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Colorado

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The Southwest Region ranges from the Colorado Rockies to the Gulf Coast and the Western Deserts to the Great Plains. The Southwest Region conducts multi- and interdisciplinary research and monitoring in locations across the Region, the United States, around the world, and across our solar system.

News

Prairie dog and SPV bait
December 13, 2017

About 70 percent of wild prairie dogs successfully ingested baits containing an oral sylvatic plague vaccine, or SPV, that were distributed throughout their habitats, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
December 7, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the Rio Grande aquifer system, which includes parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Upstream view of Fountain Creek in Colorado
December 1, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey just added more than 800 fish and macroinvertebrate data samples from Fountain Creek, Colorado, to the USGS BioData Retrieval system.

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Map of the Colorado Plateau, including the San Juan River pilot study area.
October 3, 2017

Colorado Plateaus Regional Groundwater Availability Study

Pilot phase

This study is in a pilot phase during fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The purpose of the pilot phase is to identify possible technical challenges of using the USGS code GSFLOW for simulating groundwater and surface-water flow in the Colorado Plateau principal aquifer system. During the pilot phase, the project will...

The Little Missouri River, flood plain
August 30, 2017

Aquatic Systems Branch scientists analyze rings of riparian trees relating tree growth and establishment to historical flow. We then use the tree rings to reconstruct the flow in past centuries. Flow reconstructions discover the frequency and magnitude of past droughts and floods—information that is essential for management of rivers and water supplies. We also use downscaled climate...

USGS research vessel collecting bathymetry data at Clear Creek Reservoir.
April 4, 2017

To better characterize the water supply capacity of Clear Creek Reservoir, Chaffee County, Colorado, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Pueblo Board of Water Works and Colorado Mountain College, carried out a bathymetry survey of Clear Creek Reservoir. The equipment and methods used in this study allowed water-resource managers to maintain typical reservoir operations,...

An image of an Ephemeroptera Heptageniidae Epeorus longimanuis.
February 2, 2017

Aquatic invertebrates are a key component of freshwater ecosystems, and an understanding of aquatic invertebrate taxonomy is central to freshwater science. The U.S. Geological Survey Aquatic Experimental Lab (AXL) at the Fort Collins Science Center has developed the North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC) to provide users with a graphic tool to aid in...

Snowpack-sampling pit at Berthoud Pass, Colorado.
January 25, 2017

Snowpacks collect atmospheric deposition throughout the snowfall season and offer a unique opportunity to obtain a composite sample of the chemistry of most of the annual precipitation at high elevations [> 1,800 meters]. The purpose of the snowpack network is to determine annual concentrations and depositional amounts of selected nutrients and other constituents in snow resulting from...

Dead and dying cottonwoods along the Mojave River, California, following a decrease in the riparian water table
January 17, 2017

Drought is killing riparian trees along many rivers in the western United States. The cause can be increasing temperature or decreasing precipitation, flow or water-table elevation. At multiple locations we are relating water availability to physiological measurements of tree survival and water stress, such as ring width, carbon stable isotope ratio and branch hydraulic conductivity. These...

Boulder glacier in 1913.
December 12, 2016

Natural resource agencies are challenged not only by climate change impacts on terrestrial and marine resources, but also by related effects on human communities that depend on these lands and waters. These effects include changes in economic activity, subsistence practices, demographic trends, human health, recreation, infrastructure, and community resilience. While there are many policy...

Multi-colored flowers in the Great Basin.
December 12, 2016

The Department of Interior (DOI) produces annual estimates of the economic contributions of DOI programs, activities, and services. USGS economists contribute to the annual analysis, and the USGS Information Science Branch has developed an interactive data visualization to display results: https://my.usgs.gov/doidv/.

Bee
December 8, 2016

There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of how widespread use of pesticides may affect bees as they move across a diverse agricultural landscape. Studies have shown there are impacts to honey bees due to exposure to pesticides including neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides, but the effects of these compounds on native pollinators are largely unknown.

A native Colorado bee on a yellow wildflower.
December 8, 2016

Beginning in 2012, the USGS collaborated with the USDA to assess the effectiveness of pollinator plantings and how alteration of landscapes has affected native pollinators and potentially contributed to their decline. The 2008 Farm Bill recognized contributions made by pollinators and made conservation of pollinator habitat a priority. The USGS is assessing native bee habitat, diversity, and...

A hiker on the Lower White River Wilderness trail. BLM photo.
December 7, 2016

The National Park Service (NPS) preserves and protects more than 84 million acres of important historic, cultural, and natural resources across 401 sites for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Protected resources and landscapes managed by the National Park Service contribute to the societal welfare of the American public, reflected by ecosystem service values derived from their...

