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Groundwater quality and geochemistry of West Virginia’s southern coal fields

Released February 21, 2020 08:15 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5059

Mark D. Kozar, Mitchell A. McAdoo, Karl B. Haase

Coal mining has been the dominant industry and land use in West Virginia’s southern coal fields since the mid-1800s. Mortality rates for a variety of serious chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer in Appalachian coal mining regions, are higher than in areas lacking substantial coal mining activity within the Appalachian Region or elsewhere in the United States. Causes of the increased mortality and morbidity are not clear, but poor diet, high rates of smoking, socioeconomic factors, and the quality of groundwater used by area residents are all possible contributing factors. This study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, with grant support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assess the quality of groundwater in southern West Virginia. The data from this assessment of groundwater quality may be used by the CDC and other agencies to potentially investigate the role or lack thereof of groundwater quality with respect to mortality and morbidity rates in the region. The study was conducted in a region where a high density of current or past coal mining combined with a lack of advanced sewage treatment could affect concentrations of commonly occurring constituents plus contaminants, including nitrate, trace metals, major ions, indicator bacteria, radon, hydrogen sulfide, and dissolved hydrocarbons.

Because rural residential wells and mine outfalls are considered private sources of water in the region, and are therefore unregulated and unmonitored, water-quality data are sparse. To fill the data gap and assess the groundwater quality in the region, water-quality samples were collected from 60 sites in a 10-county area. The 60 sites sampled included 46 rural residential homeowner wells and 14 mine outfall discharges used for residential supply. For this study, all samples were collected prior to any filtration or other treatments, typically at the pressure tank, and are indicative of total and dissolved constituents in the untreated water.

Generally, data for the 60 sites indicate that most waters sampled do not exceed thresholds for most U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking-water standards and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) drinking-water screening criteria. However, there were several notable exceptions. Turbidity exceeded the 5-Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU) EPA treatment technique (TT) drinking-water standard in 14 of 60 (23 percent) sites sampled and exceeded the 1-NTU TT standard in 51 of 60 (85 percent) sites sampled. Turbidity is common in many wells in southern West Virginia and may be attributed to iron oxyhydroxide precipitates, sediment carried into the aquifers from the shallow soil zone due to improperly constructed or cased wells or transported to the aquifer in shallow stress-relief fracture zones or through permeable bedding-plane partings. For the sites sampled, 31 of 60 (52 percent) had pH values at, above, or below the upper and lower range of the EPA Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL, 6.5–8.5 standard units). Of those 31 sites, 28 (90 percent) were indicative of acidic corrosive water and 3 (10 percent) were indicative of alkaline water.

The Langelier Saturation Index (LSI), which is a measure of the corrosivity of the water, was computed for all sites sampled for the study. Eighty-two percent of the sites sampled had waters that were classified as corrosive, based on a LSI less than −0.5. Corrosive water has the potential to leach lead, copper, and other metals from lead, copper, galvanized, or lead-tin soldered connections in water lines. The chloride to sulfate mass ratio also was assessed with the alkalinity to indicate the potential to promote galvanic corrosion (PPGC) of water lines and plumbing fixtures. Only one of the sites (1.7 percent) classified as a corrosive water site, had a PPGC considered high; the remaining sites were classified as having either a moderate (53.3 percent) or low (45 percent) PPGC. Therefore, the type of plumbing systems sampled for this study may be affected by corrosive water, but the potential for leaching trace metals and other constituents from residential plumbing systems containing older galvanized pipes or lead-tin soldered copper pipes is moderate to low.

The indicator bacteria total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli) also were detected in groundwater samples to varying degrees. Total coliforms, which are a broad class of indicator bacteria, are common in groundwater in southern West Virginia and were detected in 39 of the 60 sites (65 percent) sampled. The presence of total coliform bacteria is a potential indicator of surface contamination, due to improperly constructed or cased wells, or infiltration of soil or other surface contaminants into the aquifer or well bore. E. coli bacteria, however, are much more indicative of fecal contamination of groundwater from either human or animal sources, and 14 of the 60 (23 percent) sites sampled had detections of E. coli. Although only a few strains of E. coli are known pathogens, their presence in groundwater may be an indicator of other related pathogens such as viruses and should be regarded as a serious potential issue. Water treatment such as chlorination, ozonation, or ultraviolet light may be appropriate to kill potential pathogenic bacteria or viruses in the source water.

Manganese and iron were prevalent contaminants in the groundwater samples collected for this study, with 30 of 60 (50 percent) sites analyzed for manganese and 25 of 60 (42 percent) sites analyzed for iron exceeding the proposed 50- and 300-micrograms per liter (µg/L) SMCL drinking-water standards, respectively, for aesthetic criteria such as taste, odor, or staining of plumbing fixtures. Fourteen of the 60 sites sampled (23 percent) had concentrations of manganese that exceeded the 300-µg/L USGS health-based screening level, and 1 site exceeded the 1,600-µg/L EPA drinking-water equivalent level, which is based on a lifetime exposure level. Sodium is another common constituent in groundwater within the study area. Sodium has an EPA health-based value (HBV) of 20 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for individuals who are on a sodium-restricted diet for blood pressure or other health reasons. Sodium concentrations exceeded the 20-mg/L EPA HBV in 27 of 60 (45 percent) samples.

Radon, a naturally occurring carcinogenic radioactive gas known to cause lung cancer, was detected at concentrations at or exceeding the proposed 300-picocuries per liter (pCi/L) EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in 12 of the 60 (20 percent) sites sampled. Sites with radon gas concentrations exceeding the 300-pCi/L proposed MCL have the potential for airborne concentrations of radon to exceed the 4-pCi/L indoor air standard. Inhalation of radon can cause lung cancer, and the 4-pCi/L indoor air standard is based on an inhalation standard. Therefore, homeowners whose wells have radon gas concentrations exceeding 300 pCi/L may be advised to have their indoor air tested to determine if indoor air concentrations exceed the 4-pCi/L indoor air standard established by the EPA.

Various factors were analyzed statistically and graphically to determine whether they have an influence on groundwater quality within the study area, including topographic setting, well depth, type of mining (surface or underground), type of site (well or mine outfall), and geologic formation. Only geologic formation and the type of site sampled had strong statistical correlations with one or more of the constituents of concern for this study. The overall chemistry of outfalls (mine outfalls) and wells was significantly different, with a much higher dissolved oxygen content in outfalls than in wells. The dissolved oxygen content is the primary component driving the oxidation and reduction of minerals, and the precipitation of minerals that are saturated or super saturated with respect to various cations and anions. Median dissolved oxygen concentrations for the outfalls sampled was 8.75 mg/L, and only 0.4 mg/L for the wells sampled.

Median concentrations of sulfate and selenium were much higher in waters from the outfalls sampled, with median concentrations of 73.75 mg/L and 2.35 µg/L, respectively, compared to the wells sampled, which had median concentrations of 18.3 mg/L and less than (<) the 0.05-µg/L method detection limit, respectively. The maximum selenium concentration was for an outfall site, with a concentration of 7.4 µg/L. The geochemical processes that control sulfate and selenium concentrations in groundwater are similar and are the result of the oxidation of sulfide minerals such as pyrite and ferroselite. Iron and manganese concentrations were elevated in most of the wells sampled, with median concentrations of 269.5 and 124.5 µg/L, respectively, but were rarely detected in the outfalls sampled, with median concentrations of < 4.0 and < 0.4 µg/L, respectively. The difference in iron and manganese between wells and outfalls is indicative of the role of dissolved oxygen on processes controlling groundwater chemistry in the region.

Three principal geologic formations were assessed for the study, and the overall chemistry for the Pocahontas, New River, and Kanawha Formations varied substantially with respect to several constituents. Concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and total dissolved solids were highest for sites sampled in the Pocahontas Formation, with median concentrations of 41.9, 18.6, and 312 mg/L, respectively. For constituents that are commonly associated with mining activity, the highest concentrations were for sites sampled in the New River Formation, with median concentrations of iron and manganese of 2,450 µg/L and 482 µg/L, respectively, and a median pH of 6.35 standard units. Concentrations of barium also were elevated in samples collected from sites in the New River Formation, with a median barium concentration of 184 µg/L. The source of the barium is not fully known but may be associated with commingling of shallow groundwater with deeper brines or dissolution of the mineral barite. The highest median sulfate concentrations were from sites sampled in the Pocahontas Formation, with a median concentration of 64.0 mg/L. Of the 12 sites at or exceeding the 300-pCi/L proposed drinking-water standard for radon, 8 (67 percent of MCL exceedances) were for sites deriving water from the Kanawha Formation, 3 (25 percent of MCL exceedances) were for sites deriving water from the New River Formation, and only 1 site was for water from the Pocahontas Formation (8 percent of proposed MCL exceedances).

Dissolved hydrocarbons, including methane, ethane, propane, propene, n- and i-butane, 1-butene, n- and i-pentane, pentane, 2- and 3-ethyl pentane, hexane, and benzene were analyzed in samples collected from 59 of the 60 sites to assess the potential occurrence and sources of these trace gases in groundwater within the study area. Results of the analysis indicate that most of the gas is of shallow biogenic origin, possibly associated with coal-bed methane, but a subset of samples has a gas signature and a chloride to bromide ratio indicative of potential mixing with deeper thermogenic gases. Only 2 of the 59 (3.3 percent) sites sampled had concentrations of methane gas, which is a highly combustible and explosive gas, exceeding the 10 milligrams per kilogram level of concern established by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Principal components analysis was used to assess the primary geochemical processes occurring in the aquifers sampled. The first principal component had significant positive loadings for bromide, chloride, silica, ammonia, barium, iron, manganese, and arsenic, and significant negative loadings for dissolved oxygen, potassium, nitrate, and uranium, and reflects reduction and oxidation (redox) processes occurring in deeper anoxic groundwater or shallow oxic groundwater. The strong positive loadings for iron, manganese, barium, and arsenic are correlated with reducing conditions often found deeper in the aquifer. More oxic water is correlated with oxidation of nitrogen species to nitrate and environmental mobilization of uranium and sulfate in shallow wells and mine outfalls.

Stormwater quality of infrastructure elements in Rapid City, South Dakota, 2016–18

Released February 20, 2020 12:18 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5004

Galen K. Hoogestraat

As runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building roofs), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment, and other contaminants that can adversely affect water quality if the runoff discharge remains untreated. Pathogens, commonly measured using fecal indicator bacteria such as Escherichia coli, enterococci, or fecal coliform, are the most-frequent cause of water-quality impairment in rivers and streams in the United States. Rapid Creek originates in the western Black Hills area and flows east through Rapid City, South Dakota, to its mouth at the Cheyenne River. The water quality of Rapid Creek is important because the reach that flows through Rapid City is a valuable spawning area for a self-sustaining trout fishery, is actively used for recreation, and is a seasonal municipal water supply for the City of Rapid City. These uses (fishery, recreation, and water supply) are considered beneficial uses by the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Numerical criteria have been established for total suspended solids and Escherichia coli concentrations, among other water-quality constituents, for these beneficial uses. The objectives of this study were to improve the method by which fecal indicator bacteria and total suspended solids are quantified in the urban drainages within Rapid City and to provide information that helps identify origins of fecal indicator bacteria and total suspended solids. This information can be used in hydrologic models to estimate fecal indicator bacteria and total suspended solid loading from certain infrastructure elements in urban environments.

Stormwater samples analyzed for Escherichia coli, total suspended solids, specific conductance, and pH were collected in three drainage basin flowpaths within Rapid City: Jackson, Wildwood, and the Eco Prayer Park. Data-collection activities for this study focused on upgradient urban flowpath elements during rainfall events. This approach builds upon previous stormwater assessments that characterized the water quality in urban basin outlets near the downstream end of the stormwater flowpaths. Within each flowpath group, 4–6 sites were selected to represent the various infrastructure elements of the runoff process. These elements included roof downspouts, parking lots, street curbs and gutters, open channels, underground storm sewers, and stormwater ponds or best-management practice facilities.

In general, the concentrations of Escherichia coli and total suspended solids increased in the downstream direction for all flowpath sites. The wash-off process after the first flush is evident for total suspended solids and specific conductance; however, Escherichia coli concentrations did not necessarily follow the same pattern. Escherichia coli concentrations in the latter part of the runoff period were similar to or greater than the initial concentrations of the first set of samples. Stormwater-quality data were summarized by infrastructure type (roof downspout, parking lot, street curb, and channel/storm sewer) to provide information about approximate water-quality concentrations originating at the upper end of urban flowpaths. Escherichia coli and total suspended solid concentrations were lowest in samples collected from locations most isolated from human influence (roof downspouts); the median concentrations at these sites were 4 most probable number per 100 milliliters and 15 milligrams per liter, respectively. The delivery potential of fecal indicator bacteria and sediment from parking lots and street curbs was similar; median concentrations of Escherichia coli and total suspended solids were around 150–220 most probable number per 100 milliliters and 56–86 milligrams per liter, respectively. The downstream receiving channels and storm sewers where stormwater was aggregated typically contained the highest Escherichia coli concentrations (median was 1,800 most probable number per 100 milliliters), but the total suspended solid concentrations were similar to upstream elements in the flowpath (median was 69 milligrams per liter). The data collected from this study demonstrate that stormwater is contaminated with fecal indicator bacteria upon initial contact with impervious surfaces and highlight the importance of controlling the volume of stormwater discharges into receiving waterbodies via storage structures and pervious elements. Diluting stormwater with high concentrations of Escherichia coli with the receiving water’s (Rapid Creek) lower concentration of Escherichia coli is likely the primary mechanism for meeting the beneficial-use criterion threshold of 235 most probable number per 100 milliliters. Although total suspended solid concentrations in the upper parts of the basin (parking lots and street curbs) also begin at concentrations (56 to 86 milligrams per liter) above the beneficial-use criterion for Rapid Creek (53 milligrams per liter), current stormwater-control practices (storage ponds, swales, and wetlands) may be able to reduce suspended-sediment concentrations to meet this threshold.

Hydrogeology and interactions of groundwater and surface water near Mill Creek and the Herring River, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, 2017–18

Released February 20, 2020 12:00 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5145

John R. Mullaney, Janet R. Barclay, Kaitlin L. Laabs, Katherine D. Lavallee

Groundwater levels and stream stage were monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Friends of Herring River, at 19 sites in the Mill Creek Basin, a tributary of the Herring River in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on outer Cape Cod, to provide baseline data prior to a proposed restoration of tidal flow to the Herring River estuary at the Cape Cod National Seashore. Tidal flow in the Herring River has been restricted by a tide-control structure since 1909. Baseline data are necessary to understand current conditions and provide information on water levels for comparison to future water levels under the proposed Herring River restoration, which includes restoration of salt marshes by enhancing tidal flow to the Herring River and construction of a tide-control structure on Mill Creek to prevent the flooding of upstream private properties, including a golf course.

Analysis of data collected during monitoring-well installation at eight locations on or near the golf course and Mill Creek, along with analysis of existing information, determined that parts of the study area are underlain by salt marsh deposits up to 18 feet (ft) thick. These marsh deposits are directly underlain by estuarine sediments, and adjacent upland areas are underlain by medium to very coarse sand. The freshwater lens on the golf course is 70 ft thick or more.

Groundwater levels at individual wells in the study area fluctuated by 1.3 to 2.6 ft during the study period (June 1, 2017, to June 14, 2018). Total precipitation during this period was 60.8 inches, about 10 inches greater than the long-term (2000–17) annual average (50.3 inches). Groundwater levels on Cape Cod generally were normal to above normal during the study owing to the higher than normal precipitation. Tidal amplitudes of groundwater levels caused by daily fluctuations at nearby tidal waterbodies (M2 tidal harmonic) were as large as 0.12 ft at a well 105 ft from the tidally restricted Herring River and as large as 0.06 ft at a well 575 ft from Wellfleet Harbor. Tidal fluctuations in groundwater levels were generally limited to areas about 1,500 ft from the nearest tidal waterbody. Under the initial proposed restoration, where mean tides would be maintained similar to current conditions, tidal fluctuations would be restored to parts of Mill Creek, and subsequent tidal fluctuations in groundwater levels could increase at some of the areas closest to the proposed tide-control structure, but the fluctuations would be less than about 0.06 ft in magnitude.

Regression models were used to describe the variability of daily mean tidally filtered groundwater levels and daily maximum stream stage in Mill Creek. Significant independent variables for the groundwater-level model included daily tidally filtered Wellfleet Harbor stage with a lag time of zero to 2 days, 7-day precipitation, the growing degree days (50 degrees Fahrenheit), and the quartile of groundwater levels relative to a long period of record at a nearby observation well.

Significant independent variables to predict the Mill Creek stage included daily mean groundwater levels in nearby wells, 7-day precipitation, growing degree days (50 degrees Fahrenheit), and a binary indicator of either a flooded or nonflooded condition on the golf course near Mill Creek. Flooding in Mill Creek occurred primarily when groundwater levels at nearby wells reached certain thresholds, when the precipitation in the preceding 7 days was at least 0.92–1.04 inches, and during the nongrowing season.

Spectral analysis to quantify the response of groundwater levels to precipitation—Northwestern United States

Released February 19, 2020 13:54 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1007

Andrew J. Long, Christopher P. Konrad

Persistent atmospheric patterns that lead to wet and dry seasons and droughts over periods of months to decades and longer-term climate change over periods of decades to millennia affect groundwater resources. Changes in groundwater storage and the resulting groundwater discharge from most aquifers is relatively slow and steady compared to the variability of daily precipitation. The response of groundwater levels to precipitation can be complex because of a combination of processes that include evapotranspiration, surface runoff, and infiltration of net recharge from precipitation through the vadose zone. Typically, this response is delayed and results in a change in groundwater storage reflected in a time series of groundwater levels. Understanding the relations between variations in precipitation and changes in groundwater storage is essential to water resources planning. The objectives of this study were to (1) characterize the relation between precipitation and responses in groundwater levels at seasonal to decadal scales and (2) to develop methods that are transferable on a continental scale to any groundwater-level record. Spectral analysis was applied to daily precipitation and groundwater levels for eleven monitoring wells in the northwestern Unites States with records ranging in length from 5.9 to 23.9 years. The analysis provided a quantitative characterization for each monitoring well that met both objectives and indicated that maximum and minimum precipitation rates generally occurred in December and August, respectively. Maximum groundwater levels occurred from February to August, and minimum values occurred from January to December. The lag in the annual peak response of groundwater to peak precipitation ranged from 2.2 to 8.8 months, with a median value of 5.3 months. Groundwater responses to wet and dry seasons were evident in the relatively high amplitude frequencies of 10 and 20 cycles per decade (cpdec). A high amplitude frequency at 1 cpdec represents a drought cycle that resulted in larger groundwater level changes than typical seasonal water level fluctuations.

An update of hydrologic conditions and distribution of selected constituents in water, Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer and perched groundwater zones, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho, emphasis 2016–18

Released February 18, 2020 10:32 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5149

Roy C. Bartholomay, Neil V. Maimer, Gordon W. Rattray, Jason C. Fisher

Since 1952, wastewater discharged to infiltration ponds (also called percolation ponds) and disposal wells at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has affected water quality in the eastern Snake River Plain (ESRP) aquifer and perched groundwater zones underlying the INL. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, maintains groundwater-monitoring networks at the INL to determine hydrologic trends and to delineate the movement of radiochemical and chemical wastes in the aquifer and in perched groundwater zones. This report presents an analysis of water-level and water-quality data collected from the ESRP aquifer and perched groundwater wells in the USGS groundwater monitoring networks during 2016–18.

From March–May 2015 to March–May 2018, water levels in wells completed in the ESRP aquifer declined in the northern part of the INL and increased in the southwestern part. Water-level decreases ranged from 0.5 to 3.0 feet (ft) in the northern part of the INL and increases ranged from 0.5 to 3.0 ft in the southwestern part.

Detectable concentrations of radiochemical constituents in water samples from wells in the ESRP aquifer at the INL generally decreased or remained constant during 2016–18. Decreases in concentrations were attributed to radioactive decay, changes in waste-disposal methods, and dilution from recharge and underflow.

In 2018, concentrations of tritium in water samples collected from 46 of 111 aquifer wells were greater than the reporting level of three times the sample standard deviation and ranged from 260±50 to 5,100±190 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Tritium concentrations in water from 10 wells completed in deep perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer near the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) Complex generally were greater than or equal to the reporting level during at least one sampling event during 2016–18, and concentrations ranged from 150 ±50 to 12,900 ±200 pCi/L.

Concentrations of strontium-90 in water from 17 of 60 ESRP aquifer wells sampled during April or October 2018 exceeded the reporting level, ranging from 2.2±0.7 to 363±19 pCi/L. Strontium-90 was not detected in the ESRP aquifer beneath the ATR Complex. During at least one sampling event during 2016–18, concentrations of strontium-90 in water from eight wells completed in deep perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer at the ATR Complex equaled or exceeded the reporting levels, and concentrations ranged from 0.57±0.17 to 34.3±1.2 pCi/L.

During 2016–18, concentrations of cesium-137 were less than the reporting level in all but one ESRP aquifer well, and concentrations of plutonium-238, -239, and -240 (undivided), and americium-241 were less than the reporting level in water samples from all ESRP aquifer wells.

In April 2009, the dissolved chromium concentration in water from one ESRP aquifer well, USGS 65, south of the ATR Complex equaled the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 100 micrograms per liter (μg/L). In April 2018, the concentration of chromium in water from that well had decreased to 76.0 μg/L, less than the MCL. Concentrations in water samples from 62 other ESRP aquifer wells sampled ranged from less than 0.6 to 21.6 μg/L. During 2016–18, dissolved chromium was detected in water from all wells completed in deep perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer at the ATR Complex, and concentrations ranged from 4.2 to 98.8 μg/L.

In 2018, concentrations of sodium in water from most ESRP aquifer wells in the southern part of the INL were greater than the western tributary background concentration of 8.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L). After the new percolation ponds were put into service in 2002 southwest of the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC), concentrations of sodium in water samples from the Rifle Range well increased steadily until 2008, when concentrations generally began decreasing. The increases and decreases were attributed to disposal variability in the new percolation ponds. During 2016–18, dissolved sodium concentrations in water from 18 wells completed in deep perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer at the ATR Complex ranged from 6.37 to 143 mg/L.

In 2018, concentrations of chloride in most water samples from ESRP aquifer wells south of the INTEC and at the Central Facilities Area exceeded the background concentrations. Chloride concentrations in water from wells south of the INTEC generally have decreased since 2002 when chloride disposal to the old percolation ponds was discontinued. After the new percolation ponds southwest of the INTEC were put into service in 2002, concentrations of chloride in water samples from one well rose steadily until 2008 then began decreasing. During 2016–18, dissolved chloride concentrations in deep perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer from 18 wells at the ATR Complex ranged from 3.89 to 176 mg/L.

In 2018, sulfate concentrations in water samples from ESRP aquifer wells in the south-central part of the INL exceeded the background concentration of sulfate and ranged from 22 to 151 mg/L. The greater-than-background concentrations in water from these wells probably resulted from sulfate disposal at the ATR Complex infiltration ponds or the old INTEC percolation ponds. In 2018, sulfate concentrations in water samples from wells near the Radioactive Waste Management Complex (RWMC) mostly were greater than background concentrations and could have resulted from well construction techniques and (or) waste disposal at the RWMC or the ATR complex. The maximum dissolved sulfate concentration in shallow perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer near the ATR Complex was 215 mg/L in well CWP 3 in April 2016. During 2018, dissolved sulfate concentrations in water from wells completed in deep perched groundwater above the ESRP aquifer near the cold-waste ponds at the ATR Complex ranged from 65.8 to 171 mg/L.

In 2018, concentrations of nitrate in water from most ESRP aquifer wells at and near the INTEC exceeded the western tributary background concentration of 0.655 mg/L. Concentrations of nitrate in wells southwest of the INTEC and farther away from the influence of disposal areas and the Big Lost River show a general decrease in nitrate concentration through time. Two wells south of the INTEC show increasing trends that could be the result of wastewater beneath the INTEC tank farm being mobilized to the aquifer.

During 2016–18, water samples from several ESRP aquifer wells were collected and analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sixteen VOCs were detected. At least 1 and as many as 7 VOCs were detected in water samples from 15 wells. The primary VOCs detected include carbon tetrachloride, trichloromethane, tetrachloroethene, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and trichloroethene. In 2016–18, concentrations for all VOCs were less than their respective MCLs for drinking water, except carbon tetrachloride in water from two wells and trichloroethene in one well.

During 2016–18, variability and bias were evaluated from 37 replicate and 15 blank quality-assurance samples. Results from replicate analyses were investigated to evaluate sample variability. Constituents with acceptable reproducibility were major ions, trace elements, nutrients, and VOCs. All radiochemical constituents had acceptable reproducibility except for gross alpha- and beta-particle radioactivity. The gross alpha- and beta-particle radioactivity samples that did not meet reproducibility criteria had low concentrations. Bias from sample contamination was evaluated from equipment, field, and source-solution blanks. Cadmium had a concentration slightly greater than its reporting level in a source-solution blank, and chloride and ammonia had concentrations that were slightly greater than their respective reporting levels in field and equipment blanks. Subtracting concentrations of chloride and ammonia in field blanks from the concurrently collected equipment blank indicates that adjusted concentrations for chloride and ammonia in the equipment blanks were less than their respective reporting levels. Therefore, no sample bias was observed for any of the sample periods.

