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The Alaska Region represents a resource-rich, dynamic landscape shaped by volcanos, 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.View Centers and Observatories
Large numbers of Black-capped Chickadees with abnormal beaks were reported in south-central Alaska in the late 1990s. More recently, similar beak deformities have appeared in other species throughout the state. At least 30 Alaskan bird species are affected and the geographic extent of the problem appears to be growing. In addition to Alaskan observations, we have received increasing numbers...
Migratory birds, and particularly those using habitats close to human settlements, may be infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria. The USGS is working with public health professionals to understand the role of birds in the maintenance and dispersal of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Additionally, the USGS is investigating how antibiotic resistant bacteria in birds may relate to public and...
At least 30 Alaskan bird species are affected and the geographic extent of the problem appears to be growing. In addition to Alaskan observations, we have received increasing numbers of reports from other parts of North America and Europe.
The most commonly observed physical abnormalities among Alaskan birds are overgrown or crossed beaks. The severity of the deformities varies, ranging from a nearly indiscernible “overbite” to beaks that are more than double their normal length. The upper and lower parts of the beak are also frequently crossed or gapped.
The rates of beak deformities documented in Black-capped Chickadees and Northwestern Crows in Alaska are the highest ever recorded within a wild bird population anywhere.
Birds with beak deformities often have difficulty foraging and preening, and may not be able to keep themselves warm and well-fed during cold winter months. Although some birds with beak deformities breed successfully, they typically encounter more challenges than normal birds.
Beak deformities can be caused by a variety of factors, including contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, disease, parasites, blunt trauma, or genetic abnormalities. We recently identified a novel picornavirus (Poecivirus) in Black-capped Chickadees with avian keratin disorder (AKD). Our results suggest that Poecivirus is the most likely factor responsible for beak deformities in Alaskan birds...
The USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative will enhance the long-term science foundation needed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and other partners.
Scientists at the USGS Alaska Science Center have conducted research on Alaska’s three loon species since the late 1970s. Loons rely on freshwater lakes for nesting habitat and fish and invertebrates inhabiting lakes and marine ecosystems for food. All three loon species in Alaska occur within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) on Alaska’s northern coast. Research by the USGS is...
Streambed scour is the leading cause of bridge failure in the United States resulting in over 60 percent of all failures. The Alaska Science Center, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, is researching streambed scour through scour monitoring, hydraulic modeling, and data...
Data from a Circumpolar Survey on Recreational Activities in Polar Bear Habitat, 2017-2018
These data are the responses of researchers, managers, community members, and tour guides who live or work in polar bear habitats anywhere within their range to inquiries about the types, frequency, and potential impacts of recreational activities. Respondents answered a series of questions on their background and experience with polar bears and the geographic area in which they are familiar. R
Low-Temperature Thermochronometric Data from the Revelation Mountains, Western Alaska Range, 2013-2018
This data set provides low-temperature thermochronometric data from 16 rock samples collected from the Revelation Mountains area in western Alaska Range. These data are from three different analyses used to estimate cooling ages: 1) apatite (U-Th)/He, 2) zircon (U-Th)/He, and 3) apatite fission-track.
Tri-axial Accelerometer Data of Captive Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) and Captive Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) Resting and Walking on a Treadmill
This dataset contains measures of tri-axial acceleration from 2 captive polar bears and 7 captive grizzly bears resting and walking in a metabolic chamber.
USGS StreamStats for the Cook Inlet Basin
StreamStats version 4 is a Web application that provides access to an assortment of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analytical tools that are useful for water-resources planning and management, and for engineering and design purposes.
Database of significant deposits of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in Alaska
This data release provides descriptions and locations of 134 significant deposits in Alaska. Approximately 99 percent of past production and remaining identified resources of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in the United States are accounted for by deposits that originally contained at least 2 metric tons (t) of gold, 85 t silver, 50,000 t copper, 30,000 t lead, and 50,000 t zinc.
Multichannel sparker seismic-reflection data of field activity 2016-656-FA; between Icy Point and Dixon Entrance, Gulf of Alaska from 2016-08-07 to 2016-08-26
This data release contains high-resolution multichannel seismic (MCS) reflection data collected in August of 2016 along the southeast Alaska continental margin. Structure perpendicular MCS profiles were collected along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault. The data were collected aboard the R/V Norseman using a Delta sparker sound source and recorded on a 64-channel digital streamer.
