USGS - science for a changing world

Connections - Partnerships in Science

USGS Geological Research Activities with BLM

Hazards projects
(Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides)

Hazards-Wildfire and Debris Flow

The focus of this project is to develop tools and methods for the prediction of post-wildfire landslide activity and hazard delineation. Agency personnel dealing with post-fire rehabilitation and emergency planning need tools to determine the both the probability and magnitude of such potentially destructive events, so we have developed methods to predict which basins might produce post-fire debris flows, and how big these events might be. By utilizing these methods, DOI (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management), State, and local land-management agencies can tailor debris-flow specific mitigation efforts to watersheds that are the most prone to the largest debris-flow events.

Lucile M. Jones,

Landslide Assessments, Monitoring, and Research

Landslides, debris flows, and rock falls are hazards to humans and infrastructure at many of the nation's public lands, including lands managed by the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. The USGS research focuses on landslide processes, including their mechanisms, recurrence, distribution, and probability. Study is being conducted in selected areas of Washington State, California, and Oregon. Our research includes use of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) imagery and analysis of digital landscape signatures for characterizing different mass wasting settings, critical state soil mechanics tests for determining the likelihood of a landslide transforming into debris flow, and recently developed numerical models for predicting debris-flow inundation.

Rex L. Baum,

Long Valley Observatory

Monitor volcanic, seismic, and geothermal activity in the Long Valley area and provide hazard assessment and continuing consultation to Federal (including Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service), State, and local officials and to the general public. Devils Postpile National Monument is a DOI unit dependent on this information.

David P. Hill,

Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project

The overarching objective of the project is to increase resiliency to natural hazards by incorporating the needs of the southern California decision-making community into natural hazards science in new and existing research activities. The natural hazards being investigated in this project include earthquakes, floods, wildfires, landslides, coastal erosion, and tsunamis. The USGS will work with collaborators in setting the direction of future research and to apply the results of scientific research to loss reduction. Partners include State, county, city, and public lands government agencies (including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management), public and private utilities, companies with a significant impact and presence in Southern California, academic researchers, FEMA, NOAA, and local emergency response agencies.

Lucile M. Jones,

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Seismic monitoring: The Global Seismographic Network (GSN) and Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) backbone

Earthquakes represent potential hazards to the visitors, staff, and infrastructure of many of the nation's parks and public lands. The tectonic forces that created so many of the parks' spectacular mountain ranges and volcanoes possess the capacity for tremendous destruction. Many National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Land Management managed lands are located in the seismically active areas studied by the USGS. For instance, several park service units lie along the San Andreas Fault system. USGS science products for planning and emergency management agencies include information on earthquake probabilities, shaking hazard maps, and liquefaction hazards.

Lind S. Gee,

Volcanic Hazards Mapping and Research

The results from this project advance understanding of how volcanoes evolve and behave in terms of magmatic and volcanic processes, which are critical in accurate eruption forecasting, hazards assessment, and volcano-monitoring strategies. Through field, laboratory, and statistical studies the USGS will: (1) develop an integrated view of magmatic and eruptive processes; (2) decipher the eruptive history of dangerous volcanoes; (3) put that eruptive history into a time-stratigraphic context; (4) identify the events leading to volcanic unrest; and (5) synthesize this geologic information into evaluations of eruption potential and hazards assessments. Geologic maps with accompanying explanatory pamphlets and GIS-based digital files are products of these investigations, as are hazards assessments of the studied volcanoes. The USGS has conducted studies in Long Valley and Mammoth Mountain near Devils Postpile National Monument, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Medicine Lake in Lava Beds National Monument, Mount Mazama/Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, Newberry in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Mount Rainier National Park, and more than 20 volcanoes along the Katmai segment of the Aleutian arc in Katmai National Park and Preserve. All work in the National Parks and Bureau of Land Management managed lands involve some level of cooperation with Park personnel, and in many instances, the USGS volcanologists provide geologic training for Park personnel.

