Regions

Alaska Region

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The Alaska Region represents a resource-rich, dynamic landscape shaped by volcanoes, earthquakes, major rivers, and glaciers. Here, we conduct research to inform management of Alaska’s extensive natural resources, inform national Arctic energy policy, and provide scientific information to help others understand, respond to, and mitigate impacts from natural hazards.

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USGS Arctic Science Strategy

USGS Arctic Science Strategy

The rapid changes encountered in the Arctic region from climate change require reliable scientific research and up-to-date information to inform resource policy and decisions.

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USGS Alaska Science Portal

USGS Alaska Science Portal

The portal is a searchable, web map-based tool to facilitate public and partner access to information on over 200 subjects under USGS study in the Nation’s largest State. The Alaska Science Portal can be found here http://alaska.usgs.gov/portal/

Go to the Portal

Digital Geologic Map of Alaska

Digital Geologic Map of Alaska

A new digital geologic map of Alaska provides land users, managers and scientists geologic information for the evaluation of land use in relation to resource extraction, conservation, natural hazards and recreation.

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News

Duck with various brown colored feathers
March 15, 2017

Wild ducks and shorebirds do not appear to carry Newcastle disease viruses that sicken or kill poultry, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists taking soil samples
March 15, 2017

Alaska has considerable potential for undiscovered mineral resources, including critical minerals.

Image Placeholder
March 13, 2017

A new report by the USGS finds that although snow geese are increasing rapidly in northern Alaska, they are not having a negative effect on black brant. Brant are a goose species that shares its nesting habitat with snow geese.

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Image: Alaskan Glacier
November 10, 2016

Several Research areas are listed and their contacts regarding Glacial Aquifer System Groundwater Availability Study are available here.

 

<- Back to main Glacial Aquifer System Groundwater...

A genetic analysis illustration
August 10, 2016

The Molecular Ecology Laboratory applies genetic and genomic technologies to address a variety of complex questions and conservation issues facing the management of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources. Together with our partners, we design and implement studies to document genetic diversity and the distribution of genetic variation among individuals, populations, and species....

Alaska Mapping Executive Committee Logo
April 19, 2016

The Alaska Mapping Executive Committee (AMEC) meets regularly to coordinate on critical Alaska topographic mapping activities. Executives from 15 Federal agencies and the State of Alaska are combining efforts to acquire new digital elevation, hydrography, transportation, shoreline and geopositional data for Alaska, and create a new digital topographic map series for the State.

Alaska Fairbanks US Topo Map Sample
April 18, 2016

The Alaska Mapping Initiative is a U.S. Geological Survey effort to generate new topographic maps of Alaska. The USGS is coordinating with the State of Alaska and multiple Federal agencies to acquire updated digital map layers such as elevation, surface water, roads, and boundaries, and to create a modern series of digital maps for Alaska using these updated layers.

homes damaged by hurricane Sandy on Fire Island, New York
April 13, 2016

Scientists perform a range of studies that document, assess, and model coastal change, risk, and vulnerability. Studies include historical shoreline change, the geologic structure and history of coastal regions, sediment supply and transport, sea-level rise, and how extreme storm events affect rates and impacts of coastal change.

Devastation of the coastal city of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
April 13, 2016

We study the distribution and hazard potential of coastal and submarine events such as earthquakes and submarine landslides and associated tsunami potential, hurricane induced coastal inundation, extreme storms, sea-level rise and oil and gas spills. We also model development to help evaluate and forecast coastal hazard probability and occurrence.

Methane hydrate
April 13, 2016

Our scientists conduct research studies focused on geologic mapping, sampling and understanding of mineral and energy resources and studies of the geologic setting and processes to inform renewable energy development offshore.

crustose coralline algae
April 13, 2016

We bring together multidisciplinary expertise focused on developing tools and models to improve understanding of how healthy ecosystems function as well as how they respond to environmental changes and human impacts including ecosystem restoration. Research studies address coral reef, coastal wetland, benthic habitat and groundwater resources.

Mount Rainier seen from Puyallup, Washington
March 17, 2016

The Volcano Hazards Program develops long-range volcano hazards assessments. These includes a summary of the specific hazards, their impact areas, and a map showing ground-hazard zones. The assessments are also critical for planning long-term land-use and effective emergency-response measures, especially when a volcano begins to show signs of unrest.

A gas plume arising from Augustine Volcano during it's eruptive phase 2005-06.
March 10, 2016

The Alaska region oversees five volcano observatories located across the Western U.S. Each has a unique role to help emergency responders and the public prepare and respond to volcanic hazards such as ash, lava, and lahars.

