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USGS Geological Research Activities with MMS

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

National Seafloor Mapping and Benthic Habitat Studies: Pacific

High-resolution multibeam mapping of Santa Barbara Channel, Glacier Bay’s and Hawaii’s complex marine ecosystem and the marine species is funded jointly by the USGS, National Park Service, and the Minerals Management Service. The goal is to develop integrated geological and oceanographic habitat models, as a step toward determining the habitat relationships of critical species and resources.

Guy R. Cochrane,

Pacific EEZ Minerals

This project addresses the mineral resources that occur within the EEZ of Pacific coastal States and Pacific islands of U.S. interest. Little is known about the resource potential of the vast mineral deposits that occur within the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the United States. The U.S. EEZ encompasses 3.4 million square nautical miles, an area about 20 percent greater than the entire land area of the U.S. Quantitative information about U.S. EEZ resources is essential in order for the Federal, including the Minerals Management Service, and State governments to make informed decisions about:

James R. Hein,

Sources, Transportation, and Fate of Natural Oil and Gas Seepages

Tar and oil residues are common on California beaches, especially in southern California where natural oil seeps are present. Baseline information on tar and oil accumulations from natural seepage and spills is sought in order to manage the offshore production of oil and gas. The Minerals Management Service and the County of Santa Barbara have funded the USGS organic geochemistry team in Menlo Park, California to provide geochemical information that can be used to distinguish between sources of tar from natural seeps of from man-made spill. Baseline tar accumulation on beaches is an important management tool to assess the environmental impact of natural oil seepage in contrast to possible oil spills or illegal dumping at sea. Tar accumulation on specific beaches is monitored on a periodic basis providing details of tar composition, amount, and possible transport pathways as they vary with time.

Thomas D. Lorenson,

The California Urban Ocean Project

Our objective is to provide information to Bureau of Reclamation and Minerals Management Service to improve understanding of coastal and marine sediment and contaminant transport processes that have a direct impact on the citizens of California. We follow these processes from source regions, through waterways to coastal estuaries, onto the beaches and continental shelf, and into submarine canyons and basin/fans. These processes include:

  1. inputs through rivers and industrial facilities into estuaries or directly into the sea;
  2. the record of coastal change and the processes that lead to the erosion of beaches;
  3. the overall spatial and temporal distribution of currents that can resuspend and transport contaminants and contaminated sediment;
  4. the distribution of contaminants and contaminated sediment (including natural contaminants) and the record of how this distribution has changed with time; and
  5. the processes that remove sediment and contaminants from the shelf, into canyons and out on to the basins.

Homa J. Lee,

Resources projects

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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,



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Page Last Modified: Thursday, 13-Dec-2012 14:47:22 EST