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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.

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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.

Image shows a detail of a yellow mineral on white rock
November 14, 2017

Estimates of Potential Uranium in the Southern High Plains Could Equal Just Under One Year of U.S. Needs.

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Photo Highlighting Predicted Erosion and Inundation areas in Texas
Date Published: February 1, 2018
Status: Completed

Hurricane Harvey - Forecast and Documentation of Coastal Change

Hurricane Harvey coastal change forecast and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change.

Oblique aerial photograph near Rodanthe, NC, looking south along the coast on August 30, 2011, three days after landfall of Hurr
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

National Assessment of Storm-Induced Coastal Change Hazards

The overall objective is to improve real-time and scenario-based predictions of coastal change to support management of coastal infrastructure, resources, and safety. Research is part of the  National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project.

coastal vulnerability of sea-level rise map
Date Published: January 18, 2018

National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise

This research seeks to objectively determine the relative risks due to future sea-level rise for the U.S. Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Research is part of National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project. 

Oblique aerial photograph looking to the southwest along the southern end of Cedar Island, Virginia
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

Long-Term Coastal Change

Goals of this project include developing and improving coastal-change assessments and supporting long-term planning and decision making to ensure sustainable coastal economies, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Research is part of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards...

Cliff erosion is a common storm-induced hazard along the West Coast.
Date Published: January 17, 2018
Status: Active

National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards

Research to identify areas that are most vulnerable to coastal change hazards including beach and dune erosion, long-term shoreline change, and sea-level rise.

Moss-draped oak in the Columbia Bottomlands
Date Published: December 11, 2017
Status: Active

Use of Remote Sensing Data to Quantify Bird and Bat Distributions and Inform Migratory Bird Conservation Efforts

Three federal wildlife refuge complexes on the upper Texas coast include portions of the Columbia Bottomlands and other forests that are important for migratory birds and possibly bats: Texas Mid-Coast, Trinity River, and Chenier Plain.

A perspective model of the morphology and geologic framework near Petit Bois Island showing the relationships between seafloor f
Date Published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Geologic and Morphologic Evolution of Coastal Margins

A combination of geophysics, sediment sampling, and chronology techniques are used to characterize the regional geomorphologic response of coastal systems to environmental changes.

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard USGS Obsservation Stations
Date Published: December 5, 2017
Status: Active

The Gulf of Mexico Water Dashboard: Cross-Center Collaboration Brings Real-time, USGS Water Data to the Gulf Coast through a Spatially Enabled Mapping Application

The USGS Southeast Regional Office has funded a cross-center collaboration between the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and the Texas Water Science Center for the development of the Gulf of Mexico Water Dashboard. The objective of this effort is to expand the Texas Water Dashboard platform to include the coastal regions of the five Gulf states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and...

Vegetation along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon
Date Published: December 1, 2016

Riparian Ecology

Riparian ecologists in the AS Branch study interactions among flow, channel change, and vegetation along rivers across the western United States and worldwide. Our work focuses on issues relevant to the management of water and public lands, including dam operation, climate change, invasive species, and ecological restoration. Investigations take place on a range of scales. For example,...

This photo of a Pacific sheath-tailed bat is the last good photo of this bat from Aguiguan in existence.
Date Published: August 1, 2016

Ecology of Insect-eating Bats

Bats are the only flying mammals that are active mostly at night and occur on all continents except Antarctica. Bats are ecologically diverse, with a range of species that specialize in feeding on fruit, nectar, blood, fish, small mammals, and insects. However, of the more than 1,100 known species of bats on Earth, the majority specialize in feeding on insects. In the United States for example...

a birder on a bridge looking at the birds
Date Published: July 26, 2016

HDgov: Multi-agency Website for Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

HDgov is an interactive and mobile-responsive online portal to interagency, academic, and non-government resources focused on the human dimensions of natural resource management. The web portal provides easy access to tools, publications, data, and methods that help ensure that the people side of natural resources is considered throughout the entire natural resource management process. The...