Mountain goats in Glacier National Park, Montana
December 7, 2016

There is a well-known bias in the location of protected areas both within the US and globally. Lands protected for conservation tend to be located on less productive soils at high elevations far from cities. USGS is exploring whether this ‘high and far’ paradigm applies within protected areas as well. That is, does human modification within lands that already have some degree of protection,...

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Application screenshot thumbnail
September 1, 2017

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.

NWIS-Mapper thumbnail image
August 30, 2017

National Water Information System (NWIS) Mapper

The National Water Information System (NWIS) Mapper provides access to water-resources data at over 1.5 million sites across the U.S., including current and historical data. Users can search by site type, data type, site number, or place.

USGS visual identity - green
July 31, 2017

Occurrence of plague epizootics in colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs, Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado, 1982-2005

Data on the occurrence of plague epizootics in colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs, Pawnee National Grassland, Colorado 1982-2005. Data are derived from annual prairie dog surveys conducted by staff of the Pawnee National Grassland, U.S. Forest Service. 

Screen shot of the data release for SIR 2017-5009
March 7, 2017

Catchment-flowline network and selected model inputs for an enhanced and updated spatially referenced statistical assessment of dissolved-solids load sources and transport in streams of the Upper Colorado River Basin

This USGS data release consists of the synthetic stream network and associated catchments used to develop spatially referenced regressions on watershed attributes (SPARROW) model of dissolved-solids sources and transport in the Upper Colorado River Basin as well as geology and selected Basin Characterization Model (BCM) data used as input to the model.

Landscape Intactness for the Western US
February 2, 2017

A Multiscale Index of Landscape Intactness for the Western United States

Landscape intactness has been defined as a quantifiable estimate of naturalness measured on a gradient of anthropogenic influence. We developed a multiscale index of landscape intactness for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) landscape approach, which requires multiple scales of information to quantify the cumulative effects of land use.

Bibiocephala dorsal vent
February 2, 2017

North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC)

Aquatic invertebrates are a key component of freshwater ecosystems, and an understanding of aquatic invertebrate taxonomy is central to freshwater science. The North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC) was created by the USGS Aquatic Experimental Lab (AXL) to provide users with high-quality digital microscopy photographs.

Structure datasets for the nation from The National Map
April 20, 2016

Structures Data

USGS data portray selected structures data, including the location and characteristics of manmade facilities. Characteristics consist of a structure's physical form (footprint), function, name, location, and detailed information about the structure. The types of structures collected are largely determined by the needs of the disaster planning and response and homeland security organizations.

Boundaries datasets for the nation from The National Map.
April 19, 2016

Boundaries Data

Boundaries data or governmental units represent major civil areas including states, counties, Federal, and Native American lands, and incorporated places such as cities and towns.

Illustration related to the the river corridor
April 19, 2016

Hydrography Data

The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) are used to portray surface water on The National Map.

3D Lidar Point Cloud Image of San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge
April 19, 2016

The United States Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI)

The USIEI is a comprehensive, nationwide listing of known high-accuracy topographic and bathymetric data for the United States and its territories. The project is a collaborative effort of the USGS and NOAA with contributions from other federal agencies. The inventory supports the 3D Elevation Program and the Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping effort. This resource is updated in Spring and Fall.

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.

Orthoimagery of Augusta Ga
April 12, 2016

Orthoimagery Data

Orthoimagery data typically are high resolution aerial images that combine the visual attributes of an aerial photograph with the spatial accuracy and reliability of a planimetric map. The National Map offers public domain, 1-meter orthoimagery for the conterminous United States with many urban areas and other locations at 2-foot or finer resolution.

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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.

Boston.jpg
April 6, 2016

USGS topographic maps originally published on paper in the period 1884-2006 have been scanned and published as PDF documents. This collection is of topographic quadrangle maps with scales between 1:10,000 and 1:250,000. These historic documents are downloadable free of charge through several interfaces.

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Year Published: 2016

The Permian–Triassic transition in Colorado

The Lykins Formation and its equivalents in Colorado are a stratigraphically poorly constrained suite of redbeds and intercalated stromatolitic carbonates, which is hypothesized to span the Permian-Triassic boundary. Herein we present a preliminary detrital zircon geochronology, new fossil occurrences, and δ13C chemostratigraphy for exposures...

Hagadorn, James S.; Whitely, Karen R.; Lahey, Bonita L.; Henderson, Charles M.; Holm-Denoma, Christopher S.