Imaging spectrometer reflectance data, mineral predominance map, and white mica wavelength position map, Nabesna Quadrangle, Alaska
Approximately 1,900 square kilometers of imagery were collected from July 14 to July 21, 2014 using a HyMap™ sensor (Cocks and others, 1998) mounted on a modified Piper Navajo aircraft. The survey area covered parts of the Wrangell and Nutzotin Mountains in the eastern Alaska Range near Nabesna, Alaska. The aircraft was flown at an altitude of approximately 5,050 meters (m) (3,480 m above t
Radiocarbon, Cesium-137, Grain Size, and X-ray Fluorescence Data for Tsunami Geology Investigation, Driftwood Bay, Umnak Island, Alaska (2018)
These files provide the complete data release for the paper entitled, "Frequent large tsunamis spanned locked/creeping parts of the Aleutian megathrust." The data set consists of nine tables that include radiocarbon dates, cesium-137 activity, grain size measurements, and scanning X-ray fluorescence element intensity counts.
Multibeam and multichannel sparker seismic-reflection data between Cross Sound and Dixon Entrance, offshore southeastern Alaska, collected from 2016-05-17 to 2016-06-12 during field activity 2016-625-FA
Multibeam bathymetry and multichannel sparker seismic relfection data collected along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault between Icy Point and Dixon Entrance, offshore southeastern Alaska from 2016-05-17 to 2016-06-12.
Multichannel minisparker and chirp seismic-reflection data of field activity 2015-651-FA; Chatham Strait and Cross Sound, southeastern Alaska from 2015-08-03 to 2015-08-21
High-resolution multichannel minisparker and chirp seismic-reflection data were collected in August of 2015 to explore marine geologic hazards of inland waterways of southeastern Alaska. Sub-bottom profiles were acquired in the inland waters between Glacier Bay and Juneau, including Cross Sound and Chatham Strait.
National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS compilation of updated vector shorelines and associated shoreline change data for the north coast of Alaska, U.S. Canadian border to Icy Cape
This data release is an update to the original North Coast of Alaska data and includes revised rate-of-change calculations based on two additional shoreline positions data and improved rate metrics.
National Water Information System (NWIS)
The National Water Information System (NWIS) web application provides access to surface-water, groundwater, water-quality, and water-use data collected at approximately 1.5 million sites across all 50 states.
This is an interactive version of the Alaska geologic map database which allows a user to view and access many features of the database and map through a standard web browser. In other words, there is no need for or knowledge of specialized GIS software.
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.
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.
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.
Ichthyophonus in sport-caught groundfishes from southcentral Alaska
This report of Ichthyophonus in common sport-caught fishes throughout the marine waters of southcentral Alaska represents the first documentation of natural Ichthyophonus infections in lingcod Ophiodon elongates and yelloweye rockfish Sebastes ruberrimus. In addition, the known geographic range of ...Harris, Bradley P.; Webster, Sarah R.; Wolf, Nathan; Gregg, Jacob L.; Hershberger, Paul
Molecular testing of adult Pacific salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.) for several RNA viruses demonstrates widespread distribution of piscine orthoreovirus in Alaska and Washington
This research was initiated in conjunction with a systematic, multiagency surveillance effort in the United States (U.S.) in response to reported findings of infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) RNA in British Columbia, Canada. In the systematic surveillance study reported in a companion paper, tissues from various salmonids taken from...Purcell, Maureen; Thompson, Rachel L.; Evered, Joy; Kerwin, John; Meyers, Ted R.; Stewart, Bruce; Winton, James
Increasing rock-avalanche size and mobility in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska detected from 1984 to 2016 Landsat imagery
In the USA, climate change is expected to have an adverse impact on slope stability in Alaska. However, to date, there has been limited work done in Alaska to assess if changes in slope stability are occurring. To address this issue, we used 30-m Landsat imagery acquired from 1984 to 2016 to establish an inventory of 24 rock avalanches in a 5000-...Coe, Jeffrey A.; Bessette-Kirton, Erin; Geertsema, Marten
Geochemistry and mineralogy of the Dotson Zone HREE deposit in the Bokan Mountain peralkaline igneous complex, southeastern Alaska, USA
The Bokan Mountain igneous complex (BMIC) is a typical example of a peralkaline intrusive system that has evolved to the point of developing late stage HFSE- and REE-rich silicic pegmatites and dikes. The Dotson Zone comprises a series of felsic dikes that extend from the southeast margin of the composite pluton and may represent an important...Taylor, Cliff D.; Lowers, Heather A.; Adams, David; Robinson, R. James
Gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in Mytilus trossulus from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska
The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill damaged a wide range of natural resources, including intertidal communities, and post-spill studies demonstrated acute and chronic exposure and injury to an array of species. Standard toxicological methods to evaluate petroleum contaminants have assessed tissue burdens, with fewer assays providing...Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Waters, Shannon C.; Bodkin, James L.; Lindeberg, Mandy; Esler, Daniel N.