Ash is resuspended from Redoubt Volcano eruption
March 10, 2016

This program responds to volcanic crises worldwide. Upon request of host countries, a team of scientists can rapidly respond to reduce fatalities and economic losses. Our scientists also work with international partners to improve monitoring and understanding of volcanic hazards.

Scour under a bridge on the Kenai Peninsula
March 10, 2016

These natural hazards are significant areas of concern as they threaten the lives of people and/or cause economic damage to Alaska villages along rivers and coast. Research activities move forward innovative means to monitor these hazards and conduct research on the underlying physical processes to improve short and long-term hazard assessments.

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Alaska IfSAR Elevation Image
April 22, 2016

Alaska IfSAR Elevation Data

Radar data is being collected statewide for Alaska under direction of the USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). The new data is vastly improving the accuracy and resolution of elevation data for the state, and is being collected using an airborne Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IfSAR) sensor. USGS and the State of Alaska maintain web-based status maps and download services.

Digital Elevation Model in the Atchafalaya Basin, LA
April 19, 2016

Elevation Data

The 3DEP products and services available through The National Map consist of lidar point clouds (LPC), standard digital elevation models (DEMs) at various horizontal resolutions, elevation source and associated datasets, an elevation point query service and bulk point query service. All 3DEP products are available, free of charge and without use restrictions.

Tephra and gas eruption from Mount St. Helens crater with dome
March 17, 2016

Volcano Monitoring Data

Many volcanoes in the U.S. are monitored by arrays of several instruments that detect subtle movements within the earth and changes in gas and water chemistry. The Volcano Hazards Program streams this data to its Volcano Observatories and makes it available on volcano-specific websites.

Satellite image of eruption cloud from Pavlof Volcano in November 2014
March 10, 2016

Alaska Volcano Observatory Satellite Data

This is a new tool for understanding and communicating risks. The activities include the development of risk models and approaches to improve the situational awareness of communities and industries to natural hazards and reduce the uncertainty of those risk assessments.

Ash fall accumulation from Redoubt Volcano in Nikiski after March 28, 2009 eruption plume
March 10, 2016

Alaska Volcano Observatory - Is Ash Falling?

Reports of ash fall are important to us; we use your observations to assess the character and size of an eruption plume. We report these data to the National Weather Service so they can keep their Ashfall Advisories current. Additionally, reports of NO ashfall during an eruption with expected ashfall are also important to us.

Gaging station on the Tanana River at Nenana, Alaska
March 10, 2016

Science Data Integration and Delivery

Consistent synthesis, integration, storage, and availability of fundamental data is critical to meeting the needs of USGS Science. We develop databases for hydrography, topography, invasive species, water resources, and many other datasets utilized by resource managers.

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Digital Elevation Model in the Atchafalaya Basin, LA
April 19, 2016

The 3DEP products and services available through The National Map consist of standard digital elevation models (DEMs) at various horizontal resolutions, elevation source and associated datasets, an elevation point query service and bulk point query service. All 3DEP products are available, free of charge and without use restrictions.

Alaska Topographic Map Contours on Glacier
March 10, 2016

New US Topo maps for Alaska are being produced statewide, with digital 7.5 minute 1:25,000-scale maps providing a comprehensive update to the 15-minute 1:63,360-scale printed maps produced nearly fifty years ago. You can view a status map showing where the new maps are available, and link to a site to download the maps.

Map shows color-coded seafloor character offshore of Monterey, California
March 7, 2016

This portal is a “go to” source for maps related to ocean and coastal mapping. Information is organized by geography or region, by theme, and by the year data was published.

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USGS US topo maps for Alaska
Year Published: 2014

USGS US topo maps for Alaska

Anderson, Becci; Fuller, Tracy
USGS US topo maps for Alaska; 2014; Article; Journal; The Alaska Miner; Anderson, Becci; Fuller, Tracy
Alaska
Year Published: 2014

Alaska

Chapin, F. Stuart; Trainor, Sarah F.; Cochran, Patricia; Huntington, Henry; Markon, Carl J.; McCammon, Molly; McGuire, A. David; Serreze, Mark
Chapin, F. S., III, S. F. Trainor, P. Cochran, H. Huntington, C. Markon, M. McCammon, A. D. McGuire, and M. Serreze, 2014: Ch. 22: Alaska. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, J. M. Melillo, Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and G. W. Yohe, Eds., U.S. Global Change Research Program, 514-536. doi:10.7930/J00Z7150.
Predicting the effects of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife habitat in northwest Alaska: results from the WildCast project
Year Published: 2014