Year Published: 2016

New perspectives on a 140-year legacy of mining and abandoned mine cleanup in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado

The Gold King mine water release that occurred on 5 August 2015 near the historical mining community of Silverton, Colorado, highlights the environmental legacy that abandoned mines have on the environment. During reclamation efforts, a breach of collapsed workings at the Gold King mine sent 3 million gallons of acidic and metal-rich mine water...

Yager, Douglas B.; Fey, David L.; Chapin, Thomas; Johnson, Raymond H.

Year Published: 2016

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.
Frank, D.G., 2016, Historical files from Federal Government mineral exploration-assistance programs, 1950 to 1974: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1004, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ds1004.

Year Published: 2014

40Ar/39Ar Geochronology, Isotope Geochemistry (Sr, Nd, Pb), and petrology of alkaline lavas near Yampa, Colorado: migration of alkaline volcanism and evolution of the northern Rio Grande rift

Volcanic rocks near Yampa, Colorado (USA), represent one of several small late Miocene to Quaternary alkaline volcanic fields along the northeast margin of the Colorado Plateau. Basanite, trachybasalt, and basalt collected from six sites within the Yampa volcanic field were investigated to assess correlations with late Cenozoic extension and Rio...

Cosca, Michael A.; Thompson, Ren A.; Lee, John P.; Turner, Kenzie J.; Neymark, Leonid A.; Premo, Wayne R.
40Ar/39Ar Geochronology, Isotope Geochemistry (Sr, Nd, Pb), and petrology of alkaline lavas near Yampa, Colorado: migration of alkaline volcanism and evolution of the northern Rio Grande rift; 2014; Article; Journal; Geology; Cosca, Michael A.; Thompson, Ren A.; Lee, John P.; Turner, Kenzie J.; Neymark, Leonid A.; Premo, Wayne R.

Year Published: 2009

U.S. Geological Survey research in Handcart Gulch, Colorado—An alpine watershed with natural acid-rock drainage

Handcart Gulch is an alpine watershed along the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Front Range. It contains an unmined mineral deposit typical of many hydrothermal mineral deposits in the intermountain west, composed primarily of pyrite with trace metals including copper and molybdenum. Springs and the trunk stream have a natural pH...

Manning, Andrew H.; Caine, Jonathan S.; Verplanck, Philip L.; Bove, Dana J.; Kahn, Katherine G.

Year Published: 2008

Central Colorado Assessment Project - Application of integrated geologic, geochemical, biologic, and mineral resource studies

Central Colorado is one of the fastest-growing regions in the Western United States. Population along the Front Range increased more than 30 percent between 1990 and 2000 (http://www.demographia.com/db-metro3newworld.htm) with some counties within the study area, such as Park County, experiencing greater than 100-percent growth (http://www....

Klein, T.L.; Church, S.E.; Caine, Jonathan S.; Schmidt, T.S.; deWitt, E.H.
Central Colorado Assessment Project - Application of Integrated Geologic, Geochemical, Biologic, and Mineral Resource Studies; 2008; FS; 2008-3084; Klein, T. L.; Church, S. E.; Caine, J. S.; Schmidt, T. S.; DeWitt, E. H.

Year Published: 1989

Evapotranspiration estimates using remote-sensing data, Parker and Palo Verde valleys, Arizona and California

In 1981 the U.S. Geological Survey established an experimental project to assess the possible and practical use of remote-sensing data to estimate evapotranspiration as an approximation of consumptive use of water in the lower Colorado River flood plain. The project area was in Parker Valley, Arizona. The approach selected was to measure the areas...

Raymond, Lee H.; Rezin, Kelly V.
Evapotranspiration estimates using remote-sensing data, Parker and Palo Verde valleys, Arizona and California; 1989; WSP; 2334; Raymond, Lee H.; Rezin, Kelly V.

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USGS visual identity - green
November 20, 2017

The is a useful tool designed to facilitate FGDC metadata creation for spatial and non-spatial data sets. It is a cross-platform desktop application built using an open-source Python architecture.

USGS visual identity - green
March 23, 2012

Smart River GIS allows simultaneous views of river hydraulics, species-specific habitat, and fish population simulations, for a better understanding of complex ecological interactions. We used existing data sets from the South Platte River in Colorado to develop a multi-layered geographic information system (GIS) that resource managers can use to improve their understanding of river ecosystems.

