Science and Decisions Center
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The USGS Science and Decisions Center (SDC) is an interdisciplinary organization advancing the use of science in natural resource decision making. The Center focuses on research and applications in three science areas: decision science (adaptive management and structured decision making), ecosystem services, and resilience/sustainability.Science and Decisions Center Website
Adaptive management is "learning by doing" and adapting based on what is learned, in an objective, science-based management strategy that explicitly recognizes and delineates uncertainty.
Ecosystem services are attributes and outputs of ecosystems that are valued by human users. Ecosystem services are produced by ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, climate regulation, and maintenance of biodiversity. Ecosystems also provide marketable goods like seafood and timber.
Resilience is the ability of a system or a community to absorb shocks and still maintain the same basic structure and functions. Management for ecological resilience seeks flexible system behaviors that can deliver ecosystem goods and services on a sustained basis.
Stress concentrations at structural discontinuities in active fault zones in the western United States: Implications for permeability and fluid flow in geothermal fields
Slip can induce concentration of stresses at discontinuities along fault systems. These structural discontinuities, i.e., fault terminations, fault step-overs, intersections, bends, and other fault interaction areas, are known to host fluid flow in ore deposition systems, oil and gas reservoirs, and geothermal systems. We modeled stress transfer...Siler, Drew; Hinz, Nicholas H.; Faulds, James E.
Rare earth element and rare metal inventory of central Asia
Rare earth elements (REE), with their unique physical and chemical properties, are an essential part of modern living. REE have enabled development and manufacture of high-performance materials, processes, and electronic technologies commonly used today in computing and communications, clean energy and transportation, medical treatment and health...Mihalasky, Mark J.; Tucker, Robert D.; Renaud, Karine; Verstraeten, Ingrid M.
Thermal influences on spontaneous rock dome exfoliation
Rock domes, with their onion-skin layers of exfoliation sheets, are among the most captivating landforms on Earth. Long recognized as integral in shaping domes, the exact mechanism(s) by which exfoliation occurs remains enigmatic, mainly due to the lack of direct observations of natural events. In August 2014, during the hottest days of summer, a...Collins, Brian D.; Stock, Greg M.; Eppes, Martha C.; Lewis, Scott W.; Corbett, Skye C.; Smith, Joel B.
The Colorado River and its deposits downstream from Grand Canyon in Arizona, California, and Nevada
Understanding the evolution of the Colorado River system has direct implications for (1) the processes and timing of continental-scale river system integration, (2) the formation of iconic landscapes like those in and around Grand Canyon, and (3) the availability of groundwater resources. Spatial patterns in the position and type of Colorado River...Crow, Ryan S.; Block, Debra L.; Felger, Tracey J.; House, P. Kyle; Pearthree, Philip A.; Gootee, Brian F.; Youberg, Ann M.; Howard, Keith A.; Beard, L. Sue
Punctuated sediment discharge during early Pliocene birth of the Colorado River: Evidence from regional stratigraphy, sedimentology, and paleontology
The Colorado River in the southwestern U.S. provides an excellent natural laboratory for studying the origins of a continent-scale river system, because deposits that formed prior to and during river initiation are well exposed in the lower river valley and nearby basinal sink. This paper presents a synthesis of regional stratigraphy,...Dorsey, Rebecca J.; O’Connell, Brennan; McDougall-Reid, Kristin; Homan, Mindy B.
