident as well as to grow the knowledge about earthquakes to allow society to better prepare for future occurrences.”

The USGS is continuing to incorporate the new data into existing models to refine our estimates. While USGS publishes prompt approximations of economic losses based on real-time and later-arriving data, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is expected to issue an official economic loss estimation after a comprehensive, and more accurate, damage assessment is completed.

The USGS is interested in finding volunteers willing to host seismic instruments so that scientists can obtain more records from aftershocks and learn more about this sequence of earthquakes.  Those interested, who are in the area of strong shaking, should go to http://earthquake.usgs.gov/monitoring/netquakes/ and complete the "sign up" page.

The Earthquake Early Warning test system functioned as designed in Sunday's earthquake.  Within five seconds of the earthquake it produced a warning (estimated at magnitude 5.7 within three seconds of its occurrence), sufficient to provide warning to Berkeley, San Francisco, and areas farther south. The EEW prototype was developed by the USGS in partnership with the UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, NaturalHazards SouthNapaEarthquake N..."
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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 19:03
Summary: Yesterday at 3:20 AM local time, the northern San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the largest earthquake to impact the Bay Area since the 1989 M6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake

Contact Information:

Justin  Pressfield ( Phone: 916-335-1211 ); Susan  Garcia ( Phone: 650-329-4668 );




Yesterday at 3:20 AM local time, the northern San Francisco Bay Area was struck by the largest earthquake to impact the Bay Area since the 1989 M6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake. Yesterday’s earthquake appears to have ruptured on or just west of mapped traces of the West Napa Fault, the most seismically active of the faults mapped between the longer Rodgers Creek Fault on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault to the east. USGS has named the earthquake the “South Napa earthquake.”

Yesterday’s M6.0 earthquake caused significant damage in south Napa County.  It occurred in the broad zone of deformation that accommodates the relative motion of the North American and Pacific Plates.  The 2000 M5.0 Yountville earthquake occurred on the West Napa Fault and also damaged Napa.  The 1898 M6.3 Mare Island earthquake occurred in the vicinity of yesterday’s earthquake.

“USGS scientists are working around the clock to understand the earthquake and relay information to emergency managers and the public,” stated Tom Brocher, Director of the USGS’s Earthquake Science Center.  “In less than a day we made tremendous strides in understanding what happened and have crews of scientists continuing to investigate this event.”

Damage is localized in the region surrounding Napa due to the rupture directivity to the north-west. River valley sediments in Napa Valley likely contributed to the amplification of shaking around Napa.

Yesterday, USGS and California Geological Survey (CGS) geologists mapped surface rupture produced by the earthquake from the epicenter NNW at least 10 km (6 miles) on a previously mapped strand of the West Napa Fault.  At that point the surface rupture may have jumped eastward about half a mile toward Napa and extended NNW another few miles along a previously unmapped strand of the West Napa Fault.  USGS and CGS geologist continue to conduct field reconnaissance to refine these interpretations and to look for additional surface rupture.  The surface ruptures show a northward shift west of the West Napa fault of about two inches.

GPS receivers operated by the USGS and others also measured a shift of the earth of a few inches caused by the earthquake.  Yesterday, USGS geophysicists made additional measurements of the earth’s movement that will refine models for the earthquake movement.

USGS analysis of the seismic recordings indicates the earthquake rupture propagated to the NNW and upward, directing the brunt of the earthquake energy to the NNW towards Napa.  The dozens of aftershocks that have been recorded to date are also aligned on this NNW trend.  At this time (one day after the mainshock) the probability of a strong and possibly damaging aftershock in the next seven days is approximately 1 in 4.

Today, USGS technicians will be retrieving additional seismic data from several seismic stations that either do not automatically communicate their data to us or failed to do so.  They will also be deploying additional recorders in Napa.  These data should help refine the ShakeMap showing the intensity of shaking throughout the Bay Area and better understand the strong shaking experienced in Napa.

The Earthquake Early Warning test system functioned as designed in yesterday’s earthquake.  Within five seconds of the earthquake it produced a warning (estimated at magnitude 5.7 within three seconds of its occurrence), sufficient to provide warning to Berkeley, San Francisco, and areas farther south.  No warning would have been possible within 20 miles of the earthquake.  EEW prototype was developed by the USGS in partnership with the UC Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Napa NaturalHazards Earthquake"
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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 13:10
Summary: Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions

Contact Information:

Carolyn Ruppel ( Phone: 617-806-6768 ); Adam  Skarke ( Phone: 662-268-1032 ext. 258 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );




Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions.

Methane plumes identified in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts, are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps on the outer continental shelf and the continental slope.  Taken together, these areas, which lie between the coastline and the deep ocean, constitute the continental margin.  Prior to this study, only three seep areas had been identified beyond the edge of the continental shelf, which occurs at approximately 180 meters (590 feet) water depth between Florida and Maine on the U.S. Atlantic seafloor.

Cold seeps are areas where gases and fluids leak into the overlying water from the sediments.  They are designated as cold to distinguish them from hydrothermal vents, which are sites where new oceanic crust is being formed and hot fluids are being emitted at the seafloor.  Cold seeps can occur in a much broader range of environments than hydrothermal vents.

“Widespread seepage had not been expected on the Atlantic margin. It is not near a plate tectonic boundary like the U.S. Pacific coast, nor associated with a petroleum basin like the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Adam Skarke, the study’s lead author and a professor at Mississippi State University.

The gas being emitted by the seeps has not yet been sampled, but researchers believe that most of the leaking methane is produced by microbial processes in shallow sediments.  This interpretation is based primarily on the locations of the seeps and knowledge of the underlying geology.  Microbial methane is not the type found in deep-seated reservoirs and often tapped as a natural gas resource. 

Most of the newly discovered methane seeps lie at depths close to the shallowest conditions at which deepwater marine gas hydrate can exist on the continental slope.  Gas hydrate is a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of methane and water, and forms at temperature and pressure conditions commonly found in waters deeper than approximately 500 meters (1640 feet). 

“Warming of ocean temperatures on seasonal, decadal or much longer time scales can cause gas hydrate to release its methane, which may then be emitted at seep sites,” said Carolyn Ruppel, study co-author and chief of the USGS Gas Hydrates Project.  “Such continental slope seeps have previously been recognized in the Arctic, but not at mid-latitudes.  So this is a first.”

Most seeps described in the new study are too deep for the methane to directly reach the atmosphere, but the methane that remains in the water column can be oxidized to carbon dioxide. This in turn increases the acidity of ocean waters and reduces oxygen levels. 

Shallow-water seeps that may be related to offshore groundwater discharge were detected at the edge of the shelf and in the upper part of Hudson Canyon, an undersea gorge that represents the offshore extension of the Hudson River. Methane from these seeps could directly reach the atmosphere, contributing to increased concentrations of this potent greenhouse gas.  More extensive shallow-water surveys than described in this study will be required to document the extent of such seeps.

Some of the new methane seeps were discovered in 2012.  In summer 2013 a Brown University undergraduate and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings Scholar Mali’o Kodis worked with Skarke to analyze about 94,000 square kilometers (about 36,000 square miles) of water column imaging data to map the methane plumes.  The data had been collected by the vessel Okeanos Explorer between 2011 and 2013.  The Okeanos Explorer and the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle, which has photographed the seafloor at some of the methane seeps, are managed by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

"This study continues the tradition of advancing U.S. marine science research through partnerships between federal agencies and the involvement of academic researchers,” said John Haines, coordinator of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program “NOAA's Ocean Exploration program acquired state-of-the-art data at the scale of the entire margin, while academic and USGS scientists teamed to interpret these data in the context of a research problem of global significance."

The study, Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic Margin, by A, Skarke, C. Ruppel, M, Kodis, D. Brothers and E. Lobecker in Nature Geoscience is available on line.

USGS Gas Hydrates Project

The USGS has a globally recognized research effort studying natural gas hydrates in deepwater and permafrost settings worldwide.  USGS researchers focus on the potential of gas hydrates as an energy resource, the impact of climate change on gas hydrates, and seafloor stability issues.

For more information about the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gas Hydrates Project, visit the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey Gas Hydrates Project website.

For more information, visit the Mississippi State University website.

Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners. None of the seeps shown here was known to researchers before 2012.
Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners. None of the seeps shown here was known to researchers before 2012. (High resolution image)

 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, NaturalHazardsCoastalandMarineGeolog..."
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 14:27
Summary: U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring flooding after heavy rainfall occurred in northern portions of Maricopa County, Arizona

Contact Information:

Chris Smith ( Phone: 520-300-1215 ); Jim Leenhouts ( Phone: 520-668-6348 ); Jennifer  LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );




Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Chris Smith or Jennifer LaVista.

U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring flooding after heavy rainfall occurred in northern portions of Maricopa County, Arizona.  

USGS scientists and technicians are measuring high flood flows on Skunk Creek, Cave Creek, New River, Agua Fria River, and Hassayampa River. Some areas, such as Skunk and Cave Creek were inaccessible to crews previously due to extremely high water and access to the site. USGS crews are out taking high water measurements today and repairing streamgages that were damage or destroyed during flooding.