A crowd of people in a National Park.
Date Published: July 26, 2016

National Park Service Visitor Spending Effects

The National Park Service (NPS) manages the Nation’s most iconic destinations that attract millions of visitors from across the Nation and around the world. Trip-related spending by NPS visitors generates and supports a considerable amount of economic activity within park gateway communities. USGS economists collaborate with the National Park Service social science program to estimate NPS...

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summary of key findings for scenario-based assessment for hurricanes
February 14, 2018

Key Findings for Scenario-Based Assessment for Hurricanes

Percentage of sandy beaches very likely (probability > 0.9) to experience erosion associated with collision, overwash, and inundation during category 1-5 hurricane landfall.

Oblique Aerial Photography Viewer
January 19, 2018

Oblique Aerial Photography Viewer

Obique photos offer a unique perspective of the coast. Features such as beach erosion or accretion, dune erosion and overwash can all be clearly characterized in this imagery. It also documents coastal infrastructure, as well as the damage that infrastructure may incur as the result of an impacting hurricane. 

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard Real-time Stream Data with Live Storm Radar
December 11, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard

The USGS Southeast Regional Office has funded a cross-center collaboration between the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and the Texas Water Science Center for the development of the Gulf of Mexico Water Dashboard. 

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.

Coastal Change Hazards Portal Interactive Mapper screen grab
August 24, 2017

Coastal Change Hazards Portal

Interactive access to coastal change science and data for our Nation’s coasts. Information and products are organized within three coastal change hazard themes: 1) extreme storms, 2) shoreline change, and 3) sea-level rise. Each data item represents an individual research product, with some items grouped together as aggregates to show the breadth of the topic and make it easy to explore.

Science Base Logo
April 18, 2017

Data tables in support of manuscript "​δ13C and δ15N in the Endangered Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Lepidochelys kempii After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill"

Carbon and nitrogen isosope ratios of satellite-tagged turtles to 1) assess changes in foraging strategies of nesting Lk sampled in 2010 (the year of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) and two subsequent post-spill years; and 2) estimate the proportion of females that were within the area affected by the oil spill, the latter via discriminant analysis.

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.

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Screenshot of the Texas Water Dashboard on August 25, 2017. 
August 25, 2017

The Texas Water Dashboard presents USGS real-time stream, lake and reservoir, precipitation and groundwater data for more than 750 USGS real-time observation stations in Texas.

Hurricane Louisiana Coast
September 14, 2016

June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season. Should storms arrive on the Louisiana coast, the people in coastal communities across the State, along with many Federal, State, and local agencies will need to know how the storms are affecting the coastal and low-lying areas.The USGS maintains an extensive network of coastal gages that provides critical time-sensitive water level.

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.

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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Year Published: 2017

Nocturnal arboreality in snakes in the swamplands of the Atchafalaya Basin of south-central Louisiana and Big Thicket National Preserve of Southeast Texas

The southeastern United States is home to a diverse assemblage of snakes, but only one species, the Rough Greensnake (Opheodrys aestivus), is considered specialized for a predominantly arboreal lifestyle. Other species, such as Ratsnakes (genus Pantherophis) and Ribbonsnakes/Gartersnakes (genus Thamnophis), are widely known to climb into...

Glorioso, Brad M.; Waddle, J. Hardin
Glorioso, B.M., and Waddle, J.H., 2017, Nocturnal arboreality in snakes in the swamplands of the Atchafalaya Basin of south-central Louisiana and Big Thicket National Preserve of Southeast Texas: Journal of North American Herpetology, v. 2017, no. 1, p. 11-18, http://www.cnah.org/pdf/88616.pdf.

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: 2016

Groundwater ages from the freshwater zone of the Edwards aquifer, Uvalde County, Texas—Insights into groundwater flow and recharge

Tritium–helium-3 groundwater ages of the Edwards aquifer in south-central Texas were determined as part of a long-term study of groundwater flow and recharge in the Edwards and Trinity aquifers. These ages help to define groundwater residence times and to provide constraints for calibration of groundwater flow models. A suite of 17 samples from...