The IPBES global assessment: Pathways to action

Released February 18, 2020 06:48 EST

2020, Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Mary H. Ruckelshaus, Stephen T. Jackson, Harold A. Mooney, Katharine L. Jacobs, Karim- Aly S. Kassam, Mary T. K. Arroyo, András Báldi, Ann M. Bartuska, James W. Boyd, Lucas N. Joppa, Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszki, Jill Petraglia Parsons, Robert J. Scholes, Jason F. Shogren, Zhiyun Ouyang

The first Global Assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found widespread, accelerating declines in Earth’s biodiversity and associated benefits to people from nature. Addressing these trends will require science-based policy responses to reduce impacts, especially at national to local scales. Effective scaling of science-policy efforts driven by global and national assessments is a major challenge for turning assessment into action, and will require unprecedented commitments on the part of scientists to engage with communities of policy and practice. Fulfillment of science’s social contract with society, and with nature, will require strong institutional support for scientists’ participation in activities that transcend conventional research and publication.

Does Lake Erie still have sufficient oxythermal habitat for cisco Coregonus artedi?

Released February 15, 2020 06:15 EST

2020, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Joseph Schmitt, Christoper S. Vandergoot, Brian P. O'Malley, Richard Kraus

In Lake Erie, cisco Coregonus artedi once supported one of the most valuable freshwater fisheries on earth, yet overfishing caused their eventual extirpation from the lake. With warming lake temperatures, some have questioned whether Lake Erie still contains suitable oxythermal conditions for cisco. Using published oxythermal thresholds for cisco and oxythermal profiles from Lake Erie, we sought to answer two questions critical to cisco restoration science. First, is cisco habitat still available during the most restrictive periods? Second, what is the distribution of cisco habitat during these times? Beta regression was used to determine that cisco habitat was most limited during the month of August, and that August of 2010 was the most restrictive period in the time series. We then used Empirical Bayesian Kriging (EBK) to map the spatial extent of cisco habitat during these times. EBK maps revealed large areas of summer refugia for cisco in Lake Erie, even during the least favorable periods. Most of the Central and East Basins contain suitable habitat during the average August, yet during August of 2010, suitable conditions were limited to the eastern edge of the Central Basin and the deep waters of the East Basin. These findings align well with historical accounts of cisco landings. While suitable oxythermal habitat still exists for cisco in Lake Erie, future restoration efforts, if attempted, will partially depend on: 1) better management of nutrient inputs, 2) the realization of future climate scenarios, and 3) the ability of cisco to adapt to a changing lake.

Potential groundwater recharge rates for two subsurface-drained agricultural fields, southeastern Minnesota, 2016–18

Released February 14, 2020 15:35 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5006

Erik A. Smith, Andrew M. Berg

Subsurface drainage is used to efficiently drain saturated soils to support productive agriculture in poorly drained terrains. Although subsurface drainage alters the water balance for agricultural fields, its effect on groundwater resources and groundwater recharge is poorly understood. In Minnesota, subsurface drainage has begun to increase in southeastern Minnesota, even though this part of the State is underlain by permeable karstic bedrock aquifers with only a thin layer of glacial sediments separating these aquifers from land surface.

To gain a better understanding of groundwater recharge effects from subsurface drainage, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, led a 2-year hydrologic study to investigate this connection for two agricultural fields in southeastern Minnesota with subsurface drainage. A total of three monitoring plots were used between the two agricultural fields: two monitoring plots that included an actively drained area with peripheral, undrained areas, and a third monitoring plot without any subsurface drainage. Multiple piezometer transects were set up across the three monitoring plots to characterize the unsaturated zone and shallow water-table flow using pressure transducers and soil moisture probes. From these piezometers, groundwater recharge rates were derived using two different methods: the RISE Water-Table Fluctuation (WTF) method and the DRAINMOD model. In addition to these two methods, the USGS Soil-Water-Balance (SWB) model was used to estimate potential recharge rates for three different monitoring plots.

In addition to deriving groundwater recharge rates, the hydrologic budget was analyzed to interpret the water-table surface elevation and soil volumetric water content time series. At one of the two drained plots, the transects exhibited varying water-table surface elevation patterns. Frequent backflow from the adjacent ditch caused subsurface drainage flow to slow down or stop drainage through the main collector drain and cause pipe pressurization, so the closest transect appeared to be mostly controlled by the drain pressurization, whereas the farthest transect was more efficiently drained. Both of the drained monitoring plots had an elevation gradient parallel to the pattern tiles, sloping downward towards the collector drain that aggregated the parallel lines into a single drain. Because the transects were set at different gradients in the field, some of the water-table surface elevation differences were also attributed to lateral flow towards the lowest parts of the field.

Three methods were used to derive potential groundwater recharge rates: the RISE WTF method, the USGS SWB model, and DRAINMOD-derived deep seepage rates. Potential groundwater recharge rates, using the RISE WTF method, across all piezometers were 1.55 and 1.94 inches per year, respectively, for water years 2017 and 2018. More differentiation of potential recharge rates between different piezometer types occurred for water year 2018. Although the difference was slightly more than 1 inch between the drained and nondrained piezometers for water year 2018, this difference was statistically significant based on a t-test with a p-value of 0.036 (α=0.05). When looking at recharge based on distance from the drain, the subsurface drain did not affect potential recharge, although other factors such as variability in screen depths, well construction, and specific yield variability cannot be eliminated. The SWB model was also used to estimate potential recharge rates for water years 2017–18, with rates between 2.44 and 5.92 inches per year for the two drained sites, generally higher than the RISE WTF estimates. DRAINMOD-derived potential recharge rates were generally the highest of the three methods, with potential recharge rates varying from 2.07 to 9.49 inches per year.

Overall, there was a lack of agreement between the three methods. These results were not remarkable, considering the fundamental differences in the methodology for each method. However, all methods did show a fundamental difference between piezometers within the drained area and piezometers outside the drained area, including the third undrained monitoring plot. The drained areas show a lower overall potential groundwater recharge compared to the nondrained areas for all three estimates. The difference for the 2018 recharge estimates was slightly higher than 1 inch for the RISE WTF method, the difference was almost double for the nine sites for the DRAINMOD model, and the difference between the drain and undrained plots was even more significant for the SWB model.

A spectral index for estimating soil salinity in the Yellow River Delta region of China using EO-1 Hyperion data

Released February 14, 2020 15:11 EST

2010, Pedosphere (27) 378-388

Yongling Weng, Peng Gong, Zhiliang Zhu

Soil salinization is one of the most common land degradation processes. In this study, spectral measurements of saline soil samples collected from the Yellow River Delta region of China were conducted in laboratory and hyperspectral data were acquired from an EO-1 Hyperion sensor to quantitatively map soil salinity in the region. A soil salinity spectral index (SSI) was constructed from continuum-removed reflectance (CR-reflectance) at 2 052 and 2 203 nm, to analyze the spectral absorption features of the salt-affected soils. There existed a strong correlation (r =0.91) between the SSI and soil salt content (SSC). Then, a model for estimation of SSC with SSI was established using univariate regression and validation of the model yielded a root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.986 and an R2 of 0.873. The model was applied to a Hyperion reflectance image on a pixel-by-pixel basis and the resulting quantitative salinity map was validated successfully with RMSE = 1.921 and R2 =0.627. These suggested that the satellite hyperspectral data had the potential for predicting SSC in a large area.

An integrated feasibility study of reservoir thermal energy storage in Portland, Oregon, USA

Released February 14, 2020 07:02 EST

2020, Conference Paper, Proceedings: 45th workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford University

John Bershaw, Erick Burns, Trenton T Cladouhos, Alison E Horst, Boz Van Houten, Peter Hulseman, Alisa Kane, Jenny H Liu, Robert B Perkins, Darby P Scanlon, Ashley R. Streig, Ellen E Svadlenak, Matt W Uddenberg, Ray E Wells, Colin F. Williams

In regions with long cold overcast winters and sunny summers, Deep Direct-Use (DDU) can be coupled with Reservoir Thermal Energy Storage (RTES) technology to take advantage of pre-existing subsurface permeability to save summer heat for later use during cold seasons. Many aquifers worldwide are underlain by permeable regions (reservoirs) containing brackish or saline groundwater that has limited beneficial use due to poor water quality. We investigate the utility of these relatively deep, slow flowing reservoirs for RTES by conducting an integrated feasibility study in the Portland Basin, Oregon, USA, developing methods and obtaining results that can be widely applied to groundwater systems elsewhere. As a case study, we have conducted an economic and social cost-benefit analysis for the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), a teaching hospital that is recognized as critical infrastructure in the Portland Metropolitan Area. Our investigation covers key factors that influence feasibility including 1) the geologic framework, 2) heat and fluid flow modeling, 3) capital and maintenance costs, 4) the regulatory framework, and 5) operational risks. By pairing a model of building seasonal heat demand with an integrated model of RTES resource supply, we determine that the most important factors that influence RTES efficacy in the study area are operational schedule, well spacing, the amount of summer heat stored (in our model, a function of solar array size), and longevity of the system. Generally, heat recovery efficiency increases as the reservoir and surrounding rocks warm, making RTES more economical with time. Selecting a base-case scenario, we estimate a levelized cost of heat (LCOH) to compare with other sources of heating available to OHSU and find that it is comparable to unsubsidized solar and nuclear, but more expensive than natural gas. Additional benefits of RTES include energy resiliency in the event that conventional energy supplies are disrupted (e.g., natural disaster) and a reduction in fossil fuel consumption resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. Key risks include reservoir heterogeneity and a possible reduction in permeability through time due to scaling (mineral precipitation). Lastly, a map of thermal energy storage capacity for the Portland Basin yields a total of 87,000 GWh, suggesting tremendous potential for RTES in the Portland Metropolitan Area.

Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units program—2019 year in review

Released February 13, 2020 11:00 EST

2020, Circular 1463

John D. Thompson, Donald E. Dennerline, Dawn E. Childs

Acting Chief’s Message

Dear Cooperators:

Members of the Cooperative Research Units are pleased to provide you with the “2019 Year in Review” report for the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRUs). You will first note that this report looks a little different than those published in the past few years, as we opted for a shorter, more concise format this year. Inside you will find brief descriptions of just a few highlighted activities of unit scientists, students, and cooperators in support of our joint mission. Because of the shorter format, we are not able to include activities from every unit or State, but rest assured that we continue to value the great work that all of you do across the country and around the world.

In fiscal year 2019, the CRU program was very productive despite challenging conditions, including budget uncertainty, a month-long furlough, and hiring delays. John Organ, Chief of the CRU program, retired in January 2019. The process to replace John was delayed several times, but as I write this, the position has been announced on the Federal Government recruitment site. I am hopeful that by the time you read this, we will have a new permanent chief. Congress provided an increase of $1 million in our allocation for the express purpose of filling some of the vacancies in our scientific workforce. Since receiving that increase, the management team has been working to fill vacancies.

The program is fortunate to have excellent research scientists, dedicated leadership, and an outstanding administrative staff. However, our accomplishments depend on the tremendous support from all of you. We look forward to a productive 2020.

John D. Thompson

Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units program—2019 year in review postcard

Released February 13, 2020 11:00 EST

2020, General Information Product 195

John D. Thompson, Donald E. Dennerline, Dawn E. Childs

Acting Chief’s Message

Dear friends,

I invite you to take a look at U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1463, “Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program—2019 Year in Review,” now available at https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1463. In this report, you will find details about the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRU) program concerning fish and wildlife science, students, staffing, vacancies, research funding, outreach and training, awards, accolades, and professional services. You will also see examples of unit projects with information on how results have been or are being applied by our cooperators.

Throughout the year, keep up with our research projects at https://www1.usgs.gov/coopunits/Headquarters/.

John D. Thompson

Waterfowl occurrence and residence time as indicators of H5 and H7 avian influenza in North American Poultry

Released February 13, 2020 08:04 EST

2020, Scientific Reports (10) 16

John M. Humphreys, Andy Ramey, David C. Douglas, Jennifer M. Mullinax, Catherine Soos, Paul T. Link, Patrick Walther, Diann J. Prosser

Avian influenza (AI) affects wild aquatic birds and poses hazards to human health, food security, and wildlife conservation globally. Accordingly, there is a recognized need for new methods and tools to help quantify the dynamic interaction between wild bird hosts and commercial poultry. Using satellite-marked waterfowl, we applied Bayesian joint hierarchical modeling to concurrently model species distributions, residency times, migration timing, and disease occurrence probability under an integrated animal movement and disease distribution modeling framework. Our results indicate that migratory waterfowl are positively related to AI occurrence over North America such that as waterfowl occurrence probability or residence time increase at a given location, so too does the chance of a commercial poultry AI outbreak. Analyses also suggest that AI occurrence probability is greatest during our observed waterfowl northward migration, and less during the southward migration. Methodologically, we found that when modeling disparate facets of disease systems at the wildlife-agriculture interface, it is essential that multiscale spatial patterns be addressed to avoid mistakenly inferring a disease process or disease-environment relationship from a pattern evaluated at the improper spatial scale. The study offers important insights into migratory waterfowl ecology and AI disease dynamics that aid in better preparing for future outbreaks.

The surface trace tool—Modeling complex planar interactions using ArcGIS

Released February 12, 2020 15:40 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2019-1136

Drew B. Adams, Heather L. Parks

The surface trace tool comprises a Python script written for ArcGIS that will determine the line of intersection between a planar feature and a surface. Specifically, this tool was designed for geologic applications where geologic planar-feature orientations are reported as strike and dip, and the intersecting surface is the ground. The tool output will show how planar geologic layers intersect with topography.

Determining where geologic features crop out on the surface can be used to guide new geologic mapping as well as reviewing existing geologic mapping. This tool was developed to aid in more efficient mapping of an unknown area. These unknown areas may be missing data, either owing to a lack of suitable outcrops or being difficult to traverse, and data about the areas may be extrapolated using this tool and surrounding data to determine where planar features might appear on the ground.

Evaluation of legacy and emerging organic chemicals using passive sampling devices on the North Branch Au Sable River near Lovells, Michigan, June 2018

Released February 12, 2020 14:42 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5002

Angela K. Brennan, David A. Alvarez

The North Branch Au Sable River, located in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan near Lovells, Michigan, has historically been known for its brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and its status as a blue ribbon trout stream; however, within the past few decades, there has been a decline in fish population. The objectives of this study were to assess if concentrations of organic chemicals were present in quantities in the North Branch Au Sable River that may potentially harm aquatic species and to establish current baseline concentrations of organic chemicals against which future data can be compared. Passive sampling technology was used to collect information on the concentration, occurrence, transport, and fate of organic chemicals; these samplers absorb dissolved organic chemicals in the river over several weeks, as the timing and intensity of pesticide applications and the frequency of storm events and irrigation can cause fluctuations in organic chemical loading to surface waters. The chemical classes investigated as part of this study included pesticides (both legacy [organochlorine] and current use), polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Passive samplers, including semipermeable membrane devices and polar organic chemical integrative samplers, were deployed at four locations along the North Branch Au Sable River, near Lovells, Mich., in June 2018 for a total of 28 days. Several organic chemicals were detected in the North Branch Au Sable River at low concentrations. Organic chemicals were detected at every sampling location on the North Branch Au Sable River; however, not all chemicals were detected at every location. The highest number of organic chemicals were detected at the most downstream sampling site (North Branch Au Sable River at Kellogg's Bridge), and the lowest number of organic chemicals were detected at the next site upstream (North Branch Au Sable River at Twin Bridge Road). The organic contaminants most frequently detected at all sampling locations include the legacy pesticides pentachloroanisole, trans-chlordane, p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene, and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane; the PBDE PBDE-28; and the PAHs 2-methylphenanthrene and perylene.

Organic chemical concentrations detected on the North Branch Au Sable River were below almost all water-quality benchmarks included in this report. However, low concentrations of organic chemicals may still pose a risk to aquatic organisms and throughout the trophic hierarchy because of low-dose additive and synergistic mixture effects, transgenerational effects, and a lack of established water-quality benchmarks for many organic chemicals. This report provides data on the current (2018) state of the North Branch Au Sable River and provided a baseline of organic contaminant data against which future data on the North Branch Au Sable River can be evaluated.

A review of Cattail (Typha) invasion in North American wetlands

Released February 12, 2020 14:00 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2019-3076

Sheel Bansal, Brian Tangen, Shane Lishawa, Sue Newman, Douglas Wilcox


Cattail (Typha) is an iconic emergent wetland plant found worldwide. By producing an abundance of wind-dispersed seeds, cattail can colonize wetlands across great distances, and its rapid growth rate, large size, and aggressive expansion result in dense stands in a variety of aquatic ecosystems such as marshes, ponds, lakes, and riparian areas. Cattail can also quickly dominate disturbed areas with waterlogged soils such as roadside ditches, retention areas, and fringes of stormwater ponds. These dense stands impact local plant and animal life, biogeochemical cycling, and wetland hydrology, which in turn alter wetland functions. Over recent decades, the distribution and abundance of cattail in North America has increased as a result of human disturbances to natural water cycles and increased nutrient loads. In addition, highly competitive nonnative and hybrid taxa have worsened the rapid spread of cattail. Because cattail invasion and expansion often change wetlands in undesirable ways, wetland managers often respond with widespread management efforts, though these efforts may have short-lived or weak effects. Notwithstanding the negative impacts, cattail provides beneficial ecosystem services including the reduction of pollution through bioremediation and the production of biofuel material.

Despite the widespread distribution and invasive characteristics of cattail, a comprehensive review and synthesis of past and current research on cattail was lacking. To address this gap, a diverse team of researchers produced a paper that details the spread and management of cattail throughout North America, summarizing 4 decades of research from more than 650 references (Bansal and others, 2019). This fact sheet highlights the primary topics covered in the paper.

Spatial and temporal trends in Potomac River fish abundance linked to species traits

Released February 12, 2020 08:57 EST

2020, Ecosphere (11)

Nathaniel P. Hitt, Karli Rogers, Zachary Kelly, Josh Henesy, John E. Mullican

Analysis of species abundance trends can inform an understanding of the underlying mechanisms. We evaluated spatial and temporal trends in fish species abundance in the non-tidal Potomac River (USA) from a dataset comprising 2841 seine-hauls with > 250,000 individual fish records across 10 sites and 43 years (1975-2017). The dataset contained 47 species from 7 taxonomic families, with species richness and abundance dominated by leuciscids, centrarchids, and percids (85% and 95% of the total dataset, respectively). We used linear modeling and bootstrapping techniques to estimate spatial and temporal trends in abundance (CPUE) for 38 species, excluding the rarest taxa (< 30 individuals). Spatial trends in abundance were detected for 22 species (58%), of which 15 were more abundant downstream than upstream and 7 were more abundant upstream than downstream. Temporal trends in abundance were detected for 25 species (66%), of which 15 increased over time and 10 decreased over time. Spatial trends were associated with reproductive life history strategies: egg-attachers and viviparous fishes generally increased in a downstream direction, whereas species with other reproductive modes and relatively short spawning durations (< ~2 months) showed the opposite spatial trend. Temporal trends were associated with reproductive guilds and range area (a surrogate for environmental tolerance): egg-attachers and nest-associates generally increased in abundance over time, whereas broadcast spawners, clean-gravel spawners, and nest-guarders with relatively small range areas (< ~ 1.2 million km2) tended to decrease over time. This study provides an analysis of one of the largest systematic collections of freshwater fishes to our knowledge and provides a framework to evaluate mechanisms underlying observed trends.

Geology and assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Sverdrup Basin Province, Arctic Canada, 2008

Released February 11, 2020 10:01 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1824-I

Marilyn E. Tennyson, Janet K. Pitman

Thomas E. Moore, Donald L. Gautier, editor(s)

The Sverdrup Basin Province, an area of 515,000 square kilometers on the northern margin of North America, extends 1,300 kilometers across the Canadian Arctic Islands from near the Mackenzie Delta to northern Ellesmere Island. It consists of an intracratonic late Paleozoic to early Cenozoic rift-sag basin and a Mesozoic rift shoulder that bounds it on the north.

Basin inception was Mississippian, manifested by deposition of nonmarine strata in rift basins, followed by Pennyslvanian marine transgression, which began with evaporites and progressed to Permian carbonate and clastic deposition at basin fringes and organic-rich marine strata in the basin center. Sediment transport was both northward from North America and southward from a now-subsided or rifted-away landmass to the north. Mesozoic strata indicate continued marine deposition, including both organic-rich, fine-grained rocks deposited during highstands and progradational deltaic sequences. A new episode of rifting began in Middle Jurassic time and culminated in the opening of the Canada Basin by Early Cretaceous seafloor spreading. The Sverdrup Rim formed as the rift shoulder between North America and the thinned, subsided crust to the north. Widespread Upper Cretaceous organic-rich shales were deposited during the major transgression induced by Canada Basin opening, followed by an influx of coarser east-derived detritus. In Paleogene time, incipient North Atlantic seafloor spreading caused deformation in northeasternmost North America, producing uplifts that shed detritus westward across the Sverdrup Basin. Tight folding and thrusting resulting from the Eurekan orogeny took place in the eastern part of the basin during the Eocene, with decreasing intensity of deformation westward. Since deformation ended in late Eocene time, little significant tectonism or deposition has taken place.

Two petroleum systems were defined in the Sverdrup Basin Province. Upper Paleozoic marine shale generated petroleum beginning in the Early Triassic, but this petroleum system was not quantitatively assessed because reservoir quality in adjacent strata is poor, the rocks are mostly overmature, and subsequent deformation likely affected trap integrity. The second petroleum system was sourced by Lower Triassic strata rich in oil-prone organic matter. Oil was generated during Paleogene burial synchronous with Eurekan deformation, and the oil migrated into Triassic and Jurassic deltaic, shallow marine and nonmarine strata. However, most of the oil may have escaped during deformation and subsequent uplift and erosion, which probably caused oil to be displaced from traps by gas expansion. The population of undiscovered accumulations was characterized as likely to include stratigraphically trapped and small, structurally trapped accumulations, with a median size of 80 million barrels of oil (MMBO); the number of undiscovered accumulations was estimated to be between 1 and 50, with the most likely number being 10. The resulting estimate of undiscovered, technically recoverable, conventional oil resources is 61 to 1,255 MMBO, with a mean of 427 MMBO. Undiscovered, technically recoverable, conventional gas resources are estimated at 4.95 trillion cubic feet (TCF), with slightly more than half of that in nonassociated gas accumulations.

A third petroleum system in the adjacent Amerasia Basin Province to the north was considered somewhat likely to contain accumulations on the Sverdrup Rim. Deeply buried Upper Jurassic, Upper Cretaceous, and Eocene organic-rich strata probably generated oil that may have migrated up the continental slope into Triassic to Paleogene sandstones on the Sverdrup Rim. Based on analogy with the Barrow Arch in Alaska, a median of 20 accumulations was estimated, with accumulation volumes as much as 2,500 MMBO and a median of 100 MMBO. The probability of at least one accumulation of the minimum size assessed (50 MMBO) was estimated at 0.22. The resulting estimate of undiscovered, technically recoverable, conventional oil resources is 0 to 2,679 MMBO, with a mean of 424 MMBO. Mean estimates for associated and nonassociated gas are 1.3 and 2.3 TCF, respectively.

Short-term forecasts of insect phenology inform pest management

Released February 11, 2020 09:26 EST

2020, Annals of the Entomological Society of America

Theresa M. Crimmins, Katharine L. Gerst, Diego Huerta, R. Lee Marsh, Erin E. Posthumus, Alyssa H. Rosemartin, Jeff R. Switzer, Jake F. Weltzin, Len Coop, Nicholas Dietschler, Daniel A. Herms, Samita Limbu, R. Talbot Trotter III, Mark Whitmore

Insect pests cost billions of dollars per year globally, negatively impacting food crops and infrastructure, and contributing to the spread of disease. Timely information regarding developmental stages of pests can facilitate early detection and control, increasing efficiency and effectiveness. In 2018, the U.S. National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) released a suite of ‘Pheno Forecast’ map products relevant to science and management. The Pheno Forecasts include real-time maps and short-term forecasts of insect pest activity at management-relevant spatial and temporal resolutions and are based on accumulated temperature thresholds associated with critical life-cycle stages of economically important pests. Pheno Forecasts indicate, for a specified day, the status of the insect’s target life-cycle stage in real time across the contiguous United States. The maps are available for 12 pest species including the invasive emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire [Coleoptera: Buprestidae]), hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand), and gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar Linnaeus [Lepidoptera: Erebidae]). Preliminary validation based on in-situ observations for hemlock woolly adelgid egg and nymph stages in 2018 indicated the maps to be ≥93% accurate depending on phenophase. Since their release in early 2018, these maps have been adopted by tree care specialists and foresters across the United States. Using a consultative mode of engagement, USA-NPN staff have continuously sought input and critique of the maps and delivery from end users. Based on feedback received, maps have been expanded and modified to include additional species, improved descriptions of the phenophase event of interest, and e-mail-based notifications to support management decisions.