USGS real-time maps of flood and high flow conditions for Arizona may be accessed online.

Floodwaters closed portions of Interstate 17, and likely exceeded historical records. USGS crews are currently flagging the crest of the floodwaters which will be surveyed to produce estimates of the water height at selected locations.  

USGS scientists are collecting critical streamflow data that are vital for protection of life, property and the environment. These data are used by the National Weather Service to develop flood forecasts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage flood control, and the Arizona Department of Natural Resources and local agencies in their flood response activities. 

There are about 209 USGS-operated streamgages in Arizona that measure water levels, streamflow, and rainfall. When flooding occurs, USGS crews make numerous discharge measurements to verify the data USGS provides to federal, state, and local agencies, as well as to the public.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk, and for many recreational activities.

Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert. See where floodwaters go by following a stream trace at Streamer. View water data on your mobile device. Learn how a USGS streamgage works.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, water flooding Arizona MaricopaCount..."
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 18:30
Summary: About 38 billion gallons per day (42,000,000 acre-feet per year) of water were withdrawn from groundwater and surface-water sources in California in 2010, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey dataset, which is now available online

Contact Information:

Laurel  Rogers ( Phone: 619-980-6527 ); Leslie  Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );




Water withdrawal by category flyer.
(High resolution image)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – About 38 billion gallons per day (42,000,000 acre-feet per year) of water were withdrawn from groundwater and surface-water sources in California in 2010, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey dataset, which is now available online. To put the quantity in perspective, this daily amount is equivalent to draining Lake Shasta, California’s largest reservoir, at full capacity about once every 40 days. The site shows water-use estimates based on source type (surface water vs. groundwater, and fresh vs. saline water) and withdrawal category, including irrigation, public supply, and thermoelectric. Estimates are provided for individual counties and for the entire state.  

"The current drought in California has increased demand for these data," said USGS California Water Science Center Director, Eric Reichard. "This information is critical for managers and planners to understand how factors such as population, industry, crops, energy production and climate affect water withdrawals." 

Since 1950, the USGS has compiled and published national water-use estimates every five years. In response to increased interest associated with current drought conditions, the 2010 water-use estimates for California have been released prior to other state or national water-use publications, which are expected to be published in late 2014. The delay between data collection and release is due to the time it takes to compile data from many sources and assure its quality. 

Water-withdrawal estimates are provided for individual counties and for the entire state by source type and by category, following the USGS National Water-Use Information Program guidelines.  The USGS California Water Science Center is responsible for determining the most reliable sources of data, compiling and analyzing those data, estimating missing data, and preparing documentation of the sources and methods used to estimate water use for California.

These estimates provide a snapshot of water use in 2010.  The quantification of water use provides a baseline for assessing the interrelationship between factors such as demographics, land use, irrigation practices, climate, economics, and legal decisions, and water availability.  These water-use estimates are important inputs to hydrologic models that are used for water resource planning and management.

  • In 2010, Californians withdrew an estimated total of 38 billion gallons per day (42,000,000 acre-feet per year) compared with 46 billion gallons per day (52,000,000 acre-feet per year) in 2005. 
  • Total estimated surface-water withdrawals in California were 25 billion gallons per day (28,000,000 acre-feet per year) (67%), compared with 35 billion gallons per day (39,000,000 acre-feet per year) (76%) in 2005.
  • Total estimated groundwater withdrawals were 13 billion gallons per day (15,000,000 acre-feet per year) (33%), compared with 11 billion gallons (12,000,000 acre-feet per year) (24%) in 2005.
  • About 82% of all California water withdrawals were from fresh water sources, compared with 72% in 2005.  In both 2005 and 2010, about 74% of all fresh water withdrawals were for irrigation.

The 38 billion gallons per day (42,000,000 acre-feet per year) of withdrawals in 2010 were distributed among eight categories:

  • Irrigation: 61% (23,000 million gallons per day, or 26,000,000 acre-feet per year).
  • Thermoelectric power generation: 17% (6,600 million gallons per day, or 7,400,000 acre-feet per year).
  • Public supply: 17% (6,300 million gallons per day, or 7,100,000 acre-feet per year).  Average daily gross per capita use was 181 gallons.
  • Aquaculture: 3% (970 million gallons per day, or 1,100,000 acre-feet per year).
  • Industrial: < 1% (400 million gallons per day, or 450,000 acre-feet per year).
  • Mining: < 1% (270 million gallons per day, or 300,000 acre-feet per year).
  • Livestock: < 1% (190 million gallons per day, or 210,000 acre-feet per year).
  • Self-supplied domestic use: < 1% (170 million gallons per day, or 190,000 acre-feet per year).  Average daily per capita use was 69 gallons. 

A water-use trends analysis will be provided on the web site at a future date, but in general a comparison with previous compilations indicates that overall withdrawals increased from 1950 to 1980 as population more than doubled, but have generally declined since 1980, even though the State’s population has increased by more than 50% since then.

In California, as in other states, there are uncertainties associated with estimating some of the water use components. The biggest uncertainties for California are associated with irrigation water use. The quantity of groundwater pumped for irrigation is generally not measured, and surface-water diversion data, particularly at the county level, are incomplete or only available at scales different from those used in this study. Therefore, irrigation water use must be estimated using crop coefficients generated from crop evapotranspiration models that compute water requirements, and from reported irrigation crop acreages.

The USGS’s National Water-Use Information Program is responsible for compiling and disseminating the nation's water-use data. The USGS works in cooperation with local, state, and federal environmental agencies to collect water-use information and compiles these data to produce water-use information aggregated at the county, state, and national levels. Every five years, data at the county level are compiled into a national water-use data system and state-level data are published in a national circular.

The downloadable dataset is available online

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Water ground-water surface-water dat..."
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 16:56
Summary: USGS collects a wide range of hydrologic data, assures the quality of these data, and makes historical and continuing records of the nation’s water resources freely available in national databases

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );




USGS collects a wide range of hydrologic data, assures the quality of these data, and makes historical and continuing records of the nation’s water resources freely available in national databases. USGS scientists have recently published two separate papers that provide national overviews of the status of USGS water resources information in the context of historical and technical developments in the last half-century.

Robert M. Hirsch and Gary T. Fisher (retired) point out in “Past, Present, and Future of Water Data Delivery from the U.S. Geological Survey” that USGS innovations, aided by rapidly improving technology, have enabled a transition in recent years from paper reports to online reports and from daily data to instantaneous data. An increasing emphasis on national and international data standards and web services makes it possible for users in the water management and research communities to quickly and easily import USGS water data into the operational and scientific software tools that they use. Further, distributing water data with applications on new mobile platforms brings value to new and nontraditional consumers of hydrologic information.

Writing in the May 2014 edition of Water Resources Impact, USGS Chief Scientist for Water Jerad D. Bales reviews (PDF) 1974 predictions of how water data would be collected in the future and notes how those predictions have been fulfilled or altered. He also describes factors, both technical and otherwise, affecting changes in water-resources data collection and management, as well as future challenges for water data collection.

References

Robert M. Hirsch and Gary T. Fisher. “Past, Present, and Future of Water Data Delivery from the U.S. Geological Survey” in Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, Universities Council on Water Resources, Issue 153, April 2014, pp. 4-15.

Jerad D. Bales. “Progress in Data Collection and Dissemination in Water Resources – 1974-2014” (PDF) in Water Resources IMPACT, May 2014, v. 16, no. 3, pp. 18-23.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "TA, Water WaterNationalStreamflowInforma..."
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 13:30
Summary: Retired USGS cartographer Gregory Allord was named the 2014 recipient of the American Library Association’s Map and Geospatial Information Round Table Honors Award

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Lisa Adamo ( Phone: 703-648-6207 );




Retired USGS cartographer Gregory Allord.
Retired USGS cartographer Gregory Allord. (High resolution image)

Retired USGS cartographer Gregory Allord was named the 2014 recipient of the American Library Association’s Map and Geospatial Information Round Table Honors Award. Allord was recognized at an Awards Reception held on June 28, 2104, at the ALA’s annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievement and major contributions to map and geospatial librarianship. In granting the 2014 award, Kathleen Weessies, Chair of the Round Table, cited Allord’s key involvement as the driving force behind two major digitization projects at the USGS. The USGS Historic Topographic Map Collection (HTMC) and the USGS Publications Warehouse, both described by Weessies as critical resources in map librarianship, are ongoing, large-scale projects which deliver free, archive-quality digital images of historic map and research publications produced by the USGS since its inception in 1879.

The HTMC Project Team scanned and georeferenced approximately 180,000 USGS topographic quadrangle maps with scales 1:250,000 and larger as GeoPDF files and provides them freely available to the USGS and public via the web. The objective of this collection is to eventually include all available editions of the regular topographic quadrangle map series since the inception of the topographic mapping program in 1884 and amasses to more than 200,000 unique maps. This collection exists online as a digital collection and as a physical paper collection of maps in the USGS Clarence King Library in Reston, Virginia.