Predicting the effects of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife habitat in northwest Alaska: results from the WildCast project

DeGange, Anthony R.; Marcot, Bruce G.; Lawler, James; Jorgenson, Torre; Winfree, Robert
Predicting the effects of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife habitat in northwest Alaska: results from the WildCast project; 2014; Article; Journal; Alaska Park Science; DeGange, Anthony R.; Marcot, Bruce G.; Lawler, James; Jorgenson, Torre; Winfree, Robert
USGS Arctic science strategy
Year Published: 2015

USGS Arctic science strategy

The United States is one of eight Arctic nations responsible for the stewardship of a polar region undergoing dramatic environmental, social, and economic changes. Although warming and cooling cycles have occurred over millennia in the Arctic region, the current warming trend is unlike anything recorded previously and is affecting the region...

Shasby, Mark; Smith, Durelle
Shasby, Mark, and Smith, Durelle, 2015, USGS Arctic science strategy, 2015–2020: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2015-3049, 2 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20153049.
Alaska Arctic marine fish ecology catalog
Year Published: 2016

Alaska Arctic marine fish ecology catalog

The marine fishes in waters of the United States north of the Bering Strait have received new and increased scientific attention over the past decade (2005–15) in conjunction with frontier qualities of the region and societal concerns about the effects of Arctic climate change. Commercial fisheries are negligible in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas,...

Thorsteinson, L.K., and Love, M.S., eds., 2016, Alaska Arctic marine fish ecology catalog: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5038 (OCS Study, BOEM 2016-048), 768 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165038.
Circumpolar biodiversity monitoring program (CBMP): Coastal expert workshop meeting report
Year Published: 2016

Circumpolar biodiversity monitoring program (CBMP): Coastal expert workshop meeting report

The Coastal Expert Workshop, which took place in Ottawa, Canada from March 1 to 3, 2016, initiated the development of the Arctic Coastal Biodiversity Monitoring Plan (Coastal Plan). Meeting participants, including northern residents, representatives from industry, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academia, and government regulators and...

Anderson, Rebecca D.; McLennan, Donald; Thomson, Laura; Wegeberg, Susse; Pettersvik Arvnes, Maria; Sergienko, Liudmila; Behe, Carolina; Moss-Davies, Pitseolak; Fritz, Stacey; Christensen, Thomas K.; Price, Courtney
Anderson, R., D. McLennan, L. Thomson, S. Wegeberg, M. Pettersvik Arvnes, L. Sergienko, C. Behe, P. Moss-Davies, S. Fritz, T. Christensen and C. Price. 2016. Circumpolar Biodiversitt Monitoring Program: Coastal Expert Workshop Meeting Report. CAFF International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland. ISBN: 978-9935-431-53-0.
Dataset for Alaska marine fish ecology catalog
Year Published: 2017

Dataset for Alaska marine fish ecology catalog

This collection of GIS layers was prepared for the report Alaska Arctic Marine Fish Ecology Catalog (U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5038). The layers display geographic distribution and sampling locations for Arctic marine fish species in the region of United States sectors of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Certain...