Judith E. Fierstein,

Geologic landscape and coastal assessments projects
(National Cooperative Geologic Mapping, Coastal and Marine Geology)

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BALANCE (BAsins & LANdscape Co-Evolution): An integrated geologic and geomorphic approach to understanding earth-surface processes related to ground water, geologic hazards, and ecosystems

The project’s objective is to understand the earth-surface processes related to ground water, geologic hazards, and ecosystems in southern California. This project is using geologic mapping that is integrated with landscape studies to investigate the geology, geomorphic history, and tectonic evolution of the mountain ranges, mountain fronts, and valleys in the region to improve understanding of landscape evolution as it bears on ground-water resources, geologic hazards, and ecosystem structure and health. The products include high quality, multipurpose digital geologic maps and accompanying databases and reports to aid land managers and decision makers from other Federal agencies, including BLM, to solve diverse land use problems in the area.

Jonathan C. Matti,

Cenozoic Tectonics of Northwest Utah

The purpose is to determine the fault and climatic history of northwest Utah using geologic mapping and evidence from former Lake Bonneville. This project is conducting geologic mapping in northwest Utah that complements mapping being done by the Utah Geological Survey. The focus of the project is to understand (1) Cenozoic tectonics in the region, which is along a hotspot track, (2) the paleoclimate of the area, and (3) the geologic influence on sage grouse habitats. This project is being conducted in partnerships with universities, State Geological Surveys, and the National Park Service.

David M. Miller,

Geologic Framework of Rio Grande Basins

This project investigates the geologic framework of basins and adjoining mountain flanks along the Rio Grande Rift in different areas of the southwestern U.S. to provide information on critical groundwater aquifers, hazards and resources. Project activities include geologic and geophysical mapping for important basins of the Rio Grande Rift. Mapping is integrated with studies of stratigraphy, biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, and hydrogeologic characteristics of basin-fill sequences, and structural geology with emphasis on major faults and their effects on groundwater. An improved understanding of the hydrologic framework of the aquifer systems will allow States (Colorado and New Mexico) to regulate groundwater withdrawals with greater validity and will foster improved long-range management of groundwater and linked surface water resources. Information provided by the project is aiding decision makers at various levels of government, including BLM, BOR, and BIA, manage groundwater resources in the basin.

Mark R. Hudson,

Geology of Parks and Federal Lands of the Southwest

The project supports DOI land management agencies in its resource management and preservation of cultural, biologic, hydrologic, and geologic feature. The DOI bureaus rely on the USGS for basic geologic research and geologic inventories and maps. These data inform managers on issues such as geologic controls on groundwater, soils, and vegetation, erosion of cultural sites, geologic hazards, and biological habitat characterization. In addition to the National Park Service, USGS geologic maps and data bases are used by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and local organizations such as municipalities, ranchers, and private resource managers.

George Billingsley,

Geophysical and Geologic Investigations in the Great Basin

Groundwater, geothermal, and buried mineral resources are extremely valuable resource in the Great Basin. Federal and local agencies have requested assistance from the USGS to provide them with information on the geologic controls over groundwater, geothermal, and buried mineral resources in the Great Basin. The government entities include DOE, BLM, NPS, and water agencies. The Federal government is the largest landholder and resource manager in the region and USGS is providing them with the best, highest quality geophysical and geologic information to understand the geologic framework controls on hydrologic, geothermal, and mineral systems.

Geoffrey Phelps,

Karst Applied Research Studies Through Geologic Mapping (KARST)

The KARST project integrates mapping and hydrogeology at local, regional, and national scale to address issues related to groundwater and subsidence hazards in karst terrains where urban, industrial, and agricultural development is increasing. Nearly 25 percent of the U.S. is in karst terrain and a large segment of this area is undergoing rapid urban and industrial development. The project is producing geologic maps at 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scales that will be integrated into the National Geologic Map Database. Derivative maps and scientific papers address specific karst groundwater and subsidence issues at national, regional, and local scales. This project includes partnership and support with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Environmental Protection Agency.

David J. Weary,

Surficial Geologic Mapping in the Southwest

The purpose is to provide geologic databases for understanding the potential long-term effects of urban development and land use in the Mojave Desert near Las Vegas. The multi-purpose surficial geologic maps and databases produced by this project contain information that is being used for land-management decisions with regard to (1) ground-water availability, (2) natural hazard risks, such as earthquakes, landslides, and debris flows, (3) ecosystem sustainability, (4) effects of climate change, and (5) soil compaction. This project is conducted in partnerships with State agencies, universities and other U.S. Department of the Interior agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.