Mixed organic and inorganic tapwater exposures and potential effects in greater Chicago area, USA

Released February 11, 2020 08:13 EST

2020, Science of the Total Environment

Paul Bradley, Maria Argos, Dana W. Kolpin, Shannon M. Meppelink, Kristin Romanok, Kelly Smalling, Michael J. Focazio, Joshua M. Allen, Julie E. Dietze, Michael J. Devito, Ariel Donovan, Nicola Evans, Carrie E. Givens, James L. Gray, Christopher P. Higgins, Michelle Hladik, Luke Iwanowicz, Celeste Journey, Rachael Lane, Zachary Laughrey, Keith A. Loftin, R. Blaine McCleskey, Carrie A. McDonough, Elizabeth K Medlock Kakaley, Michael T. Meyer, Andrea Holthouse-Putz, Susan D Richardson, Alan Stark, Christopher P. Weis, Vickie S. Wilson, Abderrahman Zehraoui

Safe drinking water at the point of use (tapwater, TW) is a public-health priority. TW exposures and potential human-health concerns of 540 organics and 35 inorganics were assessed in 45 Chicago area United States (US) homes in 2017. No US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level(s) (MCL) were exceeded in any residential or water treatment plant (WTP) pre-distribution TW sample. Ninety percent (90%) of organic analytes were not detected in treated TW, emphasizing the high quality of the Lake Michigan drinking-water source and the efficacy of the drinking-water treatment and monitoring. Sixteen (16) organics were detected in >25% of TW samples, with about 50 detected at least once. Low-level TW exposures to unregulated disinfection byproducts (DBP) of emerging concern, per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and three pesticides were ubiquitous. Common exceedances of non-enforceable EPA MCL Goal(s) (MCLG) of zero for arsenic [As], lead [Pb], uranium [U]), bromodichloromethane, and tribromomethane suggest potential human health concerns and emphasize the continuing need for improved understanding of cumulative effects of low-concentration mixtures on vulnerable sub-populations. Because DBP dominated TW organics, residential TW concentrations are potentially predictable with expanded pre-distribution DBP monitoring. However, several TW chemicals, notably Pb and several infrequently detected organic compounds, were not readily explained by pre distribution samples, illustrating the need for continued broad inorganic/organic TW characterization to support consumer assessment of acceptable risk and point-of-use treatment options.

Geology and assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Franklinian Shelf Province, Arctic Canada and North Greenland, 2008

Released February 11, 2020 07:45 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1824-H

Marilyn E. Tennyson, Janet K. Pitman

Thomas E. Moore, Donald L. Gautier, editor(s)

In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey assessed the potential for undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Franklinian Shelf Province of northern Canada and Greenland as part of the U.S. Geological Survey Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal Program. The Franklinian Shelf Province lies along the northernmost edge of the North American craton in Greenland and Canada. It encompasses a Cambrian through Middle Devonian passive margin sequence deposited on the margin of an ocean formed by rifting and seafloor spreading that began in latest Precambrian time and continued into Ordovician time. In the Canadian part of the province, the passive margin sequence is overlain by a thick succession of Devonian clastic strata shed from uplifts produced by the Caledonian collision between Laurentia and Baltica that closed Iapetus Ocean. The late Silurian to Early Devonian Boothia-Cornwallis uplifts within the region, apparently a distal effect of earlier phases of the Caledonian collision, were local sources of clastic wedges within the predominantly carbonate shelf sequence. Much of the northern part of the province was subjected to folding and thrusting during Late Devonian to earliest Carboniferous Ellesmerian deformation, followed by a prolonged period of erosion. The eastern part of the province again experienced transpressive and compressive deformation as Greenland converged with North America during the early Tertiary Eurekan orogeny.

Potential source rocks include Ordovician to Lower Devonian shales that contain abundant oil-prone organic matter, deposited on the outer continental shelf and slope. The most likely source rocks are Silurian strata, deposited as the continental shelf was drowned by a marine transgression caused by regional subsidence most likely associated with thrust loading. Potential source rocks in Greenland also may include organic-rich Cambrian shales deposited on the continental shelf. Rapid burial by thick Caledonian-derived strata in Late Devonian time abruptly matured the source rocks and generated oil; continued rapid burial may have cracked much of the accumulated oil to gas. In North Greenland, oil generation may have resulted from burial by now-eroded Devonian strata or from burial by Ellesmerian thrust sheets. Widespread bitumen in outcrops and in exploration wells appears to confirm that oil was indeed generated.

Potential reservoirs include Cambrian nearshore clastic strata, Cambrian to Silurian carbonate bank strata, and Silurian to Middle Devonian reef buildups on the drowned shelf. Because Ellesmerian deformation postdated migration, only stratigraphic traps are likely, except in the area of the Boothia-Cornwallis uplift, a north-trending, structurally elevated zone, where structural traps formed by late Silurian to Early Devonian deformation are possible. It is unlikely that any large accumulations survived subsequent deformation or uplift and erosion.

Three assessment units were defined: the Western Franklinian Shelf, the Boothia-Cornwallis Uplift, and the Eastern Franklinian Shelf Assessment Units. These assessment units were not quantitatively assessed, mostly because of the high risk to timing and preservation.

Hydrogeologic characterization, groundwater chemistry, and vulnerability assessment, Ute Mountain Ute Reservation, Colorado and Utah

Released February 10, 2020 14:00 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5122

Nancy J. Bauch, L. Rick Arnold

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (UMUT), initiated a study in 2016 to increase understanding of the hydrogeology and chemistry of groundwater within select areas of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation (UMUR) in Colorado and Utah, identify vulnerabilities to the system and other natural resources, and outline information needs to aid in the understanding and protection of groundwater resources. The results presented for this study can be used to support the UMUT’s goal of protecting their vital groundwater resources on the UMUR.

Hydrogeologic conditions were characterized for the surficial aquifer contained in Quaternary-age unconsolidated surficial deposits and the Dakota aquifer contained in the Cretaceous-age Dakota Sandstone. In the surficial aquifer, median depth to water ranges from about 5.4 to 17.2 feet below land surface in the Farm and Ranch Enterprise area and 11 to 34 feet below land surface in the Towaoc area, and the water table slopes generally southwest or south. A map of depth to the top of the Dakota Sandstone was constructed from existing well data. Depths range from zero in outcrop areas to more than 3,000 feet below land surface on mesas in the southeastern part of the UMUR.

Groundwater-chemistry data were collected by the UMUT from 13 springs and 31 wells from 1996 through 2017. Specific conductance was much lower for samples from springs than from wells; median values were 512 and 6,024 microsiemens per centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius, respectively. Spring samples were well oxygenated. A few well samples were anoxic (dissolved oxygen concentrations less than 0.5 milligrams per liter [mg/L]), indicating reducing conditions in the aquifer. About 75 percent of spring samples had fresh water (total dissolved solids concentrations less than 1,000 mg/L), and about 85 percent of well samples had brackish or highly saline water (total dissolved solids concentrations greater than 1,000 mg/L). Water type for springs on the Ute Mountains was calcium bicarbonate. Lower-altitude springs had a calcium-sulfate water type. Most well samples had sodium as the dominant cation, and sulfate, bicarbonate, and chloride as the dominant anions. Fluoride concentrations in about 45 percent of well samples were greater than an agricultural-use standard of 2 mg/L.

Nitrate plus nitrite concentrations in most spring and well samples were less than about 1.6 mg/L per liter. Concentrations in samples from wells in the irrigated agricultural area were elevated; the maximum concentration was 78.5 mg/L. About one-half of the trace-element samples had concentrations that were less than laboratory reporting limits. Only aluminum, arsenic, and selenium in spring samples, and boron and selenium in well samples, were detected at concentrations greater than surface-water standards or water-quality standards for agricultural use of groundwater.

Only three organic compounds, the pesticides alachlor and atrazine and the volatile organic compound di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, were detected in well samples. The Escherichia coli bacteria was detected in 47 and 23 percent of samples from wells and springs, respectively. The E. coli detections included samples from three culturally significant springs, which did not meet the UMUT cultural-use standard of total absence of E. coli.

Tritium and carbon-14 were the primary environmental tracers used for interpreting groundwater ages for Lopez 2 Spring and five wells (AP–1, 5000 Block, Cottonwood Spring, Goodknight, and SE Toe). Water from the AP–1 well contained a mixture of pre- and post-1950s recharge. Tritium and carbon-14 recharge ages for Lopez 2 Spring (post-1950s in age), Goodknight and SE Toe wells (pre-1950s in age), and Cottonwood Spring well (primarily pre-1950s in age) are supported by helium-4 data. The helium-4 data for the 5000 Block well are inconsistent with the tritium and carbon-14 age of pre-1950s recharge because of interference caused by high methane concentrations in the water. 

Springs and surficial deposits are more vulnerable to contamination from anthropogenic chemicals than deeper bedrock wells. Bedrock aquifers are vulnerable in areas where the geologic formations containing the aquifers are exposed at the land surface. Groundwater in deep bedrock aquifers is likely thousands of years old and is not currently affected by present-day land uses. Both shallow and deep groundwater are vulnerable to naturally occurring salts and minerals, such as of total dissolved solids, major ions, nitrate, and trace elements.

Effects of a changing climate on water resources and other ecological characteristics of the UMUR could include changes in evapotranspiration, a decrease in snowpack, decreased aquifer recharge and flow of springs, a decrease in soil moisture, and increased occurrence of wildfires and forest mortality. Of particular interest for the UMUT are possible effects of a changing climate on medicinal and culturally important plants and springs

Several information needs were identified during this study that would aid in the understanding and protection of groundwater resources on the UMUR. These include well-completion information for bedrock wells, the collection of environmental tracer data at additional wells, the addition of methane and hydrocarbon analysis to well sampling plans, and the resampling of springs and wells that were last sampled in 2002 or earlier.

Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2018

Released February 07, 2020 13:55 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Map 3446

Gavin P. Hayes, Gregory M. Smoczyk, Antonio H. Villaseñor, Kevin P. Furlong, Harley M. Benz

This map illustrates 119 years of global seismicity in the context of global plate tectonics and the Earth’s physiography. Primarily designed for use by earth scientists, engineers, and educators, this map provides a comprehensive overview of strong (magnitude [M] 5.5 and larger) earthquakes since 1900. The map clearly identifies the locations of the “great” earthquakes (8.0 and larger) and the aftershock or rupture area (green fill), if known, of the 8.3 or larger earthquakes. The circular earthquake symbols are scaled to be proportional to the moment magnitude and therefore to the area of faulting, thus providing a better understanding of the relative sizes and distribution of earthquakes in the magnitude range 5.5 to 9.5. Plotting the known rupture or aftershock areas (which are closely related) of the largest earthquakes also provides a better appreciation of the faulting extent of some of the most famous and damaging instrumentally recorded earthquakes in modern history.

Determining the drivers of suspended sediment dynamics in tidal marsh-influenced estuaries using high-resolution ocean color remote sensing

Released February 07, 2020 13:35 EST

2020, Remote Sensing

Xiaohe Zhang, Cedric Fichot, Carly Baracco, Ruizhe Guo, Sydney Neugebauer, Zachary Bengtsson, Neil Kamal Ganju, Sergio Fagherazzi

Sediment budgets are a critical metric to assess coastal marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise and declining riverine sediment inputs. However, calculating accurate sediment budgets is challenging in tidal marsh-influenced estuaries where suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) typically vary on scales of hours and meters, and where SSC dynamics are driven by a complex and often site-specific interplay of hydrodynamic and meteorological conditions. The mapping of SSC using ocean-color remote sensing is well established and can help capture the spatio-temporal variability needed to determine the dominant drivers regulating sediment budgets. However, the coarse spatial resolution of traditional ocean-color sensors (1-km) generally precludes their use in coastal-marsh estuaries. Here, using the Plum Island Estuary (Massachusetts, USA) as an example, we demonstrate that high-spatial-resolution maps of SSC derived from Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Sentinel-2A/B Multispectral Instruments (MSI) can be used to determine the main drivers of SSC dynamics in tidal marsh-influenced estuaries, despite the long revisit time of these sensors. Local empirical algorithms between SSC and remote sensing reflectance were derived and applied to a total of 46 clear-sky scenes collected by the OLI and the MSI between 2013 and 2018. The analysis revealed that this 5-year record was sufficient to capture a representative range of meteorological and tidal conditions required to determine the main drivers of SSC dynamics in this mid-latitude system. The interplay between river and tidal flows dominated SSC dynamics in this estuary, whereas wind-driven resuspension had more moderate effects. The SSC were higher during spring because of increased river discharge due to snowmelt. Tidal asymmetry also enhanced sediment resuspension during flood tides, possibly favoring deposition on marsh platforms. Together, water level, water-level rate of change, river discharge and wind speed were able to explain > 60% of the variability in the main-channel thalweg-averaged SSC, thereby facilitating future prediction of SSC from these readily available variables. This study demonstrates that the existing multi-year records of high-resolution remote sensing can provide a representative depiction of SSC dynamics in hydrodynamically-complex and small-scale estuaries that moderate-resolution ocean color remote sensing and in situ measurements are unable to capture.

Geochronologic age constraints on tectonostratigraphic units of the central Virginia Piedmont, USA

Released February 07, 2020 10:10 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1861

Mark W. Carter, Ryan J. McAleer, Christopher S. Holm-Denoma, David B. Spears, Sean P. Regan, William C. Burton, Nick H. Evans

New geologic mapping coupled with uranium-lead (U-Pb) zircon geochronology (sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe-reverse geometry [SHRIMP-RG] and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry [LA-ICP-MS]) analyses of 10 samples, provides new constraints on the tectonostratigraphic framework of the central Virginia Piedmont. Detrital zircon analysis confirms that the Silurian-Devonian Quantico Formation is a postorogenic successor basin, with zircons derived primarily from Ordovician Chopawamsic Formation volcanic rocks. Detrital zircons from strata of the Long Island syncline, previously mapped as a separate successor basin, have a peri-Gondwanan component distinct from Laurentian-sourced rocks of the Potomac terrane to the west. Volcanism of the Chopawamsic Formation spanned at least 14 million years during the Ordovician. The Chopawamsic Formation contains sheet-like Late Ordovician-Silurian granodioritic and tonalitic intrusions that were once mapped as Carboniferous. Biotite-muscovite migmatitic paragneiss, which borders the Chopawamsic Formation on its southeast side and also occurs east of the Lakeside fault, preserves evidence of Silurian deformation and metamorphism, with a Carboniferous (Alleghanian) overprint. Limited SHRIMP-RG analysis of detrital zircons from this paragneiss yields a Laurentian (Mesoproterozoic) signature, which suggests that the structurally concordant contact between volcanic rocks of the Chopawamsic Formation and paragneiss is either a pre-Alleghanian fault or an unconformity.

Sensitivity of warm water fishes and rainbow trout to selected contaminants

Released February 07, 2020 09:08 EST

2020, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

John M. Besser, Rebecca A. Dorman, Chris D. Ivey, Danielle Cleveland, Jeffery Steevens

Guidelines for developing water quality standards allow U.S. states to exclude toxicity data for the family Salmonidae (trout and salmon) when deriving guidelines for warm-water habitats. This practice reflects the belief that standards based on salmonid data may be overprotective of toxic effects on other fish taxa. In acute tests with six chemicals and eight fish species, the salmonid, Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), was the most sensitive species tested with copper, zinc, and sulfate, but warm-water species were most sensitive to nickel, chloride, and ammonia. Overall, warm-water fishes, including sculpins (Cottidae) and sturgeons (Acipenseridae), were about as sensitive as salmonids in acute tests and in limited chronic testing with Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) and Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi). In rankings of published acute values, invertebrate taxa were most sensitive for all six chemicals tested and there was no trend for greater sensitivity of salmonids compared to warm-water fish.

Cryptic and extensive hybridization between ancient lineages of American crows

Released February 07, 2020 06:44 EST

2020, Molecular Ecology

David Slager, Kevin Epperly, Renee Ha, Sievert Rohwer, Christopher W. Woodall, Caroline R. Van Hemert, John Klicka

Most species and therefore most hybrid zones have historically been defined using phenotypic characters. However, both speciation and hybridization can occur with negligible morphological differentiation. The Northwestern Crow (Corvus caurinus) and American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) are continuously distributed sister taxa that lack reliable traditional characters for identification. In this first population genomic study of Northwestern and American crows, we use genomic SNPs (nuDNA) and mtDNA to investigate the degree of genetic differentiation between these crows and the extent to which they may hybridize. Our results indicate that American and Northwestern crows do have distinct evolutionary histories, supported by two nuDNA ancestry clusters and two 1.1%-divergent mtDNA clades dating to the late Pleistocene, when glacial advances may have isolated crow populations in separate refugia. We document extensive hybridization, with geographic overlap of mtDNA clades and admixture of nuDNA across >1,400 km of western Washington and western British Columbia. This broad hybrid zone consists of late-generation hybrids and backcrosses, but not recent (e.g., F1) hybrids. Nuclear DNA and mtDNA clines had coincident centers and concordant widths, and were both centered in southwestern British Columbia, farther north than previously postulated. Overall, our results suggest a history of reticulate evolution in American and Northwestern crows, perhaps due to potentially recurring neutral expansion(s) from Pleistocene glacial refugia followed by lineage fusion(s). However, we do not rule out a contributing role for more recent potential drivers of hybridization, such as expansion into human-modified habitats.

"Modified Unified Method" of carp capture

Released February 06, 2020 15:49 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3005

Duane C. Chapman

Populations of Hypophthalmichthys molitrix (silver carp) and Hypophthalmichthys nobilis (bighead carp), (together referred to herein as “bigheaded carp”) have increased exponentially in the greater Mississippi River Basin. Detrimental effects on native fish and economically important fisheries have occurred where these invasive, filter-feeding fish are abundant. The Unified Method, a harvest technique developed in China for bigheaded carp in flood plain lakes, uses herding techniques and a variety of nets to drive bigheaded carp and concentrate them into an area where they can be easily harvested. The U.S. Geological Survey is adapting the Chinese Unified Method concepts to be consistent with North American financial, societal, and environmental conditions. We have modified these techniques and incorporated modern technology to reduce the time and expense of Unified Methods and to allow them to be used in public waters. Thus, the operations in North America are often described as the “Modified Unified Method.” The U.S. Geological Survey is studying and refining the Modified Unified Method to provide stakeholders with efficient, validated, and environmentally friendly methods for carp removal; however, this method is still new to the United States and additional research is needed to further increase the efficiency of Modified Unified Method operations.

Mineral commodity summaries 2020

Released February 06, 2020 14:25 EST

2020, Report

U.S. Geological Survey

Each chapter of the 2020 edition of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries (MCS) includes information on events, trends, and issues for each mineral commodity as well as discussions and tabular presentations on domestic industry structure, Government programs, tariffs, 5-year salient statistics, and world production and resources. The MCS is the earliest comprehensive source of 2019 mineral production data for the world. More than 90 individual minerals and materials are covered by two-page synopses.

Groundwater withdrawals and regional flow paths at and near Willow Grove and Warminster, Pennsylvania—Data compilation and preliminary simulations for conditions in 1999, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2017

Released February 06, 2020 14:00 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2019-1137

Daniel J. Goode, Lisa A. Senior

In 2014, groundwater samples from residential and public supply wells in the vicinity of two former U.S. Navy bases at Willow Grove and Warminster, and an active Air National Guard Station at Horsham, Bucks and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania, were found to have concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provisional health advisory (HA) levels for drinking water. Five supply wells near the bases were shut down because of PFAS contamination. In 2016, after EPA established a Lifetime HA for PFAS in drinking water that is lower than the provisional HA in place in 2014, at least 13 additional supply wells near the bases were shut down because of PFAS contamination. At the request of the U.S. Navy, and in consultation with other Federal and State agencies and local stakeholders, the U.S. Geological Survey used historical and recent data on well withdrawals, recharge rates, aquifer properties, groundwater levels, and stream base flow to evaluate regional groundwater-flow paths from identified areas of PFAS groundwater contamination or potential PFAS sources at the bases. Groundwater withdrawals near the bases from public supply and other large wells decreased substantially from the 1990s to 2017, increasing the proportion of groundwater recharge that discharged to local streams. A preliminary groundwater-flow model, calibrated using 1,009 groundwater levels and 17 stream base flow estimates, simulated regional flow paths from the bases and showed that recharge at the bases discharged to withdrawal wells and local streams, generally within a mile or two of the bases. Supply and remediation wells at the bases captured some of the recharge on base areas of possible PFAS contamination, whereas other base recharge was simulated to flow to nearby public supply wells and streams, depending on water use and aquifer recharge conditions between 1999 and 2017. The locations of many residential wells near the bases that were identified by the Navy and Air National Guard as having elevated PFAS concentrations were generally consistent with the simulated flow paths from possible sources at the bases. However, there are some areas of observed PFAS contamination where no flow paths from base sources were simulated. Additionally, no data were available on PFAS concentrations in groundwater in some areas of simulated flow paths from base sources. Data and models used for this study are provided in this report and in digital data releases to support further investigations and model revisions.

Effect of Cu (II) salts on hydrothermal oxidative decarboxylation: A study of phenylacetic acid

Released February 06, 2020 06:51 EST

2020, Chemical Communications (London)

Xuan Fu, Megan Jamison, Aaron M. Jubb, Yiju Liao, Alexandria Aspin, Kyle Hayes, Christopher R Glein, Ziming Yang

Hydrothermal transformations of organic compounds play important roles in subsurface carbon cycling processes that constrain planetary habitability. Hydrothermal reactions of organic compounds can be influenced by the coexisting inorganic composition, as water-rock interactions release dissolved metals that may impact organic reactivity. Carboxylic acids are abundant in organic-rich hydrothermal environments, and decarboxylation is a major reaction path that produces new organic species (e.g., alkanes). However, studies of hydrothermal interactions between carboxylic acids and inorganic species are few, and in particular, the effect of dissolved metal ions on acid decarboxylation is largely unknown. Here, we consider phenylacetic acid (PAA) as a model carboxylic acid compound to study its hydrothermal decarboxylation in the presence of copper (II) salts. At 200 ºC and 15 bar (Psat), PAA was nearly unreactive in pure water, whereas up to 40% was decomposed with copper (II) sulfate/chloride/acetate after 2 hours, and more than 70% was degraded with copper (II) nitrate. Time series and PAA substituents experiments indicated an oxidative decarboxylation pathway from PAA to benzyl alcohol, benzaldehyde, and then benzoic acid. Results also showed that benzoic acid/benzaldehyde ratios ranged between 0.3 and 2.3 in the cupric sulfate/chloride/acetate experiments, whereas in the presence of cupric nitrate the ratio increased to 47.6 after 6 hours, suggesting a much stronger oxidizing effect of cupric nitrate. Additional experiments with other divalent metal ions (e.g., Mg, Ni, Zn) did not show similar oxidizing effects as copper. Raman spectroscopy analysis further suggested that the hydrothermal oxidative decarboxylation could be attributed to the formation of Cu-coordinated complexes. Our results highlight a potentially significant role of dissolved copper in hydrothermal organic redox transformations, which could provide new insights into understanding water-rock-organic interactions in natural and artificial hydrothermal systems.

Coexisting seismic behavior of transform faults revealed by high-resolution bathymetry

Released February 06, 2020 06:39 EST

2020, Geology

George E. Hilley, Robert M. Sare, Felipe Aron, Curtis W Baden, Dave Caress, Chris Castillo, Stephen C Dobbs, Jared T Gooley, Samuel A. Johnstone, Frances Liu, Tim McHargue, Josie M Nevitt, Charles K. Paull, Lauren E. Shumaker, Miles M Traer, Holly H Young

Transform faults are known to have anomalously low rates of seismicity, but no direct observations reveal why this is the case. We use new, autonomous underwater vehicle high-resolution seafloor mapping to image the morphology of and offsets along transform fault segments in the Gulf of California. Fault splays display a varied history of activation and deactivation of individual fault strands over time, not unlike those mapped onshore or imaged within the bathymetry of the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather and the Palos Verdes faults of offshore western Canada and Southern California. A series of six identically offset depositional fans evidence 21–23 meters of slip along the main transform fault, which could not have been produced by a single earthquake. Rather, the lack of smaller-magnitude offsets indicates synchronous deposition and an absence of multiple slope failure-inducing earthquakes, thus providing the first direct evidence that creep and earthquakes occur at different times in the slip history of a given transform fault segment.

New method for correcting bottomhole temperatures acquired from wireline logging measurements and calibrated for the onshore Gulf of Mexico Basin, U.S.A.

