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Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota—Species of conservation concern: Chapter D in Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota

Released January 03, 2019 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5070-D

Max Post van der Burg, Amy J. Symstad, Lawrence D. Igl, David M. Mushet, Diane L. Larson, Glen A. Sargeant, David D. Harper, Aïda M. Farag, Brian A. Tangen, Michael J. Anteau

The ecosystems of the Williston Basin provide direct and indirect benefits to society. These benefits include carbon sequestration, flood control, nutrient rich soils for agricultural productivity, and habitat for wildlife. This chapter’s main focus is on the effects of energy development on species that occupy the ecosystems in the Williston Basin. We compiled a list of documented species of conservation concern that are of most interest to Federal regulators and resource managers. Species of concern were either listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act or listed by States as species of concern in Natural Heritage Program checklists or State Wildlife Action Plans. All told, we determined that 357 species of concern likely occupy the Williston Basin. These species represented seven different taxonomic groups: plants (native and nonnative), terrestrial invertebrates, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and fish and mussels.

We reviewed the existing scientific information pertaining to potential effects of energy development on these taxonomic groups. Currently, little is known about the abundance and distribution of many of these species. But some information exists that may be useful in predicting the potential effects of energy development on certain taxonomic groups. Most of this information has been developed through scientific research focused on effects to mammal and bird populations. Effects to other taxonomic groups seems to be understudied. In general, it seems that disturbances and modifications associated with development have the potential to negatively affect a wide range of species; however, many studies produce uncertain results because they are not designed to compare populations before and after energy development takes place. Most of these studies also do not monitor resources over multiple years and thus cannot detect population trends. Likewise, there are few examples of landscape-scale assessments of the cumulative effects of energy development that could be used for species or habitat management purposes. We suggest that more research needs to be completed to measure potential effects to a broad range of species in multiple taxonomic groups. This may require also developing some understanding about the basic ecology of many of the species covered in this report. In concert with this more basic research, we also suggest that more comprehensive assessments of potential negative cumulative effects across the Williston Basin should be developed in an effort to guide more strategic management of biological resources.

Velocity-Based movement modeling for individual and population level inference

Released January 02, 2019 00:00 EST

2011, PLoS ONE (6)

E.M. Hanks, M.B. Hooten, D.S. Johnson, J.T. Sterling

Understanding animal movement and resource selection provides important information about the ecology of the animal, but an animal's movement and behavior are not typically constant in time. We present a velocity-based approach for modeling animal movement in space and time that allows for temporal heterogeneity in an animal's response to the environment, allows for temporal irregularity in telemetry data, and accounts for the uncertainty in the location information. Population-level inference on movement patterns and resource selection can then be made through cluster analysis of the parameters related to movement and behavior. We illustrate this approach through a study of northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) movement in the Bering Sea, Alaska, USA. Results show sex differentiation, with female northern fur seals exhibiting stronger response to environmental variables.

Lidar base specification version 1.0

Released January 01, 2019 00:00 EST

2012, Techniques and Methods 11-B4

Hans Karl Heidemann

Following the 2008 National Lidar Initiative meeting in Reston, Virginia, and realizing the importance of and the growing diversity within our Nation's lidar data holdings, then U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director Mark Myers commissioned the development of a set of lidar standards. The following year, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) provided the National Geospatial Program (NGP) with significant funding for lidar data collection to enhance the National Elevation Dataset. The requirement for the NGP to collect and assimilate the unprecedented volume of lidar data in a short period of time proved the need for a common specification and standard. Through extensive collaboration with lidar experts within the NGP, the USGS as a whole, the National Digital Elevation Program, and private industry, the 12th draft of the specification was incorporated into the ARRA Lidar Program Announcement. A 13th and final draft was released to the public at the International Lidar Mapping Forum (ILMF) in 2010. That document has become the foundation of lidar specifications worldwide and has been adopted, in large part, by numerous USGS programs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Resource Conservation Agency (NRCS), and other U.S. Federal agencies. The NGP Lidar Base Specification Version 1.0 is the official publication of what is widely known as "the v13 Spec." It has been completely reformatted and re-edited, and now includes a glossary, a metadata template, and a metadata example file. The substantive content, however, is unchanged from the version 13 draft. Lidar continues to be a rapidly evolving technology, and the NGP anticipates periodic future revisions to this document as changes in the technology, data, applications, and program requirements dictate.

Assessing First-Order Emulator Inference for Physical Parameters in Nonlinear Mechanistic Models

Released January 01, 2019 00:00 EST

2011, Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (16) 475-494

M.B. Hooten, W.B. Leeds, J. Fiechter, C.K. Wikle

We present an approach for estimating physical parameters in nonlinear models that relies on an approximation to the mechanistic model itself for computational efficiency. The proposed methodology is validated and applied in two different modeling scenarios: (a) Simulation and (b) lower trophic level ocean ecosystem model. The approach we develop relies on the ability to predict right singular vectors (resulting from a decomposition of computer model experimental output) based on the computer model input and an experimental set of parameters. Critically, we model the right singular vectors in terms of the model parameters via a nonlinear statistical model. Specifically, we focus our attention on first-order models of these right singular vectors rather than the second-order (covariance) structure. ?? 2011 International Biometric Society.