“I am honored to receive such an award from this prestigious organization,” said Allord. “The success of these projects would not have been possible without the partnering of several Federal and University Libraries plus countless hours and dedication of other USGS employees and university students too numerous to mention.”

The USGS Publications Warehouse is a searchable web application managed by the USGS Libraries Program that provides access to publications written by USGS authors since 1880 by linking to a variety of systems inside and outside the USGS that hold the actual publication files. The files are also indexed by web search crawlers, such as Google, to aid in content find-ability.  The Publications Warehouse cataloging team builds and maintains records based on data pulled from a variety of sources, and each publication has its own descriptive citation page that is dynamically generated. Of the over 132,000 citations in Publications Warehouse, currently more than 93,000 are available for full electronic access and free download in archival PDF format.

To learn more about these and other USGS projects and programs: www.usgs.gov

For more information about MAGIRT and past award recipients: www.ala.org/magirt/front

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, CoreScienceSystemsNationalGeospatial..."
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 20:04
Summary: As of Wednesday afternoon, August 13, all power issues were resolved and the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory resumed monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes

Contact Information:

Janet Babb ( Phone: 808-967-8844 ); Leslie Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );




ISLAND OF HAWAI‘I, Hawaii— As of Wednesday afternoon, August 13, all power issues were resolved and the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory resumed monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes. HVO had been less than fully operational since the previous Friday morning after tropical storm Iselle directly hit the Island of Hawai‘i on August 7. HVO provides continuous, critical updates on the ongoing Kīlauea eruption, earthquake data, and webcam images to emergency managers and island communities for their safety and economic well-being.

The instrument networks and monitoring computer systems designed by HVO staff weathered the tropical storm with very little damage. However, they remained offline to the public for several days because internal power problems needed to be assessed, and replacement parts had to be ordered from the mainland U.S.

During the few days when HVO monitoring capabilities were impaired, earthquake monitoring duties were delegated, by pre-arrangement, to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado. Colleagues at the Alaska Volcano Observatory took over scanning satellite imagery for any information about Hawaiian volcanoes. HVO also temporarily added one seismometer near Kīlauea caldera and a camera looking at the Halema‘uma‘u lava lake with telemetry that could be accessed directly without first going through HVO computer systems, which were intermittent until August 13.

After the passage of Iselle, before the howling wind and heavy rains had stopped, HVO staff were already at the observatory dealing with the aftermath of the storm—and worked through the weekend to repair damage to the observatory’s power system. Complete restoration of the system was accomplished within a week of the storm’s impact.

According to HVO Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua, volcanoes on the Island of Hawai‘i continue to be closely monitored. “Fortunately, Iselle caused no or little damage to our field instruments, and HVO’s monitoring network is now functioning normally, so we can continue to keep State and County Civil Defense informed with the critical information they need to keep Island of Hawai‘i communities safe.”

Updates for Hawaii’s active volcanoes and earthquake data for the state of Hawaii are posted on the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website.

 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, volcano monitoring earthquake HVO Is..."
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 12:37
Summary: For the past decade, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have shared their expertise with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) in efforts to build an inventory of Afghanistan’s water resources

Contact Information:

Ethan Alpern ( Phone: 703-648-4406 ); THomas Mack ( Phone: 603-226-7805 );




For the past decade, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have shared their expertise with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) in efforts to build an inventory of Afghanistan’s water resources. A new fact sheet details how these efforts help the country quantify and monitor its water resource.

“This partnership with the Afghanistan Geological Survey and other international agencies is extremely important for Afghanistan,” said Jack Medlin, USGS regional specialist, Asia and Pacific Region. “There’s a broad consensus that water availability is a global issue, and these collaborative efforts created the data collection networks necessary to help quantify water conditions in the region and manage future water supplies.”

A number of success stories were realized during this decade-long partnership.

In 2004, USGS and AGS initiated plans to rebuild Afghanistan’s capacity for various geologic sciences including hydrology. USGS accomplished the goal with teaching scientists from AGS to apply modern techniques for use of global positioning systems, field hydrology, water-quality sampling, and by developing water-resource databases.

The first efforts of the partnership were to inventory groundwater and surface water resources in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul. After inventorying about 150 wells in the first year, data from a subset of wells were monitored over ten years and indicated that water levels were decreasing in the city of Kabul. The water samples collected and analyzed for physical, chemical, and microbiological properties formed the basis of the first joint hydrologic investigation in Kabul.

“Now after 10 years of groundwater-level monitoring, recent analysis of the data shows an improved understanding of groundwater resources and its sustainability in Kabul,” said Thomas Mack, USGS hydrologist. “AGS engineers have established similar groundwater monitoring networks in other major cities across Afghanistan, which are critical for understanding current conditions and water availability at other population and economic centers.”

USGS assisted a World Bank effort to restore approximately 127 historical streamgages in Afghanistan with modern equipment and continues to monitor the country’s hydrologic network.

In the early days of the partnership, the USGS helped establish the Afghanistan Agrometerology Program. By 2014, the program had installed and was operating 102 stations recording precipitation amounts, snow cover, and other meteorological parameters that are crucial for calibrating and validating remote sensing models of Afghanistan.

A focus of the most recent research was to quantify and monitor water resources in the Chakari Basin, a watershed near Kabul and an area that contains considerable copper and other mineral resources.

“Understanding the water and mineral resources of the Chakari Basin is important for Afghanistan’s economic development and for balancing the needs of domestic and industrial water users,” said Michael Chornack, USGS hydrologist.

The hydrogeologic field investigations and water quality sampling conducted by AGS hydrologists provides valuable data needed for assessing water resources in Afghanistan’s mineral resource areas.

The USGS work in Afghanistan has been possible with assistance from other government agencies.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Water WaterGroundwaterResources Wate..."
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 12:37
Summary: For the past decade, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have shared their expertise with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) in efforts to build an inventory of Afghanistan’s water resources

Contact Information:

Ethan Alpern ( Phone: 703-648-4406 ); THomas Mack ( Phone: 603-226-7805 );




For the past decade, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have shared their expertise with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) in efforts to build an inventory of Afghanistan’s water resources. A new fact sheet details how these efforts help the country quantify and monitor its water resource.

“This partnership with the Afghanistan Geological Survey and other international agencies is extremely important for Afghanistan,” said Jack Medlin, USGS regional specialist, Asia and Pacific Region. “There’s a broad consensus that water availability is a global issue, and these collaborative efforts created the data collection networks necessary to help quantify water conditions in the region and manage future water supplies.”

A number of success stories were realized during this decade-long partnership.

In 2004, USGS and AGS initiated plans to rebuild Afghanistan’s capacity for various geologic sciences including hydrology. USGS accomplished the goal with teaching scientists from AGS to apply modern techniques for use of global positioning systems, field hydrology, water-quality sampling, and by developing water-resource databases.

The first efforts of the partnership were to inventory groundwater and surface water resources in Afghanistan’s capitol city, Kabul. After inventorying about 150 wells in the first year, data from a subset of wells were monitored over ten years and indicated that water levels were decreasing in the city of Kabul. The water samples collected and analyzed for physical, chemical, and microbiological properties formed the basis of the first joint hydrologic investigation in Kabul.

“Now after 10 years of groundwater-level monitoring, recent analysis of the data shows an improved understanding of groundwater resources and its sustainability in Kabul,” said Thomas Mack, USGS hydrologist. “AGS engineers have established similar groundwater monitoring networks in other major cities across Afghanistan, which are critical for understanding current conditions and water availability at other population and economic centers.”

USGS assisted a World Bank effort to restore approximately 127 historical streamgages in Afghanistan with modern equipment and continues to monitor the country’s hydrologic network.

In the early days of the partnership, the USGS helped establish the Afghanistan Agrometerology Program. By 2014, the program had installed and was operating 102 stations recording precipitation amounts, snow cover, and other meteorological parameters that are crucial for calibrating and validating remote sensing models of Afghanistan.

A focus of the most recent research was to quantify and monitor water resources in the Chakari Basin, a watershed near Kabul and an area that contains considerable copper and other mineral resources.

“Understanding the water and mineral resources of the Chakari Basin is important for Afghanistan’s economic development and for balancing the needs of domestic and industrial water users,” said Michael Chornack, USGS hydrologist.

The hydrogeologic field investigations and water quality sampling conducted by AGS hydrologists provides valuable data needed for assessing water resources in Afghanistan’s mineral resource areas.

The USGS work in Afghanistan has been possible with assistance from other government agencies.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Water WaterGroundwaterResources Wate..."
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Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 23:00
Summary: Groundwater is the sole source for agricultural, domestic and municipal water use in California’s Cuyama Valley, located primarily in Santa Barbara County

Contact Information:

Laurel  Rogers, USGS ( Phone: 619-980-6527 ); Leslie  Gordon, USGS ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );




 caption below.
Cuyama Valley groundwater basin and sub-basins. (High resolution image) (1.2 MB)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Groundwater is the sole source for agricultural, domestic and municipal water use in California’s Cuyama Valley, located primarily in Santa Barbara County. In most areas, groundwater is being depleted faster than it naturally recharges. A new water availability report from the U.S. Geological Survey investigates groundwater conditions in the Cuyama Valley.