Released February 05, 2020 12:50 EST

2019, Open-File Report 2019-1143

Lauri A. Burke, Ofori N. Pearson, Scott A. Kinney

Bottomhole temperature (BHT) measurements offer a useful way to characterize the subsurface thermal regime as long as they are corrected to represent in situ reservoir temperatures. BHT correction methods calibrated for the domestic onshore Gulf of Mexico basin were established in this study. These corrections are empirically derived and based on newly compiled databases of BHT wireline measurements and, to a lesser extent, drill stem test data. A unified BHT correction for the onshore Gulf Coast region, as well as 12 distinct BHT correction equations for each of the 12 physiographic provinces within the onshore Gulf Coast region, are provided. This study also characterizes the geothermal gradient across the onshore Gulf of Mexico basin, which ranges from 1.89 degrees Fahrenheit per 100 feet in the Sabine Uplift area to 1.39 degrees Fahrenheit per 100 feet in the Southern Louisiana Salt Basin. This report disseminates the slides presented at the 68th annual convention of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies and the Gulf Coast Section of the Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists that was held September 30–October 2, 2018, in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Holocene paleofloods and their climatological context, Upper Colorado River Basin, USA

Released February 05, 2020 06:46 EST

2020, Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment

Taojun Liu, Lin Ji, Victor R. Baker, Tessa M. Harden, Michael L. Cline

Given its singular importance for water resources in the southwestern U.S., the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) is remarkable for the paucity of its conventional hydrological record of extreme flooding. This study uses paleoflood hydrology to examine a small portion the underutilized, but very extensive natural record of Holocene extreme floods in the UCRB. We perform a meta-analysis of 77 extreme paleofloods from seven slackwater deposit sites in the UCRB to show linkages between Holocene climate patterns and extreme floods. The analysis demonstrates several clusters of extreme flood activity: 8040-7790, 3600-3460, 2880-2740, 2330-700, and 620-0 years BP. The extreme paleofloods were found to occur during both dry and wet periods in the paleoclimate record. When compared with independent paleoclimatic records across the Rocky Mountains and the southwestern U.S., the observed temporal clustering pattern of UCRB extreme paleofloods shows associations with periods of abruptly intensified North Pacific-derived storms connected with enhanced El Niño variability.

Preferential elution of ionic solutes in melting snowpacks: Improving process understanding through field observations and modeling in the Rocky Mountains

Released February 04, 2020 13:48 EST

2020, Science of the Total Environment (710) 1-15

Diogo Costa, Graham A. Sexstone, J.W. Pomeroy, Donald H. Campbell, David W. Clow, Alisa Mast

The preferential elution of ions from melting snowpacks is a complex problem that has been linked to temporary acidification of water bodies. However, the understanding of these processes in snowpacks around the world, including the polar regions that are experiencing unprecedented warming and melting, remains limited despite being instrumental in supporting climate change adaptation.

In this study, data collected from a snowmelt lysimeter and snowpits at meadow and forest-gap sites in a high elevation watershed in Colorado were combined with the PULSE multi-phase snowpack chemistry model to investigate the controls of meltwater chemistry and preferential elution. The snowdepth at the meadow site was 64% of that at the forest-gap site, and the snowmelt rate was greater there (meadow snowpit) due to higher solar irradiance. Cations such as Ca2+ and NH4+ were deposited mostly within the upper layers of both the meadow and forest-gap snowpacks, and acid anions such as NO3− and SO42− were more evenly distributed. The snow ion concentrations were generally greater at the forest-gap snowpit, except for NH4+, which indicates that wind erosion of wet and dry deposited ions from the meadow may have reduced concentrations of residual snow. Furthermore, at the forest-gap site, snow interception and scavenging processes such as sublimation, ventilation, and throughfall led to particular ion enrichment of Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, Cl, SO42− and NO3−. Model simulations and observations highlight that preferential elution is enhanced by low snowmelt rates, with the model indicating that this is due to lower dilution rates and increased contact time and area between the percolating meltwater and the snow. Results suggest that low snowmelt rates can cause multiple early meltwater ionic pulses for ions subject to lower ion exclusion. Ion exclusion rates at the grain-size level have been estimated for the first time.

Groundwater availability of the Northern High Plains aquifer in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming

Released February 04, 2020 11:37 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1864

Steven M. Peterson, Jonathan P. Traylor, Moussa Guira

Executive Summary

The Northern High Plains aquifer underlies about 93,000 square miles of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming and is the largest subregion of the nationally important High Plains aquifer. Irrigation, primarily using groundwater, has supported agricultural production since before 1940, resulting in nearly $50 billion in sales in 2012. In 2010, the High Plains aquifer had the largest groundwater withdrawals of any major aquifer system in the United States. Nearly one-half of those withdrawals were from the Northern High Plains aquifer, which has little hydrologic interaction with parts of the aquifer farther south. Land-surface elevation ranges from more than 7,400 feet (ft) near the western edge to less than 1,100 ft near the eastern edge. Major stream primarily flow west to east and include the Big Blue River, Elkhorn River, Loup River, Niobrara River, Republican River and Platte River with its two forks—the North Platte River and South Platte River. Population in the Northern High Plain aquifer area is sparse with only 2 cities having a population greater than 30,000.

Droughts across much of the area from 2001 to 2007, combined with recent (2004–18) legislation, have heightened concerns regarding future groundwater availability and highlighted the need for science-based water-resource management. Groundwater models with the capability to provide forecasts of groundwater availability and related stream base flows from the Northern High Plains aquifer were published recently (2016) and were used to analyze groundwater availability. Stream base flows are generally the dominant component of total streamflow in the Northern High Plains aquifer, and total streamflows or shortages thereof define conjunctive management triggers, at least in Nebraska. Groundwater availability was evaluated through comparison of aquifer-scale water budgets compared for periods before and after major groundwater development and across selected future forecasts. Groundwater-level declines and the forecast amount of groundwater in storage in the aquifer also were examined.

Major Findings

  • Aquifer losses to irrigation withdrawals increased greatly from 1940 to 2009 and were the largest average 2000–9 outflow (49 percent of total).
  • Basin to basin groundwater flows were not a large part of basin water budgets.
  • Development of irrigated land and associated withdrawals were not uniform across the Northern High Plains aquifer, and different parts of the Northern High Plains aquifer responded differently to agricultural development.
  • For the Northern High Plains aquifer, areas with high recharge and low evapotranspiration had the most streamflow, and most streams only remove water from the aquifer.
  • Results of a baseline future forecast indicated that groundwater levels declined overall, indicating an overdraft of the aquifer when climate was about average and agricultural development was held at the same state as 2009.
  • Results of two human stresses future forecasts indicated that increases of 13 percent or 23 percent in agricultural development, mostly near areas of previous development, caused increases in groundwater pumping of 8 percent or 11 percent, and resulted in continued groundwater-level declines, at rates 0.3 or 0.5 million acre-feet per year larger than the baseline forecast.
  • Results of environmental stresses forecasts (generated from two downscalings of global climate model outputs) compared with the baseline forecast indicated that even though annual precipitation was nearly the same, differences in temperature and a redistribution of precipitation from the spring to the growing season (from about May 1 through September 30), created a large (12–15 percent) decrease in recharge to the aquifer.
  • For the two environmental stresses forecasts, temperature and precipitation were distributed about the same among basins of the Northern High Plains aquifer, but the amounts were different.

Continuous nitrate monitoring in groundwater and potential contribution to surface-water nitrogen loads in Mason County, Illinois

Released February 04, 2020 09:34 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2019-3064

Lance R. Gruhn, Greg M. Nalley

Illinois has some of the most productive farmland in the country. The use of fertilizers to improve crop production has increased, which has resulted in an increase in the concentration of nitrogen in many streams and aquifers. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, is continuously monitoring (one reading every 15 minutes) the concentration of nitrate plus nitrite, as nitrogen, in a groundwater well and assessing the potential contribution to surface-water nitrogen loads. Continuous monitoring of the nitrate concentration allows for the collection of a larger dataset in comparison to periodic or event-based sampling. This fact sheet describes the data collection methods, describes the overall experimental design, and displays data collected for the study. The analysis of continuous data improves understanding of the fate and transport of nitrate.

Increasing rates of carbon burial in southwest Florida coastal wetlands

Released February 04, 2020 09:15 EST

2020, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

Joshua L. Breithaupt, Joseph M. Smoak, Thomas S. Bianchi, Derrick Vaughn, Christian Sanders, Kara Radabaugh, Michael J. Osland, Laura C. Feher, James C. Lynch, Donald R. Cahoon, Gordon H. Anderson, Kevin R. T. Whelan, Brad E. Rosenheim, Ryan P. Moyer, Lisa Chambers

Rates of organic carbon (OC) burial in some coastal wetlands appear to be greater in recent years than they were in the past. Possible explanations include ongoing mineralization of older OC or the influence of an unaccounted‐for artefact of the methods used to measure burial rates. Alternatively, the trend may represent real acceleration in OC burial. We quantified OC burial rates of mangrove and coastal freshwater marshes in southwest Florida through a comparison of rates derived from 210Pb, 137Cs, and surface marker horizons (MHs). Age/depth profiles of lignin: OC were used to assess whether down‐core remineralization had depleted the OC pool relative to lignin, and lignin phenols were used to quantify the variability of lignin degradation. Over the past 120 years, OC burial rates at seven sites increased by factors ranging from 1.4 to 6.2. We propose that these increases represent net acceleration. Change in relative sea‐level rise is the most likely large‐scale driver of acceleration, and sediment deposition from large storms can contribute to periodic increases. Mangrove sites had higher OC and lignin burial rates than marsh sites, indicating inherent differences in OC burial factors between the two habitat types. The higher OC burial rates in mangrove soils mean that their encroachment into coastal freshwater marshes has the potential to increase burial rates in those locations even more than might be expected from the acceleration trends. Regionally, these findings suggest that burial represents a substantially growing proportion of the coastal wetland carbon budget.

The response of stream ecosystems in the Adirondack region of New York to historical and future changes in atmospheric deposition of sulfur and nitrogen

Released February 04, 2020 09:13 EST

2020, Science of the Total Environment (716)

Shuai Shao, Charles T. Driscoll, Timothy J. Sullivan, Douglas A. Burns, Barry P. Baldigo, Gregory B. Lawrence, Todd C. McDonnell

The present-day acid-base chemistry of surface waters can be directly linked to contemporary observations of acid deposition; however, pre-industrial conditions are key to predicting the potential future recovery of stream ecosystems under decreasing loads of atmospheric sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition. The integrated biogeochemical model PnET-BGC was applied to 25 forest watersheds that represent a range of acid sensitivity in the Adirondack region of New York, USA to simulate the response of streams to past and future changes in atmospheric S and N deposition, and calculate the target loads of acidity for protecting and restoring stream water quality and ecosystem health. Using measured data, the model was calibrated and applied to simulate soil and stream chemistry at all study sites. Model hindcasts indicate that historically stream water chemistry in the Adirondacks was variable, but inherently sensitive to acid deposition. The median model-simulated acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) of the streams was projected to be 55 μeq L−1 before the advent of anthropogenic acid deposition (~1850), decreasing to minimum values of 10 μeq L−1 around the year 2000. The median simulated ANC increased to 13 μeq L−1 by 2015 in response to decreases in acid deposition that have occurred over recent decades. Model projections suggest that simultaneous decreases in sulfate, nitrate and ammonium deposition are more effective in restoring stream ANC than individual decreases in sulfur or nitrogen deposition. However, the increases in stream ANC per unit equivalent decrease in S deposition is greater compared to decreases in N deposition. Using empirical algorithms, fish community density and biomass are projected to increase under several deposition-control scenarios that coincide with increases in stream ANC. Model projections suggest that even under the most aggressive deposition-reduction scenarios, stream chemistry and fisheries will not fully recover from historical acidification by 2200.

Spatially referenced models of streamflow and nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended-sediment loads in the southeastern United States

Released February 04, 2020 07:20 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5135

Anne B. Hoos, Victor L. Roland II

Spatially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) models were applied to describe and estimate mean-annual streamflow and transport of total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and suspended sediment (SS) in streams and delivered to coastal waters of the southeastern United States on the basis of inputs and management practices centered near 2012, the base year of the model. Previously published TN and TP models for 2002 served as a starting point and reference for comparison. The datasets developed for the 2012 models not only represent updates of previous conditions but also incorporate new approaches for characterizing sources and transport processes that were not available for previous models.

Variability in streamflow across the southeastern United States was explained as a function of precipitation adjusted for evapotranspiration, spring discharge, and municipal and domestic wastewater discharges to streams. Results from the streamflow model were used as input to the water-quality SPARROW models, and areas with large streamflow prediction errors—urban areas and karst areas—were used to provide guidance on where additional data are needed to improve routing of flow.

Variability in TN transport in Southeast streams was explained by the following five sources in order of decreasing mass contribution to streams: atmospheric deposition, agricultural fertilizer, municipal wastewater, manure from livestock, and urban land. Variable rates of TN delivery from source to stream were attributed to variation among catchments in climate, soil texture, and vegetative cover, including the extent of cover crops in the watershed. Variability in TP transport in Southeast streams was explained by the following six sources in order of decreasing mass contribution to streams: parent-rock minerals, urban land, manure from livestock, municipal wastewater, agricultural fertilizer, and phosphate mining. Varying rates of TP delivery were attributed to variation in climate, soil erodibility, depth to water table, and the extent of conservation tillage practices in the watershed.

Variability in SS transport in Southeast streams was explained by variable sediment export rates for different combinations of land cover and geologic setting (for upland sources of sediment) and by gains in stream power caused by longitudinal changes in channel hydraulics (for channel sources of sediment). Sediment yields for the transitional land cover (shrub, scrub, herbaceous, and barren) varied widely depending on geologic setting and on agricultural land cover. Varying rates of SS delivery, like those for TP, were attributed to variation in climate, soil erodibility, and the extent of conservation tillage practices in the watershed, as well as to areal extent of canopy land cover in the 100-meter buffer along the channel. Relatively large uncertainty, compared to the other three models, for almost all the SS source coefficients indicates the need for caution when interpreting the results from the sediment model.

TN, TP, and SS inputs to streams from sources were balanced in the models with losses from physical processes in streams and reservoirs and with water withdrawals. The losses in streams and reservoirs along with withdrawals removed 35, 44, and 65 percent of the TN, TP, and SS load, respectively, that entered streams before reaching coastal waters.

Spatially referenced models of streamflow and nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended-sediment loads in streams of the midwestern United States

Released February 04, 2020 07:20 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5114

Dale M. Robertson, David A. Saad

In this report, SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) models developed to describe long-term (2000–14) mean-annual streamflow, total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and suspended-sediment (SS) transport in streams of the Midwestern part of the United States (the Mississippi River, Great Lakes, and Red River of the North Basins) are described. The nutrient and suspended-sediment models have a base year of 2012, which means they were developed based on source inputs and management practices similar to those existing during or near 2012 and average hydrological conditions detrended to 2012 (2000–14), whereas the streamflow model has base years of 2000–14, which means it was developed based on the average input precipitation minus actual evapotranspiration from 2000 to 2014. In developing the models, several updates and improvements were made to the data inputs and statistical approaches used to calibrate/develop the models from those used in the previous 2002 SPARROW models. The 2012 SPARROW models were constructed using a higher resolution stream network, which resulted in a mean catchment size of 2.7 square kilometers compared to 480 square kilometers in the 2002 models; more detailed and updated wastewater treatment plant contribution estimates; inputs from background phosphorus sources that were not included in the 2002 model; and more accurate loads for calibration that were computed using a modified Beale ratio-estimator technique whenever no trend in load was determined. Statistical approaches were added to compensate for the unequal effect of each monitoring site during the calibration process by adjusting for the fraction of the basin included in other upstream monitored sites (nested share) and thinning the calibration sites if a negative statistical correlation between nearby sites was determined.

Results from 2012 SPARROW models describe how much of each water, TN, TP, and SS source was delivered to the stream network, and the major landscape factors that affected their delivery. Atmospheric deposition and natural (background) sources of TN and TP, respectively, were the dominant sources in anthropogenically unaffected areas (especially in the Rocky Mountains and north-central areas of the Midwest), whereas fertilizers, manure, and fixation were dominant sources in agricultural areas, especially in the Corn Belt and near the Mississippi River. Urban sources of TN and TP were typically localized, but they were still important for some large areas, especially the Lake Erie Basin. All of the land-to-water delivery variables in the nutrient and sediment SPARROW models, such as runoff, soil erodibility, basin slope, and the amount of tile drains, are commonly included in process-driven models. In the SPARROW TN and TP models, best management practices (BMPs) reduced the delivery of these nutrients to streams.

Long-term mean-annual flows and nutrient and sediment loads were simulated in streams throughout the Midwest. The simulated flows from the SPARROW flow model were used in the SPARROW TN, TP, and SS models to help describe nutrient and sediment transport from the watershed and through the stream network. Outputs from the TN, TP, and SS models describe loads and yields of these constituents throughout the Midwest, and from major drainage basins throughout the Midwest. Highest TN, TP, and SS yields and delivered yields were from the Lake Erie, Ohio River, Upper Mississippi River, and Lower Mississippi River Basins, whereas lowest yields were spread over most other areas. Losses during downstream delivery resulted in part of the TN, TP, and SS that reach the stream network not reaching the downstream receiving bodies: 14, 15, and 28 percent of the TN, TP, and SS, respectively, are lost during delivery to the Great Lakes and 19, 23, and 52 percent of the TN, TP, and SS, respectively, are lost during delivery to the Gulf of Mexico. The largest losses of nutrients and sediments during transport were in the Missouri and Arkansas River Basins.

Information from these SPARROW models can help guide nutrient and sediment reduction strategies throughout the Midwest. Model results provide information on what may be the most appropriate general type of actions to reduce total loading by describing the relative importance of each source, and where to most efficiently place the efforts to reduce loading by describing the distribution of nutrient and sediment loading. By implementing management efforts addressing the major sources of the loads in areas contributing the highest loads, it may be possible to reduce nutrient loading throughout the Mississippi River Basin and thus reduce the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico; reduce nutrient loading into lakes, and thus reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms; and reduce sediment losses, and thus improve the benthic habitat in streams and rivers throughout the Midwest.

Spatially referenced models of streamflow and nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended-sediment loads in streams of the northeastern United States

Released February 04, 2020 07:20 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5118

Scott W. Ator

SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) models were developed to quantify and improve the understanding of the sources, fate, and transport of nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended sediment in the northeastern United States. Excessive nutrients and suspended sediment from upland watersheds and tributary streams have contributed to ecological and economic degradation of northeastern surface waters. Recent efforts to reduce the flux of nutrients and suspended sediment in northeastern streams and to downstream estuaries have met with mixed results, and expected ecological improvements have been observed in some areas but not in others. Effective watershed management and restoration to improve surface-water quality are complicated by the multitude of nutrient sources in the Northeast and the multitude of natural and human landscape processes affecting the delivery of nutrients and suspended sediment from upland areas to and within surface waters. Individual models were constructed representing streamflow and the loads of total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment from watersheds draining to the Atlantic Ocean from southern Virginia through Maine.

Northeastern streams contribute 303,000 metric tons (t) of nitrogen, 25,300 t of phosphorus, and 14,700,000 t of suspended sediment, annually (on average), to waters along the Atlantic Coast of North America. Although atmospheric deposition and natural mineral erosion contribute to nitrogen and phosphorus loads, respectively, in northeastern streams, most of the contributions are attributable to urban or agricultural sources. Within the Northeast, average yields of nutrients are therefore generally greater from densely populated or intensively cultivated areas of the mid-Atlantic region, the Hudson, Mohawk, and Connecticut River valleys, and the coastal areas of southern New England than in predominantly forested areas such as northern New England. Average upland sediment yields are similarly greater from agricultural areas than from urban or forested areas and are therefore generally greatest in areas yielding the greatest nutrients. Landscape conditions that are significant to nitrogen delivery from uplands to streams likely reflect the importance of groundwater transport in carbonate settings and of denitrification for removing nitrogen from uplands. Nitrogen losses to streams in agricultural areas are apparently mitigated by the use of cover crops but are exacerbated by the use of conservation tillage or no-till practices. The transport of phosphorus and suspended sediment from uplands to streams is greater in areas of more erodible soils but mitigated in agricultural areas with greater use of conservation tillage or no-till practices. Loads of nutrients and suspended sediment are significantly reduced within the stream network in impounded reaches, and nitrogen load is also significantly reduced in small flowing reaches.

Spatially referenced models of streamflow and nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended-sediment loads in streams of the Pacific region of the United States

Released February 04, 2020 07:20 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5112

Daniel R. Wise

Although spatial information describing the supply and quality of surface water is critical for managing water resources for human uses and for ecological health, monitoring is expensive and cannot typically be done over large scales or in all streams or waterbodies. To address the need for such data, the U.S. Geological Survey developed SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) for the Pacific region of the U.S. for streamflow and three water-quality constituents–total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment, based on a decadal time frame centered on the year 2012. The domain for these models included the Columbia River basin, the Puget Sound, the coastal drainages of Washington, Oregon, and California, and the Central Valley of California. Landscape runoff (represented by the difference between precipitation and evapotranspiration) was the largest source of streamflow, wastewater discharge, and atmospheric deposition were the largest contributors to total nitrogen yield from the Pacific region, wastewater discharge was the largest contributor to total phosphorus yield, and forest land was the largest contributor to suspended-sediment yield. Watersheds with relatively high water yields also generally had relatively high yields of total nitrogen, total phosphorous, and suspended sediment–except where there were large contributions from developed land and wastewater discharge.

The data used in this study, including many that improved upon existing national data or were compiled specifically for the Pacific region, characterized the complex hydrologic and water-quality conditions in the region more completely than previous models. By using these new datasets, this investigation was able to account for the complex network of water diversions and transfers, quantify the contribution of nutrients from different sources of livestock manure, discern a signal from unpaved logging roads in the suspended-sediment yields from forested coastal watersheds, show how recent wildfire disturbance influences phosphorus and sediment delivery to streams, and how sediment delivery to streams is also sensitive to the intensity of cattle grazing. The results from this study could complement research and inform water-quality management activities in the Pacific region. Examples might include identifying potentially impaired waterbodies and guiding remediation efforts where impairment has been documented, explaining the spatial patterns in harmful algal blooms, and providing estimates of sediment and nutrient loadings to Pacific coast estuaries where such data are scarce or non-existent.

Spatially referenced models of streamflow and nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended-sediment transport in streams of the southwestern United States

Released February 04, 2020 07:20 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5106

Daniel R. Wise, David W. Anning, Olivia L. Miller

Given the predicted imbalance between water supply and demand in the Southwest region of the United States, and the widespread problems with excessive nutrients and suspended sediment, there is a growing need to quantify current streamflow and water quality conditions throughout the region. Furthermore, current monitoring stations exist at a limited number of locations, and many streams lack streamflow and water quality information. SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) models were developed for hydrologic conditions representative of 2012 in order to understand how climate, land use, and other landscape characteristics control the yields of water, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and suspended sediment across the Southwest region. The calibration data (mean annual streamflow and loads) for each of the four SPARROW models were based on continuous streamflow and discrete water-quality observations from throughout the region. Explanatory variables for the models consisted of regional datasets representing a range of potential sources of streamflow, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment, and processes that control the transport from land to water and attenuate loads within streams and waterbodies. Calibration and explanatory data were referenced to a surface water drainage network that allowed for routing and transport of water and loads through the region. The model results showed that wastewater discharge is the largest contributor to total nitrogen and total phosphorus yield from the Southwest region and forest land is the largest contributor to suspended-sediment yield, but that other sources such as atmospheric nitrogen deposition, agricultural runoff, and runoff from developed land are locally important across the region. The results from this study could complement research and inform water-quality management activities in the Southwest region. Examples might include identifying potentially impaired waterbodies and guiding remediation efforts where impairment has been documented, explaining the spatial patterns in harmful algal blooms, and providing estimates of sediment and nutrient loadings where such data are scarce or non-existent.

Final report to SCEC on the January 8, 2020 SCEC workshop 'Dynamic Rupture TAG Ingredients Workshop – Fault Friction (SCEC Project 19121)'

Released February 04, 2020 06:51 EST

2020, Report, Dynamic rupture TAG ingredients workshop – Fault friction

Ruth A. Harris, Michael Barall

This workshop was the second of a series of four SCEC5 workshops designed to evaluate the importance of each of the four ingredients required for dynamic earthquake rupture simulations. The four ingredients are: initial stress conditions, fault geometry, rock properties, and fault friction (Figure 1). This workshop included a range of views of how fault friction operates in the Earth, based on information from lab experiments, from field observations, and from dynamic rupture simulations. The participants also learned about two current related SCEC projects: the dynamic rupture code validation project and the surface fault displacement project.

Carbon release through abrupt permafrost thaw

Released February 03, 2020 15:33 EST

2020, Nature Geoscience (13) 138-143

Merritt R. Turetsky, Benjamin W. Abbott, Miriam C. Jones, Katey Walter Anthony, David Olefeldt, Edward A.G. Schuur, Guido Grosse, Peter Kuhry, Gustaf Hugelius, Charles Koven, David M. Lawrence, Carolyn Gibson, A. Britta K. Sannel, A.D. McGuire

The permafrost zone is expected to be a substantial carbon source to the atmosphere, yet large-scale models currently only simulate gradual changes in seasonally thawed soil. Abrupt thaw will probably occur in <20% of the permafrost zone but could affect half of permafrost carbon through collapsing ground, rapid erosion and landslides. Here, we synthesize the best available information and develop inventory models to simulate abrupt thaw impacts on permafrost carbon balance. Emissions across 2.5 million km2 of abrupt thaw could provide a similar climate feedback as gradual thaw emissions from the entire 18 million km2 permafrost region under the warming projection of Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5. While models forecast that gradual thaw may lead to net ecosystem carbon uptake under projections of Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5, abrupt thaw emissions are likely to offset this potential carbon sink. Active hillslope erosional features will occupy 3% of abrupt thaw terrain by 2300 but emit one-third of abrupt thaw carbon losses. Thaw lakes and wetlands are methane hot spots but their carbon release is partially offset by slowly regrowing vegetation. After considering abrupt thaw stabilization, lake drainage and soil carbon uptake by vegetation regrowth, we conclude that models considering only gradual permafrost thaw are substantially underestimating carbon emissions from thawing permafrost.