David M. Miller,

Resources projects
(Minerals, Energy)

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ANVIL Points Geophysics

As part of a USGS-BLM Intra-Agency Agreement, the USGS conducted geophysical surveys at the Anvil Points Facility in Rifle, CO. The BLM has recently awarded a contract for the clean-up of the Anvil Points site, part of the Naval Oil Shale Reserves 1 and 3, also known as the Roan Plateau.

Robert J. Horton,

Aqueous Geochemistry Research and Development

Project objectives are to enhance, develop, and test emerging applications in aqueous geochemistry, and investigation of promising research topics in aqueous geochemistry. Research included uranium isotope research at Montezuma Well (NPS) and Tuba City Landfill (BIA). Also, geochemical research to help determine Tanner Crab movement in Glacier Bay National Park (NPS) was conducted. Sulfur in Mancos Shale leachage has led to a collaborative relationship with BOR scientists working on the Mancos Shale project, with results reported to BLM and BOR.

Kathleen S. Smith,

BLM Field Support

Through an Inter-Government Order, the USGS provides a broad range of technical assistance to enhance BLM's efficiency to respond to technical requests, allowing prompt management decisions. Field support locations include Randsburg, CA, Manning Canyon Repository, and the Josephine Mine.

Jared Abraham,

Central Colorado Assessment Project

The Colorado Front Range is one of the fastest growing regions in the western U.S. This growth has inflicted tremendous pressure on the available resources in the region and has created land management challenges for local, State, and Federal government agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service. The long-term goal of the project is to provide comprehensive geoscience data and interpretations that will allow Federal, State, and local land management entities to make informed land-use decisions in central Colorado. These comprehensive earth science data will be used to improve our understanding of the availability of mineral and energy resources, the geochemical and environmental effects of historic mining activity on surface and ground water, the geoenvironmental effects of wildfires, and geologic controls on groundwater availability and quality, and geologic hazards, such as landslides and stream flooding.

Terry L. Klein,

Geochemical and isotope studies of the evolution of ore deposits and technology transfer

Geochemical and isotope studies will be the basis for development of scientifically defensible strategies for assessing the mineral resources in the U.S. and worldwide, for predicting the potential environmental impact of exploitation, and for remediating the consequences of mining. The knowledge acquired in these studies is not specific to mineral resources and can be applied to a broad spectrum of societal relevant issues. Among these issues are the relation between hydrothermal alteration and landslides, the controls of cyanide degradation in ore processing, accidental spills and heaps undergoing closure, and the relation of life cycle mineral resources processes to water quality and human health. In addition, this knowledge can be applied to study of ecosystems and plant and animal ecology. The USGS has been invited to submit a proposal to the Bureau of Land Management National Science and Technology Center pertaining to cyanide research. In addition, cooperative studies were conducted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on grizzly bears in the Kuskokwim Mountains of Alaska.

Robert O. Rye,

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The Geochemical Landscapes Project

Project objectives are to provide a multi-scale and, where possible, three-dimensional perspective on the soil geochemical landscape of the Nation. One cooperative mercury study is part of national mercury investigations (with DOI agencies as potential cooperators). Baseline geochemical studies are being conducted in Yellowstone and Joshua Tree National Parks and reports are being provided to NPS and BLM.

David B. Smith,

Geologic and Geoenvironmental Studies of the Western Phosphate Field (aka: Western U.S. Phosphate)

U.S. Geological Survey scientists associated with this project, a response to Federal land management agencies (Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs) needs, are studying the elemental, mineralogical, petrochemical, and stratigraphic character of phosphate mineralization within the Southeast Idaho Phosphate District and in selected portions of the Western Phosphate Field. Impacts on the environment associated with the presence and development of the Phosphoria Formation are also being examined. Concentrated initially in Southeast Idaho, this study is enhancing our ability to evaluate additional phosphate mineralization and to anticipate, assess, and mitigate environmental hazards, such as selenium toxicity, that are spatially associated with the existence and societal use (mining and reclamation) of the phosphate.

James R. Hein,

Geophysical Research and Development

The project supports the development of new and existing geophysical techniques for addressing critical geological problems. The USGS is performing geophysical studies in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM wants to utilize recent technical advancements in geophysics for improved characterization methods for sites containing potential hazardous materials, abandoned mine lands, and other resource management issues.As part of a BLM-USGS Intra-Agency Agreement, USGS performed a geophysical characterization study of subsurface conditions to map the extent of contamination at the Exell Helium Plant in Texas.