“The findings provide a better understanding of the use and movement of water in the valley, as well as the quality and quantity of groundwater used in the Cuyama Valley Basin,” said Randall Hanson, research hydrologist and lead author of the new report.

According to the study, an estimated 2.1 million acre-feet of groundwater have been removed from storage in the Cuyama Valley aquifer system since 1949. One acre-foot is approximately 325,000 gallons or enough to cover one acre of land with one foot of water. The study found that groundwater pumping for irrigated agriculture accounts for almost all groundwater withdrawals in the region. The total average annual pumpage of groundwater in the Cuyama Valley aquifers system from water years 1950-2010 was about twice the average estimated long-term annual recharge rate.

During the course of the five-year study, conducted in cooperation with the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, USGS scientists discovered that the geologic structure of the valley is composed of three groups of subregions in the valley – The Main zone, the Sierra Madre Foothills, and the Ventucopa Uplands; each with distinct geologic, hydrologic, and water-quality characteristics. This is important because groundwater withdrawals as well as natural and human-caused recharge affect each sub-basin differently. In the Main zone sub-basin which comprises about a third of the modeled groundwater basin, groundwater pumping for irrigation exceeds the natural replenishment rate, thus depleting groundwater storage, degrading water quality, and potentially leading to the onset of land subsidence. 

Since 2000, groundwater pumping has led to land subsidence of up to 0.2 feet. Model analyses of historical conditions indicate that 1.6 feet of subsidence has occurred near the town of New Cuyama since the onset of development in the 1940s, coincident with the groundwater declines in the Main zone. An additional foot of permanent subsidence is projected in the Main zone through 2071 if current demand and replenishment rates continue.

In addition to extensive data collection, the USGS developed hydrologic models of Cuyama Valley to analyze water availability, account for changing water supply and demand, and simulate surface water and groundwater flow across the entire valley. These models can be used to address issues related to water resource sustainability, including the effects of changing land-use patterns and a changing climate on water resources. The models can also incorporate how changes in water supply and demand will affect water quality and land subsidence.  

The new water availability report and related summary fact sheet are available on-line. A complete list of USGS publications related to Cuyama Valley studies can be found here on the project website.

A complete list of USGS publications related to the Cuyama Valley study is provided below:

caption below
Change in groundwater storage with rapidly declining water levels in a sole-source aquifer were important factors in undertaking and completing this study. To better understand the system, the Cuyama Valley has been split into three groups of subregions: (1) the Main Zone, (2) the Sierra Madre Foothills, nd (3) the Ventucopa Uplands. Although partially connected hydraulically, the groupdwater system in these subregions generally responds independently to different supply sources and demands. (high resolution image 400 KB)
Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Water CuyamaValley SantaBarbaraCount..."
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Date: Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 17:30
Summary: Despite the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that hit northern Chile in April 2014, the plate boundary in that region is still capable of hosting shocks of the same size or even greater in the near future, according to new research presented in Nature. 

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );




Despite the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that hit northern Chile in April 2014, the plate boundary in that region is still capable of hosting shocks of the same size or even greater in the near future, according to new research presented in Nature

The seismic gap theory, which can identify regions of elevated hazard based on a lack of recent seismic activity in comparison with other portions of a fault, had previously identified the northern Chile subduction zone as an area of concern for future magnitude 8.0+ (megathrust) earthquakes. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and partner agencies show that while the 2014 Iquique earthquake occurred within this gap in activity, it did not fill the entire spatial extent of the gap; thus the potential for a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake in northern Chile is still high. 

Significant sections of this subduction zone have not ruptured in almost 150 years, so it is likely that future megathrust earthquakes will occur to the south and potentially to the north of the 2014 Iquique sequence in the future. 

“As well as revealing interesting aspects of earthquake interactions in this subduction zone, our study indicates that the occurrence of the 2014 magnitude 8.2 event does not mean short-term hazard of large earthquakes in northern Chile has decreased – in fact, while we unfortunately cannot predict the timing of such events, similar-sized or indeed larger earthquakes are possible in the near future,” said USGS research geophysicist Gavin Hayes.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, NaturalHazardsEarthquakeHazards Natu..."
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Date: Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 13:22
Summary: The somber ecological consequences of human-caused landscape change and unsustainable water use in a western watershed are carefully examined in the recently published book, Requiem for the Santa Cruz: An Environmental History of an Arizona River (University of Arizona Press).

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );




The somber ecological consequences of human-caused landscape change and unsustainable water use in a western watershed are carefully examined in the recently published book, Requiem for the Santa Cruz: An Environmental History of an Arizona River (University of Arizona Press).

Four authors from the U.S. Department of the Interior bring many combined years of cross-disciplinary and regional knowledge to the place-based investigation. Robert H. Webb (USGS hydrologist, retired), Julio L. Betancourt (USGS geoscientist), Roy R. Johnson (National Park Service ornithologist, retired) and Raymond M. Turner (USGS plant ecologist, retired) use field evidence and historical archives to track the evolution of water development and floodplain changes along the Santa Cruz River.

Historically, the Santa Cruz watershed is important in southern Arizona for settlement, ranching and economic development by Native Americans, especially the Tohono O’odham. Spaniards arriving in the late 1600s made this watershed the site of the first European colonization in what is now Arizona. Settlers from the United States and Mexico continued to arrive in the late nineteenth century. Because they depended on surface water in the river for irrigation and domestic supplies, these initial settlers and those who followed recorded and, in many cases, instigated floodplain changes along the reach of the Santa Cruz that today flows through the city of Tucson.

The authors marshal archival materials, repeat photography, and field evidence to document the many casualties of unsustainable water development as Tucson grew from a mud-walled village to a modern metropolis. In the late 1800s, groundwater levels were high enough to discharge as springs along the valley floor and sustain a forest of unusually tall and dense mesquite trees that provided rich habitat for birds and other wildlife. With increasing municipal water use in the 1930s enabled by the advent of the turbine pump, groundwater levels dropped precipitously, draining marshlands and killing the deep-rooted mesquite forest. Significant river habitat for migratory birds in southern Arizona was constricted to the San Pedro River, 30 miles to the east. 

Large floods in 1890, 1905 and 1915 cut a deep channel or arroyo in the historical course of the river, putting to ruin farmlands and waterworks, but incidentally opening up the floodplain for urbanization. Later in the twentieth century, Tucson’s attention turned to reducing the potential for large floods in an increasingly urban setting. Within the city limits, the unstable arroyo was confined to a cemented ditch that serves little ecological function. 

Requiem for the Santa Cruz is a cautionary tale for other southwestern rivers undergoing rapid urbanization and water development, including the neighboring San Pedro River, a still-viable refuge that nurtures high levels of migratory bird diversity. 

_______

Webb, R.H., Betancourt, J.L., Turner, R.M., and Johnson, R.R. 2014. Requiem for the Santa Cruz: An environmental history of an Arizona River. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 296 pp.

 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Ecosystems WaterGroundwaterResources..."
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Date: Monday, 11 Aug 2014 19:30
Summary: Pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, and other contaminants are widespread in water that has passed through landfill waste

Contact Information:

Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 ); Dana  Kolpin ( Phone: 319-358-3614 );




Pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, and other contaminants are widespread in water that has passed through landfill waste. The samples of this liquid, also known as leachate, were collected from within each of the studied landfills. This study by the U.S. Geological Survey is the first national assessment of these chemicals of emerging concern in landfill leachate in the United States.

USGS scientists collected leachate from 19 active landfills and analyzed it for 202 chemicals across a wide range of uses, including pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, home-use chemicals, pesticides, plastics, etc. Of those 202 chemicals, 129 were found.

“This represents the first step in USGS efforts to quantify the contribution of contaminants of emerging concern in leachate from active landfills to the environment,” said Dana Kolpin, USGS, the research team leader. “Follow-up research will examine contaminant concentrations in treated and untreated leachate that is released to the environment.”

Of the chemicals found, concentrations varied. Steroid hormone concentrations generally ranged from 1 to 100’s nanograms per liter (ng/L, or parts per trillion); prescription and nonprescription pharmaceutical concentrations generally ranged from 100 to 10,000’s ng/L; and home-use and industrial chemical concentrations generally ranged from 1,000 to 1,000,000’s ng/L.

The 19 active landfills are located all across the United States and represent a snapshot of the various conditions that affect landfills.

“As expected, we found more chemicals and generally higher concentrations in landfills from wetter regions compared to those from drier regions,” said USGS scientist Jason Masoner, the primary author of this paper. “Overall, this study provides a better understanding of sources of contaminants of emerging concern in landfills.”

Chemicals commonly detected include:

  • bisphenol A—detected in 95 percent of samples, used to make plastics and resins
  • cotinine—detected in 95 percent of samples, a chemical formed from nicotine
  • N,N-diethyltoluamide—detected in 95 percent of samples, also known as DEET
  • lidocaine—detected in 89 percent of samples, used as anti-itching and local anesthetic
  • camphor—detected in 84 percent of samples, used in a variety of medicines and lotions

This study is part of a long-term effort to determine the fate and effects of contaminants of emerging concern and to provide water-resource managers with objective information that assists in the development of effective water management practices.