Food preferences of spring-migrating blue-winged teal in southwestern Louisiana

Released February 03, 2020 12:58 EST

1992, Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 46-56

Scott W. Manley, W.L. Hohman, J.L. Moore, David Richard

We studied effects of pair status, molt intensity, and year on food selection by migrating male blue-winged teal (Anas discors) in southwestern Louisiana during springs 1990 and 1991. Diets consisted primarily of animal foods; but plant material, consisting mostly of seeds, comprised as much as 44%. There was no difference in animal food consumption by paired and unpaired males; however, the proportion of animal material in the male diet was greater in 1990 than in 1991. Animal food consumption was not positively correlated with mean molt intensity. Food preferences of paired and unpaired males were similar in both years. Animal foods, especially benthos and organisms associated with vegetative substrates, were preferred to seeds and freeswimming invertebrates. We recommend that habitat management for spring-migrating blue-winged teal focus on production of invertebrates, especially long-lived forms such as dragonflies, hemipterans (except water boatmen), midges, and other dipterans.

Simulation of water-management scenarios for the Mississippi Delta

Released February 03, 2020 10:20 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5116

Connor J. Haugh, Courtney D. Killian, Jeannie R. B. Barlow

To compare the effectiveness of proposed alternative water-supply scenarios on future water availability in the Mississippi Delta, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality are collaborating on the update and enhancement of an existing regional groundwater-flow model of the area. Through this collaboration, the model has been updated to include boundary conditions through March 2014 with the most recent water-use data, precipitation and recharge data, and streamflow and water-level observation data. The updated model has been used to evaluate selected alternative water-supply scenarios to determine relative effects on the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer. Alternative water-supply options evaluated in this report include: (1) irrigation efficiency, (2) on-farm storage and tailwater recovery, (3) instream weirs to increase surface-water availability, (4) intrabasin transfer of surface water, and (5) groundwater transfer and injection. A relative comparison approach was used to calculate the simulated water-level response caused by each scenario. Water-level response is the difference between water levels simulated by the alternative water-supply scenario and those simulated by a base or “no action” scenario. Water-level response in the alluvial aquifer varied for each scenario based on the location, magnitude, and (or) adoption rates of the simulated alternative water-supply option. The groundwater transfer and injection scenario showed the largest water-level response.

Modeling soil porewater salinity response to drought in tidal freshwater forested wetlands

Released February 03, 2020 09:45 EST

2020, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

Hongqing Wang, Ken W. Krauss, Gregory B. Noe, Camille L. Stagg, Christopher M. Swarzenski, Jamie A. Duberstein, William H. Conner, Donald L. DeAngelis

There is a growing concern about the adverse effects of saltwater intrusion via tidal rivers, streams and creeks into tidal freshwater forested wetlands (TFFW) due to sea‐level rise (SLR) and intense and extended drought events. However, the magnitude and duration of porewater salinity in exceedance of plant salinity stress threshold (2 practical salinity units, psu) and the controlling factors remain unclear. In this study, we developed a TFFW soil porewater salinity model, in which the feedback mechanisms between soil salinity and evapotranspiration and hydraulic conductivity were incorporated. We selected sites (upper, middle, lower tidal freshwater forest sites and oligohaline marsh site) along the coastal floodplains of two rivers, the Waccamaw River (SC, USA) and the Savannah River (GA and SC, USA), that represent landscape salinity gradients from tidal influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The model results agreed well with field measurements and revealed that with drought‐induced saltwater intrusion, the mean annual soil porewater salinity and duration of elevated soil porewater salinity (> 2 psu) increased significantly compared to the normal (non‐drought) condition, posing a threat to the health and ecosystem services of TFFW even in the absence of SLR. Model results also showed more severe salinity stress under drought for the lower forest sites along the two rivers, where soil salinity values have already been at or in exceedance of the 2 psu threshold.

Development of a global seismic risk model

Released February 02, 2020 07:31 EST

2020, Earthquake Spectra

Vitor Silva, Desmond Amo-Oduro, Alejandro Calderon, Catarina Costa, Jamal Dabbeek, Venetia Despotaki, Luis Martins, Marco Pagani, Anirudh Rao, Michele Simionato, Daniele Viganò, Catalina Yepes-Estrada, Ana Beatriz Acevedo, Helen Crowley, Nick Horspool, Kishor Jaiswal, Murray Journeay, Massimiliano Pittore

Since 2015 the Global Earthquake Model (GEM) Foundation and its partners have been supporting regional programmes and bilateral collaborations to develop an open global earthquake risk model. These efforts led to the development of a repository of probabilistic seismic hazard models, a global exposure dataset comprising structural and occupancy information regarding the residential, commercial and industrial buildings, and a comprehensive set of fragility and vulnerability functions for the most common building classes. These components were used to estimate probabilistic earthquake risk globally using the OpenQuake-engine, an open-source software for seismic hazard and risk analysis. This model allows estimating a number of risk metrics such as annualized average losses or aggregated losses for particular return periods, which are fundamental to the development and implementation of earthquake risk mitigation measures.

Overall results and key findings on the use of UAV visible-color, multispectral, and thermal infrared imagery to map agricultural drainage pipes

Released February 01, 2020 09:40 EST

2020, Agricultural Water Management (232)

Barry J. Allred, Luis Martinez, Melake Fessehazion, Greg Rouse, Tanja N. Williamson, DeBonne Wishart, Triven Koganti, Robert Freeland, Neal Eash, Adam Batschelet, Robert Featheringill

Effective and efficient methods are needed to map agricultural subsurface drainage systems. Visible-color (VIS-C), multispectral (MS), and thermal infrared (TIR) imagery obtained by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may provide a means for determining drainage pipe locations. Aerial surveys using a UAV with VIS-C, MS, and TIR cameras were conducted at 29 agricultural field sites in the Midwest U.S.A. to evaluate the potential of this technology for mapping buried drainage pipes. Overall results show VIS-C imagery detected at least some drain lines at 48 % of the sites (14 out of 29), MS imagery detected drain lines at 59 % of the sites (17 out of 29), and TIR imagery detected drain lines at 69 % of the sites (20 out of 29). Three key findings, listed as follows and emphasized in this article by site examples, were extracted from the overall results. (1) Although TIR generally worked best, there were sites where either VIS-C or MS proved more effective than TIR for mapping subsurface drainage systems. Consequently, to ensure the greatest chance for successfully determining drainage pipe patterns in a field, UAV surveys need to be carried out with all three types of cameras, VIS-C, MS, and TIR. (2) Timing of UAV surveys relative to recent rainfall can sometimes have an important impact on drainage pipe detection results. (3) Linear features representing drain lines and farm field operations can be confused with one another and are often both depicted on site aerial imagery. Knowledge of subsurface drainage system installation and farm field operations can be employed to distinguish linear features representing drain lines from those representing farm field operations. The overall results and extracted key findings from this study clearly indicate that VIS-C, MS, and TIR imagery obtained with UAVs have significant potential for use in mapping agricultural drainage pipe systems.

Extending seasonal discharge records for streamgage sites on the North Fork Fortymile and Middle Fork Fortymile Rivers, Alaska, through water year 2019

Released January 31, 2020 17:09 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5003

Janet H. Curran

Daily mean discharge values were estimated for May 20–September 30 for 1976–82 and 2006–18 for the U.S. Geological Survey North Fork Fortymile River and Middle Fork Fortymile River streamgage sites in Alaska. A relation between study streamgage discharge and discharge for an index streamgage on the main-stem Fortymile River for a concurrent period in 2019 was developed using the maintenance of variance extension type 3 (MOVE.3) record extension technique. The relation for North Fork Fortymile River discharges incorporated a 1-day-earlier offset to index streamgage discharges. No offset was applied to the index streamgage discharges for use with the Middle Fork Fortymile River discharges. The developed MOVE.3 regressions were used to estimate daily mean discharges at the study streamgage sites during the study season for the longer period of record of the index streamgage. The modified Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency coefficients for the estimated records were 0.38 and 0.63 for the North Fork Fortymile River and Middle Fork Fortymile River streamgages, respectively.

Identification of management thresholds of urban development in support of aquatic biodiversity conservation

Released January 31, 2020 16:25 EST

2020, Ecological Indicators (112)

Craig D. Snyder, John A. Young

Urbanization degrades stream ecosystems and causes loss of bodiversity. Using benthic macroinvertebrates as a surragate for overall aquatic diversity, we conducted a series of analytical approaches to derive management thresholds of urban development designed to link ecological responses to the primary management goal of protecting aquatic diversity in streams within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (USA). We were particularly interested in identifying urban thresholds that represent the early phases of biological impact to support cost-effect management and mitigation interventions. We used taxa-specific modeling approaches within a spatially-explicit framework to develop sensitive thresholds that anticipate and demark the onset of taxa loss and provide a foundation for investigating alternative mechanisms driving biological change. We identified an early-warning threshold of 1.5% urban development in the contributing watershed where 15% of the 107 taxa evaluated exhibited significant declines in abundance but prior to any evidence of extirpation, and an extirpation threshold of 6% urban development where nearly 3% of taxa are likely to be lost locally. These thresholds of urban development are substantially lower than response thresholds typically reported based upon traditional modeling approaches that rely on spatially-implicit summaries of land cover and univariate metrics or composite indices. An analysis of ecological and functional trait composition of taxa determined to be sensitive suggests that reduced storage of benthic organic matter caused by flashier hydrographs may be the primary mechanism driving biological changes observed at relatively low levels of urbanization. Although the extent to which stream communities respond to stressor gradients in a non-linear fashion continues to be debated, we show that threshold approaches can be applied in support of aquatic resource management irrespective of whether or not stress-response functions are non-linear.

Direct trace element determination in oil and gas produced waters with inductively coupled plasma - Optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES): Advantages of high salinity tolerance

Released January 31, 2020 16:07 EST

2020, Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research

Aaron M. Jubb, Mark Engle, Jessica Chenault, Madalyn Blondes, Cloelle G. Danforth, Colin Doolan, Tanya Gallegos, Dan Mueller, Jenna Shelton

Waters co-produced during petroleum extraction are the largest waste stream from oil and gas development. Reuse or disposal of these waters is difficult due to their high salinities and the sheer volumes generated. Produced waters may also contain valuable mineral commodities. While an understanding of produced water trace element composition is required for evaluating the associated resource and waste potential of these materials, measuring trace elements in brines is challenging due to the dilution requirements of typical methods. Alternatively, inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) has shown promise as being capable of direct measurements of trace elements within produced waters with minimal dilution. Here we evaluate direct ICP-OES trace element quantification in produced waters for 17 trace elements (As, Al, Ba, Be, Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pb, Rb, Sb, U, V, and Zn) within 15 produced waters from five U.S. continuous reservoirs. The ICP-OES results are compared against trace element levels determined using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry from the same samples. Our results demonstrate the potential for direct analysis of high salinity waters using ICP-OES with minimal dilution and provide trace element concentrations in waters from several important U.S. petroleum-generating reservoirs where available data is sparse.

Progress in natural capital accounting for ecosystems

Released January 31, 2020 09:56 EST

2020, Science (6477) 514-515

Lars Hein, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Carl Obst, Bram Edens, Sjoerd Schenau, Gem Castillo, Francois Soulard, Claire Brown, Amanda Driver, Michael Bordt, Anton Steurer, Rocky Harris, Alejandro Capparros

Reversing the ongoing degradation of the planet's ecosystems requires timely and detailed monitoring of ecosystem change and uses. Yet, the System of National Accounts (SNA), first developed in response to the economic crisis of the 1930s and used by statistical offices worldwide to record economic activity (for example, production, consumption, and asset accumulation), does not make explicit either inputs from the environment to the economy or the cost of environmental degradation (12). Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (EEA), part of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), has been developed to monitor and report on ecosystem change and use, using the same accounting approach, concepts, and classifications as the SNA (3). The EEA is part of the statistical community's response to move SNA measurement “beyond gross domestic product (GDP).” With the first generation of ecosystem accounts now published in 24 countries, and with a push to finalize a United Nations (UN) statistical standard for ecosystem accounting by 2021, we highlight key advances, challenges, and opportunities.

Expert bioblitzes facilitate non-native fish tracking and interagency partnerships

Released January 31, 2020 09:40 EST

2020, Management of Biological Invasions

Pamela J. Schofield

Documenting the distribution and composition of non-native species populations can be challenging, especially when species cross jurisdictional boundaries that require interagency coordination. Herein I report the development of three tools that have been used in Florida over the past seven years to assist with tracking of non-native fishes: 1) an overarching organization to increase coordination and communication amongst stakeholders (Florida Non-Native Fish Action Alliance); 2) regularly-scheduled expert bioblitzes (Fish Slams); and 3) symposia (Fish Chats). Ten Fish Slams were held since 2012, which have included nearly 100 individuals from 20 organizations. Participants have sampled nearly 200 unique sites, capturing 36 non-native fish taxa. These activities have generated over 600 records for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database. Many specimens collected during Fish Slams are deposited into natural history museums or used by researchers. Informal interactions amongst colleagues working together in the field, at check-in meetings at the end of the day, and during more structured Fish Chat symposia allow members of various organizations to become acquainted, build trust, and share information and technology, which may then lead to professional collaborations. While this program is focused on non-native fish species in south Florida, I also discuss how the expert bioblitz may be adapted to suit other taxonomic groups and a variety of conservation needs.

Applications of correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) to organic matter in the North American shale petroleum systems

Released January 31, 2020 09:12 EST

2020, Book chapter, Mudstone diagenesis: Research perspectives for shale hydrocarbon reservoirs, seals, and source rocks

Brett J. Valentine, Paul C. Hackley

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has revolutionized our understanding of shale petroleum systems through microstructural characterization of dispersed organic matter (OM). However, due to the low atomic weight of carbon, all OM appears black in SEM (BSE image) regardless of differences in thermal maturity or OM type (kerogen types or solid bitumen). Traditional petrographic identification of OM uses optical microscopy, where reflectance (%Ro), form, relief and fluorescence can be used to discern OM types and thermal maturation stage. Unfortunately, most SEM studies of shale OM do not employ correlative optical techniques, leading to misidentifications or to the conclusion that all OM (i.e., kerogen and solid bitumen) is the same. To improve the accuracy of SEM identifications of dispersed OM in shale, this study used correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) to create optical and SEM images of OM in the same fields of view (500x magnification) under white light, blue light, secondary electron, and backscatter electron conditions. Samples (n=8) of varying thermal maturities and typical of the North American shale petroleum systems were used, including the Green River Mahogany Zone, Bakken Formation, Ohio Shale, Eagle Ford Formation, Barnett Formation, Haynesville Formation and Woodford Shale. The CLEM image sets demonstrate the importance of correlative microscopy by showing how easily OM can be misidentified when viewed by SEM alone. Without CLEM techniques, petrographic data from SEM such as observations of organic nano-porosity may be misinterpreted, resulting in false or ambiguous results and impairing an improved understanding of organic diagenesis and catagenesis.

Estimating late 19th century hydrology in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem: An integration of paleoecologic data and models

Released January 31, 2020 07:37 EST

2020, Frontiers in Environmental Science (8)

Frank E. Marshall, Christopher E. Bernhardt, G. Lynn Wingard

Determining hydrologic conditions prior to instrumental records is a challenge for restoration of freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Paleoecologic data provide this information on past conditions and when these data are used to adjust hydrologic models, allow conditions to be hindcast that may not be directly estimated from the paleo-data alone. In this context, the paleo-data provide real-world estimates as input to the models. Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem requires this understanding of the hydrology of the natural system prior to significant alterations due to water management and land use. Large scale models such as the Natural Systems Model (NSM 4.6.2) have been used by the South Florida Water Management District and other agencies responsible for restoration to estimate past hydrologic conditions; however, these models typically portray a drier natural system for the beginning of the 20th century than what is indicated by paleoecologic analyses and historical data. The purpose of this study is to estimate pre-20th century water levels, hydroperiods and flow in the freshwater wetlands of the Everglades by using pollen assemblage data in three sediment cores to adjust the Natural Systems Model. This study is designed to further test estimates of flow through the Everglades derived from analysis of sediment cores collected in Florida Bay. The results demonstrate that the NSM 4.6.2 underestimates water levels and hydroperiods in the Everglades compared to the paleo-adjusted NSM 4.6.2 model outputs. Flow models that use the paleo-adjusted water levels as input indicate flow through Shark River Slough in the late 19th century was approximately two times flow between 1990 and 2000, and flow through Taylor Slough was approximately three times flow between 1990 and 2000. The flow estimates derived from this study agree with the estimates derived from earlier studies using estuarine cores. This integration of paleoecologic information and hydrologic models provides resource managers with the best available estimates of past conditions and allows them to set realistic targets for restoration of freshwater ecosystems.

Throughfall reduction x fertilization: Deep soil water usage in a clay rich ultisol under loblolly pine in the Southeast USA

Released January 31, 2020 07:06 EST

2020, Frontiers in Forests and Global Change

Jiaguo Qi, Daniel M. Markewitz, Mary Ann McGuire, Lisa Samuelson, Eric Ward

Forests in the Southeast USA are predicted to experience a moderate decrease in precipitation inputs over this century that may result in soil water deficiency during the growing season. The potential impact of a drier climate on the productivity of managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantations in the Southeast USA is uncertain. Access to water reserves in deep soil during drought periods may help buffer these forests from the effects of water deficits. To better understand the potential impact of drought on deep soil water, we studied the combined effects of throughfall reduction and fertilization on soil water usage in a clay rich Piedmont Ultisol to a depth of 3 m. In a 6-year-old loblolly pine plantation, we applied a throughfall reduction treatment (ambient vs. ~30% throughfall reduction) and a fertilization treatment (no fertilization vs. fertilization). Over 28 months, throughfall reduction lowered soil moisture for all depths and differences were significant in the surface soils (0–0.3 m) (1.2–3.6%) and deep soils (below 2 m) (2.6–3.6%). Fertilization also lowered soil moisture for all depths and differences were significant at 0.3–0.6 m (2.9%) and 1.94–3.06 m (4.5%). Fertilization when combined with the throughfall reduction treatment significantly decreased soil water at 0.1–0.9 m depth. Soils of all depths were rarely depleted of plant available water with the exception of 0–0.1 m, mainly during the growing season. Under throughfall reduction treatment, soil below 0.9 m consistently accounted for more than half of the change in plant available water during months when transpiration exceeded precipitation. When considering the whole soil profile in this clay rich Ultisol, soil water storage buffered transpirational demand in the face of decreasing throughfall input.

Climate change vulnerability assessment for Pacific Lamprey in rivers of the Western United States

Released January 31, 2020 06:48 EST

2020, Journal of Freshwater Ecology (35) 29-55

Christina J Wang, Howard A Shaller, Kelly C. Coates, Michael C. Hayes, Robert K Rose

Pacific Lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) are a native anadromous species that, like salmon, historically returned to spawn in large numbers in watersheds along the west coast of the United States (U.S.). Lamprey play a vital role in river ecosystems and are one of the oldest vertebrates that have persisted over time likely influencing the evolution of many aquatic species. Pacific Lamprey have declined in abundance and are restricted in distribution throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California. A key uncertainty influencing Pacific Lamprey status is the impact of climate change. We modified the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) to accommodate climate predictions from the International Panel on Climate Change. Using downscaled information, we characterized changes in 15 rivers occupied by Pacific Lamprey in the western U.S. We evaluated this risk under Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 for two time periods (mid-century 2040–2069 and end-century 2070–2099). The CCVI scores generally increased when going from RCP 4.5 to RCP 8.5 in three Global Climate Models for both mid-century and end-century, which our analyses forecasts degraded stream temperature and hydrologic conditions under increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The geographically assessed results suggest that climate change impacts to Pacific Lamprey vulnerability are magnified in highly altered rivers. If we continue to observe greenhouse gas emission levels associated with the RCP 8.5, Pacific Lamprey will be at greater risk to climate change impacts. In order to mitigate the risk from climate change toward the end of the century, additional actions will need to be prioritized to rapidly reduce the impact of these threats such as increasing flow, creating backwater habitat, restoring riparian vegetation and reducing stream disturbances. The findings revealed the patterns of vulnerability for Pacific Lamprey across their U.S. range are informative for prioritizing river restoration actions when paired with regional implementation plans.

A system design for implementing advanced feature descriptions for a map knowledge base

Released January 30, 2020 17:09 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5148

Matthew Wagner, Dalia E. Varanka, E. Lynn Usery

A prototype system to explore Linked Data that semantically integrates geospatial data in various formats from different publication sources with data from The National Map of the U.S. Geological Survey is presented. The focus is on accessing advanced feature descriptions for data from The National Map with data coreferenced from other sources. The prototype uses Geoserver to access The National Map data, which are converted to Resource Description Framework triples using Karma and stored in the Marmotta triplestore. Marmotta uses a Postgres relational database as a backend for the project and queries to the Marmotta triplestore are converted to structured query language and executed by Postgres. Triples retrieved are linked with same_as relationships to external data sources. The links to these sources provide additional attributes and relationships of the data from The National Map. Visualization of the results is provided using Leaflet and workflows for all parts of the system are defined. A use case for the system is provided to access structures and names information from The National Map for the Washington, D.C., area and link these to Geonames data, with visualization of the graphical and tabular results.

Evaluation of survey methods for colonial waterbirds at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota

Released January 30, 2020 17:08 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1008

Lawrence D. Igl, Alisa J. Bartos, Robert O. Woodward, Paulette Scherr, Marsha A. Sovada

Estimating the number of breeding pairs in a mixed-species waterbird colony is difficult because colonial waterbirds are vulnerable to human intrusion and their colonies are often in remote areas with limited access. We investigated methods to estimate the number of nests of waterbirds at a large, mixed-species colony at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in south-central North Dakota. The primary goals of this study were to evaluate survey methods for shrub- and ground-nesting colonial waterbirds at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge and to develop protocols for estimating abundance of the different species. The specific objectives were (1) to assess visible-nest counts for ciconiiform species from the perimeter of nesting areas (hereafter, perimeter counts) and observational surveys from fixed points outside the colony to count flights of adult ciconiiforms in and out of the colony (hereafter, flightline surveys) as alternatives to within-colony counts of ciconiiform nests, and (2) to assess semiautomated, pixel-based image-analysis techniques to estimate abundance of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) as an alternative to traditional manual counts from aerial photographs.

For shrub-nesting ciconiiform species, observers counted 2,259 and 1,759 active ciconiiform nests in 2012 and 2013, respectively, during within-colony counts of ciconiiform nests. Results from within-colony counts of ciconiiform nests indicated a positive relation between the number of nests and the area of the shrub subcolony for the three most common ciconiiform species and all ciconiiform species combined. The perimeter nest counts of ciconiiform nests at Chase Lake represented only 18.8 percent of the total active ciconiiform nests counted in 11 subcolonies in 2012, which was well below the recommended target of 50 percent. Although we found a positive relationship between the number of nests counted during perimeter counts and the number of nests counted during within-colony counts for the three most common ciconiiform species and all ciconiiform species combined, perimeter counts at Chase Lake were hampered by disturbance to nesting birds. Thus, we discontinued the perimeter counts before they were completed. We did not develop predictive models from these perimeter counts in 2012 because these models could be misleading due to inconsistent application of the survey methods, which likely would have provided inaccurate perimeter counts. The extent of this issue is unknown. Flightline surveys at Chase Lake documented patterns of ciconiiform activity that were unknown for this region. For the common ciconiiform species, the number of flights to and from the South Island at Chase Lake were greatest in the morning (7:00−12:00 central daylight time [CDT]) and least in the afternoon (12:00−17:00), and least early in the breeding season (May 29–June 20, 2013) and greatest later in the breeding season (June 24–August 1, 2013). Flightline surveys are an index but lacked comparability with within-colony nest counts because the two methods provide measures of different things (that is, adult activity away from the colony as compared to the number of nests within the colony). The overall proportions of flights generally reflected the proportions of the within-colony nest counts for the four most common species: Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Great Egret (Ardea alba), and Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). Flightline surveys at Chase Lake indicated apparent variation related to the time of day and season, as well as a variation in detection of inbound and outbound adult ciconiiforms. For ciconiiforms at Chase Lake, the most appropriate combination of survey approaches will depend on the need for annual estimates of nest abundance of ciconiiform species, balanced with the financial, personnel, and logistical constraints associated with the survey methods.