Comparisons of watershed sulfur budgets in southeast Canada and northeast US: new approaches and implications

Released January 01, 2019 00:00 EST

2011, Biogeochemistry (103) 181-207

Myron J. Mitchell, Gary Lovett, Scott Bailey, Fred Beall, Doug Burns, Don Buso, Thomas A. Clair, Francois Courchesne, Louis Duchesne, Cathy Eimers, Ivan Fernandez, Daniel Houle, Dean S. Jeffries, Gene E. Likens, Michael D. Moran, Christopher Rogers, Donna Schwede, Jamie Shanley, Kathleen C. Weathers, Robert Vet

Most of eastern North America receives elevated levels of atmospheric deposition of sulfur (S) that result from anthropogenic SO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Atmospheric S deposition has acidified sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in this region; however, deposition has been declining since the 1970s, resulting in some recovery in previously acidified aquatic ecosystems. Accurate watershed S mass balances help to evaluate the extent to which atmospheric S deposition is retained within ecosystems, and whether internal cycling sources and biogeochemical processes may be affecting the rate of recovery from decreasing S atmospheric loads. This study evaluated S mass balances for 15 sites with watersheds in southeastern Canada and northeastern US for the period 1985 to 2002. These 15 sites included nine in Canada (Turkey Lakes, ON; Harp Lake, ON; Plastic Lake, ON; Hermine, QC; Lake Laflamme, QC; Lake Clair, QC; Lake Tirasse, QC; Mersey, NS; Moosepit, NS) and six in the US (Arbutus Lake, NY; Biscuit Brook, NY; Sleepers River, VT; Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH; Cone Pond, NH; Bear Brook Watershed, ME). Annual S wet deposition inputs were derived from measured bulk or wet-only deposition and stream export was obtained by combining drainage water fluxes with SO42? concentrations. Dry deposition has the greatest uncertainty of any of the mass flux calculations necessary to develop accurate watershed balances, and here we developed a new method to calculate this quantity. We utilized historical information from both the US National Emissions Inventory and the US (CASTNET) and the Canadian (CAPMoN) dry deposition networks to develop a formulation that predicted SO2 concentrations as a function of SO2 emissions, latitude and longitude. The SO2 concentrations were used to predict dry deposition using relationships between concentrations and deposition flux derived from the CASTNET or CAPMoN networks. For the year 2002, we compared the SO2 concentrations and deposition predictions with the predictions of two continental-scale air quality models, the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model and A Unified Regional Air-quality Modeling System (AURAMS) that utilize complete inventories of emissions and chemical budgets. The results of this comparison indicated that the predictive relationship provides an accurate representation of SO2 concentrations and S deposition for the region that is generally consistent with these models, and thus provides confidence that our approach could be used to develop accurate watershed S budgets for these 15 sites. Most watersheds showed large net losses of SO42? on an annual basis, and the watershed mass balances were grouped into five categories based on the relative value of mean annual net losses or net gains. The net annual fluxes of SO42? showed a strong relationship with hydrology; the largest net annual negative fluxes were associated with years of greatest precipitation amount and highest discharge. The important role of catchment hydrology on S budgets suggests implications for future predicted climate change as it affects patterns of precipitation and drought. The sensitivity of S budgets is likely to be greatest in watersheds with the greatest wetland area, which are particularly sensitive to drying and wetting cycles. A small number of the watersheds in this analysis were shown to have substantial S sources from mineral weathering, but most showed evidence of an internal source of SO4 2?, which is likely from the mineralization of organic S stored from decades of increased S deposition. Mobilization of this internal S appears to contribute about 1-6 kg S ha?1 year?1 to stream fluxes at these sites and is affecting the rate and extent of recovery from acidification as S deposition rates have declined in recent years. This internal S source should be considered when developing critical deposition loads that will promote ecosy

Nomenclature of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes for Oncorhynchus mykiss

Released January 01, 2019 00:00 EST

2005, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society (134) 1271-1273

S.L. Graziano, K.H. Brown, J.L. Nielsen

Congruence of genetic data is critical for comparative and collaborative studies on natural fish populations. A comprehensive list of reported mitochrondrial DNA haplotypes for Oncorhynchus mykiss generated using the S-Phe/P2 primer set is presented as a resource for future investigations of this species. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.

Radiocarbon ages of pre-bomb clams and the hard-water effect in Lakes Michigan and Huron

Released January 01, 2019 00:00 EST

1995, Journal of Paleolimnology (14) 89-91

David K. Rea, Steven M. Colman

Five radiocarbon ages, all determined by accelerator mass spectrometry, have been obtained for two pre-bomb bivalves from Lake Michigan and one from Lake Huron. After correcting those ages for the fractionation of14C in calcite and for the radioactively inert CO2 in the atmosphere, we find residual ages, caused by the hard water effect, of about 250 years for Lake Michigan and 440 years for Lake Huron. ?? 1995 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Seasonal cycles of zooplankton from San Francisco Bay

Released January 01, 2019 00:00 EST

1985, Hydrobiologia (129) 177-197

Julie W. Ambler, J.E. Cloern, A. Hutchinson

The two estuarine systems composing San Francisco Bay have distinct zooplankton communities and seasonal population dynamics. In the South Bay, a shallow lagoon-type estuary, the copepods Acartia spp. and Oithona davisae dominate. As in estuaries along the northeast coast of the U.S., there is a seasonal succession involving the replacement of a cold-season Acartia species (A. clausi s.l.) by a warm-season species (A. californiensis), presumably resulting from the differential production and hatching of dormant eggs. Oithona davisae is most abundant during the fall. Copepods of northern San Francisco Bay, a partially-mixed estuary of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers, organize into discrete populations according to salinity distribution: Sinocalanus doerrii (a recently introduced species) at the riverine boundary, Eurytemora affinis in the oligohaline mixing zone, Acartia spp. in polyhaline waters (18-30\%), and neritic species (e.g., Paracalanus parvus) at the seaward boundary. Sinocalanus doerrii and E. affinis are present year-round. Acartia clausi s.l. is present almost year-round in the northern reach, and A. californiensis occurs only briefly there in summer-fall. The difference in succession of Acartia species between the two regions of San Francisco Bay may reflect differences in the seasonal temperature cycle (the South Bay warms earlier), and the perennial transport of A. clausi s.l. into the northern reach from the seaward boundary by nontidal advection. Large numbers (>106 m-3) of net microzooplankton (>64 ??m), in cluding the rotifer Synchaeta sp. and three species of tintinnid ciliates, occur in the South Bay and in the seaward northern reach where salinity exceeds about 5-10??? Maximum densities of these microzooplankton are associated with high concentrations of chlorophyll. Meroplankton (of gastropods, bivalves, barnacles, and polychaetes) constitute a large fraction of zooplankton biomass in the South Bay during winter-spring and in the northern reach during summer-fall. Seasonal cycles of zooplankton abundance appear to be constant among years (1978-1981) and are similar in the deep (>10 m) channels and lateral shoals (<3 m). The seasonal zooplankton community dynamics are discussed in relation to: (1) river discharge which alters salinity distribution and residence time of plankton; (2) temperature which induces production and hatching of dormant copepod eggs; (3) coastal hydrography which brings neritic copepods of different zoogeographic affinities into the bay; and (4) seasonal cycles of phytoplankton. ?? 1985 Dr W. Junk Publishers.