Thorsteinson, Lyman K.
Thorsteinson, L.K., 2017, Dataset for Alaska Marine Fish Ecology Catalog: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7M61HD7.
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Emperor geese standing near the shoreline on Kodiak Island
December 2017 (approx.)
Emperor geese gathered near the shoreline on Kodiak Island.
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) and Chum (Salmon Oncorhynchus)
2017 (approx.)
Bear predation on salmon can be high in many Alaskan rivers. Brown bears Ursus arctos and Chum Salmon Oncorhynchus keta are managed concurrently in McNeil River State Game Sanctuary by Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to benefit the salmon, bears, commercial fishers, and provide unparalleled close-up bear viewing and photography opportunities for the public. https://www.coopunits.org/Alaska/
2017 (approx.)
Seismometers record vibrations from a wide assortment of ground motion events. Each event type has a distinctive ground-motion signal with unique frequency and amplitude—its own seismic signature. Seismologists are trained to identify the source of seismic events seen on a webicorder based on its ‘seismic signature’. Although most ground vibrations have a frequency too low for human hearing, we...
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus)
2017 (approx.)
Bear predation on salmon can be high in many Alaskan rivers. Brown bears Ursus arctos and Chum Salmon Oncorhynchus keta are managed concurrently in McNeil River State Game Sanctuary by Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to benefit the salmon, bears, commercial fishers, and provide unparalleled close-up bear viewing and photography opportunities for the public.
Aerial photo of snow-covered mountaIns with umbrella-shaped volcanic ash plume rising in the background
February 19, 2017
February 19 Bogoslof eruption plume as seen from Unalaska Island, 53 miles ESE of Bogoslof volcano. Photo taken from helicopter during fieldwork by AVO geologists at 5:22PM, approximately 14 minutes after the start of the eruption.
Brown bear (Ursus arctos) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
2017 (approx.)
Bear predation on salmon can be high in many Alaskan rivers. Brown bears Ursus arctos and Chum Salmon Oncorhynchus keta are managed concurrently in McNeil River State Game Sanctuary by Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game to benefit the salmon, bears, commercial fishers, and provide unparalleled close-up bear viewing and photography opportunities for the public.
Satellite image of small crescent-shaped ocean island.
January 24, 2017
Analysis of shoreline changes at Bogoslof volcano due to eruptive activity between January 11 and 24, 2017. The base image is a Worldview-2 satellite image collected on January 24, 2017. The approximate location of the shoreline on January 11, 2017 is shown by the dashed orange line.
Annotated aerial photo of crescent shaped island surrounded by open ocean.
January 10, 2017
Annotated photograph of Bogoslof Island showing the cumulative effects of 2016-17 eruptive activity. A layer of fine muddy appearing ash drapes most of the landscape and covers pre-existing vegetation. The dashed line indicates the area excavated by explosive eruptive activity so far. A prominent zone of upwelling is probably the surface expression of a shallow submarine vent. Photograph taken by...
Alaska Interior mountain range shot with snow capped mountains.
2016 (approx.)
Alaska Interior mountain range shot with snow capped mountains.
Tufted Puffin, the species most affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK
November 23, 2016
Tufted Puffin, the species most affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK. Near Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK
August 26, 2016
Horned Puffin, one of the species affected by a recent seabird die-off in the Pribilof Islands, AK. Near Chisik Island in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska
August 7, 2016
Twenty middle-school girls from Washington and Oregon participated in the 2016 “GeoGirls” outdoor volcano science program at Mount St. Helens, jointly organized by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Mount St. Helens Institute. The GeoGirls spent five days conducting hands-on research and interacting with scientists, educators, and older students, learning about volcanoes, natural hazards, and...
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Duck with various brown colored feathers
March 15, 2017

Wild ducks and shorebirds do not appear to carry Newcastle disease viruses that sicken or kill poultry, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists taking soil samples
March 15, 2017

Alaska has considerable potential for undiscovered mineral resources, including critical minerals.

Image Placeholder
March 13, 2017

A new report by the USGS finds that although snow geese are increasing rapidly in northern Alaska, they are not having a negative effect on black brant. Brant are a goose species that shares its nesting habitat with snow geese.

Scientist collecting samples in the Arctic Coastal Plain.
March 7, 2017

Despite recent changes to the growing season for plants in the Arctic, Alaska, caribou appear to have remained in sync with these changes over the last 30 years. 

Annotated aerial photo of crescent shaped island surrounded by open ocean.
March 3, 2017

Bogoslof volcano, located in the Aleutian Islands about 98 km (61 mi) northwest of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, is in an active eruption sequence that began in mid-December 2016 and continues today.

A small bird with distinctive orange-brown feathers around its neck and blue feathers on head, sitting on a small shrub
March 2, 2017

Scientists can now predict which avian species are most sensitive to the increasingly dominant shrub habitat spreading across Alaska, a capability that will be useful for natural resource agencies in Alaska charged with managing these resources.

USGS logo
February 16, 2017

A new study shows that harlequin ducks in coastal areas of Alaska’s Kodiak and Unalaska islands are exposed to environmental sources of mercury and that mercury concentrations in their blood are associated with their local food source, mainly blue mussels.

Image shows an undersea gas hydrate formation with shellfish on it.
February 9, 2017

A recent interpretive review of scientific literature performed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Rochester sheds light on the interactions of gas hydrates and climate.

Dr. Christian Zimmerman, USGS Alaska Science Center Director
February 1, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.

USGS scientist placing a tracking collar on a caribou.
December 19, 2016

Caribou, North America’s wild reindeer, have lives apart from their famous role on Christmas Eve. Reindeer and caribou are large, cold-adapted, herding herbivores related to deer, elk and moose.

To learn more about how these arctic antler-bearers spend the other 364 days of the year, we talked to USGS caribou expert Dr. Layne Adams, who has studied these animals for more than 30 years.