The paper is entitled “Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Fresh Leachate from Landfills in the Conterminous United States” and has been published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. More information on this study and other studies on contaminants of emerging concern can be found here. To learn more about USGS environmental health science, please visit the USGS Environmental Health website and sign up for our GeoHealth Newsletter or our Environmental Health Headlines.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "TA, EnvironmentalHealthToxicSubstancesHy..."
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Date: Monday, 11 Aug 2014 15:06
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the achievements of three noted scientists who are being recognized today as 2014 Ecological Society of America (ESA) fellows for making exceptional contributions to a broad array of ecological fields

Contact Information:

Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 ); Ben Landis ( Phone: 916-616-9468 );




Reston, Va.The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating the achievements of three noted scientists who are being recognized today as 2014 Ecological Society of America (ESA) fellows for making exceptional contributions to a broad array of ecological fields.

The 2014 ESA fellow recipients from USGS are

  • Dr. James Grace, USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, La., for his critical contributions to the causal modeling methodology known as Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and to demonstrating its value for the study of ecological problems;
  • Dr. Jon E. Keeley, USGS Western Ecological Research Center for his paramount cross-disciplinary research including the Southern California Wildfire Risk Scenario Project, which seeks to makes sense of fire hazard risk causes through ecological, geographical and statistical views; and
  • Dr. Stephen T. Jackson, director of the Interior Department’s Southwest Climate Science Center, for his ingenious contributions toward effective engagement between climate scientists and resource managers, as well as indispensable research on the effects of environmental change on forests and wetlands.

The reception in honor of 2014 ESA fellows will take place at the annual ESA meeting in Sacramento on Monday, Aug. 11, from 5:00-5:45 pm.

ESA’s Awards Committee Chair, Alan Hastings, says that the fellow program’s goals are to honor its members and to support their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the Society, at their institutions and in broader society. This program was established in 2012.

Meet the Fellows

Dr. James Grace, USGS National Wetlands Research Center

Award Citation: "James Grace is awarded the title of Fellow of the Society, which honors ESA members who are recognized by their peers for their distinguished contributions to the discipline.”

Following a successful career in academia, including having been an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and a full professor at Louisiana State University, Dr. James Grace joined the USGS in 1992. It was at that point that Dr. Grace began to realize that the challenges of research within the holistic context of “How is this system going to behave?” defied all of the conventional statistical methods he had learned to that point. This set him on a quest for a suitable quantitative framework for learning about systems by confronting complex hypotheses with multivariate data.

Grace and his collaborators’ pursuit of this approach to studying systems has led him to outline and demonstrate a “third generation” of the causal modeling methodology known as Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). There is now a tremendous growth of interest in these methods not only in ecology, but also in many other branches of science.

Dr. Grace obtained his B.S. from Presbyterian College in South Carolina where he studied chemistry and mathematics before obtaining a degree in Biology. He obtained his M.S. from Clemson University, and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University, both with a focus in aquatic ecology. Grace’s selection as a 2014 ESA Fellow is an additional suitable honor to add to his numerous ecological accomplishments.

Dr. Jon Keeley, USGS Western Ecological Research Center

Award Citation: "Jon Keeley is awarded the title of Fellow of the Society, which honors ESA members who are recognized by their peers for their distinguished contributions to the discipline.”

Dr. Jon E. Keeley is a fire ecologist with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, long based out of Three Rivers, Calif., in the shadows of Sequoia National Park. A native of San Diego County, Dr. Keeley developed an early appreciation for the natural history of landscapes, and how these rhythms and patterns shifted with seasons and with human contact. Combined with his wanderlust and his personal philosophy of "no limits" to research curiosity and directions, Dr. Keeley's career would come to cross the sciences of forest management, paleoecology, taxonomy, plant photosynthesis, evolutionary biology, natural hazards modeling, and of course, fire ecology --- all while connecting with colleagues spanning five continents.

His current effort, the Southern California Wildfire Risk Scenario Project, which seeks to balance reduction of fire hazard and resource conservation through ecological, geographical and statistical perspectives, is a perfect example of Dr. Keeley's cross-disciplinary vision. With innumerable scientific publications and having received the highest of USGS research commendations, Dr. Keeley’s election as an ESA Fellow is another fitting tribute to this accomplished ecologist. 

Stephen T. Jackson, Southwest Climate Science Center

Award Citation: "Stephen Jackson is awarded the title of Fellow of the Society, which honors ESA members who are recognized by their peers for their distinguished contributions to the discipline.”

Dr. Stephen T. Jackson studies the effects of environmental change on forests, woodlands, and wetlands. A native of southern Illinois, he received a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Indiana University in 1983.

Dr. Jackson is currently professor of Geosciences and adjunct professor of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Arizona, and adjunct professor of Life Sciences at Imperial College London.  Jackson is also professor emeritus of botany at the University of Wyoming where he worked for 17 years. He was vice-chair of the National Research Council Committee on Geologic Records of Biosphere Dynamics (2004-2005), president of the American Quaternary Association (2010-2012), and is currently on the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America.    Dr. Jackson is a 2006 Fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, a 2009 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 2012 was a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College, University of Oxford, and a Scholar in Residence at the Ucross Foundation.  His accomplishment as being named a 2014 Fellow of the Ecological Society of America is in accordance with previous recognitions as a distinguished ecologist.

Since September 2012, Jackson has been Director of the Department of the Interior Southwest Climate Science Center, a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey and a multi-university consortium led by the University of Arizona.  In this new position, he is working to foster effective engagement between climate scientists and resource-management decision-makers, and to mobilize the research community to address critical information needs in the resource-management community.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Ecosystems USGSEmployeesInTheNews"
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Date: Monday, 11 Aug 2014 14:27
Summary: From climate change to wind energy effects on birds and bats to wildlife disease, U.S. Geological Survey research will be presented at the annual Ecological Society of America (ESA) meetings from Aug. 10 to 14, 2014, in Sacramento

Contact Information:

Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 ); Ben Landis ( Phone: 916-616-9468 );




From climate change to wind energy effects on birds and bats to wildlife disease, U.S. Geological Survey research will be presented at the annual Ecological Society of America (ESA) meetings from Aug. 10 to 14, 2014, in Sacramento. The theme of this year’s meeting is “From Oceans to Mountains: It’s All Ecology.”  ESA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of scientists founded in 1915 to promote ecological science.

This USGS tipsheet highlights some exciting USGS presentations at the ESA meeting. Information on news media attendance can be accessed on the 2011 ESA conference website.

A complete listing of USGS science at ESA 2014 can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/usgsESA2014

MONDAY

Session: Ecological Drought in California Forests: Linking Climate Science and Resource Management (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 1:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m. / 307, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Session9759.html /sjackson@usgs.gov)

Stephen Jackson, a newly appointed ESA Fellow and director of the Southwest Climate Science Center, is the moderator for this timely session. California is already enduring a serious drought, and climate projections for the next century uniformly indicate increasing growing-season water stress throughout the state. The region’s forests are in transition to a new normal under climate change. From the Sierras to the sea, California forests are under the triple stresses of increased fire hazard through heavy fuel loads, increasing ignition pressure because of proximity to people and increasing drought stress. Resource managers are faced with the difficult task of designing climate-smart adaptation strategies for forest management. This session covers a suite of topics. First, a climatologist will discuss the state of the art and uncertainties in climate downscaling. This will be followed with presentations by forest ecologists on various aspects and consequences of ecological drought. The session will end with perspectives on resource management, focusing on how researchers and managers can work closely together to develop information relevant to climate adaptation in forested lands. USGS presentations include:

  • The Importance of Climatic Extremes in Evaluating Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystems

To evaluate impacts of projected future climates on ecosystems at regional and local scales (downscaling), climatic extremes as well as mean or average climate change should be considered. Extreme events are often as important to ecosystems as long-term averages, and often, averages and the extremes are not tightly correlated. However, downscaling efforts thus far have focused mostly on averages rather than extremes. The overall deficit of precipitation during drought is a crucial measure, but other phenomena such as heat waves, fire-prone weather and the spatial variation that occur within a dry spell are also important. This presentation by USGS and Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego scientist Daniel Cayan discusses how global and regional climate models represent climatic extremes in evaluating effects of climate change on ecosystems. (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 1:30 p.m./ 307, Sacramento Convention Center/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45890.html  / drcayan@usgs.gov)

  • A Dry Death: Drought and Recent Increases in Forest Mortality

The severe drought of 2014 across much of the southwestern U.S. provides a remarkable natural experiment to test the understanding of forest drought responses. Recent studies have already documented rapid increases in forest mortality rates and greater incidence of catastrophic forest die-back, and while these trends are often logically correlated with drought, USGS Western Ecological Research Center ecologist Phil van Mantgem will explain why we are still missing critical components in our understanding of drought impacts on forest deaths—and discuss what we might learn from the current drought. (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 2:30 p.m. / 307, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45893.html / pvanmantgem@usgs.gov)

