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

Drill Rig at the Mt. Elbert Test Site
October 20, 2017

In the past decade, the development of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other shales has dominated the national consciousness regarding natural gas. But in Alaska, another form of natural gas has been the focus of research for decades—methane hydrate.

Dr. Barry Grand, USGS Cooperative Research Unit Supervisor
September 27, 2017

USGS scientist James “Barry” Grand, Ph.D., has been named a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion (Region 7) for his exemplary long-term research on two formerly threatened species, the spectacled eider and Alaska-breeding Steller’s eiders.

Alaska mapping status map showing 84% statewide IfSAR coverage available
July 24, 2017

The USGS continues to collect high resolution elevation data, contributing to greatly improved Alaska map data

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Alaska Resource Data File quadrangle map
October 30, 2017
Status: Active

The Alaska Resource Data File (ARDF) site provides descriptions of mines, prospects, and mineral occurrences for individual U.S. Geological Survey 1:250,000-scale quadrangles in Alaska.

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 Availability Study...

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. Information...

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.

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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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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.

Filter Total Items: 11
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.
Attribution: Alaska
Thorsteinson, L.K., 2017, Dataset for Alaska Marine Fish Ecology Catalog: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7M61HD7.

Year Published: 2016

Arctic Research Plan: FY2017-2021

The United States is an Arctic nation—Americans depend on the Arctic for biodiversity and climate regulation and for natural resources. America’s Arctic—Alaska—is at the forefront of rapid climate, environmental, and socio-economic changes that are testing the resilience and sustainability of communities and ecosystems. Research to increase...

Starkweather, Sandy; Jeffries, Martin O; Stephenson, Simon; Anderson, Rebecca D.; Jones, Benjamin M.; Loehman, Rachel; von Biela, Vanessa R.
Attribution: Alaska

Year Published: 2016

Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative strategic plan 2015 - 2025

The Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NWB LCC) is a voluntary, diverse, self-directed management-science partnership, informing and promoting integrated science, sustainable natural and cultural resource management, and conservation to address impacts of climate change and other stressors within and across ecosystems. The NWB...

Markon, Carl; Schroff, Eric
Attribution: Alaska

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...

Thorsteinson, Lyman K.; Love, Milton S.
Attribution: Alaska
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.

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
Attribution: Alaska
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.

Year Published: 2016

Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme coastal biodiversity monitoring background paper

In 2014, the United States (U.S.) and Canada agreed to act as co-lead countries for the initial development of the Coastal Expert Monitoring Group (CEMG) as part of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP, www. cbmp.is) under the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF, www.caff.is) working group. The CAFF...

McLennan, Donald; Anderson, Rebecca D.; Wegeberg, S.; Pettersvik Arvnes, Maria; Sergienko, Liudmila; Behe, Carolina; Moss-Davies, Pitseolak; Fritz, S.; Markon, Carl J.; Christensen, T.; Barry, T.; Price, C.
Attribution: Alaska
McLennan, D., R. Anderson, S. Wegeberg, M. Pettersvik Arvnes, L. Sergienko, C. Behe, P. Moss-Davies, S. Fritz, C. Markon, T. Christensen, T. Barry and C. Price. 2016. Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme: Coastal Biodiversity Monitoring: Background Paper. CAFF International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland. ISBN: 978-9935-431-50-9

Year Published: 2016

Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme: Coastal Expert Workshop meeting summary

The Coastal Expert Workshop brought together a diverse group of coastal experts with the common goal of developing a biodiversity monitoring program for coastal ecosystems across the circumpolar Arctic. Meeting participants, including northern residents, industry and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) representatives, scientists, and government...

Thomson, L.; McLennan, Donald; Anderson, Rebecca D.; Wegeberg, S.; Pettersvik Arvnes, Maria; Sergienko, Liudmila; Behe, Carolina; Moss-Davies, Pitseolak; Fritz, S.; Christensen, T.; Price, C.
Attribution: Alaska
Thomson, L., D. McLennan, R. Anderson, S. Wegeberg, M. Pettersvik Arvnes, L. Sergienko, C. Behe, P. Moss-Davies, S. Fritz, T. Christensen, T. Barry and C. Price. 2016. Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme: Coastal Expert Workshop Meeting Summary. CAFF International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland. ISBN: 978-9935-431-52-3

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
Attribution: Alaska
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.

Year Published: 2014

USGS US topo maps for Alaska

In July 2013, the USGS National Geospatial Program began producing new topographic maps for Alaska, providing a new map series for the state known as US Topo. Prior to the start of US Topo map production in Alaska, the most detailed statewide USGS topographic maps were 15-minute 1:63,360-scale maps, with their original production often dating back...

