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Connections - Partnerships in Science

USGS Geological Research Activities with NPS

Hazards projects
(Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides)

Cascades Volcano Observatory

CVO provides real-time monitoring, conducts geological and geophysical studies on volcano histories and processes, and assesses volcano hazards for volcanoes in the Cascade Range from Mount Baker, Washington, to Lassen Peak, California. CVO interacts frequently with land managers, including National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation, on cooperative programs to update monitoring networks and with Federal, State, and local officials and the public to prepare for the next eruption in the Cascades. Mount Rainier National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, and Lassen Volcanic National Pare are DOI entities dependent on this information to insure the safety of their visitors.

Cynthia A. Gardner,

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory provides real-time assessment for volcano and earthquake hazards located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and entire Island of Hawaii through numerous interactions with National Park, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and public officials. The Park uses this information to insure visitor and employee safety and to provide unique visitor experiences of active volcanism. Geologic mapping on Mauna Loa provides the Fish and Wildlife Service with detailed age dating of hundreds of substrate lava flows for studies of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna and for archeological studies of colonization. The distribution of ’a’â and pâhoehoe has been used to find the elusive seabird ’U’au, the Hawaiian petrel.

James P. Kauahikaua,

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,

InSAR Applied to Volcano Studies

The InSAR Applied to Volcano Studies project uses satellite radar interferometry to measure and map ground-surface deformation at volcanoes and other targets of interest to DOI agencies, including the National Park Service. Results, in the form of images, papers in scientific journals, information updates, and less formal communications, are conveyed to counterparts in USGS and other agencies in support of hazards assessment and land management decisions.

Daniel Dzurisin,

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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,

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,

Sierra National Forest - Ferguson Rockslide

The USGS is monitoring and studying rock slide on State Highway 140 that closed off normal road access to Yosemite National Park.

Mark E. Reid,

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,

Volcano Emissions

Primary objective is to measure gas flux from volcanoes in National Park Service units such as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and others in the U.S. Certain gases can impact visitor and employee safety and gas flux measurements provide information that enables us to issue eruption warnings and to improve our understanding of how volcanoes work. Gas flux measurements of noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants at Kilauea Volcano react with oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (vog) and acid rain. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is closely monitoring gas emissions from Kilauea and working with local officials, including the National Park Service, to better understand volcanic air pollution and to enhance public awareness of the hazard.

Cynthia A. Werner,

Volcano Research Laboratories

Provide geochronology and gas and water chemistry data for volcanic and hydrothermal systems in National Park Service units for hazard assessment and research studies.

Margaret T. Mangan,

Yellowstone Chloride Monitoring

The USGS monitors chloride concentrations with the newly developed "Field Chloride Analyzer. " The chloride flux data will be used by NPS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory scientists to estimate real-time geothermal heat flux and could potentially provide early warning information on volcanic hazards in the park. Project is funded by the USGS-NPS water quality partnership program. NPS Yellowstone also provides indirect support in the form of field assistance and collaboration.

Thomas Chapin,

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

The USGS, in partnership with NPS monitors volcanic, seismic and geothermal activity at Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Through a Memorandum of Understanding, there is direct collaboration with YNP and the University of Utah. This project benefits the NPS through continuing hazards assessment and consultations, as well as real time monitoring of earthquakes, stream flow, and water and ground temperatures.

Jacob B. Lowenstern,

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

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3D/4D mapping of the San Andreas Fault Zone

The objective of the project is to understand the evolution of the San Andreas Fault since its inception. Geologic mapping developed during this project have been used in land use and emergency planning at the local, State, and Federal level, including by the National Park Service.

Russell W. Graymer,

Appalachian Blue Ridge Landscape

The project objective is to determine how geology has influenced the topography, water, soils, and plant and animal communities of the Appalachian Blue Ridge Mountains. Research is being conducted in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Catoctin Mountain Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and adjacent lands. Research results are published electronically and in GIS format.

C. Scott Southworth,

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,

Coastal Evolution: Process-based Multi-scale Modeling

The primary goal is to identify the physical processes and anthropogenic influences that have resulted in significant morphological changes to the San Francisco Bay Coastal System. This will aid in the assessment of the future impact of sea level rise, climate change, and sediment management practices on the region’s beaches, tidal wetlands, and submarine resources. Project received funds from the NPS to investigate sediment transport at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, specifically the dynamics of the opening of Chrissy Marsh.