For ground-nesting American White Pelicans, the results from this study indicated that digital-image processing using remote-sensing software provides an accurate estimate of the number of American White Pelican nests. Estimates of the number of pelican nests from digital-image processing, using two commercially available remote-sensing software packages, produced nest estimates that were comparable to those of traditional manual counts from aerial photographs.

A geospatially resolved wetland vulnerability index: Synthesis of physical drivers

Released January 30, 2020 15:30 EST

2020, PLoS ONE (15)

Zafer Defne, Alfredo Aretxabaleta, Neil Kamal Ganju, Tarandeep S. Kalra, Daniel K. Jones, Kathryn E.L. Smith

Assessing wetland vulnerability to chronic and episodic physical drivers is fundamental for establishing restoration priorities. We synthesized multiple data sets from E.B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey, to establish a wetland vulnerability metric that integrates a range of physical processes, regulatory information and physical/biophysical features. The geospatial data are based on aerial imagery, remote sensing, regulatory information, and hydrodynamic modeling, and include elevation, tidal range, unvegetated to vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR), shoreline erosion, potential exposure to contaminants, residence time, marsh condition change, change in salinity and salinity exposure, and sediment concentration. First, we delineated the wetland complex into individual marsh units based on surface contours and then defined a wetland vulnerability index that combined contributions from all parameters. We applied principal component and cluster analyses to explore the interrelations between the data layers and separate regions that exhibited common characteristics. Our analysis shows that the spatial variation of vulnerability in this domain cannot be explained satisfactorily by a smaller subset of the variables. The most influential factor on the vulnerability index was the combined effect of elevation, tide range, residence time, and UVVR. Tide range and residence time had the highest correlation, and similar bay-wide spatial variation. Some variables (e.g., shoreline erosion) had no significant correlation with the rest of the variables. The aggregated index based on the complete dataset allows us to assess the overall state of a given marsh unit and quickly locate the most vulnerable units in a larger marsh complex. The application of geospatially complete datasets and consideration of chronic and episodic physical drivers represents an advance over traditional point-based methods for wetland assessment.

Multi-decadal patterns of vegetation succession after tundra fire on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska

Released January 30, 2020 13:39 EST

2020, Environmental Research Letters

Gerald Frost, Rachel A. Loehman, Lisa Saperstein, Matthew J. Macander, Peter Nelson, David Paradis, Sue M. Natali

Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is one of the warmest parts of the Arctic tundra biome and tundra fires are common in its upland areas. Here we combine field measurements, Landsat observations, and quantitative cover maps for tundra plant functional types (PFTs) to characterize multi-decadal succession and landscape change after fire in lichen-dominated upland tundra of the YKD, where extensive wildfires occurred in 1971–1972, 1985, 2006–2007, and 2015. Unburned tundra was characterized by abundant lichens and low lichen cover was consistently associated with historical fire. While we observed some successional patterns that were consistent with earlier work in Alaskan tussock tundra, other patterns were not. In the landscape we studied, a large proportion of pre-fire moss cover and surface peat tended to survive fire, which favors survival of existing vascular plants and limits opportunities for seed recruitment. Although shrub cover was much higher in 1985 and 1971–1972 burns than in unburned tundra, tall shrubs (>0.5 m height) were rare and the PFT maps indicate high landscape-scale variability in the degree and persistence of shrub increase after fire. Fire has induced persistent changes in species composition and structure of upland tundra on the YKD, but the lichen-dominated fuels and thick surface peat appear to have limited the potential for severe fire and accompanying edaphic changes. Soil thaw depths were about 10 cm deeper in 2006–2007 burns than in unburned tundra, but were similar to unburned tundra in 1985 and 1971–1972 burns. Historically, repeat fire has been rare on the YKD, and the functional diversity of vegetation has recovered within several decades post-fire. Our findings provide a basis for predicting and monitoring post-fire tundra succession on the YKD and elsewhere.

Methods for estimating regional skewness of annual peak flows in parts of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Basins, based on data through water year 2013

Released January 30, 2020 13:20 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5105

Andrea G. Veilleux, Daniel M. Wagner

Bulletin 17C (B17C) recommends fitting the log-Pearson Type III (LP−III) distribution to a series of annual peak flows at a streamgage by using the method of moments. The third moment, the skewness coefficient (or skew), is important because the magnitudes of annual exceedance probability (AEP) flows estimated by using the LP−III distribution are affected by the skew; interest is focused on the right-hand tail of the distribution, which represents the larger annual peak flows that correspond to small AEPs. For streamgages having modest record lengths, the skew is sensitive to extreme events like large floods, which cause a sample to be highly asymmetrical or “skewed.” For this reason, B17C recommends using a weighted-average skew computed from the station skew for a given streamgage and a regional skew. This report generates an estimate of regional skew for a study area encompassing most of the Great Lakes Basin (hydrologic unit 04) and part of the Ohio River Basin (hydrologic unit 05). A total of 551 candidate streamgages that were unaffected by extensive regulation, diversion, urbanization, or channelization were considered for use in the skew analysis; after screening for redundancy and pseudo record length greater than 36 years, 368 streamgages were selected for use in the study. Flood frequencies for candidate streamgages were analyzed by employing the Expected Moments Algorithm, which extends the method of moments so that it can accommodate interval, censored, and historic/paleo flow data, as well as the Multiple Grubbs-Beck test to identify potentially influential low floods in the data series. Bayesian weighted least squares/Bayesian generalized least squares regression was used to develop a regional skew model for the study area that would incorporate possible variables (basin characteristics) to explain the variation in skew in the study area. Twelve basin characteristics were considered as possible explanatory variables; however, none produced a pseudo coefficient of determination greater than 5 percent; as a result, these characteristics did not help to explain the variation in skew in the study area. Therefore, a constant model having a regional skew coefficient of 0.086 and an average variance of prediction (AVPnew) (which corresponds to the mean square error [MSE]) of 0.13 at a new streamgage was selected. The AVPnew corresponds to an effective record length of 54 years, a marked improvement over the Bulletin 17B national skew map, whose reported MSE of 0.302 indicated a corresponding effective record length of only 17 years.

Preliminary bedrock geologic map of the Lahore 7.5-minute quadrangle, Orange, Spotsylvania, and Louisa Counties, Virginia

Released January 30, 2020 13:15 EST

2019, Open-File Report 2019-1110

William C. Burton


Bedrock geologic mapping of the Lahore, Va., 7.5-minute quadrangle was completed as part of a broader project, undertaken jointly between the U.S. Geological Survey, the Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources, and other Federal and State agencies to better understand the causative mechanisms of the magnitude-5.8 (M5.8) earthquake that occurred near Mineral, Va., on August 23, 2011. This project involved detailed mapping of eight quadrangles in the epicentral region of the Mineral, Va., earthquake in order to improve our understanding of the geologic framework of the central Virginia seismic zone, which has a long record of historical and prehistoric seismicity.

The Lahore 7.5-minute quadrangle contains the contact between Ordovician to Silurian, dioritic and granodioritic rocks of the Lahore and Ellisville plutons and older metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks. The Lahore quadrangle is northeast of the Ferncliff and Louisa, Va., quadrangles, where the Shores complex is intruded by the Ellisville pluton along the pluton’s southwestern margin. The new mapping in the Lahore quadrangle shows that the Shores complex continues northeast of the Ellisville pluton. A northeast-trending mafic- and ultramafic-bearing belt within the Shores complex is a fault-bounded accretionary zone (accretionary wedge) between rocks of the Chopawamsic Formation and Laurentian slope-and-rise deposits. In the Lahore quadrangle, this belt contains several mappable, northeast- to southwest-trending mafic bodies and also includes small exposures of gabbro and talc schist.

The Lahore quadrangle contains structures of both early- and late-Paleozoic age that correspond to the Taconic and Alleghanian orogenies. Taconic (Late Ordovician) S1 schistosity in layered rocks is typically fine-grained and parallel to compositional layering, when present. Alleghanian (Pennsylvanian) S2 schistosity is coarser and more micaceous than S1 and is locally accompanied by a lineation that is represented by mineral lineations, micro-crenulations, or mullion fabric, and represents the hinges of F2 folds. A foliation in the plutonic rocks is represented by an equilibrium assemblage of aligned mafic minerals and is early Paleozoic in age.

Metamorphic grade in the non-plutonic rocks of the Lahore quadrangle ranges from lower-greenschist to the northwest to upper-greenschist to the southeast, as represented by mineral assemblages in non-plutonic rocks. The biotite isograd may be, in part, lithologically controlled by the contact between the informally-named Hardware and Byrd Mill formations, and locally affected by contact metamorphism by the Lahore pluton (western part of map). The Taconic garnet isograd is defined by the sparse presence of small (<1 millimeter), euhedral garnet crystals. Both the biotite and garnet isograds continue along strike to the southwest into the Ferncliff and Louisa quadrangles, where the isograds have been identified as Ordovician age (Taconic orogeny) based on muscovite, biotite, and amphibole 40Ar/39Ar cooling ages.

Regionally, the most common trend and plunge of joints is northwest and subvertical, respectively, and orthogonal to the regional strike of foliation. Early Mesozoic extension may have reactivated the Harris Creek fault (southeast corner of map), a late Paleozoic (Alleghanian orogeny) transpressional fault that marks the contact between granodiorite of the Ellisville pluton and the Chopawamsic Formation.

Numerical simulation of groundwater availability in central Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i

Released January 30, 2020 12:22 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5150

Delwyn S. Oki, John A. Engott, Kolja Rotzoll

Since the 1990s, increased chloride concentrations of water pumped from wells (much of which is used for drinking water) and the effects of withdrawals on groundwater-dependent ecosystems have led to concerns over groundwater availability on the island of Molokaʻi, Hawaiʻi. An improved understanding of the hydrologic effects of proposed groundwater withdrawals is needed to ensure effective management of the groundwater resources of Molokaʻi, plan for possible growth, and accommodate cultural, social, and economic concerns. To address the information needs of managers and community stakeholders on Molokaʻi, the U.S. Geological Survey developed a numerical groundwater model capable of simulating salinity change and reduction in groundwater discharge in coastal areas of central and southern Molokaʻi. Estimates of groundwater recharge needed as input to the numerical groundwater model were made using a daily water budget for each decade during 1940−2012 (the period 2000−12 spanned 13 years) and the most current available data, including the distributions of monthly rainfall and potential evapotranspiration. Total island recharge during the decadal periods ranged from a low of about 189 Mgal/d during the 1970s to a high of 278 Mgal/d during the 1960s. These recharge estimates were used to develop an island-wide numerical groundwater model with simplifying assumptions (sharp interface between freshwater and saltwater; two-dimensional flow). The island-wide model provided estimates of groundwater inflows to the main area of interest simulated with a three-dimensional numerical groundwater model. Simulated withdrawal scenarios were selected in consultation with water managers and stakeholders and consisted of: (1) a baseline scenario using average recharge (1978−2007 rainfall and 2010 land cover) and average 2016−17 withdrawals; (2) a scenario using average recharge and withdrawals from existing wells at pending (as of January 2019) water-use permit rates; (3) six scenarios using average recharge and selected withdrawals from existing and proposed wells; and (4) a scenario using reduced recharge and selected withdrawals from existing and proposed wells. Results of the simulated withdrawal scenarios indicate that wells may be capable of producing groundwater with chloride concentrations below 250 mg/L at withdrawal rates exceeding average 2016−17 rates. However, the quality of water withdrawn from production wells is dependent on the rate and distribution of the withdrawals. For all nonbaseline scenarios, simulated groundwater discharge to the nearshore environment is reduced relative to the baseline scenario. Areas of discharge reduction may correspond to areas used for cultural or subsistence purposes. The three-dimensional numerical groundwater model developed for this study utilizes the latest available hydrologic and geologic information and is a useful tool for understanding the hydrologic effects of additional groundwater withdrawals in central Molokaʻi. The model has several limitations, including its nonuniqueness and inability to account for local-scale heterogeneities.

Multi-region assessment of pharmaceutical exposures and predicted effects in USA wadeable urban-gradient streams

Released January 30, 2020 07:01 EST

2020, PLoS (1) 1-25

Paul Bradley, Celeste Journey, Daniel T. Button, Daren M. Carlisle, B.J. Huffman, Sharon L. Qi, Kristin Romanok, Peter C. Van Metre

Human-use pharmaceuticals in urban streams link aquatic-ecosystem health to human health. Pharmaceutical mixtures have been widely reported in larger streams due to historical emphasis on wastewater-treatment plant (WWTP) sources, with limited investigation of pharmaceutical exposures and potential effects in smaller headwater streams. In 2014–2017, the United States Geological Survey measured 111 pharmaceutical compounds in 308 headwater streams (261 urban-gradient sites sampled 3–5 times, 47 putative low-impact sites sampled once) in 4 regions across the US. Simultaneous exposures to multiple pharmaceutical compounds (pharmaceutical mixtures) were observed in 91% of streams (248 urban-gradient, 32 low-impact), with 88 analytes detected across all sites and cumulative maximum concentrations up to 36,142 ng/L per site. Cumulative detections and concentrations correlated to urban land use and presence/absence of permitted WWTP discharges, but pharmaceutical mixtures also were common in the 75% of sampled streams without WWTP. Cumulative exposure-activity ratios (EAR) indicated widespread transient exposures with high probability of molecular effects to vertebrates. Considering the potential individual and interactive effects of the detected pharmaceuticals and the recognized analytical underestimation of the pharmaceutical-contaminant (unassessed parent compounds, metabolites, degradates) space, these results demonstrate a nation-wide environmental concern and the need for watershed-scale mitigation of in-stream pharmaceutical contamination.

Passive seismic survey of sediment thickness, Dasht-e-Nawar basin, eastern Afghanistan

Released January 29, 2020 20:10 EST

2020, Conference Paper, Military Geoscience

Thomas Mack

Exploration of water resources is needed for public supply, extraction of mineral resources, and economic development in Afghanistan. Remotely-sensed data are useful for identifying the general nature of surface sediments, however, “boots on the ground” geophysical surveys or drilling programs are needed to quantify the thickness of sediments or aquifers. The nature of such investigations presents a risk to field crews that may prohibit exploration of potentially valuable aquifers or mineral resources. The Dasht-e-Nawar basin, in east-central Afghanistan, contains a 400 km2 playa that includes evaporative mineral deposits, particularly lithium, which has been of interest since the 1970s. However, exploration of the basin, as with many areas of Afghanistan, has been hampered by decades of conflict. In 2014, an investigation of the basin was conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), and their contractor, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). For this investigation the USGS compared the results of a rapid passive seismic survey of basin sediment thickness to the results of an independently conducted gravity survey of the same area. Each point measurement for the passive seismic method requires less than 30 minutes in the field by one person. The technique utilizes ambient seismic noise without an external sound source such as required by traditional seismic surveys. Additionally, the technique does not require external sensor arrays, which can be kilometers long for some geophysical techniques. The passive seismic equipment used in this study weighs approximately 1 kilogram and is about 10 cm3 in size. Although relatively new for assessment of sediment thickness, several investigations have found this method to be capable of estimating sediment thicknesses, in the 10’s to 1000 meter range, in settings with unconsolidated sediment over bedrock and a contrast in acoustic impedance. In this investigation, the gravity survey was conducted during a period of 3 weeks by an experienced field crew; required a detailed, centimeter-scale land elevation survey; and required laboratory analyses of sediment and rock densities to interpret the gravity data. In contrast, the passive seismic survey was collected by two inexperienced operators over a period of 8 days and required no additional data to interpret. Due to security restrictions, USGS personnel could not visit the site and the seismic operator was trained immediately prior to the field work. Although the quality of the seismic survey was affected by strong afternoon winds, and by the inexperience of the field operator, the results were fairly comparable to the gravity survey. Similar basin sediment thicknesses and patterns in sediment thickness were identified by both surveys in the basin with an estimated maximum thickness of approximately 170 m. The passive seismic technique required substantially less field resources and time than would be required by other geophysical surveys. Although this method will not be effective in all geologic settings, it may be a valuable assessment tool for use before conducting other, more intensive, geophysical efforts or drilling programs, especially in regions with elevated security risks such as Afghanistan.

Cyanotoxin occurrence in large rivers of the United States

Released January 29, 2020 19:57 EST

2020, Inland Waters

Jennifer L. Graham, Neil Dubrovsky, Guy Foster, Lindsey R. King, Keith Loftin, Barry Rosen, Erin Stelzer

Cyanotoxins occur in rivers worldwide but are understudied in lotic ecosystems relative to lakes and reservoirs. Eleven large river sites located throughout the United States were sampled during June–September 2017 to determine the occurrence of cyanobacteria with known cyanotoxin-producing strains, cyanotoxin synthetase genes, and cyanotoxins. Chlorophyll-a concentrations spanned the range from oligotrophic to eutrophic (0.5–64.4 µg L-1). Cyanobacteria were present in the algal communities of all rivers (82% of samples, n=50), but did not dominate the phytoplankton (0 to 52% of total abundance; mean=8.8%). Pseudanabaena and Planktothrix occurred most often and many (64%) of the cyanobacterial genera identified (n=25) have known cyanotoxin-producing strains. Cyanotoxin synthetase genes occurred in all but one river. The mcyE and sxtA genes were most common, present in 73% of rivers and 44% and 40% of samples, respectively. The cyrA gene was less common (22% of samples) but occurred in 64% of rivers. The anaC gene was detected in one river (4% of samples). Anatoxin-a and microcystins were detected at low levels (0.10–0.38 µg L-1) in two midcontinent rivers. Cylindrospermopsins and saxitoxins were not detected. Cyanobacteria, cyanotoxin synthetase genes, and cyanotoxins were present at low concentrations throughout this subset of US rivers. Eutrophic rivers located in the midcontinent region of the US had the highest algal biomass, abundance of cyanotoxin synthetase genes, and cyanotoxin occurrence.

Identification of Acara (Cichlidae: Cichlasoma) established in Florida, USA

Released January 29, 2020 18:25 EST

2020, BioInvasions Records

Robert H Robins, Mary E. Brown, Ryan A Crutchfield

The Black Acara, Cichlasoma bimaculatum (Linnaeus, 1758), was first reported as introduced to Florida in 1965. Native to Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, western French Guiana, and northern Brazil, the species is now distributed throughout Florida’s southern peninsula. Examination of live and preserved acara from Central Florida, heretofore identified as Black Acara, reveal the presence of an additional acara species, the Chanchita, Cichlasoma dimerus (Heckel, 1840). The Chanchita is native to Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil, and northeastern Argentina. Despite similarities, Black Acara and Chanchita can be distinguished by number of anal-fin spines, body and fin color, caudal-fin pattern, and head, nape, and upper-flank scale-rim pigment. The Chanchita is established in multiple Central Florida drainages with the earliest known record from July 27, 2000. The Chanchita has not been found to co-occur with the Black Acara. The presence of Chanchita in more than one Central Florida spring and the widespread distribution of this previously unreported introduced species may be of concern to natural resource managers.

Field observations of wind waves in Upper Delaware Bay with living shorelines

Released January 29, 2020 17:58 EST

2020, Estuaries and Coasts

Ling Zhu, Qin Chen, Hongqing Wang, William D. Capurso, Lukasz Niemoczynski, Kelin Hu, Gregg Snedden

Constructed oyster reefs (CORs) provide shore protections and habitats for fish and shellfish communities via wave energy attenuation. However, the processes and mechanism of CORs on wave attenuation remain unclear, thus limiting the effective assessment of CORs for shoreline protection. This paper presents results of a field investigation on wave characteristics and wave spectral variations along a shoreline with CORs in an estuary with a large tidal range as well as large wind waves and swell energy. Six pressure transducers were deployed from January 31 to April 2, 2018, in Gandy’s Beach, New Jersey, in upper Delaware Bay. CORs were constructed at the study site in 2016 as living shoreline structures after Hurricane Sandy. The data collected from the study site exhibits the wave variations and spectral characteristics over the span of 2 months, including four winter storms (i.e., nor’easters). The spatial variations of wave heights measured on both sides of CORs show a strong dependence on the ratio between the freeboard of CORs and the offshore wave heights. Due to the large tidal range (> 2 m), the crests of CORs remain submerged over 85% of the time. The submerged CORs only provide partial attenuation of wave energy. The wave environment in the estuary is complex, especially during nor’easters. For instance, winds with rapid changing fetches could lead to bi-modal wind seas. Due to the complex wave spectra, the bulk wave heights such as the significant wave heights cannot be adopted to adequately reveal the capacity of CORs to attenuate wave energy. Spectral analysis is conducted to investigate the spatial and temporal variations of wave energy in targeted frequency bins. The spectral analysis results reveal the energy transfer from the primary waves to the high harmonics after waves propagate over the submerged CORs. Moreover, it is found that swell energy originated from the Atlantic Ocean can penetrate CORs without any dampening even when CORs are emergent. This study could help resource managers for in-depth evaluation of living shoreline effectiveness and improvement of living shoreline structures such as CORs.

Simulation modeling of complex climate, wildfire, and vegetation dynamics to address wicked problems in land management

Released January 29, 2020 17:34 EST

2020, Frontiers in Forests and Global Change

Rachel A. Loehman, Robert E. Keane, Lisa M. Holsinger

Complex, reciprocal interactions among climate, disturbance, and vegetation dramatically alter spatial landscape patterns and influence ecosystem dynamics. As climate and disturbance regimes shift, historical analogs and past empirical studies may not be entirely appropriate as templates for future management. The need for a better understanding of the potential impacts of climate changes on ecosystems is reaching a new level of urgency, especially in highly perturbed or vulnerable ecological systems. Simulation models are extremely useful tools for guiding management decisions in an era of rapid change, thus providing potential solutions for wicked problems in land management—those that are difficult to solve and inherently resistant to easily definable solutions. We identify three experimental approaches for landscape modeling that address management challenges in the context of uncertain climate futures and complex ecological interactions: (1) an historical comparative approach, (2) a future comparative approach, and (3) threshold detection. We provide examples of each approach from previously published studies of simulated climate, disturbance, and landscape dynamics in forested landscapes of the western United States, modeled with the FireBGCv2 ecosystem process model. Cumulatively, model outcomes indicate that typical land management strategies will likely not be sufficient to counteract the impacts of rapid climate change and altered disturbance regimes that threaten the stability of ecosystems. Without implementation of new, adaptive management strategies, future landscapes are very likely to be different than historical or contemporary ones, with significant and sometimes persistent changes triggered by interactions of climate and wildfire.

Mineral Commodity Summaries 2019

Released January 29, 2020 12:00 EST

2019, Report

U.S. Geological Survey

Published on an annual basis, this report is the earliest Government publication to furnish estimates covering nonfuel mineral industry data and is available at https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/mcs/. Data sheets contain information on the domestic industry structure, Government programs, tariffs, and 5-year salient statistics for more than 90 individual minerals and materials.

Potential duration of aftershocks of the 2020 southwestern Puerto Rico earthquake

Released January 29, 2020 08:27 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1009

Nicholas Van Der Elst, Jeanne L. Hardebeck, Andrew J. Michael


Aftershocks (earthquakes clustered spatially and chronologically near the occurrence of a causative earthquake) are ongoing in southwestern Puerto Rico after a series of earthquakes, which include a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that occurred near Barrio Indios, Guayanilla, on January 7, 2020, and affected the surrounding area. This report estimates the expected duration of these aftershocks by incorporating observations of aftershocks as of January 17, 2020, into a well-established statistical model of how earthquake sequences behave. Aftershocks will persist for years to decades, although with decreasing frequency, and earthquakes will likely be felt on a daily basis for up to several months. These estimates have significant uncertainty owing to different scenarios of how the earthquake sequence may evolve over time and could also change if a new large aftershock occurs. This report also estimates the amount of time remaining until the annual probability of magnitude 5, 6, and 7 or greater aftershocks—which could cause additional damage—decreases to 50, 25, 10, 5, and 1 percent. As of this writing, the chance of having a magnitude 6 or greater earthquake within a given year, going forward, will not fall below 25 percent for another 3 months to 3 years. The chance of having a magnitude 5 or greater earthquake will not fall below 25 percent for a decade or more. The aftershocks discussed in this report would be located in the same general area as the aftershocks that have already occurred. Our results do not imply a change in the risk of earthquakes in other parts of Puerto Rico.


Las réplicas (terremotos agrupados espacial y cronológicamente cerca de la ocurrencia de un terremoto causante) están en curso en el suroeste de Puerto Rico después de una serie de terremotos, que incluyen un terremoto de magnitud 6.4, ocurrido cerca del Barrio Indios, Guayanilla, el 7 de enero de 2020 y que afectaron las áreas circundantes. Este informe estima la duración esperada de las réplicas incorporando observaciones de réplicas a partir del 17 de enero de 2020 en un modelo estadístico bien establecido de cómo se comportan las secuencias de terremotos. Las réplicas persistirán durante años o décadas, aunque con una frecuencia decreciente, y los terremotos probablemente se sentirán a diario durante varios meses. Estos estimados tienen una incertidumbre significativa debido a diferentes escenarios de cómo la secuencia del terremoto puede evolucionar con el tiempo y también podrían cambiar si ocurre una nueva réplica grande. Este informe también estima la cantidad de tiempo restante hasta que la probabilidad anual de réplicas de magnitud 5, 6 y 7 o más - que podría causar daños adicionales- disminuya a un 50, 25, 10, 5 y 1 por ciento. Al momento de escribir este artículo, la posibilidad de tener un terremoto de magnitud 6 en un año determinado, en el futuro, no caerá por debajo del 25 por ciento durante otros 3 meses a 3 años. La probabilidad de tener un terremoto de magnitud 5 o mayor no será inferior al 25 por ciento durante una década o más. Las réplicas discutidas en este informe se ubicarían en la misma área general que las réplicas que ya han ocurrido. Nuestros resultados no implican un cambio en el riesgo de terremotos en otras partes de Puerto Rico.