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

Year Published: 2014

Alaska

Key Messages Arctic summer sea ice is receding faster than previously projected and is expected to virtually disappear before mid-century. This is altering marine ecosystems and leading to greater ship access, offshore development opportunity, and increased community vulnerability to coastal erosion. Most glaciers in Alaska and British Columbia...

Melillo, J.M.; Richmond, Terese; Yohe, G.W.; Chapin, F. Stuart; Trainor, Sarah F.; Cochran, Patricia; Huntington, Henry; Markon, Carl J.; McCammon, Molly; McGuire, A. David; Serreze, Mark
Attribution: Alaska
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.

Year Published: 2014

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

We used a modeling framework and a recent ecological land classification and land cover map to predict how ecosystems and wildlife habitat in northwest Alaska might change in response to increasing temperature. Our results suggest modest increases in forest and tall shrub ecotypes in Northwest Alaska by the end of this century thereby...

DeGange, Anthony R.; Marcot, Bruce G.; Lawler, James; Jorgenson, Torre; Winfree, Robert
Attribution: Alaska
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

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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.
Emperor geese standing near the shoreline on Kodiak Island
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.)
In March 2008, a new volcanic vent opened within Halema‘uma‘u, a crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Island of Hawaiʻi. This new vent is one of two ongoing eruptions on the volcano. The other is on Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone, where vents have been erupting nearly nonstop since 1983. The duration of these simultaneous summit and rift zone eruptions on...
Satellite image showing a picture of northeastern Alaska.
June 27, 2017
The Landsat archive, the world's longest continuously acquired collection of space-based, moderate-resolution land remote sensing data, has now surpassed 7 million scenes since Landsat 1 first began collecting data in July 1972. This Landsat 8 image acquired on June 27, 2017, represents one of those millions of scenes to be added to the archive.
A cabin along Alaska's Arctic coast was recently washed into the ocean because the bluff it was sitting on eroded away.
2017 (approx.)
From the Sound Waves Newletter article, "Erosion Doubles Along Part of Alaska's Arctic Coast — Cultural and Historical Sites Lost" at http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2009/05/research2.html
March 30, 2017
Brown Bears, Sea Otters, and Seals, Oh My! Unexpected interactions on the Katmai Coast by Grant Hilderbrand, Chief of the Marine Ecosystems Office, USGS Alaska Science Center Highlights of ongoing research on brown bears on the coast of the Katmai National Park Observations from video collars deployed on brown bears Implications for population health and species adaptability
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.
Image shows a Scintillometer sitting on top of a rock outcropping surrounded by trees
2017 (approx.)
Scintillometer and torrs of the Melozitna granite in the Ruby batholith. This granite contains abundant monazite and high levels of thorium and rare earth elements. This area is part of the Bureau of Land Management's Central Yukon Planning Area, which USGS did a mineral assessment of in 2015.
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.
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Drill Rig at the Mt. Elbert Test Site
October 20, 2017

In the past decade, the development of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other shales has dominated the national consciousness regarding natural gas. But in Alaska, another form of natural gas has been the focus of research for decades—methane hydrate.

Dr. Barry Grand, USGS Cooperative Research Unit Supervisor
September 27, 2017

USGS scientist James “Barry” Grand, Ph.D., has been named a 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion (Region 7) for his exemplary long-term research on two formerly threatened species, the spectacled eider and Alaska-breeding Steller’s eiders.

Alaska mapping status map showing 84% statewide IfSAR coverage available
July 24, 2017

The USGS continues to collect high resolution elevation data, contributing to greatly improved Alaska map data

A polar bear walks across rubble ice in the Alaska portion of the southern Beaufort Sea
June 6, 2017

A new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wyoming found that increased westward ice drift in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas requires polar bears to expend more energy walking eastward on a faster moving “treadmill” of sea ice.  

Sea otter in kelp.
May 2, 2017

Thanks to a quarter-century of research and monitoring, scientists now know how different wildlife species were injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and how long it took for populations to recover.

Photo of a duck floating in the water.
May 1, 2017

Ducks in North America can be carriers of avian influenza viruses similar to those found in a 2016 outbreak in Indiana that led to the losses of hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys, according to a recent study.

A gas plume arising from Augustine Volcano during it's eruptive phase 2005-06.
April 28, 2017

Which U.S. State or territory has more large earthquakes than the rest of the United States combined?

Hydrologic Regions of Alaska
April 14, 2017

While freshwater ecosystems cover only a small amount of the land surface in Alaska, they transport and emit a significant amount of carbon, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. An invited feature article for Ecological Applications provides the first-ever major aquatic carbon flux assessment for the entire state. Carbon flux refers to the rate of carbon transfer between pools.

Midnight Rainbow at Atigun Gorge, Alaska
April 10, 2017

Managing 72 million acres of Federal lands in Alaska is not easy, especially when the land’s many uses need to be balanced. There are several competing interests, including the development of mineral resources that are critical to the American economy.

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.