Remote sensing of bush honeysuckle in the Middle Blue River Basin, Kansas City, Missouri, 2016–17

Released December 21, 2018 17:22 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Map 3421

Jarrett T. Ellis

Amur honeysuckle bush (Lonicera maackii) and Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) are two of the most aggressively invasive species to become established throughout areas along the Blue River in metropolitan Kansas City, Missouri. These two large, spreading shrubs (locally referred to as bush honeysuckle in the Kansas City metropolitan area) colonize the understory, crowd out native plants, and may be allelopathic, producing a chemical that restricts growth of native species. Removal efforts have been underway for more than a decade by local conservation groups such as Bridging The Gap and Heartland Conservation Alliance, who are concerned with the loss of native species diversity associated with the spread of bush honeysuckle. Bush honeysuckle produces leaves early in the spring before almost all other vegetation and retains leaves late in the fall after almost all other species have lost their leaves. Appropriately timed imagery can be used during early spring and late fall to map the extent of bush honeysuckle. Using multispectral imagery collected in February 2016 and true color aerial imagery collected in March 2016, a coverage map of bush honeysuckle was made to investigate the extent of bush honeysuckle in a study area along the middle reach of the Blue River in the Kansas City metropolitan area in Jackson County, Missouri. The coverage map was further classified into unlikely, low-, and high-density bush honeysuckle density at a 30-foot cell size. The unlikely density class correctly predicted the absence and approximate density of bush honeysuckle for 86 percent of the field-verification points, the low-density class predicted the presence and approximate density with 73-percent confidence, and the high-density class was predicted with 67-percent confidence.

Interior Least Tern sandbar nesting habitat measurements from Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery

Released December 21, 2018 17:19 EST

2018, Data Series 1098

Edward A. Bulliner, Caroline M. Elliott, Robert B. Jacobson, Casey Lott

Sandbars of large sand-bedded rivers of the central United States serve important ecological functions to many species, including the endangered Interior Least Tern (Sternula antillarum, ILT). The ILT is a colonial bird that feeds on fish and nests primarily on riverine sandbars during its annual breeding season of around May through July, depending on region. During this time, ILTs require bare sand of sufficient elevation so as not to be inundated between nest initiation and fledging of hatchlings. Partly because of decreases in available sandbar habitat from river channelization and impoundment, ILTs were listed as endangered in 1985.

Sandbars used by ILTs in central United States rivers are highly dynamic and undergo substantive changes across a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. River hydrology is the primary driver of sandbar morphodynamics in these systems. Better characterization of sandbar area with time, accounting for varying flow regimes, allows for a better understanding of landscape-scale ecology for sandbar-dependent species such as the ILT. This work uses remote-sensing techniques to quantify sandbar area that may be used by ILTs at the land-scape scale and how it has changed with time. The assessment of landscape-scale trends in sandbar area with time requires datasets with high temporal resolution and long record periods covering large geographic areas. Evaluation of remotely sensed datasets requires consideration of river stage fluctuations. To make this assessment, we developed land-cover classification datasets within active channel masks using all available images from the Landsat Thematic Mapper series of satellites meeting cloud-free (40 percent or less) and ice-free criteria. Landsat imagery was selected because of its long record period, spatial coverage, and regular reimaging cycle, making it well suited to monitor ILT sandbar habitat with time. We also attributed each scene with discharge or stage using a new database integrating U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers river data with Landsat metadata. This report documents development of these riverine classification datasets with a focus on applicability to the ILT. This framework may be used to continue monitoring the ILT sandbar nesting habitat or to evaluate other aquatic and terrestrial species whose life cycles are related to sandbars and channel complexity.

Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) Version 5.0 User Guide

Released December 21, 2018 13:45 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1179

Emily A. Himmelstoss, Rachel E. Henderson, Meredith G. Kratzmann, Amy S. Farris

Overview

The Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) is a freely available software application that works within the Esri Geographic Information System (ArcGIS) software. DSAS computes rate-of-change statistics for a time series of shoreline vector data. DSAS version 5.0 (v5.0) was released in December 2018 and has been tested for compatibility with ArcGIS versions 10.4 and 10.5. It is supported on Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems. If you use it, please cite it as follows and make note of the current version:

Himmelstoss, E.A., Farris, A.S., Henderson, R.E., Kratzmann, M.G., Ergul, Ayhan, Zhang, Ouya, Zichichi, J.L., Thieler, E. R., 2018, Digital Shoreline Analysis System (version 5.0): U.S. Geological Survey software release, https://code.usgs.gov/cch/dsas.