Fatty acid-based diet estimates suggest ringed seal remain the main prey of southern Beaufort Sea polar bears despite recent use of onshore food resources

Released January 29, 2020 07:04 EST

2020, Ecology and Evolution

Jennifer Bourque, Todd C. Atwood, George J. Divoky, Connie Stewart, Melissa A. McKinney

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the southern Beaufort Sea (SB) subpopulation have traditionally fed predominantly upon ice-seals; however, as the proportion of the subpopulation using onshore habitat has recently increased, foraging on land-based resources, including remains of subsistence-harvested bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and colonial nesting seabirds has been observed. Adipose tissue samples were collected from this subpopulation during the springs of 2013-2016 and analyzed for fatty acid signatures. Diet estimates were generated for the proportional consumption of ringed seal (Pusa hispida), bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), and beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), relative to onshore foods, including bowhead whale remains and seabird, as represented by black guillemot (Cepphus grylle mandtii) nestlings and eggs. Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) showed that the ice-obligate prey, ringed seal, remained the predominant prey species of SB polar bears (46.5 ± 1.2%), with much lower consumption of bearded seal (19.4 ± 2.0%), seabird (17.1 ± 1.2%), bowhead whale (15.0 ± 1.4%), and hardly any beluga whale (2.0 ± 0.5%). Adult and sub-adult females appeared to depend more on the traditional ringed seal prey than adult and sub-adult males. Diet estimates of SB polar bears showed significant inter-annual variability for all prey (F3,439 = 6.84, p < 0.001). The diet estimates suggested that both types of onshore prey, bowhead whale remains and seabird, have represented a moderate proportion of the food resources used by SB polar bears since at least the start of the 21st Century.

A brief introduction to seismic instrumentation: Where does my data come from?

Released January 29, 2020 06:56 EST

2020, Seismological Research Letters

Adam T. Ringler, Patrick Bastien

Modern seismology has been able to take advantage of several technological advances. These include feedback loops in the seismometer, specialized digitizers with absolute timing, and compression formats for storing data. While all of these advances have helped to improve the field, they can also leave newcomers a bit confused. Our goal here is to give a brief overview of how recordings of seismic ground motion originate. We discuss the chain of events that are required to obtain digital data plus how these steps can be reversed to recover units of ground motion such as acceleration, velocity, or displacement. Finally, we show a few examples of data that has become compromised because of various non-ground motion signals. We hope to give a quick practical introduction to allow the reader to become familiar with the various jargon used in observational seismology.

Paired stated preference methods for valuing management of white pine blister rust: order effects and outcome uncertainty

Released January 29, 2020 06:29 EST

2020, Journal of Forest Economics (35) 75-101

James R. Meldrum, Patricia A. Champ, Craig A. Bond, Anna Schoettle

The literature on nonmarket valuation includes many examples of stated and revealed preference comparisons. However, comparisons within stated preference methods are sparse. Specifically, the literature provides few examples of pairing both a discrete choice experiment (CE) and a contingent valuation (CV) question within a single survey. This paper presents results of a nonmarket valuation study that employs both methods to elicit public preferences over uncertainty of outcomes and over management strategies. The two methods were employed to examine public support for the proactive management of the invasive pathogen, Cronartium ribicola, that causes the lethal disease white pine blister rust in high-elevation forests in North America. By addressing three related questions, this study finds the following main results: First, both methods suggest the importance of presenting outcome uncertainty to respondents. Second, the results provide no evidence that preferences vary over the means taken for pursuing the given ends, which in this case is long term forest health. Third, the paired inclusion of both methods results in order effects for CE results but not for CV results. Results and discussion provide insight into the most appropriate stated preference approach for informing different types of decisions about the efficient management of public lands.

Rapid peat development beneath created, maturing mangrove forests: Ecosystem changes across a 25-year chronosequence

Released January 28, 2020 18:08 EST

2020, Ecological Applications

Michael J. Osland, Laura C. Feher, Amanda C. Spivak, Janet A. Nestlerode, Alejandro E. Almario, Nicole Cormier, Andrew From, Ken W. Krauss, Marc J. Russell, Federico Alvarez, Darrin D. Dantin, James E. Harvey, Camille L. Stagg

Mangrove forests are among the world’s most productive and carbon‐rich ecosystems. Despite growing understanding of factors controlling mangrove forest soil carbon stocks, there is a need to advance understanding of the speed of peat development beneath maturing mangrove forests— especially in created and restored mangrove forests that are intended to compensate for ecosystem functions lost during mangrove forest conversion to other land uses. To better quantify the rate of soil organic matter development beneath created, maturing mangrove forests, we measured ecosystem changes across a 25‐year chronosequence. We compared ecosystem properties in created, maturing mangrove forests to adjacent natural mangrove forests. We also quantified site‐specific changes that occurred between 2010 and 2016. Soil organic matter accumulated rapidly beneath maturing mangrove forests as sandy soils transitioned to organic‐rich soils (peat). Within 25 years, a 20‐cm deep peat layer developed. The time required for created mangrove forests to reach equivalency with natural mangrove forests was estimated as: (1) < 15 years for herbaceous and juvenile vegetation; (2) ~55 years for adult trees; (3) ~25 years for the upper soil layer (0‐10 cm); and (4) ~45‐80 years for the lower soil layer (10‐30 cm). For soil elevation change, the created mangrove forests were equivalent to or surpassed natural mangrove forests within the first five years. A comparison to chronosequence studies from other ecosystems indicates that the rate of soil organic matter accumulation beneath maturing mangrove forests may be among the fastest globally. In most peatland ecosystems, soil organic matter formation occurs slowly (centuries, millennia); however, these results show that mangrove peat formation can occur within decades. Peat development, primarily due to sub‐surface root accumulation, enables mangrove forests to sequester carbon, adjust their elevation relative to sea level, and adapt to changing conditions at the dynamic land‐ocean interface. In the face of climate change and rising sea levels, coastal managers are increasingly concerned with the longevity and functionality of coastal restoration efforts. Our results advance understanding of the pace of ecosystem development in created, maturing mangrove forests, which can improve predictions of mangrove forest responses to global change and ecosystem restoration.

Quantifying western U.S. rangelands as fractional components with landsat

Released January 28, 2020 13:15 EST

2020, Remote Sensing (12)

Matthew B. Rigge, Collin G. Homer, Lauren Cleeves, Debra K. Meyer, Brett Bunde, Hua Shi, George Z. Xian, Matthew R Bobo

Quantifying western U.S. rangelands as a series of fractional components with remote sensing provides a new way to understand these changing ecosystems. Nine rangeland ecosystem components, including percent shrub, sagebrush (Artemisia), big sagebrush, herbaceous, annual herbaceous, litter, and bare ground cover, along with sagebrush and shrub heights, were quantified at 30 m resolution. Extensive ground measurements, two scales of remote sensing data from commercial high-resolution satellites and Landsat 8, and regression tree models were used to create component predictions. In the mapped area (2,993,655 km²), bare ground averaged 45.5%, shrub 15.2%, sagebrush 4.3%, big sagebrush 2.9%, herbaceous 23.0%, annual herbaceous 4.2%, and litter 15.8%. Component accuracies using independent validation across all components averaged R2 values of 0.46 and an root mean squared error (RMSE) of 10.37, and cross-validation averaged R2 values of 0.72 and an RMSE of 5.09. Component composition strongly varies by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) level III ecoregions (n = 32): 17 are bare ground dominant, 11 herbaceous dominant, and four shrub dominant. Sagebrush physically covers 90,950 km², or 4.3%, of our study area, but is present in 883,449 km², or 41.5%, of the mapped portion of our study area.

Forecasting future beach width-A case study along the Florida Atlantic coast

Released January 28, 2020 10:15 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2019-1150

Joseph W. Long, Rachel E. Henderson, David M. Thompson

Historical cross-shore positions of the shoreline and dune base were used as inputs for a Kalman filter algorithm to forecast the positions of these features in the year 2028. The beach width was also computed as the cross-shore distance between the forecasted 2028 shoreline and dune-base positions. While it does not evaluate the suitability of a nesting beach or identify optimal nesting habitat, the beach width can be used as a proxy for habitat availability. An analysis was conducted along the Florida Atlantic coast with an initial goal of demonstrating a method that combines available data for shoreline and dune positions with a Kalman Filter algorithm developed to predict decadal-scale shoreline evolution and then uses these features to define future beach width. This section of the southeastern United States hosts the largest assemblage of nesting loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the world, in addition to other species, and critical habitat is designated as part of the species’ listing package under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. ch. 35 § 1531 et seq) for most of the nesting beaches within the study area. This work introduces an approach to inform ecosystem services assessments using data typically derived for shoreline change and storm vulnerability models.

Temperature model in support of the U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model for seismic hazard Ssudies

Released January 28, 2020 10:15 EST

2019, Open-File Report 2019-1121

Oliver S. Boyd

The U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model (NCM) is being developed to assist with earthquake hazard and risk assessment by supporting estimates of ground shaking in response to an earthquake. The period-dependent intensity and duration of shaking depend upon the three-dimensional seismic velocity, seismic attenuation, and density distribution of a region, which in turn is governed to a large degree by geology and how that geology behaves under varying temperatures and pressures.

A three-dimensional temperature model is presented here to support the estimation of physical parameters within the U.S. Geological Survey NCM. The crustal model is defined by a geological framework consisting of various lithologies with distinct mineral compositions. A temperature model is needed to calculate mineral density and bulk and shear modulus as a function of position within the crust. These properties control seismic velocity and impedance, which are needed to accurately estimate earthquake travel times and seismic amplitudes in earthquake hazard analyses. The temperature model is constrained by observations of surface temperature, temperature gradient, and conductivity, inferred Moho temperature and depth, and assumed conductivity at the base of the crust. The continental plate is assumed to have heat production that decreases exponentially with depth and thermal conductivity that exponentially changes from a surface value to 3.6 watts per meter-Kelvin at the Moho. The oceanic plate cools as a half-space with a geotherm dependent on plate age. Under these conditions, and the application of observed surface heat production, predicted Moho temperatures match Moho temperatures inferred from seismic P-wave velocities, on average. As has been noted in previous studies, high crustal temperatures are found in the western United States, particularly beneath areas of recent volcanism. In the central and eastern United States, elevated temperatures are found from southeast Texas, into the Mississippi Embayment, and up through Wisconsin. A USGS ScienceBase data release that supports this report is available and consists of grids covering the NCM across the conterminous United States, for example, surface temperature and temperature gradient, that are needed to produce temperature profiles.

Groundwater recharge estimates for Maine using a Soil-Water-Balance model—25-year average, range, and uncertainty, 1991 to 2015

Released January 28, 2020 09:00 EST

2019, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5125

Martha G. Nielsen, Stephen M. Westenbroek

To address the lack of information on the spatial and temporal variability of recharge to groundwater systems in Maine, a study was initiated in cooperation with the Maine Geological Survey to use the U.S. Geological Survey Soil-Water-Balance model to evaluate annual average potential recharge across the State over a 25-year period from 1991 to 2015. The Maine Soil-Water-Balance model was calibrated using annual observations of recharge, runoff, and evapotranspiration for 32 calibration watersheds in the State during 2001–12 (902 total observations). Observations of recharge, runoff, and evapotranspiration were developed for each watershed to reduce the possibility of nonunique combinations of model parameters during the calibration. The Maine Soil-Water-Balance model was run using an optional evapotranspiration calculation method that provides more control for calibration than the standard method. The model was calibrated using the Parameter ESTimation software suite.

The overall mean model error (average of all annual residuals for recharge, runoff, and precipitation) was 0.39 inch. The mean of the absolute value of the residuals, or the mean absolute error, was 2.32 inches. The root mean squared error for the calibrated model overall was 3.14 inches. Statistical tests indicated that the model residuals are normally distributed. To determine the potential uncertainty in the median annual potential recharge that results from uncertainty in the parameters as they relate to information contained in the observations, 300 alternate model realizations were run, and the standard deviation of the median potential recharge value at every pixel was calculated.

Simulated 25-year median potential recharge across the State is widely variable; this variability closely follows patterns of precipitation, with additional variability contributed by the patchwork nature of the combinations of land-use class and hydrologic soil group inputs, and distribution of available water capacity in the soil across the State. Overall, the 25-year median annual potential recharge across the State is 7.5 inches, ranging from a low of about 5 inches to over 30 inches. The statewide range in the 25-year minimum values is from just over 2 inches to just over 20 inches. The statewide range in the 25-year maximum potential recharge is between 15 and 48 inches per year.

The model areas with the highest simulated median potential recharge include areas underlain by type A soils (sandy and well drained), particularly those that also have land uses with low or little vegetation (blueberry barrens, developed, open space, scrub/shrub, and cropland, for example). The potential recharge values for these areas are similar to previously published values for comparable soil types.

The 25-year average potential recharge grids were compared to recharge evaluated through groundwater-flow models or other methods in four hydrogeologic settings at six study areas in the State. A key factor in the ability of the Soil-Water-Balance model to reproduce the earlier study results was whether the available water-capacity data were an appropriate match for the hydrologic soil groups. The Maine Soil-Water-Balance model does a good job in representing an accurate potential recharge under circumstances where the surficial mapped soils extend below the surface to the water-table aquifer and where the available water-capacity data are in an appropriate range for the hydrologic soil group. One hydrogeologic setting that was challenging for the model was where a silt and clay layer was below a shallow soil unit that did not have available water-capacity data that were appropriate for the hydrologic soil group. In these cases, typically the available water-capacity data were very low, not accounting for the impedance of water flow provided by the underlying soil. The model also does not simulate well areas where bedrock surfaces are above the water table but below the plant rooting zone.

The data products accompanying this report are intended to be used to provide first-cut estimates of recharge for geographic areas no smaller than the smallest watersheds used in the calibration of the model—or about 1.5 square miles. It is recommended that the grids are used to calculate an area-wide average potential recharge for any given area of study, and an uncertainty around the mean should be calculated from the standard deviation grid at the same time.

Estimating rupture dimensions of three major earthquakes in Sichuan, China, for early warning and rapid loss estimates

Released January 28, 2020 06:34 EST

2020, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America

Jiawei Li, Maren Böse, Max Wyss, David J. Wald, Alexandra Hutchinson, John F. Clinton, Zhongliang Wu, Changsheng Jiang, Shiyong Zhou

Large earthquakes like in Wenchuan in 2008, MW 7.9, Sichuan, China, provide opportunity for earthquake early warning (EEW) as many heavily shaken areas are far (~50 km) from the epicenter and warning time could be long enough (≥ 5 s) to take effective preventative action. On the other hand, earthquakes with magnitudes larger than ~M 6.5 are challenging for EEW since source dimensions need to be defined in order to adequately estimate shaking. The Finite-Fault Rupture Detector (FinDer) is an approach to identify fault rupture extents from real-time strong motion and/or broadband records. In this study, we playback local and regional on-scale strong motion waveforms recorded during the 2008 MW 7.9 Wenchuan, 2013 MW 6.6 Lushan, and 2017 MW 6.5 Jiuzhaigou earthquakes to study the performance of FinDer for the current layout of the China Strong Motion Network. Overall, the FinDer line-source models agree well with the observed spatial distribution of aftershocks and fault models determined from waveform inversion. However, since FinDer models are constructed to characterize seismic ground motions (as needed for EEW) instead of source parameters, the rupture length can be overestimated for events radiating high levels of high-frequency motions, as is the case in the Lushan earthquake. If the set of strong motion data used had been available in real-time, 50% to 80% of sites experiencing shaking of intensity MMI IV-VII (light to very strong) and 30% experiencing VIII-IX (severe to violent) could have been issued a warning with 10 s and 5 s, respectively, before the arrival of the destructive S-wave. We also show that loss estimates after devastating earthquakes based on the FinDer line-source are more accurate compared to a point-source model. For the Wenchuan earthquake, for example, they predict a four to six times larger number of fatalities and injured, which is consistent with official reports. At the same time, these losses could be provided 1/2~3 hours faster than if based on more complex inversion rupture models.

Catalogue of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal den locations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and nearby areas, 1910–2018

Released January 27, 2020 15:25 EST

2020, Data Series 1121

George M. Durner, Steven C. Amstrup, Todd C. Atwood, David C. Douglas, Anthony S. Fischbach, Jay W. Olson, Karyn D. Rode, Ryan R. Wilson

This report presents data on the approximate locations and methods of discovery of 530 polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal dens observed in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and neighboring areas from 1910 to 2018, and archived partly by the U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, and partly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine Mammals Management, in Anchorage, Alaska. A description of data collection methods and their associated biases, primary data collection time periods, and estimated position uncertainty are provided. Polar bears in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas den on sea ice and land. Standardized very high frequency (VHF) aircraft surveys and satellite radio telemetry data provide a general understanding of where polar bears have denned in this region over the past 3 decades. Den observations made during other research activities and anecdotal reports from other government agencies, coastal residents, and industry personnel also are reported. These data on past polar bear maternal den locations are provided to inform decision making by natural resource agencies and for public use.

Earthquakes, did you feel it?

Released January 27, 2020 06:59 EST

2020, Book chapter, Encyclopedia of Solid Earth Geophysics

David J. Wald, Vince Quitoriano, James W. Dewey

The US Geological Survey (USGS) “Did You Feel It?”® (DYFI) system is an automated system for rapidly collecting macroseismic intensity data from Internet users’ shaking and damage reports and generating intensity maps immediately following earthquakes.

Although the collection and assignment of DYFI-based Macroseismic Intensity (MI) data depart from traditional assignments, they are made more quickly, provide more complete coverage at higher spatial resolution, offer citizen input and interaction, and allow data collection at rates and quantities that were not previously possible. These aspects of Internet-based data collection, in turn, allow for data analyses, graphics, and ways to communicate with the public, opportunities that were not feasible with traditional data-collection approaches. 

The influence of frost weathering on the debris flow sediment supply in an alpine basin

Released January 25, 2020 08:52 EST

2020, Journal of Geophysical Research

Francis K. Rengers, Jason W. Kean, Nadine G. Reitman, Joel B. Smith, Jeffrey A. Coe, Luke McGuire

Rocky, alpine mountains are prone to mass wasting from debris flows. The Chalk Cliffs study area (central Colorado, USA) produces debris flows annually. These debris flows are triggered when overland flow driven by intense summer convective storms mobilizes large volumes of sediment within the channel network. Understanding the debris flow hazard in this, and similar alpine settings, requires determining the magnitude of sed- iment accumulation between debris flow seasons, and identifying the control on sediment production. To address these knowledge gaps, we measured changes in sediment produc- tion using a sediment retention fence to quantify how sedimentation was influenced by temperature at the plot scale. These measurements were extrapolated to a larger area, where we extended the sediment fence results to explore how rockfall sedimentation con- tributed to channel refilling between active debris flow periods. This work shows debris flow channel refilling is correlated with low temperatures and time in the frost-cracking window, implicating frost weathering mechanisms as a key driver of sedimentation. This sediment production process resulted in a large amount of sediment accumulation dur- ing a single winter season in our study reach (up to 0.4 m in some locations). Using these observations, we develop a channel refilling model that generally describes the mass bal- ance of debris flow watersheds in alpine areas.

How "simple" methodological decisions affect interpretation of population structure based on reduced representation library DNA sequencing: A case study using the lake whitefish

Released January 24, 2020 20:06 EST

2020, PLoS ONE (15)

Carly F. Graham, Douglas R. Boreham, Richard G. Manzon, Wendylee Stott, Joanna Y. Wilson, Christopher M. Somers

Reduced representation (RRL) sequencing approaches (e.g., RADSeq, genotyping by sequencing) require decisions about how much to invest in genome coverage and sequencing depth, as well as choices of values for adjustable bioinformatics parameters. To empirically explore the importance of these “simple” methodological decisions, we generated two independent sequencing libraries for the same 142 individual lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) using a nextRAD RRL approach: (1) a larger number of loci at low sequencing depth based on a 9mer (library A); and (2) fewer loci at higher sequencing depth based on a 10mer (library B). The fish were selected from populations with different levels of expected genetic subdivision. Each library was analyzed using the STACKS pipeline followed by three types of population structure assessment (FST, DAPC and ADMIXTURE) with iterative increases in the stringency of sequencing depth and missing data requirements, as well as more specific a priori population maps. Library B was always able to resolve strong population differentiation in all three types of assessment regardless of the selected parameters, largely due to retention of more loci in analyses. In contrast, library A produced more variable results; increasing the minimum sequencing depth threshold (-m) resulted in a reduced number of retained loci, and therefore lost resolution at high -m values for FST and ADMIXTURE, but not DAPC. When detecting fine population differentiation, the population map influenced the number of loci and missing data, which generated artefacts in all downstream analyses tested. Similarly, when examining fine scale population subdivision, library B was robust to changing parameters but library A lost resolution depending on the parameter set. We used library B to examine actual subdivision in our study populations. All three types of analysis found complete subdivision among populations in Lake Huron, ON and Dore Lake, SK, Canada using 10,640 SNP loci. Weak population subdivision was detected in Lake Huron with fish from sites in the north-west, Search Bay, North Point and Hammond Bay,showing slight differentiation. Overall, we show that apparently simple decisions about library construction and bioinformatics parameters can have important impacts on the interpretation of population subdivision. Although potentially more costly on a per-locus basis, early investment in striking a balance between the number of loci and sequencing effort is well worth the reduced genomic coverage for population genetics studies. More conservative stringency settings on STACKS parameters lead to a final dataset that was more consistent and robust when examining both weak and strong population differentiation. Overall, we recommend that researchers approach “simple” methodological decisions with caution, especially when working on non-model species for the first time.

Herpetofauna occupancy and community composition along a tidal swamp salinity gradient

Released January 24, 2020 15:37 EST

2020, Wetlands

Sidney T Godfrey, J. Hardin Waddle, Robert F Baldwin, William H. Conner, William C Bridges, Jamie A. Duberstein

Occupancy patterns of herpetofauna in most tidal freshwater swamps are unknown. Tidal freshwater swamps currently face multiple threats, including salinization, which can influence their associated plant and animal communities. The impacts of salinization to herpetofauna communities in tidal freshwater swamps have not been assessed. To improve predictions regarding these herpetofauna, we conducted surveys in tidal freshwater swamps of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge located in South Carolina, USA, from March to June, 2016 and 2017, using a variety of methods. Goals included inventorying species, determining communities, examining microhabitat associations, and modeling occupancy to predict the impacts of salinity changes. We detected 8 species of amphibians and 12 species of reptiles in our surveys. Community analyses failed to detect patterns related to measured environmental variables. Species richness and diversity declined along the salinity gradient, but the observed patterns did not match our predictions and may instead be related to site-level heterogeneity. Microhabitat associations were detected for two amphibian species via occupancy analyses. Occupancy and regression analyses indicated soil salinity may be a factor affecting nine species’ occurrences. Amphibian detections may be affected by water depth, pH values, and weather conditions. These results expand our understanding of herpetofauna within an understudied, and threatened, wetland type.

Uptake, metabolism, and elimination of fungicides from coated wheat seeds in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)

Released January 24, 2020 13:47 EST

2020, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Michael S. Gross, Thomas G. Bean, Michelle Hladik, Barnett A. Rattner, Kathryn Kuivila

Pesticides coated to the seed surface potentially pose an ecological risk to granivorous birds that consume incompletely buried or spilled seeds. To assess the toxicokinetics of seeds treated with current-use fungicides, Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) were orally dosed with commercially coated wheat seeds. Quail were exposed to metalaxyl, tebuconazole, and fludioxonil at either a low (0.07, 0.03, and 0.03 mg/kg body weight) or high dose (0.2, 0.09, and 0.1 mg/kg body weight). Fungicides were rapidly absorbed and distributed to tissues. Tebuconazole was metabolized into t-butylhydroxy-tebuconazole. All compounds were eliminated to below detection limits within 24 h. The high detection frequencies observed in fecal samples potentially offers a noninvasive matrix to monitor pesticide exposure. Summing total body burden across plasma, tissue, and fecal samples, less than 9% of the administered dose was identified as the parent fungicide, demonstrating the importance to monitor both active ingredients and their metabolites in biological samples.