Jeffrey D. Phillips,

Geothermal Resource Studies

This project is compiling a new national geothermal energy resource assessment, which will provide comprehensive information on the location, nature and magnitude of geothermal resources in the United States. This information will be used by Federal, State and local agencies, as well as the geothermal industry itself, for renewable energy development strategies and land management decisions. Products will include reports and online databases. Collaboration with BLM is focused on geothermal resources on public lands and the potential impact of future development.

Colin F. Williams,

Mancos Shale Landscapes: Science and Management of Black Shale Terrains (a Regional Partnership Project)

A cooperative project with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other land-management agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other stakeholders to better understand black shale terrains and aid in land-use management. Project activities are an outgrowth of the BLM-USGS cooperative project, "Developing Coordinated Science Activities in Support of Land Management in the Mancos Shale Badlands of the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. "

Richard I. Grauch,

North Slope Alaska Subsurface Geophysics

Interagency agreement with BLM to perform geophysical investigations to identify potential interferences caused by new Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS mapping equipment and to evaluate the impacts upon the geophysical results. Another goal is to determine impacts and signatures of wastes or artifacts in the unique tundra and permafrost geologic environments found in Alaska.

Jared Abraham,

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Outreach and Technology Exchange, Eastern Minerals

The project objective is to share and exchange information between internal and external users of USGS mineral-resource information, including the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Methods of accomplishing these objectives include, but are not limited to, sponsoring technical sessions, symposia, or field trips at professional meetings; creating and distributing fact sheets and posters of Team research results to other USGS offices, Federal agencies, and members of Congress and their staff; and maintaining web sites for easier access to our products.

Jane Jenness,

Outreach and Technology Exchange, Western Minerals

The project objective is to share and exchange information between internal and external users of USGS mineral-resource information, including the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. Methods of accomplishing these objectives include, but are not limited to, sponsoring technical sessions, symposia, or field trips at professional meetings; creating and distributing fact sheets and posters of Team research results to other USGS offices, Federal agencies, and members of Congress and their staff; and maintaining web sites for easier access to our products.

David G. Frank,

Pathways of Metal Transfer from Mineralized Sources to Bioreceptors

The mid 1800s marked the beginning of a long and colorful history of mining in the western US that has left a legacy of approximately 11,000 abandoned hard rock mine sites. Thousands of these abandoned mines are on lands on or bordered by, lands managed by Federal land management agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. At many of these sites, historical mining activities resulted in adverse impacts to the quality of water and sediment and to the health of humans and other biota. Successful management of these ecosystems requires an understanding of the processes that are responsible for the distributions, concentrations, and bioavailability of potentially toxic elements, such as arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), selenium (Se), and zinc (Zn), in the environment. Such understanding is the scientific foundation for making decisions, developing strategy, and assessing mitigation and remediation alternatives by local, State, and Federal agencies charged with minimizing the environmental and health impacts of the elements.

Laurie S. Balistrieri,

Process Studies of Contaminants Associated with Mineral Deposits

Project objectives included fundamental studies of the nature and scope of the effect of acid mine drainage (AMD) on the nation's waters; the evaluation of the acid-sulfate mineral deposit type on waters across different climatic zones; and the evaluation of ground-water flow paths in the Animas River watershed on water quality. Development of an overall strategy to deal with large-scale problems of surface water contamination by inactive historical mines is needed if Federal land management agencies are to develop a cost-effective approach to deal with its financial liabilities from historical mining on Federal lands. The USGS is engaged with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, and U.S. Forest Service in discussions that focus on planning for future directions and evaluation of the scope of AMD problems in the U.S.

Philip L. Verplanck,

SIMWS-Sources of Industrial Minerals in Western States

This project will provide better understanding of selected industrial minerals in the western United States and will also provide better understanding of their potential for development. Assessment of these commodities will require development of improved methods to estimate industrial mineral resources and execution of these estimates for land managers, including Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs, and policy makers. The fact that many industrial minerals have low in-place value requires that economics must be addressed at the beginning of any assessment and requires new and modified assessment methodology. Development of mega quarries for industrial minerals mining and production will significantly affect some industrial minerals cost and availability. Research emphases also need to be guided by societal needs together with environmental well being. Research needs to be integrated so that multiple issues are considered, and products are useful for multiple users and stakeholders.

Keith R. Long,

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Page Last Modified: Monday, 14-Apr-2014 10:36:09 EDT