  • The Vulnerability of Meadows in the Sierra Nevada

Against the august majesty of Half Dome and El Capitan, visitors can often overlook the lush meadows that carpet the valleys of Yosemite National Park and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada. Yet meadows contribute disproportionately to hydrologic cycles, watershed services, ecosystem health, species diversity, and historical and cultural use, and information is needed to assess meadows and their vulnerability to climate change and land use factors. USGS Western Ecological Research Center ecologist Matt Brooks shares updates from a project using historical and satellite data to analyze more than 9,000 meadows in the Sierras—the first step to forecasting their fate. (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 4:20 p.m. / 307, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper46292.html / mlbrooks@usgs.gov)

It's Getting Hotter Down South: Climate Change Effects in the Southeast

The U.S. southeastern states and Caribbean islands are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This presentation by USGS scientist Virginia Burkett highlights the contents of the Southeast chapter of the Third National Climate Assessment (2014). Although the southeast experienced a cooling trend in the 1960s and 1970s, it has warmed at rates comparable to the national average since 1980, with the most recent decade the warmest on record. This increasing temperature and the associated increase in frequency, intensity and duration of extreme heat events will affect public health, agriculture, forestry, energy and natural and manufactured environments. The National Climate Assessment also addresses the widespread and continuing threats sea-level rise poses to coastal environments and the regional economy. Decreased water availability, which will also be highlighted in this presentation, is projected to be worsened by increased population growth and land-use change.  Together, these factors will increase competition for water and affect the region’s economy and unique biological networks. In addition, mosquitoes carrying malaria and yellow and dengue fevers may thrive, crop productivity is expected to dwindle, coral reef growth may decrease and billions of dollars of coastal land could be impacted by sea-level rise. (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 1:30 p.m. / 313, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper46047.html / virginia_burkett@usgs.gov)

A History of Megafires and Extreme Droughts in California

As climate change considerations loom over California, a common question is how droughts will shift wildfire regimes in the Golden State. USGS Western Ecological Research Center fire ecologist and newly elected ESA Fellow Jon Keeley will present a sweeping overview of the historic fire and drought history in California, explaining how the vegetation communities and plant ecology have changed as fire regimes have changed—and offer perspectives on the future of fire and droughts in this state. (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 1:50 p.m. / 306, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45823.html / jon_keeley@usgs.gov / Keeley will also speak at the Tuesday Symposium “Extreme Weather and Climate Events: Understanding and Adapting to Ecosystem Responses”, 8:00 -11:30 a.m. in Gardenia Room/Sheraton Hotel.)

Climate Change and The Pacific Northwest

With craggy shorelines, volcanic mountains, and high sage deserts, the Northwest’s complex and varied topography contributes to the region’s rich climatic, geographic, social and ecologic diversity. Abundant natural resources – timber, fisheries, productive soils and plentiful water – remain important to the region’s economy. All these resources will be affected by climate change, and understanding the likely impacts is key to planning for and adapting to the Northwest and for understanding what climate change means for the region. In this presentation, USGS scientist Jeremy Littell will discuss the main climate changes and their expected impacts on Northwest hydrology, coasts, forests and agricultural systems.  (Monday, Aug. 11, 2014: 1:30-3:30 p.m. / 313, Sacramento Convention Center/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper46051.html / jlittell@usgs.gov)

TUESDAY:

L.A. Story Part II: “I’ll Be Baaack,” Said the Stickleback?

You wouldn’t have known it was a river with its famously dry banks. But the concrete backdrop of chase scenes in films like “Terminator 2” and “Grease” is the Los Angeles River, where today 80 percent of it is channelized. Local communities are eager to restore this watershed, and USGS Western Ecological Research Center ecologist Adam Backlin will share results from biological surveys of three upstream tributaries of the L.A. River: Pacoima, Big Tujunga, and Arroyo Seco—still home to some native species, and maybe home again someday to endangered stickleback fishes and threatened frogs once found there. (Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014: 9:50 a.m. / 307, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45834.html / abacklin@usgs.gov)

L.A. Story Part I: How Does the Mountain Lion Cross the Road?

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars of late has been P-22, the Griffith Park mountain lion. But cougars are just one of many wildlife species that must navigate the confusing maze of disconnected habitats and urban barriers that crisscross the Los Angeles landscape. USGS Western Ecological Research Center ecologist Erin Boydston, whose research partnership discovered and first photographed P-22, will present insights from their Griffith Park Connectivity Study, using remote cameras to study how wildlife might be crossing between habitats over manic freeways like the 101 and I-5. (Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014: 10:10 a.m.  / 307, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45873.html / eboydston@usgs.gov)

At-Risk Columbia Spotted Frogs: Factors Influencing Conservation

Columbia spotted frogs in southeastern Oregon, southern Idaho and Nevada constitute a genetically distinct population segment (DPS). This Great Basin DPS has been a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act since 1993 because remaining populations are small, isolated and reside in habitats altered by water development, livestock use, mining and non-native species. Projected warmer, drier climate conditions could further stress and isolate already vulnerable populations in the region. USGS researchers, including scientist Robert Arkle, examined existing data on spotted frog occurrence, abundance and habitat to understand factors influencing habitat quality, habitat connectivity and climate suitability in the Great Basin.  Preliminary results suggest that the area of the Great Basin with suitable climates for spotted frogs has already decreased over the past 100 years and will continue to decrease substantially over the next 100 years. Genetic research suggests connectivity between adjacent occupied sites is currently low, while sub-populations are isolated from one another. USGS research suggests that management tools, such as beaver reintroduction, grazing management and non-native trout control efforts may promote conservation of the Columbia spotted frog in the Great Basin. (Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014: 10:30 a.m./ Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Regency Hotel/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper49690.html / rarkle@usgs.gov)

Adapting to a Changing Climate: Identifying Shared Opportunities for Resource Managers and Planners

Northeastern headwater streams are important habitat for species such as the spring salamander and brook trout, but they are also important for water quality, angling, and recreation opportunities.  As the climate changes, effective conservation in landscapes managed by multiple decision makers will not only require active collaboration of conservation partners and partnerships, but it also will require explicitly including these multiple objectives, and identifying tradeoffs among objectives. USGS scientist Evan Grant will describe a framework being used to identify shared opportunities for decision making among multiple decision makers. The typical approach to large-scale conservation includes identifying and filling information gaps, though in the context of collaborative decision making, a focus on competing management objectives and incorporating individual values may be more efficient, especially when management responsibilities are fragmented among multiple agencies.(Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 3:20 p.m. / 203, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45666.html / ehgrant@usgs.gov)

Strategies to Help Address Climate Change Effects Along the Atlantic Coast

Coastal ecosystems and the services they provide to people are especially vulnerable to climate-related impacts from sea-level rise, coastal erosion and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, as well as other factors such as land-use change, habitat fragmentation and invasive species.  This presentation by Raye Nilius highlights management-research collaborations between the Interior Department’s Northeast and Southeast Climate Science Centers and National Wildlife Refuges from Maine to Puerto Rico to address questions on best ways to adapt to climate change and make climate-informed decisions.  Adaptation strategies that target high-priority resources including tidal marsh habitats, highly migratory waterbirds and cultural resources associated with coastal reserves, enhance the resilience of public trust resources, and assist management agencies in coping effectively with and anticipating the challenges of a changing and uncertain future.  (Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014: 4:40 p.m. / 203, Sacramento Convention Center/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45674.html /  mratnaswamy@usgs.gov or raye_nilius@fws.gov )

WEDNESDAY

Climate Change May Alter the Distribution of Iconic Trembling Aspen

Trembling aspens are the most widely distributed tree species in North America, providing numerous ecosystem services such as increased biodiversity, important wildlife habitat and food, and snow-water retention.  Yet many aspen-dominated systems are declining in the western United States due to drought conditions during the last decade.  Because phenological – or life-cycle – events such as flowering and leaf fall are sensitive to climate variations, they can help scientists detect the impacts of climate change on ecosystems. Scientist Gretchen Meier and her USGS colleagues examined the start of season of aspen over a 12-year period as well as the important climatological, geographic, and ecological influences on the seasonal phenology of aspen.  (Wednesday, Aug. 13, 1:50 p.m./ 311-312, Sacramento Convention Center / http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper48879.html / gmeier@usgs.gov)

Landscape Threats to Migratory Bats: Does Mortality Location Matter? 