USGS visual identity - green
January 1, 1999

CloseTest is a Windows program for testing capture-recapture data

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July 14, 2017
The USGS and its cooperators have installed debris-flow monitoring equipment in the largest drainage basin at Chalk Cliffs, CO. Data collection at this site supports research on the hydrologic factors that control debris-flow initiation, entrainment, and flow dynamics. This debris flow took place July 19, 2017. The video includes a single view of an instrumented reach of the channel. A larger...
Johanna Blake demonstrates how to use a water quality sonde
June 21, 2017
USGS NMWSC Hydrologists Johanna Blake and Jeb Brown attended the 2nd Annual Conference on Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and other Mine Waste Issues in Farmington, NM from June 20-21. Johanna and Jeb presented on the USGS long-term monitoring work of continuous monitoring sondes, water quality, and sediment measurement. On June 22nd...
Hydrologists doing field work near Farmington, NM
June 20, 2017
USGS NMWSC Hydrologists Johanna Blake and Jeb Brown attended the 2nd Annual Conference on Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and other Mine Waste Issues in Farmington, NM from June 20-21. Johanna and Jeb presented on the USGS long-term monitoring work of continuous monitoring sondes, water quality, and sediment measurement. On June 22nd...
March 21, 2017
This webinar was recorded as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series (hosted in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and FWS National Conservation Training Center). Webinar Summary: Accurate information on the atmospheric evaporative demand (i.e., thirst of the atmosphere) and the land-surface evaporative response (i.e., moisture...
Dissected bat guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
2016 (approx.)
Dissected guano pellet showing antennae, eyes, and body fragments of midges.
Loveland Pass Colorado
2016 (approx.)
A view of the highway going over Loveland Pass in Colorado.
Image shows coal being loaded into trucks at a coal mine
2016 (approx.)
Coal is loaded into trucks at the Trapper Mine in northwest Colorado.
A landscape view of the "Devil's Backbone" near Loveland, CO
2016 (approx.)
A landscape view of the "Devil's Backbone" near Loveland, CO.
December 1, 2016
Presents descriptions of the USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) Surface-Runoff modules, which compute Hortonian surface runoff, soil infiltration, and impervious surface and surface depression storage and flows.
Deadmans Road, Colorado carousel
September 1, 2016
This photo was taken off of Deadmans Road in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.
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Prairie dog and SPV bait
December 13, 2017

About 70 percent of wild prairie dogs successfully ingested baits containing an oral sylvatic plague vaccine, or SPV, that were distributed throughout their habitats, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Photo of a young girl drinking water, which likely originated from groundwater sources. 
December 7, 2017

A regional assessment of untreated groundwater in the Rio Grande aquifer system, which includes parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Upstream view of Fountain Creek in Colorado
December 1, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey just added more than 800 fish and macroinvertebrate data samples from Fountain Creek, Colorado, to the USGS BioData Retrieval system.

Lake Fork Creek below Sugarloaf dam near Leadville
November 17, 2017

Bringing together decades of research and mapping, the U.S. Geological Survey just released a geologic map and companion pamphlet featuring the Arkansas River Valley region in north-central Colorado.  

Investigating Lung Disease in Military Veterans
November 10, 2017

Six years ago, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan had trouble breathing normally. The list of potential causes that soldiers were exposed to seemed endless: smoke from burn pits used for trash disposal, desert dust, diesel generator exhaust, humidity and temperature extremes, explosives, and city trash and sewage.

Map of Crested Butte Low-Level Flight Study Area
September 25, 2017

Editor:  In the public interest and in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project. Your assistance in informing the local communities is appreciated.

A wildfire in a forest
September 7, 2017

A growing number of wildfire-burned areas throughout the western United States are expected to increase soil erosion rates within watersheds, causing more sediment to be present in downstream rivers and reservoirs, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image: Burning Sagebrush
September 6, 2017

An examination of long-term data for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management finds that land treatments in the southwestern United States are increasingly large, expensive and related to fire and invasive species control.

Image shows a geologic map of the Lower 48
August 21, 2017

A carbonatite here, a glacial moraine there, a zig-zagging fault or two, even a behemoth of a batholith. The geology of the 50 States is an enormous patchwork of varied forms, beautiful in their variance but challenging to present as a single map.

Image: Black-Footed Ferret
August 10, 2017

Reporters are invited to an event near Fort Collins showcasing cooperative efforts to develop a potential breakthrough in wildlife management – an oral vaccine that may help protect prairie dogs against plague and assist in the recovery of endangered black-footed ferrets at specific locations in the West.  

High Plains aquifer water-level changes, predevelopment to 2015
June 16, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer for two separate periods: from 1950 – the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development – to 2015, and from 2013 to 2015.