Daniel Hanes,

Coastal Watershed Restoration

This project has three objectives:

  1. Advise managers of other DOI agencies (including Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and National Park Service) on specific watershed issues related to human activities such as impact of dams or dam removal on downstream river, estuarine, and marine environments and habitats.
  2. Use dams, artificial floods, dredging operations, and other human activities to conduct large-scale sediment transport experiments to learn how to predict sediment transport more accurately at the interface between rivers, estuaries, and marine settings.
  3. To conduct research on problems of interests to managers other government agencies in settings along the river/sea/estuarine interface.

The locations of active work are: Elwha River, Colorado River, San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay, and Matilija Creek/Ventura River.

David Rubin,

Framework Geology of Mid-Continent Carbonate Aquifers

The purpose is to understand geologic controls on ground-water availability in south-central United States. The National Park Service and the State of Oklahoma are concerned that large-scale water withdrawals from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer will grossly diminish the only groundwater resource in the region. The USGS is working in cooperation with NPS to characterize the surface and subsurface geohydrology of the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer system and to characterize surface geology, karst landforms, and geohydrology of the Ozark aquifers at Buffalo National River.

Charles D. Blome,

Geohydrology of Coast Ranges Basins

To understand how geology influences ground-water availability, movement, and contamination in the Western U.S. The USGS is working with the NPS in the west, including Death Valley National Park.

Victoria E. Langenheim,

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Geologic Mapping SW Sequoia National Park

The objective is to map the geology of the Mineral King 15' quadrangle (CA) thereby providing complete geologic map coverage of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The NPS provides funding for field and analytical expenses and performs GIS compilation.

Thomas W. Sisson,

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,

Holocene Climate of the Pacific Coasts

Improved knowledge of the history of the natural variations in climate along the Pacific margins of the U.S. will benefit the National Park Service units and improve ability to predict and assess impact of future climate change on the West.

John A. Barron,

Integrated Geologic Studies of Coral Reefs: Impacts from Land-based Pollution and Sea Level Rise

This Project addresses two broad research objectives both derived from a series of workshops and publications:

  1. To better understand the behavior of sediment on coral reefs, including its delivery pathways, residence time, processes of transport on the reef, and effect on corals and other organisms.
  2. To evaluate the effect of the projected rapid sea-level rise on coral reef communities.

This project provides critical information to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and has received funds from the National Park Service for sea-floor mapping and submarine groundwater discharge studies.

Michael E. Field,

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,

Missouri River Geologic Framework

To provide information on hydrologic controls on water availability to interested partners including the National Park Service (NPS), State geological surveys, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and to understand the surficial processes that control the geology, hydrology, and ecology of the lower Missouri River. Studies conducted in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The NPS requires information on geologic controls on habitat distribution as it considers land acquisition related to the implementation and management of the congressionally mandated Missouri National Recreational River.

Scott C. Lundstrom,

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,

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

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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,

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,

Integrated Geological, Geochemical, and Geophysical Studies of Big Bend National Park

The objectives of this project were to conduct geological mapping as well as volcanogenic and environmental geochemical studies of Big Bend National Park (BBNP). The National Park Service is funding USGS to produce a 1:100,000-scale digital geological map for BBNP. The project also focuses on better understanding the volcanic stratigraphy and volcanogenic processes of BBNP. In addition, the USGS is also assisting BBNP with several environmental issues that potentially affect human health and wildlife habitats.

John E. Gray,

Montezuma Well

The USGS is providing NPS with information to better understand the sources of ground water and flow paths to three water sources with the vicinity of Montezuma Castle National Monument. The results of the work will provide information for long-term water-resource management and protection of water rights.

Raymond H. Johnson,

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,

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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,

San Luis Valley Geophysics

The USGS is being funded by the NPS to perform geophysical work in the vicinity of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The geophysical work includes EM soundings and a helicopter magnetic survey to better understand the subsurface for ground water models.

V.J.S. Grauch,

Sustainable Development of Industrial Minerals

Project goals are to advance USGS science in industrial minerals and to address the most pressing needs for industrial minerals information. Project personnel work with academia and other Federal agencies (including NPS) on industrial minerals research. The products from these studies will advance USGS development of lifecycle models for these deposits types; provide land management agencies with better geologic and minerals data on industrial minerals; identify potential environmental impacts from developing industrial minerals and geologic methods to mitigate or avoid those impacts; and identify minerals or mineral pathways that adversely impact the quality of soil, water and air in environments that may affect the health of humans, plants, animals, and food sources.

William H. Langer,

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