The endangered Indiana bat and the little brown bat populations, like most bat populations, are under stress from habitat loss, white-nose syndrome, climate change and impacts of wind turbines.  Despite these conservation concerns, few models exist that shed light on bat populations over time and geography.  Recent findings from a new model shed light on how bats with complex life cycles – migratory, overwintering in hibernacula, and roosting in trees during summer breeding seasons – can be affected by landscape threats.  Researcher Julie Beston will discuss how the loss of a single subpopulation or roost site (either breeding or overwinter) can alter the total population size and geographic dynamics.  This research suggests that resource managers should consider incremental population loss in a similar way as they consider incremental habitat loss, as well as considering the geographic location of the loss for correctly characterizing population risks.   Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014: 2:10 p.m./ Regency Ballroom F, Hyatt Regency Hotel/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper47503.html / jbeston@usgs.gov or reickson@usgs.gov)

Retaining an Army of Citizen Scientists Critical to Success of USA National Phenology Network

Phenology is nature’s calendar—when bears hibernate in the winter, when a butterfly goes through metamorphosis, and when flowers bloom in the spring or leaves fall in autumn. Large-scale phenological monitoring is necessary for managers to have the information needed to understand and adapt to changes in seasonal climate and associated plant and animal responses. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) aids in this monitoring through the founding of the National Phenology Database (NPDb), a storage record of plant and animal phenological data across the nation. Information in this database is contributed by both professionals and volunteers citizen scientists via an online phenology observing program called Nature’s Notebook. Even though over 3 million observation records for plants and animals have been obtained, the optimal dataset would consist of repeated, frequent observations of multiple individuals of the same species across its entire geographic distribution over multiple years. This presentation by USGS scientist Jake Weltzin will outline strategic approaches to maximize participant recruitment and retention and considers data needs over time and geography. The success of these monitoring efforts can serve as a worldwide fingerprint of climate-change impacts on plants, animals, ecosystems and people. (Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014: 2:30 p.m./ 304-305, Sacramento Convention Center/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45732.html / jweltzin@usgs.gov)

Types of Birds Most at Risk from Wind Energy

Conservationists, managers and industry professionals need to identify wildlife species that could be negatively impacted by wind energy development. This presentation by USGS scientist Julie Beston highlights a method developed for prioritizing bird species most at risk of harmful impacts from wind energy. Findings of this research include birds of prey being most vulnerable to turbine collision mortality, and wading and perching birds being most susceptible to habit degradation from wind energy development. The study highlights bird species that are most in need of resource manager planning, attention and monitoring in relation to wind energy development or sites.  (Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014: 3:40 p.m./ Regency Ballroom F, Hyatt Regency Hotel/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper49936.html  / jbeston@usgs.gov)

Southwestern, National and Global Forest Changes Related to Climate

Climate warming is linked to large and historically new changes in forest disturbance regimes, driving forest ecosystem responses from incremental small adjustments to abrupt fundamental changes in ecosystem patterns and processes, according to preliminary USGS research. This presentation by USGS scientist Craig D. Allen addresses synergistic climate and disturbance drivers of major changes in forest ecosystems, focusing on relationships among drought, warm temperatures and tree mortality through combinations of forest dieback and die-offs, forest fires and insect outbreaks.  Allen will highlight recent trends of more extreme forest disturbances and associated ecosystem transitions from the southwestern U.S., as well as broader trends extending from western North America to emerging global-scale forest risks. If current mainstream climate projections of substantial global warming this century emerge as modeled, major re-organizations of forest ecosystems can be expected through the effects of novel climate-modulated disturbance processes. (Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014: 3:40 p.m. / 203, Sacramento Convention Center/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper45288.html /  craig_allen@usgs.gov)

THURSDAY:

Amphibian Chytrid Fungus in Amphibian Habitats

According to one estimate, 40 percent of amphibian species are vulnerable to extinction. Although the chyrtrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is a major contributor to many amphibian population declines worldwide, most research on this fungus has focused on how it interacts with its amphibian hosts, with little research on free-living Bd outside of the host. USGS researcher Tara Chestnut and her colleagues investigated the occurrence and prevalence of Bd in surface waters of amphibian habitats of the United States. The research provides evidence that Bd occurs in the environment year round, that the fungus was found in 47 percent of sites sampled and that it was estimated to occur in 61 percent of sites.  The occurrence of Bd was highest at low-elevation sites and decreased as elevation increased. These findings advance the study of Bd disease ecology in temperate-zones, as well as the understanding of the likelihood of amphibian exposure to free-living Bd in aquatic habitats over time. (Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014: 10:30 a.m. /301, Sacramento Convention Center/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper49556.html / chestnut@usgs.gov)

FRIDAY:

Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON): Mapping Species Occurrence Data

The USGS's BISON mapping application (http://bison.usgs.ornl.gov) portrays 140+ million terrestrial and aquatic species locations throughout the United States and its territories. From the graphic user interface, BISON search results may be displayed on an interactive map, downloaded in a variety of formats or retrieved via Web services. Recent improvement in BISON's infrastructure now allows searching larger taxonomic groups (e.g., all birds within an area) and including taxonomic synonyms (alternative scientific names that are equivalent to the search term), using the features of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (http://www.itis.gov), and also includes the option to visualize species occurrence data on top of more than 30 map layers from the USGS National Map and other reliable sources. With its newly integrated taxonomic disambiguation using the ITIS platform for improved data retrieval, BISON provides a gateway for serving, searching, mapping, and downloading integrated species occurrence records from multiple data sources, and data modeling opportunities and solutions for ecologists and other resource managers. (Friday, Aug 15, 2014: 8:40 a.m. / Regency Ballroom A, Hyatt Regency Hotel/ http://eco.confex.com/eco/2014/webprogram/Paper47507.html / asimpson@usgs.gov)

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Ecosystems"
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Date: Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 15:54
Summary: Beginning around August 7, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will be drilling “sentinel” wells at the first of three locations in the Trumbull Village neighborhood in Albuquerque to provide early alerts for groundwater contamination.

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );




Beginning around August 7, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will be drilling “sentinel” wells at the first of three locations in the Trumbull Village neighborhood in Albuquerque to provide early alerts for groundwater contamination.

These new sentinel wells will provide early warning if there is a northeastward movement of the Kirtland Air Force Base Bulk Fuels Facility plume, and would provide Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) and Air Force officials lead time to implement plans to protect nearby groundwater drinking water supply wells.

A sentinel well is a groundwater-monitoring well located between a known area of groundwater contamination and drinking-water supply wells. The purpose of a sentinel well is to provide advanced warning of movement of groundwater contamination towards the drinking water supply wells.

During March and April 2013, the USGS drilled a similar sentinel well, funded by the ABCWUA, near the corner of Trumbull Avenue SE and Mesilla Street SE.

This year, the USGS will be drilling at three locations in the Trumbull Village neighborhood: On the north side of the Cesar Chavez Community Center;  near the eastern end of Phil Chacon Park; and in the parking lot at Trumbull Park. This work is being funded by the Air Force.

“USGS scientists will be drilling for approximately 12 hours a day; from about 7 a.m. to about 7 p.m. We expect to be done with the drilling in late December 2014 or early January, 2015,” said Nathan Myers, USGS scientist in charge of the project. "Although the drinking water supply wells are not in imminent danger of being contaminated, the sentinel wells are being installed as a precautionary measure to provide early warning if the plume does move towards drinking water supply wells." 

The equipment includes a drill rig, two large trailers, a water truck, and smaller vehicles. At each drill site, the drilling equipment and supplies will temporarily occupy a space that is 60 to 100 feet wide and 120 to 150 feet long. After the drilling is complete, wells at each site will be enclosed below ground in locked steel vaults.  Disruptions to traffic aren’t anticipated, but some of the parking spaces in the Trumbull Park parking lot will be unavailable during drilling. After completion, all the parking spaces at Trumbull Park will be open.

During drilling, engine noise from the diesel engines on the drill rig and noise from the equipment that separates the drill bit cuttings from the drilling mud may be audible. USGS scientists will use sound-muffling blankets to suppress noise and will monitor noise levels to ensure they are in compliance with a City of Albuquerque-issued noise permit. 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, GeographicAreasSouthwest WaterCooper..."
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Date: Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 14:00
Summary: Chloride contamination of Wichita’s water-supply wells is inevitable unless actions are taken, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists and authors of a new modeling report describing chloride movement in the area's aquifer.

Contact Information:

Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );




Chloride contamination of Wichita’s water-supply wells is inevitable unless actions are taken, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists and authors of a new modeling report describing chloride movement in the area's aquifer.

Possible actions include pumping to remove the plume of high-chloride groundwater, and increased artificial recharge of water into the aquifer to slow the movement of chloride. On the other hand, increased pumping of well water and agricultural water will increase the rate of chloride movement. 

The USGS model was developed in cooperation with the city of Wichita to assist resource managers in making decisions on how to best protect the city’s water resources. If chloride levels are high, the water is less usable as a drinking-water source and for crop irrigation without additional treatment. 

Past oil and gas activities near Burrton, Kansas resulted in a plume of high-chloride groundwater northwest of the Wichita well field, which is an area that encompasses most of the groundwater wells used by the city of Wichita. The chloride plume is currently moving toward that well field, threatening the part of the Equus Beds aquifer that supplies water to city and agricultural users. A new report and animations simulating chloride movement are available online.

“As we develop a 50 year vision for our water resources, the USGS model is critical to understanding the issues we face in the Equus Beds aquifer,” said Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office. “This study is a great example of how science tools can assist in evaluating our options to address our water quality and quantity concerns.”