This user guide describes the system requirements, installation procedures, and necessary inputs to establish measurement locations with DSAS-generated transects and compute rate-of-change calculations. Although the nomenclature for this software utility is based on use in a coastal environment, the DSAS application could be used to compute rates of change for any boundary-change problem that incorporates a clearly identified feature position at discrete times, such as glacier limits, river banks, or land use/cover boundaries.

Extended Abstract: Geologic evaluation of regional production trends in the Upper Cretaceous Austin Chalk

Released December 21, 2018 13:36 EST

2012, GCAGS Transactions (62) 593-597

Krystal M. Pearson

The Upper Cretaceous Austin Chalk, which extends across Texas and Louisiana, is characterized by reservoirs that produce oil, gas, and in some cases, anomalously large amounts of water. Reservoirs typically have low matrix permeability and contain natural fractures. Horizontal drilling has been used to enhance and connect these fracture systems to drain the reservoir more effectively. Although the formation contains continuous (unconventional) reservoirs, it behaves as a hybrid system, wherein varied geologic settings yield both continuous and conventional accumulations.

Geologic map and database of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Riverside and Imperial Counties, California

Released December 21, 2018 13:13 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1191

Robert E. Powell, Robert J. Fleck, Pamela M. Cossette

The northwest-trending Chocolate Mountains are situated along the northeastern margin of the southern Salton Trough. The Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range occupies most of the 75-km-long part of the Chocolate Mountains that lies between Salt Creek to the north and California State Highway 78 to the south. Mapping studies in the Chocolate Mountains within the gunnery range are few and this study was conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Navy (Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest, San Diego, California) and U.S. Marine Corps (Range Management Department, Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Arizona).

Crystalline basement rocks in the Chocolate Mountains range in age from early Proterozoic to middle Cenozoic. Early and middle Proterozoic metamorphosed sedimentary and plutonic rocks include sillimanite-biotite-quartz feldspar gneiss, layered biotite-quartz-feldspar gneiss, biotite-quartz-feldspar augen gneiss, and largely undeformed late Proterozoic anorthosite and syenite. These rock types, which crop out as dispersed domains in the Chocolate Mountains, are remnants—along with more extensive domains observed in the Eastern Transverse Ranges to the north and in the San Gabriel Mountains to the northwest—of an originally more continuous assemblage that has been dextrally displaced along strands of the San Andreas Fault System.

On the potential duration of the aftershock sequence of the 2018 Anchorage earthquake

Released December 21, 2018 12:51 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1195

Andrew J. Michael

Currently, an aftershock sequence is ongoing in Alaska after the magnitude 7.0 Anchorage earthquake of November 30, 2018. Using two scenarios, determined with observations as of December 14, 2018, this report estimates that it will take between 2.5 years and 3 decades before the rate of aftershocks decays to the rate of earthquakes that were occurring in this area before the magnitude 7.0 mainshock. All of the time estimates have significant uncertainty owing to different scenarios of how the sequence may decrease over time and could also change if a large aftershock occurs. The report also estimates the amount of time after the mainshock until the annual probability of magnitude 5 or greater and 6 or greater aftershocks—which could cause additional damage—decreases to 50, 25, 10, and 5 percent. For instance, the probability of one or more magnitude 6 or greater aftershocks in the following year decreases to 10 percent between 7 and 250 days after the mainshock. The same probability for magnitude 5 or greater earthquakes is reached between 500 and 7,000 days after the mainshock.

Updates to the suspended sediment SPARROW model developed for western Oregon and northeastern California

Released December 21, 2018 12:16 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5156

Daniel R. Wise

A SPARROW (SPAtially Related Regressions On Watershed attributes) model that was previously developed for western Oregon and northwestern California was updated using advancements in the SPARROW software and refinements to the input data. As was the case for the original model calibration, the updated models used the NHD Plus Version 2 as a hydrologic framework and relied on the same estimates of long-term mean suspended-sediment loads and watershed attributes. The updated calibration results indicated that two different SPARROW models were possible—one model from which sediment sources were represented by local lithology and one from which sediment sources were represented by generalized land-cover classes; precipitation, catchment slope, wildfire disturbance, and sediment loss in impoundments were significantly correlated with suspended-sediment loads in both models. The updated models also included a method to compensate for the bias introduced by using total suspended solids to represent suspended sediment in the calibration dataset—a feature that was not available during the original model calibration. The effect of this feature was an overall increase in estimated suspended-sediment loads. Although the lithology- and the land-cover based models used different landscape properties to describe sediment sources, each could be useful in specific applications. The lithology-based model provides more accurate estimates of suspended-sediment load, but the land-cover based model allows water-quality managers to estimate how much in-stream suspended-sediment load originates in areas with extensive development compared to the load that originates in areas with relatively little human impact.

2017-2018 Palila abundance estimates and trend

Released December 21, 2018 11:29 EST

2018, Technical Report HCSU-086

Ayesha S. Genz, Kevin W. Brinck, Richard J. Camp, Paul C. Banko

The palila (Loxioides bailleui) population was surveyed annually from 1998–2018 on Mauna Kea Volcano
to determine abundance, population trend, and spatial distribution. In the latest surveys, the 2017
population was estimated at 1,177−1,813 birds (point estimate: 1,461) and the 2018 population was
estimated at 778−1,420 (point estimate: 1,051). Only two palila were detected outside the core survey
area during a mountain-wide survey in 2017, suggesting that most, if not all, palila inhabit the western
slope during the annual survey period. Since 1998, the size of the area containing palila detections on
the western slope did not show a significant change, suggesting that the range of the species has
remained stable; although this area represents only about 5% of its historical extent. During 1998−2003,
palila numbers fluctuated moderately (coefficient of variation [CV] = 0.20). After peaking in 2003,
population estimates declined steadily through 2011; since 2010, estimates have continued to decline at
a slower rate. The average rate of decline during 1998−2018 was 168 birds per year with very strong
statistical support for an overall declining trend in abundance. Over the 21-year monitoring period, the
estimated rate of change equated to a 76% decline in the population.