Geographic and temporal patterns of variation in total mercury concentrations in blood of harlequin ducks and blue mussels from Alaska
We compared total mercury (Hg) concentrations in whole blood of harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) sampled within and among two geographically distinct locations and across three years in southwest Alaska. Blue mussels were collected to assess correlation between Hg concentrations in locally available forage and birds. Mercury...Savoy, Lucas; Flint, Paul L.; Zwiefelhofer, Denny; Brant, Heather; Perkins, Christopher R.; Taylor, Robert J.; Lane, Oksana P.; Hall, Jefferson S.; Evers, David C.; Schamber, Jason
Geospatial analysis identifies critical mineral-resource potential in Alaska
Alaska consists of more than 663,000 square miles (1,717,000 square kilometers) of land—more than a sixth of the total area of the United States—and large tracts of it have not been systematically studied or sampled for mineral-resource potential. Many regions of the State are known to have significant mineral-...Jacques, Katherine; Landowski, Claire; Karl, Susan M.; Labay, Keith A.
Observations and modeling of fjord sedimentation during the 30 year retreat of Columbia Glacier, AK
To explore links between glacier dynamics, sediment yields and the accumulation of glacial sediments in a temperate setting, we use extensive glaciological observations for Columbia Glacier, Alaska, and new oceanographic data from the fjord exposed during its retreat. High-resolution seismic data indicate that 3.2 × 108 m3 of sediment has...Love, Katherine B; Hallet, Bernard; Pratt, Thomas L.; O'Neel, Shad
Hyperspectral surveying for mineral resources in Alaska
Alaska is a major producer of base and precious metals and has a high potential for additional undiscovered mineral resources. However, discovery is hindered by Alaska’s vast size, remoteness, and rugged terrain. New methods are needed to overcome these obstacles in order to fully evaluate Alaska’s geology and mineral resource...Kokaly, Raymond F.; Graham, Garth E.; Hoefen, Todd M.; Kelley, Karen D.; Johnson, Michaela R.; Hubbard, Bernard E.
The geochemical atlas of Alaska, 2016
A rich legacy of geochemical data produced since the early 1960s covers the great expanse of Alaska; careful treatment of such data may provide significant and revealing geochemical maps that may be used for landscape geochemistry, mineral resource exploration, and geoenvironmental investigations over large areas. To maximize the spatial density...Lee, Gregory K.; Yager, Douglas B.; Mauk, Jeffrey L.; Granitto, Matthew; Denning, Paul; Wang, Bronwen; Werdon, Melanie B.
Historical files from Federal Government mineral exploration-assistance programs, 1950 to 1974
The Defense Minerals Administration (DMA), Defense Minerals Exploration Administration (DMEA), and Office of Minerals Exploration (OME) mineral exploration programs were active over the period 1950–1974. Under these programs, the Federal Government contributed financial assistance in the exploration for certain strategic and critical minerals. The...Frank, David G.
Baseline and projected future carbon storage and greenhouse-gas fluxes in ecosystems of Alaska
This assessment was conducted to fulfill the requirements of section 712 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and to contribute to knowledge of the storage, fluxes, and balance of carbon and methane gas in ecosystems of Alaska. The carbon and methane variables were examined for major terrestrial ecosystems (uplands and wetlands) and...Zhu, Zhiliang; McGuire, A. David
Bioinformatics software repository containing python scripts intended for search and download of genetic information obtained from GenBank NCBI genetics data resources in support of developing PCR primers, targeted genetic databases, genetic analyses, and data interpretation. Includes multiple functions to streamline this process.
Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) mark-recapture models are widely utilized in ecology, providing estimates of vital rates and abundance that are difficult to obtain using other means.
Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA; Iverson et al. 2004) has become a common method of estimating diet composition, especially for marine mammals, but the performance of the method has received limited investigation.
The Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst is an ArcGIS extension that estimates how long it would take for someone to travel on foot out of a hazardous area that was threatened by a sudden event such as a tsunami, flash flood, or volcanic lahar. It takes into account the elevation changes and the different types of landcover that a person would encounter along the way.
Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) is a method of diet estimation introduced over a decade ago (Iverson et al. 2004).
Map of Alaska showing probability (%) of change occurrence. Insets show fire boundaries from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Large Fire Database and Landsat 8 imagery (bottom right; 2016) north of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Thawing permafrost on various peatlands in Alaska. Permafrost thaw results in ground subsidence and inundation that kills black spruce and other understory plants living on the permafrost plateau. The black spruce forests found on permafrost plateaus are replaced with sedge- and moss-dominated bogs and fens, altering the ecosystem structure and function.
Cores were collected from various areas of thawing permafrost-peatlands in Alaska. Permafrost thaw results in ground subsidence and inundation that kills black spruce and other understory plants living on the permafrost plateau.
Christina Ahlstrom holding a gull tagging with a satellite transmitter.
Before and after views of Kasatochi Volcano's eruption of 2008
Landsat sensor technology has come a long way since the days of the Return Beam Vidicon cameras on the first three Landsat satellites. Known as the RBV, it was originally intended to be the satellites’ primary sensor. But the Multispectral Scanner, or MSS, became the more stable and superior instrument.
USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison poses in front of the USGS video camera installation atop the coastal bluff of Barter Island in northern Alaska.
USGS oceanographer Li Erikson speaks at a community outreach event on Barter Island, Alaska, to present results from earlier USGS studies and to discuss ongoing USGS research.
USGS scientist Cordell Johnson points to the Raspberry Shake, a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. Johnson mounted the Raspberry Shake to an aluminum pole which he will then drive into the ground to bury the instrument beneath the tundra. This process will help isolate it from the wind.
This device, called a Raspberry Shake, is a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. It is being carefully buried in this shallow hole in the tundra, to isolate it from wind.
Photograph of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, located on the northern coast of Alaska.
In July 2018, three USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center researchers installed instruments and hosted a community outreach event.
Researchers from NOAA, U.S. Geological Survey and their partners have completed the first high-resolution, comprehensive mapping of one of the fastest moving underwater tectonic faults in the world, located in southeastern Alaska. This information will help communities in coastal Alaska and Canada better understand and prepare for the risks from earthquakes and tsunamis that can occur when faults suddenly move.
New research has revealed significant changes to Alaska’s landscape in recent decades
In June of 2014, the USGS released the first-ever polar bear point-of-view footage, offering a never-seen-before perspective from the top Arctic predator.
One week ago, on January 23rd at 12:31 a.m. local time, Alaskans were rocked by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake, with an epicenter in the Gulf of Alaska, about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, and about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak Island.
At 12:32 am Alaska time on January 23, 2018, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake shook Alaska residents out of their beds and set off fears of a tsunami all down the West Coast. Fortunately, the tsunami was only a few inches in height, but within an hour of the earthquake in Alaska, waves of a different sort were hitting far away in Florida.
The USGS has up-to-date details on the January 23, 2018 event.
The Department of the Interior has announced petroleum assessments from the
Less than 80 miles from Prudhoe Bay, home to the giant oil fields that feed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, lies the site of USGS’ latest oil and gas assessment: the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and adjacent areas. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the NPR-A covers 22.8 million acres, more than the entire state of South Carolina.
USGS scientists at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center spoke by phone with Scientific American writer Andrea Thompson on November 15.
The USGS updated its shoreline-change rates for Alaska’s north coast between the U.S.-Canadian Border and Icy Cape as part of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards.
Documentary features USGS researchers