The USGS chloride-transport model was prepared as part of the city of Wichita’s Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project, an effort to increase the amount of groundwater storage and maintain the water quality in the aquifer by artificially recharging treated water from the Little Arkansas River into the aquifer.

“The modeling efforts by USGS are essential to our continued evaluation of the ASR project,” said Alan King, City of Wichita Director of Public Works. “The Wichita City Council is supportive of the ASR project and its continued expansion, based on drought protection, future water supply needs and the expectation that the chloride plume migration could be slowed by our aggressive recharge efforts. The new USGS data demonstrates how the recharge effort is essential to our overall strategy for guaranteeing a safe and adequate water supply for our community.”

“USGS preliminary simulation results indicate that the Burrton chloride plume, which resulted from past oil and gas activities, moves towards Wichita’s well field at an average rate of about 0.8 feet per day,” said Brian Klager, USGS scientist and primary author of report. “Naturally occurring chloride from the Arkansas River also moves toward the well field area at a rate of about one foot per day or more.”

The USGS model simulated chloride transport during 1990 through 2008, and was used to test how various theoretical well-field management scenarios affect groundwater levels and chloride movement toward the Wichita well-field. The modeling scenarios and results included are:

  • Compared to current irrigation and city pumping:
    • If all Wichita and irrigation pumping was discontinued, water levels would be about five feet higher.
    • If Wichita pumping was doubled and with existing groundwater pumping, water levels would be about five feet lower.
    • If artificial recharge were increased by 2,300 acre-feet per year in ASR sites near Burrton, Kansas water levels would increase by about 0.5 feet.
  • With actual well-pumping and artificial-recharge rates, the simulated chloride plume near Burrton moved toward the Wichita well field at about 0.8 feet per day.
  • With all agricultural and Wichita pumping removed, movement of chloride plume near Burrton would slow to about 0.7 feet per day.
  • Doubling the municipal pumping of the city of Wichita from the well field increased the simulated rate of movement of the plume to about 1.0 foot per day.
  • Increasing the amount of water artificially recharged to the aquifer by 2,300 acre-feet per year near the Phase 1 recharge locations slowed the simulated rate of movement of the plume to about 0.7 feet per day.

Chloride is present in nearly all natural waters, although concentrations are normally low. Chloride originates from natural deposits of salt and from past oil and gas brine solutions and disposal. High-chloride water also moves into the Equus Beds aquifer naturally from the Arkansas River to the southwest of the Wichita well field. 

The Equus Beds aquifer in south-central Kansas is a primary water-supply source for the city of Wichita along with Cheney Reservoir. Groundwater pumping for municipal and irrigation needs and sporadic drought conditions have caused water-level declines, which has led to concerns about the adequacy of the future water supply for Wichita. In 2007, the city of Wichita began construction of the Equus Beds ASR to artificially recharge the aquifer with excess water from the Little Arkansas River. Artificial recharge will raise groundwater levels, increase storage volume in the aquifer, and deter or slow down a plume of chloride brine approaching the Wichita well field from the Burrton, Kansas area caused by oil production activities in the 1930s. Another source of high chloride water to the aquifer is the Arkansas River.

The USGS will continue to work with the city of Wichita to maintain and update the model as more data about the Equus Beds aquifer is collected.

More information is available on USGS efforts related to defining and understanding the water quantity and quality of the Equus beds at http://ks.water.usgs.gov/equus-beds-recharge

USGS provides information in a number of states related to preservation of water supplies in artificial recharge and aquifer storage and recovery. For more information visit http://water.usgs.gov/ogw/artificial_recharge.html

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, kansas chloride contamination Wichit..."
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Date: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 20:33
Summary: June and July rainfall deficits continue to point toward abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. Geological Survey

Half Century of USGS Data Shows Historical Trends in Water Levels

Contact Information:

Rafael Rodriguez ( Phone: 813-463-3660 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );




SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—June and July rainfall deficits continue to point toward abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The past two months were drier than normal across most of Puerto Rico, with the exception of the western interior. Normal rainfall over the last 30 years in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has ranged from about 65-70 inches annually. During the past nine months, total rainfall amounts have been as much as 20 inches below normal in some parts of the Commonwealth.

The USGS has more than 55 years of hydrologic data describing the Commonwealth’s water resources, which are available to help as the government and public evaluate the drought situation. It actively monitors rainfall accumulation at 92 sites, stream flow at 121 sites, groundwater levels at 92 observation wells and surface-water elevations in 28 reservoirs.

“The availability of accurate and reliable hydrologic data is important to water managers as they work to anticipate and mitigate the effects of drought,” said Rafael Rodriguez, Director of the Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center. “The USGS promotes the use of its information products by decision makers to effectively manage groundwater and surface-water resources for domestic, agricultural, commercial, industrial, recreational, and ecological uses.”

In Puerto Rico rainfall deficits have led to regional droughts about every 15 - 18 years. Major recent droughts in Puerto Rico occurred in 1967-1969, 1974, 1994, 1997, and 2001-2002.

Drought has the potential to affect public water supply for the residents of Puerto Rico because reservoirs are the principal source of supply. The reservoir water levels are dependent on rainfall and stream flow. The total amount of water storage in reservoirs also limits water supply. Reservoir storage can be reduced as a result of sedimentation, and loss of water storage volume has been documented in several reservoirs. Determining the sustainable yield of reservoirs is a difficult challenge under sustained conditions of below-normal rainfall.

During the hurricane season, hydrologic conditions can change rapidly in response to tropical systems. On August 2, Tropical Storm Bertha crossed the southern part of Puerto Rico. This storm left behind enough rainfall to partially restore water levels in some reservoirs. The water level in Lago Caonillas rose by 14 feet, and Lago Dos Bocas rose by 10 feet to fill completely. These two reservoirs are located in the north-central region of the Commonwealth. Water levels in Lago Toa Vaca and Lago Cerrillos, in the south-central region, rose by 3.3 and 3.5 feet, respectively. The water level in Lago Loíza rose by about 5.4 feet, and the water level in Lago de La Plata rose by 3.5 feet. However, Tropical Storm Bertha did not make up for the extended period of below average rainfall. 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Water puertoRico droughtGeographicAr..."
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Date: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 13:00
Summary: US Topo maps now have a crisper, cleaner design - enhancing readability of maps for online and printed use

Newly designed US Topo maps covering Arkansas and South Carolina are now available online for free download

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Bob Davis ( Phone: 573-308-3554 );




US Topo maps now have a crisper, cleaner design - enhancing readability of maps for online and printed use. Map symbols are easier to read over the digital aerial photograph layer whether the imagery is turned on or off. Improvements to symbol definitions (color, line thickness, line symbols, area fills), layer order, and annotation fonts are additional features of this latest update. The maps also have transparency for some features and layers to increase visibility of multiple competing layers.

This new design was launched earlier this year and is now part of the new US Topo quadrangles for Arkansas (874 maps) and South Carolina (519 maps), replacing the first edition US Topo maps for those states. 

"Users in our state are very excited about the three year revision cycle of the US Topo maps," said Bill Sneed, the Geospatial Liaison for Arkansas and Tennessee.  "With the Fayetteville Shale activity, our maps are increasing in popularity outside the normal recreational/hunting community."  

US Topo maps are updated every three years. The initial round of the 48 conterminous states coverage was completed in September of 2012.  Hawaii and Puerto Rico maps have recently been added. More than 400 new US Topo maps for Alaska have been added to the USGS Map Locator & Downloader, but will take several years to complete.

Re-design enhancements and new features:

  • Crisper, cleaner design improves online and printed readability while retaining the look and feel of traditional USGS topographic maps
  • New functional road classification schema has been applied
  • A slight screening (transparency) has been applied to some features to enhance visibility of multiple competing layers
  • Updated free fonts that support diacritics
  • New PDF Legend attachment
  • Metadata formatted to support multiple browsers
  • New shaded relief layer for enhanced view of the terrain
  • Military installation boundaries, post offices and cemeteries
  • The railroad dataset is much more complete

The previous versions of US Topo maps for these states, published in 2011, can still be downloaded from USGS web sites. Also, scanned images of older topographic maps from the period 1884-2006 can be downloaded from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection. These scanned images of legacy paper maps are available for free download from The National Map and the USGS Map Locator & Downloader website.

US Topo maps are created from geographic datasets in The National Map, and deliver visible content such as high-resolution aerial photography, which was not available on older paper-based topographic maps. The new US Topo maps also provide modern technical advantages that support wider and faster public distribution and on-screen geographic analysis tools for users. The new digital electronic topographic maps are delivered in GeoPDF ® image software format and may be viewed using Adobe Reader, available as a no-cost download.

For more information, go to: http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/

caption below caption below
2014 US Topo map of the North Little Rock, Arkansas, area with image layer turned on (1:24,000 scale). (high resolution image 1.4 MB) Scan of the 1891 USGS topographic map of the Little Rock, Arkansas, area from the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection (1:125,000 scale). (high resolution image 1.8 MB)
Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, CoreScienceSystemsNationalGeospatial..."
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