The geology and paleontology of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada

Released December 20, 2018 18:45 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2018-3038

Kathleen B. Springer, Jeffrey S. Pigati, Eric Scott

On December 19, 2014, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, located in the Las Vegas Valley of southern Nevada, was established by Congress as the 405th unit of the National Park Service to “conserve, protect, interpret, and enhance for the benefit of present and future generations the unique and nationally important paleontological, scientific, educational, and recreational resources and values of the land” (P.L. 113-291, sec. 3092). Vertebrate fossils have been known from the region for more than a century, and recent work has established the Tule Springs local fauna as one of the most significant Pleistocene vertebrate faunas in the American Southwest. The sedimentary sequence that entombs the fossils represents a paleohydrologic system that responded dynamically to abrupt changes in climate throughout the late Quaternary. Work in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument continues today through the efforts of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, and academic institutions across the country.

The Las Vegas Formation

Released December 20, 2018 18:45 EST

2018, Professional Paper 1839

Kathleen B. Springer, Jeffrey S. Pigati, Craig R. Manker, Shannon A. Mahan

The Las Vegas Formation was established in 1965 to designate the distinctive light-colored, fine-grained, fossil-bearing sedimentary deposits exposed in and around the Las Vegas Valley, Nevada. In a coeval designation, the sediments were subdivided into informal units with stratigraphic and chronologic frameworks that have persisted in the literature. Use of the Las Vegas Formation name over the past half century has been hampered because of the lack of a robust definition and characterization of the entire lithostratigraphic sequence, its geographic distribution, and chronology. This study evaluates and describes deposits attributed to the Las Vegas Formation with detailed stratigraphy, sedimentology, and field relations. A large suite of radiocarbon and luminescence ages facilitates revision and temporal expansion of the geochronology. In all, we characterize 17 informal geologic units within the formation, each dating to a unique period of geologic time, with stratigraphically ascending members X, A, B, D, and E and attendant beds in members B, D, and E. The age of the Las Vegas Formation spans at least the middle Pleistocene to early Holocene (from approximately 573 to 8.53 kilo-annum [thousands of years before present]) and is related to past episodes of groundwater discharge in the Las Vegas Valley. The contextual information derived from this new framework is dually noteworthy because the sediments entomb one of the most significant Pleistocene vertebrate faunas in the American Southwest, the Tule Springs local fauna, and represent a paleohydrologic system that responded dynamically to abrupt changes in climate throughout the late Quaternary. Characterizing the nature of these important deposits stabilizes the nomenclature, promotes the continued use of the informal units within the formation, and facilitates studies of similar deposits associated with desert wetland ecosystems elsewhere in the southwestern United States.

How and why Upper Colorado River Basin land, water, and fire managers choose to use drought tools (or not)

Released December 20, 2018 16:20 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1173

Amanda E. Cravens

On the Western Slope of Colorado, variable climate and precipitation conditions are typical. Periods of drought—which may be defined by lack of water, high temperatures, low soil moisture, or other indicators—cause a range of impacts across sectors, including water, land, and fire management.

The Western Slope’s Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) was one of the first pilot areas in which the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) implemented a drought early warning system (DEWS) in 2009. NIDIS presently supports eight regional DEWS; as of 2016, the UCRB DEWS has been incorporated into an expanded Intermountain West (IMW) DEWS. The selection of the UCRB for an initial DEWS reflects the regional importance of drought information for managing water supply for agriculture and other uses, and the need for effective decision support related to drought. Additionally, new drought information products were developed specifically for the UCRB DEWS, and a number of others have been created since 2009, adding to the preexisting toolkit for drought decision making.

The various elements of the UCRB drought early warning system can be expected to be more or less suitable for the needs of different decision makers. As a result, the UCRB makes an ideal case study to examine the use of scientific information products and tools in which the broad decision context (managing drought) is defined, but information needs of current and prospective users vary. Thus decision makers will make varied choices about which of the available tools to use or not use, depending on the particular management and institutional context in which they work. This report investigates the factors that affect the choices of decision makers about whether and how to use particular information sources, products, and tools. The investigation focused on the following research questions:

  • What decisions do managers make related to drought in the Upper Colorado region and particularly the Western Slope of Colorado? About which impacts of drought are they most concerned?
  • What indicators and information products do decision makers rely on to manage for the impacts of drought in this region?
  • How do decision makers find out about and choose between available drought information sources, products, and tools?
  • What gaps (if any) do they perceive in currently available drought information and tools?

Studies of decision support tools or information sources often concentrate on the known users of a given tool(s). Such an approach can yield useful information; it provides rich insight into the experiences of users and can suggest design modifications to make existing tools more effective. Yet it is not an effective approach to capture the perspectives and needs of prospective tool users or to investigate the factors that affect whether or not someone chooses to use tools in the first place. To overcome this challenge, in this study the author instead used a geographically based sampling strategy in which a range of natural resource managers from preidentified Federal management units and selected State agencies on the Western Slope were considered prospective users of tools. Prospective users were then asked to describe in an open-ended fashion what information and tools they do or do not use and why. This approach allowed for respondents to report both use and nonuse of tools, and thus the ability to identify factors that influence information and tool use choices by managers.

Earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing are pervasive in Oklahoma

Released December 20, 2018 15:30 EST

2018, Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth

Robert J. Skoumal, Rosamiel Ries, Michael R. Brudzinski, Andrew J. Barbour, Brian S. Currie

Wastewater disposal is generally accepted to be the primary cause of the increased seismicity rate in Oklahoma within the past decade, but no statewide analysis has investigated the contribution of hydraulic fracturing (HF) to the observed seismicity or the seismic hazard. Utilizing an enhanced seismicity catalog generated with multi‐station template matching from 2010‐2016 and all available hydraulic fracturing information, we identified 274 HF wells that are spatiotemporally correlated with bursts of seismicity. The majority of HF induced seismicity cases occurred in the SCOOP/STACK plays, but we also identified prominent cases in the Arkoma Basin as well as some more complex potential cases along the edge of the Anadarko Platform. For HF treatments where we have access to injection parameters, modeling suggests poroelastic stresses are likely responsible for seismicity, but we cannot rule out direct pore pressure effects as a contributing factor. In all of the 16 regions we identified, ≥75% of the seismicity correlated with reported HF wells. In some regions, >95% of seismicity correlated with HF wells and >50% of the HF wells correlated with seismicity. Overall, we found ~700 HF induced earthquakes with M ≥ 2.0, including 12 events with M 3.0‐3.5. These findings suggest state regulations implemented in 2018 that require operators in the SCOOP/STACK plays to take action if a M > 2 earthquake occurs could have a significant impact on future operations.

Microseismic events associated with the Oroville Dam spillway

Released December 20, 2018 15:25 EST

2018, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America

Robert J. Skoumal, Phillip B. Dawson, Stephen H. Hickman, J. Ole Kaven

On 14 February 2017, two small (equivalent MD 0.8 and 1.0) seismic events occurred in proximity to the Oroville Dam in the Sierra Nevada foothills, California. To examine possible causal relationships between these events and reservoir operations, including the spillway failure starting prior to these events, we applied a new optimized template matching approach to seismic data between May 1993 - April 2018. We identified more than 19,000 smaller-magnitude events that were similar in character to the February 14 events. These events are located in proximity to the Oroville spillway and occurred in tight temporal clusters that strongly correlate with periods of spillway discharge. Seismic source inversion is inconclusive, but we suggest that these events might be induced by rapid changes in pore pressure along a fracture (or fractures) near the spillway. Cavitation cannot be ruled out, but it is unlikely to be the primary cause of the signals observed because these events are intermittent, impulsive and of short duration. The inferred repetitive opening and closing of the fracture(s) occurred long before any damage to the spillway and is thus probably not directly associated with spillway failure in February 2017. These events were not related to the 1975 ML 5.7 earthquake sequence that may have been induced by the filling of the Oroville reservoir.

Ground motions from induced earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas

Released December 20, 2018 15:19 EST

2018, Seismological Research Letters

Morgan P. Moschetti, Eric M. Thompson, Peter M. Powers, Susan M. Hoover, Daniel E. McNamara

Improved predictions of earthquake ground motions are critical to advancing seismic hazard analyses and earthquake response. The high seismicity rate from 2009 to 2016 in Oklahoma and Kansas provides an extensive data set for examining the ground motions from these events. We evaluate the ability of three suites of ground‐motion prediction equations (GMPEs)—appropriate for modeling tectonic earthquakes in active crustal and stable continental regions—to reproduce the observed ground motions. Mixed‐effects regressions are used to separate the ground‐motion residuals into bias, between‐event, and within‐event terms. Although the residuals depict differing accuracies in the ability of the three GMPE suites to predict the ground motions, some consistent trends emerge in the period, magnitude, and distance dependence. The trends suggest that aspects of the ground motions from these induced earthquakes are not well modeled by current tectonic GMPEs. Most important, we find evidence for relatively poor overall fit to the ground motions, by all of the GMPE suites, at periods less than about 0.2 s and above 3 s, greater‐than‐predicted magnitude scaling for small to moderate‐magnitude events (M5), higher‐than‐predicted within‐event variability above 3 s, and an apparent geometric attenuation that is stronger than average predictions at close distances (R20  km) and short periods (T1s). Our results indicate that regionally appropriate GMPEs for induced earthquakes should be used for predicting ground motions in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program Long Term Resource Monitoring element—Spatial data query tool

Released December 20, 2018 13:18 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2018-3077

Jason J. Rohweder

The Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program Long Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element has been monitoring fish, water quality, and vegetation in six study pools in the Upper Mississippi River system for approximately 30 years. Geographic locations were recorded for all sampling points. All of this information has been made publicly available by way of data download and visualization tools (https://www.umesc.usgs.gov/ltrm-home.html), but it has not been available to decision makers, scientists, resource managers, and the public by way of an internet-based mapping and query application. Presenting the information in this way is vital to providing decision makers with the information and understanding needed to maintain the Upper Mississippi River system as a viable multiple-use river ecosystem, the primary mission of the UMRR LTRM.

Spatial data query tools have been developed that allow the query, display, mapping, and data extraction of the UMRR LTRM element component data by means of an easy-to-use graphical user interface. A separate spatial data query tool application was developed for each study pool within the Upper Mississippi River system and is accessible as individual links at the bottom of the website located at https://www.umesc.usgs.gov/ltrmp/spatial_data_query_tool.html. In addition to the UMRR LTRM element component data, the spatial data query tool also contains land cover and bathymetric (water depth) data collected by the UMRR LTRM element.