Ore-forming adakitic porphyry produced by fractional crystallization of oxidized basaltic magmas in a subcrustal chamber (Jiamate, East Junggar, NW China)
Adakitic intrusions are supposed to have a close genetic and spatial relationship to porphyry Cu deposits. However, the genesis of adakitic intrusions is still under dispute. Here, we describe newly discovered intrusive complex rocks, which are composed of ore-bearing, layered magnetite-bearing gabbroic and adakitic rocks in Jiamate, East Junggar...Hong, Tao; Xu, Xing-Wang; Gao, Jun; Peters, Stephen; Zhang, Di; Jielili, Reyaniguli; Xiang, Peng; Li, Hao; Wu, Chu; You, Jun; Liu, Jie; Ke, Qiang
Networking our science to characterize the state, vulnerabilities, and management opportunities of soil organic matter
Soil organic matter (SOM) supports the Earth's ability to sustain terrestrial ecosystems, provide food and fiber, and retains the largest pool of actively cycling carbon. Over 75% of the soil organic carbon (SOC) in the top meter of soil is directly affected by human land use. Large land areas have lost SOC as a result of land use practices, yet...Harden, Jennifer W.; Hugelius, Gustaf; Ahlström, Anders; Blankinship, Joseph C.; Bond-Lamberty, Ben; Lawrence, Corey; Loisel, Julie; Malhotra, Avni; Jackson, Robert B.; Ogle, Stephen M.; Phillips, Claire; Ryals, Rebecca; Todd-Brown, Katherine; Vargas, Rodrigo; Vergara, Sintana E.; Cotrufo, M. Francesca; Keiluweit, Marco; Heckman, Katherine; Crow, Susan E.; Silver, Whendee L.; DeLonge, Marcia; Nave, Lucas E.
Control of landslide volume and hazard by glacial stratigraphic architecture, Northwest Washington state, USA
Landslide volumes span many orders of magnitude, but large-volume slides tend to travel farther and consequently can pose a greater hazard. In northwest Washington State, USA, a landscape abounding with landslides big and small, the recent occurrence of the large-volume and tragically deadly State Route 530 (Oso) landslide is a stark reminder of...Perkins, Jonathan; Reid, Mark E.; Schmidt, Kevin M.
Evaluation of hypotheses for right-lateral displacement of Neogene strata along the San Andreas Fault between Parkfield and Maricopa, California
We used geological field studies and diatom biostratigraphy to test a published hypothesis that Neogene marine siliceous strata in the Maricopa and Parkfield areas, located on opposite sides of the San Andreas Fault, were formerly contiguous and then were displaced by about 80–130 kilometers (km) of right-lateral slip along the fault. In the...Stanley, Richard G.; Barron, John A.; Powell, Charles L.
Fluorine compounds are essential in numerous chemical and manufacturing processes. Fluorspar is the commercial name for fluorite (isometric CaF2), which is the only fluorine mineral that is mined on a large scale. Fluorspar is used directly as a fluxing material and as an additive in different manufacturing processes. It is the source of fluorine...Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung,, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; Hayes, Timothy S.; Miller, M. Michael; Orris, Greta J.; Piatak, Nadine M.
The platinum-group elements (PGEs)—platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium—are metals that have similar physical and chemical properties and tend to occur together in nature. PGEs are indispensable to many industrial applications but are mined in only a few places. The availability and accessibility of PGEs could be disrupted...Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung,, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; Zientek, Michael L.; Loferski, Patricia J.; Parks, Heather L.; Schulte, Ruth F.; Seal, Robert R.
Rhenium is one of the rarest elements in Earth’s continental crust; its estimated average crustal abundance is less than 1 part per billion. Rhenium is a metal that has an extremely high melting point and a heat-stable crystalline structure. More than 80 percent of the rhenium consumed in the world is used in high-temperature superalloys,...Schulz, Klaus J.; DeYoung,, John H.; Seal, Robert R.; Bradley, Dwight C.; John, David A.; Seal, Robert R. ; Polyak, Désirée E.
Resource managers, regulators, and stakeholders of Montana and British Columbia’s Lake Koocanusa now have a new approach for understanding the implications of different levels of selenium, and to explore alternative selenium criteria for waters in the Lake.
In a finding authors are coining an "unintentional rewilding," scientists identified a cave dung deposit as belonging to bighorn sheep that became extinct on a desert island sometime between the 6th and the 20th century.