The clock keeps ticking: Circadian rhythms of free-ranging polar bears

Released January 24, 2020 07:04 EST

2020, Journal of Biological Rhythms

Jasmine V. Ware, Karyn D. Rode, Charles T. Robbins, T. Leise, C.R. Weil, Heiko T. Jansen

Life in the Arctic presents organisms with multiple challenges including extreme photic conditions, cold temperatures, and annual loss and daily movement of sea ice. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) evolved under these unique conditions where they rely on ice to hunt their main prey, seals. However, very little is known regarding the dynamics of their daily and seasonal activity patterns. For many organisms, activity is synchronized (entrained) to the earth’s day/night cycle, in part, via an endogenous (circadian) timekeeping mechanism. The present study utilized collar-mounted accelerometer and GPS data from 122 female polar bears in the Chukchi and Southern Beaufort seas collected over an 8-year period to characterize activity patterns over the calendar year and to determine if circadian rhythms are expressed under the constant conditions found in the Arctic. We reveal that the majority of polar bears (80%) exhibited rhythmic activity for the duration of their recordings. Collectively within the rhythmic bear cohort, circadian rhythms were detected during periods of constant daylight (Jun-Aug; 24.40 ± 1.39h, mean ± SD) and constant darkness (23.89 ± 1.72h). Exclusive of denning periods (Nov-Apr), the time of peak activity remained relatively stable (acrophases: ~1200 – 1400h) for most of the year, suggesting either entrainment or masking. However, activity patterns shifted during the spring feeding and seal pupping season as evidenced by an acrophase inversion to ~2400h in April, followed by highly variable timing of activity across bears in May. Intriguingly, despite the dynamic environmental photoperiodic conditions, unpredictable daily timing of prey availability, and high between-animal variability, the average duration of activity (alpha) remained stable (11.2 ± 2.9h) for most of the year. Together, these results reveal a high degree of behavioral plasticity in polar bears while also retaining circadian rhythmicity. Whether this degree of plasticity will benefit polar bears faced with a loss of sea ice remains to be determined.

Soil shear strength losses in two fresh marshes with variable increases in N and P loading

Released January 24, 2020 07:01 EST

2020, Wetlands

R. Eugene Turner, Christopher M. Swarzenski, James E. Bodker

We measured soil shear strength (SSS) from 2009 to 2018 in two hydrologically distinct freshwater marshes dominated by Panicum hemitomon after nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) were applied to the surface in spring. The average SSS averaged over 100 cm depth in the floating and anchored marshes declined up to 30% throughout the profiles and with no apparent differences in the effects of the low, medium, and high N+P dosing. Plots with only N or P additions exhibited significant changes in SSS at individual depths below 40 cm for the anchored marsh, but not the floating marsh. The average SSS for the anchored marsh over the entire 100 cm profile declined when N and P were added separately or together. At the floating marsh, however, the SSS decreased when N and P were added in combination, or P alone, but not for the N addition. Increasing nutrient availability to these freshwater marsh soils makes them weaker, and perhaps lost if eroded or uplifted by buoyant forces during storms. These results are consistent with results from multi-year experiments demonstrating higher decomposition rates, greenhouse gas emissions, and carbon losses in wetlands following increased nutrient availability.

Dilution and propagation of provenance trends in sand and mud: Geochemistry and detrital zircon geochronology of modern sediment from central California (U.S.A.)

Released January 24, 2020 06:38 EST

2020, American Journal of Science (319) 846-902

Matthew A. Malkowski, Glenn R. Sharman, Samuel A. Johnstone, Marty J. Grove, Dave L. Kimbrough, Stephen A. Graham

Integrated, multi-method provenance studies of siliciclastic sedimentary deposits are increasingly used to reconstruct the history of source-to-sink transport, paleogeography, and tectonics. Invariably, analysis of large-scale depositional systems must confront issues regarding how to best sample the system and adequately cope with the details of sediment mixing. Potential biases including variations in grain size, sediment flux, and zircon concentration may cause provenance tracking tools to misrepresent the contributions of source-areas that contribute to large drainage networks. We have acquired U-Pb detrital zircon data from modern sand and whole rock geochemistry from mud sampled from the Sacramento-San Joaquin drainage of central California to elucidate conditions that can skew provenance trends along the course of a major river system. This drainage network is fed by headwaters that tap the Mesozoic pluton-dominated southern Sierra Nevada, the Paleozoic-Mesozoic wallrock and volcanic-dominated northern Sierra Nevada, the ultramafic-dominated eastern Klamath Mountains, and the intermediate to mafic Cascades volcanic arc. Analysis of the results indicates that detrital zircon provenance trends effectively record source variations for the southern, granite-dominated portion of the drainage network where contrasts in lithology and inferred zircon fertility are relatively minor. In these circumstances, mixture modeling of U-Pb detrital zircon data calibrated with a measure of zircon fertility approximates relative sediment flux contributed by individual drainages. Alternatively, in the northern parts of the system, source regions underlain by ultramafic and /or volcanic rocks are poorly represented, or entirely missing, in down-stream detrital zircon records. In some cases, mud geochemistry data more faithfully represents sediment provenance trends. Sampling performed at the confluence of the Sacramento, American, Mokolumne, and San Joaquin rivers within the Sacramento Delta region yields a detrital zircon age distribution that is indistinguishable from that of an independently established database of Sierra Nevada batholith crystallization ages. However, when the combined river flows along a recently established passage to the Pacific through the San Francisco Bay region, dredged sediment is found to be significantly contaminated by locally eroded material from the Franciscan Complex and other rocks that crop out within the Coast Ranges. Large variation of Zr concentrations measured throughout the Bay area document that significant hydrodynamic fractionation impacts sediment delivery through this segment of the system. The more Sierra Nevada-like detrital zircon age distribution yielded by a piston-core sample from the continental slope may be explained by either early-stage unroofing of the Coast Ranges or more efficient sand delivery from the delta to the Pacific by a free flowing river driven by a low stand in sea level.

Binning singletons: Mentoring through networking at ASM microbe 2019

Released January 24, 2020 06:33 EST

2020, mSphere

Joseph B. James, Amanda L. Gunn, Denise M. Akob

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) national conference, Microbe, is the flagship meeting for microbiologists across the globe. The presence of roughly 10,000 attendees provides enormous opportunities for networking and learning. However, such a large meeting can be intimidating to many, especially early career scientists, students, those attending alone, and those from historically underrepresented groups. While mentorship is widely valued by ASM and its members, finding concrete ways to develop new and diverse mentoring opportunities can be a challenge. We recognized the need for an initiative aimed at expanding peer-to-peer mentoring, facilitating networking, and providing support for Microbe attendees; therefore, we created the program Binning Singletons for ASM Microbe 2019. The program consisted of five steps named after tools or phenomena in the profession of microbiology: (i) Identify the Singletons (e.g., individuals attending alone), (ii) Bin the Singletons, (iii) Horizontal Transfer, (iv) Quorum Sensing, and (v) Exponential Growth. These steps resulted in the matching of participants unsure of how to get the most out of their conference experience (e.g., singletons) with mentors who assisted with meeting planning, networking, and/or impostor syndrome. Started on social media only a month before ASM Microbe 2019, the program successfully launched despite limited time and resources. Binning Singletons improved inclusivity and networking opportunities for participants at the conference. Here, we discuss what worked, and what can be improved, with an eye toward development of the Binning Singletons model for future conferences to provide opportunities to increase inclusivity, networking, and accessibility for singletons and build a stronger scientific community.

Website usability differences between males and females: An eye-tracking evaluation of a climate decision support system

Released January 23, 2020 19:53 EST

2020, Weather, Climate, and Society (12) 183-192

Lindsay C. Mauldin, Karen McNeal, Heather D Aldridge, Corey Davis, Ryan Boyles, Rachel M. Atkins

Decision support systems, which are collections of related information located in a central place, can be used as platforms from which climate information can be shared with decision-makers. In this study, a web-based climate decision support system (DSS) for foresters in the Southeast United States was evaluated using eye-tracking technology. The initial study design was exploratory and focused on assessing usability concerns within the website. Results showed differences between male and female forestry experts in their eye-tracking behavior and in their success with completing tasks and answering questions related to the climate information presented in the DSS. A follow-up study, using undergraduate students from a large university in the Southeast United States, aimed to determine if similar gender differences would be detected, and if so, if the cause(s) could be determined. The second evaluation, similar to the first, showed that males and females focused their attention on different aspects of the website; males focused more on the maps depicting climate information, while females focused more on other aspects of the website (e.g., text, search bars, color bars). DSS developers should consider these gender differences when designing a web-based DSS in order to effectively support various populations of users.

The historical context of contemporary climatic adaptation: A case study in the climatically dynamic and environmentally complex southwestern United States

Released January 23, 2020 17:08 EST

2020, Ecography

Robert Massatti, L. Lacey Knowles

The process of adaptation can be highly dependent upon historical and contemporary factors, especially in environmentally and topographically complex regions affected by Pleistocene glaciations. Here, we investigate Hilaria jamesii (Poaceae), a dryland C4 graminoid, to test how patterns of adaptive genetic variation are linked to its glacial and post‐glacial history. We show that the species persisted in a single, southern refugium during the last glacial period and subsequently migrated throughout its current distribution concurrent with post‐glacial warming. The species’ putative adaptive genetic variation correlates with climatic gradients (e.g. monsoon precipitation and mean diurnal temperature range) that covary with the species’ probable route of demographic expansion. The short timescale and multiple climatic dimensions of adaptation imply that natural selection acted primarily upon standing genetic variation. These findings suggest that restoration and conservation practices should prioritize the maintenance of standing genetic variation to ensure that species have the capacity to respond to future environmental changes.

Communicating hazards—A social science review to meet U.S. Geological Survey needs

Released January 23, 2020 12:05 EST

2019, Circular 1449

Kerry F. Milch, Suzanne C. Perry, Jennifer L. Bruce

This report is for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)—and any other—hazard scientists who want to improve the understanding and use of their scientific information, particularly by non-experts. In order for people to use science, they need to understand it. The highly technical, specialized nature of scientific information makes that difficult, particularly when few scientists are trained to communicate with people outside their fields. These issues are of special importance to the USGS because it has many users who are not scientists and because it develops and applies hazard science to help protect the safety, security, and economic well-being of our Nation.

In 2010, the Science Application for Risk Reduction group at the USGS discovered the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) guide, “The Psychology of Climate Change Communication.” Ever since, a growing number of USGS staff who need to communicate about hazards have used that guide and have asked CRED for a companion report dedicated to hazard communication to harness knowledge from more than 50 years of social science research.

In 2016, the USGS and CRED launched a collaboration to develop that companion report. Ultimately, a CRED hazard communication guide would be a Columbia University publication with a wide focus and would include many hazards that are outside the USGS purview. This report is a first step and concentrates strictly on hazard communication needs at the USGS.

To identify those needs and tailor this effort to USGS hazard communication priorities, this collaboration began with telephone interviews and an online survey of USGS staff. This report is the result; it summarizes social science research and experience in the areas of hazard communication that USGS participants deemed most important to include.

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Central North Slope of Alaska, 2020

Released January 23, 2020 10:25 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3001

David W. Houseknecht, Katherine J. Whidden, Christopher D. Connors, Richard O. Lease, Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, William A. Rouse, Palma J. Botterell, Rebecca A. Smith, Margaret M. Sanders, William H. Craddock, Christina A. DeVera, Christopher P. Garrity, Marc L. Buursink, Cevat O. Karacan, Samuel J. Heller, Thomas E. Moore, Julie A. Dumoulin, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Katherine L. French, Cheryl A. Woodall, Ronald M. Drake II, Kristen R. Marra, Thomas M. Finn, Scott A. Kinney, Chilisa M. Shorten

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 3.6 billion barrels of oil and 8.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (associated and nonassociated) in conventional accumulations in Mississippian through Paleogene strata in the central North Slope of Alaska.

Molecular sequencing and morphological identification reveal similar patterns in native bee communities across public and private grasslands of eastern North Dakota

Released January 23, 2020 10:14 EST

2020, PLoS ONE (15)

Brian Darby, Russ Bryant, Abby Keller, Madison Jochim, Josephine Moe, Zoe Schreiner, Carrie Pratt, Ned Euliss, Mia Park, Rebecca Simmons, Clint R. V. Otto

Bees play a key role in the functioning of human-modified and natural ecosystems by pollinating agricultural crops and wild plant communities. Global pollinator conservation efforts need large-scale and long-term monitoring to detect changes in species’ demographic patterns and shifts in bee community structure. The objective of this project was to test a molecular sequencing pipeline that would utilize a commonly used locus, produce accurate and precise identifications consistent with morphological identifications, and generate data that are both qualitative and quantitative. We applied this amplicon sequencing pipeline to native bee communities sampled across Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands and native grasslands in eastern North Dakota. We found the 28S LSU locus to be more capable of discriminating between species than the 18S SSU rRNA locus, and in some cases even resolved instances of cryptic species or morphologically ambiguous species complexes. Overall, we found the amplicon sequencing method to be a qualitatively accurate representation of the sampled bee community richness and species identity, especially when a well-curated database of known 28S LSU sequences is available. Both morphological identification and molecular sequencing revealed similar patterns in native bee community structure across CRP lands and native prairie. Additionally, a genetic algorithm approach to compute taxon-specific correction factors using a small subset of the most concordant samples demonstrated that a high level of quantitative accuracy could be possible if the specimens are fresh and processed soon after collection. Here we provide a first step to a molecular pipeline for identifying insect pollinator communities. This tool should prove useful for future national monitoring efforts as use of molecular tools becomes more affordable and as numbers of 28S LSU sequences for pollinator species increase in publicly-available databases.

Effects of John Martin Reservoir on water quality and quantity: Assessment by chemical, isotopic, and mass-balance methods

Released January 23, 2020 06:45 EST

2020, Journal of Hydrology X (7) 100051

Carleton R. Bern, Michael Holmberg, Zachary Kisfalusi

Water quality and quantity can be influenced by transit through and storage in reservoirs. Assessing such effects can be challenging, however, because of mixing and residence times, and inter-annual net storage and release from both the reservoir itself and surrounding porosity. Here, different methodologies were used to assess the effect of John Martin Reservoir (JMR), located on the Arkansas River, on water volumes and the problematic constituents salinity (total dissolved solids, TDS), selenium (Se), and uranium (U). Methodologies addressed short-term (16 months) and long-term (31 years) effects depending upon data availability. Evaporation was assessed by using isotopes of water to determine 12% short-term evaporation, and by pan evaporation and changes in storage to determine 11% long-term evaporation. Salinity, Se, and U mass balance were assessed by using chloride (Cl−) as an index by which to measure short-term gains or losses between inflows and outflows in the short term. Chloride gain from ungaged inflows skewed those results to overestimate retention. Continuous monitoring of discharge and specific conductance for inflows and outflows, along with discrete sampling for dissolved constituents were used to compute long-term, load-based mass balance. Mild gains of TDS (34,000 ± 15,000 Mg/yr) and U (0.1 ± 0.5 Mg/yr) in JMR were detected. Although the additions are small relative to uncertainty, they indicate little to no retention of TDS and U and likely additions from ungaged inflows. In contrast, an average of 0.6 ± 0.2 Mg/yr or 23% of gaged inflow Se was removed in JMR. The study illustrates the benefit of long-term records for assessing the influence of reservoirs for which net storage and release keep them from approaching steady-state conditions.

Behavioral responses of sea lamprey to varying application rates of a synthesized pheromone in diverse trapping scenarios

Released January 22, 2020 17:17 EST

2020, Journal of Chemical Ecology

Nicholas S. Johnson, Sean A Lewandoski, Bethany Alger, Lisa M. O'Connor, Gale Bravener, Peter J. Hrodey, Belinda Huerta, Jessica Barber, Weiming Li, C. Michael Wagner, Michael J Siefkes

Use of the first fish pheromone biopesticide, 3-keto petromyzonol sulfate (3kPZS) in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) control requires an understanding of both how the amount 3kPZS applied to a trap relates to catch, and how that relationship varies among stream types. By conducting 3kPZS dose-response experiments over two years and across six varied trapping contexts, we conclude (1) that 3kPZS application is best standardized by how much is emitted from the trap instead of the fully mixed concentration achieved downstream, and (2) that 3kPZS is more effective in wide streams (>30 m). In wide streams, emission of 3kPZS at 50 mg hr.−1 from the trap increased capture rate by 10–15% as sea lamprey were 25–50% more likely to enter the trap after encounter. However, in narrow streams (< 15 m), 50 mg hr.−1 3kPZS generally reduced probabilities of upstream movement, trap encounter, and entrance. While 3kPZS significantly influenced upstream movement, encounter, and capture probabilities, these behaviors were also highly influenced by water temperature, stream width, sea lamprey length, and sex. This study highlights that a pheromone component in a stream environment does not ubiquitously increase trap catch in all contexts, but that where, how, and when the pheromone is applied has major impacts on whether it benefits or hinders trapping efforts.

Seafloor change around the Mississippi barrier islands, 1920 to 2016—The influence of storm effects on inlet and island morphodynamics

Released January 22, 2020 09:50 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2019-1140

James G. Flocks, Noreen A. Buster, Owen T. Brenner

The Mississippi Barrier Islands in the northern Gulf of Mexico experienced high rates of spatial change over recorded history. Wave-induced sediment transport induced island migration, landward retreat, and inlet evolution. These processes can be measured using repeat bathymetric surveys to analyze elevation change over time. This study analyzes digital elevation models created from three time periods where bathymetric data have been collected: the 1920s, 2009, and 2016. The models are compared to assess volumetric change between surveys and characterize morphologic responses to natural and human-influenced processes. Although all the islands within the study area experienced a loss of area over the period of study, the nearshore and tidal inlets experience both accretion and erosion that vary spatially and temporally. Major morphologic changes include westward island migration, expanding ebb-tidal deltas, and changes in inlet dimensions. This study is a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Park Service to establish baseline physical and pre-restoration morphologic conditions preceding a major restoration of the islands as part of the Mississippi Coastal Improvement Project.

Evaluation of hydrologic impact of an irrigation curtailment program in the Upper Klamath Lake Basin using Landsat satellite data

Released January 22, 2020 07:27 EST

2020, Hydrological Processes

Naga Manohar Velpuri, Gabriel Senay, Matthew Schauer, C. Amanda Garcia, Ramesh Singh, MacKenzie Friedrichs, Stefanie Bohms, Jonathan V. Haynes, Terrence D. Conlon

Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) is the source of the Klamath river that flows through southern Oregon and northern California. The UKL basin is home to two endangered species and provides water for 81,000+ ha (200,000+ acres) of irrigation on the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) Klamath Project located downstream of the UKL basin. Irrigated agriculture also occurs along the tributaries to UKL. During 2013–2016, water right calls resulted in various levels of curtailment of irrigation diversions from the tributaries to UKL. However, information on the extent of curtailment, how much irrigation water was saved, and its impact on the UKL is unknown. In this study, we combined Landsat-based actual evapotranspiration (ETa) data obtained from the Operational Simplified Surface Energy Balance (SSEBop) model with gridded precipitation and USGS station discharge data to evaluate the hydrologic impact of the curtailment program. Analysis was performed for five base years (2004, 2006, 2008-2010) and four target years (2013-2016) over irrigated areas above UKL. Our results indicated that the impact of the curtailment program over the June to September time-period was highest during 2013 and declined in each of the following years. The total on-field water savings were approximately 60 hm3 in 2013 and 2014, 44 hm3 in 2015, and 32 hm3 in 2016. The instream water flow change or extra water available (EWA) were found at 92, 68, 45, and 26 hm3 respectively for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Most water savings came from pasture and wetlands. Alfalfa showed the most decline in water use among grain crops. The resulting EWA from the curtailment contributed to a maximum of 19% of the lake inflows and 50% of the lake volume. This study presents the use of Landsat-based ETa and other remote sensing datasets for evaluating water-related impacts of the irrigation curtailment program.

A high-resolution seismic catalog for the initial 2019 Ridgecrest Earthquake sequence: Foreshocks, aftershocks, and faulting complexity

Released January 22, 2020 07:21 EST

2020, Seismological Research Letters

David R. Shelly

I use template matching and precise relative relocation techniques to develop a high-resolution earthquake catalog for the initial portion of the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence, from July 4-16, encompassing the foreshock sequence and the first 10+ days of aftershocks following the Mw 7.1 mainshock. Using 13,525 routinely cataloged events as waveform templates, I detect and precisely locate a total of 34,091 events. Precisely located earthquakes reveal numerous cross-cutting fault structures with dominantly perpendicular SW- and NW-strikes. Foreshocks of the Mw 6.4 event appear to align on a NW-striking fault. Aftershocks of the Mw 6.4 event suggest that it further ruptured this NW-striking fault, as well as the SW-striking fault where surface rupture was observed. Finally, aftershocks of the Mw 7.1 show a highly complex distribution, illuminating a primary NW-striking fault zone consistent with surface rupture, but also numerous cross-cutting SW-striking faults. Aftershock relocations suggest that the Mw 7.1 event ruptured adjacent to the previous NW-striking rupture of the Mw 6.4, perhaps activating a subparallel structure southwest of the earlier rupture. Both the NW and SE rupture termini of the Mw 7.1 rupture exhibited multiple-fault branching, with particularly high rates of aftershocks and multiple fault orientations in the dilatational quadrant NE of the NW rupture terminus.

Caltech/USGS Southern California Seismic Network (SCSN) and Southern California Earthquake Data Center (SCEDC): Data availability for the 2019 Ridgecrest sequence

Released January 22, 2020 06:47 EST

2020, Seismological Research Letters

Egill Hauksson, Clara Yoon, Ellen Yu, Jennifer Andrews, Mark Alvarez, Rayo Bhadha, Valerie Thomas

The 2019 M6.4 and M7.1 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence occurred in the eastern California shear zone (ECSZ). The mainshock ruptured the Little Lake fault zone and aftershocks extended from the Garlock fault in the south, to the southern end of the 1872 M7.5 Owens Valley earthquake rupture in the north. We present data from the Southern California Seismic Network (SCSN) and partner seismic networks recorded by the SCSN in the region. These time series data and related products such as the SCSN earthquake picks and catalogs, available from the Southern California Earthquake Data Center (SCEDC), provide the most comprehensive seismic datasets for the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence.

Estimating burn severity and carbon emissions from a megafire in boreal forests of China

Released January 22, 2020 06:43 EST

2020, Science of the Total Environment (716)

Wenru Xu, Hong S He, Todd Hawbaker, Zhiliang Zhu, Paul Henne

Wildfires, especially those of large size, worsen air quality and alter the carbon cycle through combustion of large quantities of biomass and release of carbon into the atmosphere. The Black Dragon fire, which occurred in 1987 in the boreal forests of China is among the top five of such megafires ever recorded in the world. With over 30 years of accumulation of data and availability of new greenhouse gas emission accounting methods, carbon emissions from this megafire can now be estimated with improved precision and greater spatial resolution. To do this, we combined field and remote sensing data to map four burn severity classes and calculated combustion efficiency in terms of the biomass immediately consumed in the fire. Results of the study showed that 1.30 million hectares burned and 52% of that area burned with high severity. The emitted carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), accounted for approximately 10% of total fossil fuel emissions from China in 1987, along with CO (2%–3% of annual anthropogenic CO emissions from China) and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) contributing to the atmospheric pollutants. Our study provides an important basis for carbon emission estimation and understanding the impacts of megafires.

Advanced biofilm analysis in streams receiving organic deicer runoff

Released January 22, 2020 06:34 EST

2020, PLoS ONE (15)

Michelle A Nott, Heather E. Driscoll, Minoru Takeda, Mahesh Vangala, Steven Corsi, Scott W. Tighe

Prolific heterotrophic biofilm growth is a common occurrence in airport receiving streams containing deicers and anti-icers, which are composed of low-molecular weight organic compounds. This study investigated biofilm spatiotemporal patterns and responses to concurrent and antecedent (i.e., preceding biofilm sampling) environmental conditions at stream sites upstream and downstream from Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during two deicing seasons (2009–2010; 2010–2011). Biofilm abundance and community composition were investigated along spatial and temporal gradients using field surveys and microarray analyses, respectively. Given the recognized role of Sphaerotilus in organically enriched environments, additional analyses were pursued to specifically characterize its abundance: a consensus sthA sequence was determined via comparison of whole metagenome sequences with a previously identified sthA sequence, the primers developed for this gene were used to characterize relative Sphaerotilus abundance using quantitative real-time PCR, and a Sphaerotilus strain was isolated to validate the determined sthA sequence. Results indicated that biofilm abundance was stimulated by elevated antecedent chemical oxygen demand concentrations, a surrogate for deicer concentrations, with minimal biofilm volumes observed when antecedent chemical oxygen demand concentrations remained below 48 mg/L. Biofilms were composed of diverse communities (including sheathed bacterium Thiothrix) whose composition appeared to shift in relation to antecedent temperature and chemical oxygen demand. The relative abundance of sthA correlated most strongly with heterotrophic biofilm volume (positive) and dissolved oxygen (negative), indicating that Sphaerotilus was likely a consistent biofilm member and thrived under low oxygen conditions. Additional investigations identified the isolate as a new strain of Sphaerotilus montanus (strain KMKE) able to use deicer components as carbon sources and found that stream dissolved oxygen concentrations related inversely to biofilm volume as well as to antecedent temperature and chemical oxygen demand. The airport setting provides insight into potential consequences of widescale adoption of organic deicers for roadway deicing.