Hyperspectral remote sensing of wetland vegetation

Released December 20, 2018 11:21 EST

2018, Book chapter, Advanced applications in remote sensing of agricultural crops and natural vegetation

Elijah Ramsey III, Amina Rangoonwala

Chapter 11 by Ramsey and Rangoonwala provides an overview of how hyperspectral imaging (HSI) advances the mapping of coastal wetlands that comprise a unique variety of plant species, forms, and associations. Each description begins by seeking to uncover the relationship between canopy hyperspectral reflectance and one or more of the aggregated biophysical properties of the wetland canopy: leaf spectral properties, canopy structure, or background reflectance. Examples incorporate the application of radiative transfer equations, direct measurements, and above the top of canopy reflectance and photography. First demonstrated is how HSI can elucidate relations observed with broadband mapping of mangroves as well as enhance change detection. Similar uses of HSI are suggested for the mapping of cypress and bottomland hardwood forests. Next, the mapping of invasive plants is used to demonstrate how HSI can be used to transfer high-spatial-resolution broadband information to spatial resolutions amenable to regional mapping. The demonstration also includes the fusion of HSI and broadband mapping for added-value regional risk assessment of invasive establishment. Illustrations and discussion then show that the proper interpretation of HSI canopy reflectance can require measurement of both the marsh canopy structure and its compositional biomass. The final HSI application demonstrates the capability to detect and track abnormal marsh change at the leaf and canopy levels within variable backgrounds. It further shows how necessary HSI spectral information can be identified and captured in a limited number of narrowbands for advancing operational mapping.

Analysis of groundwater response to tidal fluctuations, Site 10 Naval Magazine Indian Island, Port Hadlock, Washington

Released December 20, 2018 11:02 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1192

Chad C. Opatz, Richard S. Dinicola

Site 10 at Naval Magazine Indian Island is an approximately 3.7-acre inactive landfill. The site was used as the primary landfill for the island from about 1945 until the mid-1970s, receiving paints, batteries, trash, and materials. In a memorandum to Washington State Department of Ecology, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest (NAVFAC NW) stipulated that a new tidal study would be conducted to recalculate tidal influence lag-time in each groundwater monitoring well at Site 10.

Groundwater levels and specific conductance in five monitoring wells, along with marine water-levels (tidal levels) in Port Townsend Bay, were monitored every 15 minutes during a 2-week period to better understand nearshore groundwater-seawater interactions at Site 10. Time series data were collected from April 17 to May 3, 2018, a period that included neap and spring tides.

Vertical profiles of specific conductance were measured once in the screened interval of each well prior to instrument deployment to determine if a freshwater/saltwater interface was present in the well prior to instrument deployment. Profiles where measured during an ebbing tide at approximately the top, middle, and bottom of the saturated thickness within the screened interval of each well. The landward-most well, MW10-8 and coastline wells MW10-10, MW10-11 and MW10-12R, had a uniform specific conductance in the range of fresh or brackish water. Landfill monitoring well MW10-6 showed the highest uniform specific conductance profile also in the range of brackish water.

Lag times between minimum spring-tide levels and minimum groundwater levels in wells ranged from about 0 to 4 hours. Results of lag times showed a logical increase in lag time as the distance increases from the shoreline to each monitoring well.

The specific-conductance time-series data showed minimal change in the screened interval of each well. Fluctuation of specific conductance in each well was unique but no sharp groundwater saltwater interface was observed. Increases in specific conductivity concurrent with spring low tides were measured in coastline wells, suggesting shoreward transport of high specific conductivity landfill leachate rather than seawater intrusion.

Based on all the data collected during this investigation, the optimal time for sampling monitoring wells at Site 10 would be during a 0–4-hour period following the predicted low-low tide.

Non‐linear effect of sea ice: Spectacled Eider survival declines at both extremes of the ice spectrum

Released December 20, 2018 10:37 EST

2018, Ecology and Evolution

Katherine S. Christie, Tuula E. Hollmen, Paul L. Flint, David C. Douglas

Understanding the relationship between environmental factors and vital rates is an important step in predicting a species’ response to environmental change. Species associated with sea ice are of particular concern because sea ice is projected to decrease rapidly in polar environments with continued levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The relationship between sea ice and the vital rates of the Spectacled Eider, a threatened species that breeds in Alaska and Russia and winters in the Bering Sea, appears to be complex. While severe ice can impede foraging for benthic prey, ice also suppresses wave action and provides a platform on which eiders roost, thereby reducing thermoregulation costs. We analyzed a 23‐year mark‐recapture dataset for Spectacled Eiders nesting on Kigigak Island in western Alaska, and tested survival models containing different ice and weather‐related covariates. We found that much of the variation in eider survival could be explained by the number of days per year with >95% sea ice concentration at the Bering Sea core wintering area. Furthermore, the data supported a quadratic relationship with sea ice rather than a linear one, indicating that intermediate sea ice concentrations were optimal for survival. We then used matrix population models to project population trajectories using General Circulation Model (GCM) outputs of daily sea ice cover. GCMs projected reduced sea ice at the wintering area by year 2100 under a moderated emissions scenario (RCP 4.5) and nearly ice‐free conditions under an unabated emissions scenario (RCP 8.5). Under RCP 4.5, stochastic models projected an increase in population size until 2069 coincident with moderate ice conditions, followed by a decline in population size as ice conditions shifted from intermediate to mostly ice‐free. Under RCP 8.5, eider abundance increased until 2040 and then decreased to near extirpation toward the end of the century as the Bering Sea became ice‐free. Considerable uncertainty around parameter estimates for survival in years with minimal sea ice contributed to variation in stochastic projections of future population size, and this uncertainty could be reduced with additional survival data from low‐ice winters.

Exposure of Alaska brown bears (Ursus arctos) to bacterial, viral, and parasitic agents varies spatiotemporally and may be influenced by age

Released December 20, 2018 10:34 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Andrew M. Ramey, Christopher A. Cleveland, Grant V. Hilderbrand, Kyle Joly, David D. Gustine, Buck Mangipane, William B. Leacock, Anthony P. Crupi, Dolores E. Hill, Jitender P. Dubey, Michael J. Yabsley

William B. Leacock, editor(s)

We collected blood and serum from 155 brown bears (Ursus arctos) inhabiting five locations in Alaska during 2013–16 and tested samples for evidence of prior exposure to a suite of bacterial, viral, and parasitic agents. Antibody seroprevalence among Alaska brown bears was estimated to be 15% for Brucella spp., 10% for Francisella tularensis, 7% for Leptospira spp., 18% for canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1), 5% for canine distemper virus (CDV), 5% for canine parvovirus, 5% for influenza A virus (IAV), and 44% for Toxoplasma gondii. No samples were seropositive for antibodies to Trichinella spp. Point estimates of prior exposure to pathogens among brown bears at previously unsampled locations generally fell within the range of estimates for previously or contemporaneously sampled bears in Alaska. Statistical support was found for variation in antibody seroprevalence among bears by location or age cohort for CAV-1, CDV, IAV, and Toxoplasma gondii. There was limited concordance in comparisons between our results and previous serosurveys regarding spatial and age-related trends in antibody seroprevalence among Alaska brown bears suggestive of temporal variation. However, we found evidence that the seroprevalence of CAV-1 antibodies is consistently high in bears inhabiting SW Alaska and the cumulative probability of exposure may increase with age. We found evidence for seroconversion or seroreversion to six different infectious agents in one or more bears. Results of this study increase our collective understanding of disease risk to both Alaska brown bear populations and humans that utilize this resource.

Use of blood clotting assays to assess potential anticoagulant rodenticide exposure and effects in free-ranging birds of prey

Released December 20, 2018 10:26 EST

2019, Science of the Total Environment (657) 1205-1216

Sofi Hindmarch, Barnett A. Rattner, John E. Elliott

Non-target wildlife, particularly birds of prey, are widely exposed to and acutely poisoned by anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs). An unresolved issue surrounding such exposure, however, is the potential for sublethal effects. In particular, the consequences of AR exposure and resulting coagulopathy on health and survival of unintentionally exposed animals, which often encounter a multitude of anthropogenic stressors, are understudied. In a wildlife rehabilitation setting, AR intoxication may be masked by more obvious injuries related to collision with vehicles or electrocution, thereby obfuscating proximate from ultimate cause of mortality. An assessment of coagulation function of admitted wildlife may provide a means of identifying animals exhibiting sublethal coagulopathy, and ultimately ensuring provision of appropriate and swift treatment. In conjunction with routine diagnostics for injury and disease, we performed two blood clotting assays (prothrombin time, Russell's viper venom time) affected by vitamin K-dependent coagulopathy of samples from six species of live raptors admitted to a rehabilitation facility. We also measured clotting time in pre-fledgling barn owl chicks (Tyto furcata) from 10 nest sites in Lower Mainland Canada. Prolonged clotting time or failure to form a clot altogether was observed in 23.0% of 61 sampled raptors admitted to the rehabilitation facility. This is a biologically significant proportion of individuals given the fortuitous and likely biased nature by which raptors are found and admitted to rehabilitation facilities. In contrast, there was little evidence of coagulopathy in 19 pre-fledgling barn owl chicks. The utility of avian coagulation tests for diagnosing AR exposure is promising, yet there remains a need to establish species specific reference values and standardize assay methodologies among testing facilities.

Geologic map of the Pagosa Springs 7.5' quadrangle, Archuleta County, Colorado

Released December 20, 2018 10:15 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Map 3419

David W. Moore, David J. Lidke

The geologic map of the Pagosa Springs 7.5’ quadrangle in southwestern Colorado includes the town of Pagosa Springs that is partly known for its hot springs. The quadrangle is southwest of the San Juan volcanic mountains (Oligocene) and north of the San Juan Basin. All bedrock units exposed in the map area are Upper Cretaceous in age except a minor canyon outcrop of Jurassic rock. Early Holocene deposits are mainly alluvial gravels and outwash on terraces. Structure is simple: shale and sandstone beds dip at low angles east-to-northeast as a broad limb of the north-northwest striking Archuleta anticline. Three geologic cross sections controlled by drill holes are included and depict Mesozoic bedrock and faults down to and including shallow Precambrian basement rock. A brief geologic history of the region is described.

Flood-inundation maps for Cayuga Inlet, Sixmile Creek, Cascadilla Creek, and Fall Creek at Ithaca, New York

Released December 20, 2018 06:30 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5167

Elizabeth A. Nystrom, Arthur G. Lilienthal III, William F. Coon

Digital flood-inundation maps for a 2.9-square-mile area of Ithaca, New York, were created in 2015–18 by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the City of Ithaca, New York, and the New York State Department of State. The flood-inundation maps depict estimates of the maximum areal extent and depth of flooding corresponding to selected flood frequencies for Cayuga Inlet, Sixmile Creek, Cascadilla Creek, and Fall Creek and selected water-surface elevations of Cayuga Lake.

Flood profiles for the stream reaches were computed by combining a one-dimensional step-backwater model for the stream channels and a two-dimensional model for the overbank areas. The resulting hydraulic model was calibrated by using water-surface profiles from five observed storm events. The model was then used to compute 15 water-surface profiles for 5 flood frequencies (50-, 10-, 2-, 1-, and 0.2-percent annual exceedance probabilities, or 2-, 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year recurrence intervals) and 3 lake levels (representing average conditions, a 2-year-high condition, and a 100-year-high condition). The simulated water-surface profiles were then combined with a digital elevation model (derived from light detection and ranging data having 0.31‑foot vertical accuracy and 3.3-foot horizontal resolution) to delineate the maximum area flooded at each water level.

Flood-inundation maps and geographic information system flood-extent polygons and depth grids are available in the data release associated with this report. These maps can provide emergency management personnel and residents with information that is critical for flood-management planning, flood-response activities, and postflood recovery efforts.