Hunt, Andrew G.; Landis, Gary P.; Faith, Jason R.
Hunt, A.G., Landis, G.P., and Faith, J.R., 2016, Groundwater ages from the freshwater zone of the Edwards Aquifer, Uvalde County, Texas—Insights into groundwater flow and recharge: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5163, 28 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20155163.

Year Published: 2013

Economic vulnerability to sea-level rise along the northern U.S. Gulf Coast

The northern Gulf of Mexico coast of the United States has been identified as highly vulnerable to sea-level rise, based on a combination of physical and societal factors. Vulnerability of human populations and infrastructure to projected increases in sea level is a critical area of uncertainty for communities in the extremely low-lying and flat...

Thatcher, Cindy A.; Brock, John C.; Pendleton, Elizabeth A.
Economic vulnerability to sea-level rise along the northern U.S. Gulf Coast; 2013; Article; Journal; Journal of Coastal Research; Thatcher, Cindy A.; Brock, John C.; Pendleton, Elizabeth A.

Year Published: 2011

Assessing the vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination—Edwards aquifer near San Antonio, Texas

This fact sheet highlights findings from the vulnerability study of a public-supply well field in San Antonio, Texas. The well field consists of six production wells that tap the Edwards aquifer. Typically, one or two wells are pumped at a time, yielding an average total of 20-21 million gallons per day. Water samples were collected from public-...

Jagucki, Martha L.; Musgrove, MaryLynn; Lindgren, Richard J.; Fahlquist, Lynne; Eberts, Sandra M.
Assessing the vulnerability of public-supply wells to contamination—Edwards aquifer near San Antonio, Texas; 2011; FS; 2011-3142; Jagucki, Martha L.; Musgrove, MaryLynn ; Lindgren, Richard J.; Fahlquist, Lynne ; Eberts, Sandra M.

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2017 (approx.)
Before a hurricane, USGS Scientists undertake a data collection effort of a grand scale. They install a temporary mobile network of sensors along the coasts to collect additional data on the intensity of storm surge, one of the most dangerous elements of a hurricane. This effort provides critical information that allows various USGS partners and emergency responders to make better informed...
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water measurement
September 11, 2017
USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PDF taking a high-water mark
September 11, 2017
USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water measurement
September 11, 2017
USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.
Image shows a USGS scientist in a PFD taking a high-water mark
September 11, 2017
USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Harvey in Matagorda County, Texas.
USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge following Harvey near Corpus Christi, Texas. 
September 8, 2017
USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge following Harvey near Corpus Christi, Texas.
September 8, 2017
Hurricane Harvey dumped over 50 inches of rain near Houston, leaving extensive flooding throughout the area. At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface. USGS EROS Center ( https://eros.usgs.gov/ )
USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge near Corpus Christi, Texas. 
September 8, 2017
USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge near Corpus Christi, Texas.
Pre- and post-Harvey photos for Mustang Island, Texas
September 5, 2017
Location 1. Elevated water levels during Hurricane Harvey reached the base but did not overtop the ~5m high dunes in Mustang Island, Texas, leading to dune erosion. The predicted probability of dune erosion for this section of coast was 99%.
Satellite image showing the flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey.
September 5, 2017
Extensive flooding inundated the Gulf Coast of Texas after Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25, 2017. Among the many waterways in southeastern Texas that exceeded flood stage was the Brazos River, which flows past Houston to its west and to the Gulf of Mexico at Freeport.
USGS scientist Vidal Mendoza surveying high water marks from storm surge from Hurricane Harvey near Port Aransas, Texas.
September 5, 2017
USGS scientist Vidal Mendoza surveying high water marks from storm surge from Hurricane Harvey near Port Aransas, Texas.
Pre- and post-Harvey photos for Sargent, Texas
September 5, 2017
Location 4. Sand dunes along this stretch of coast in Sargent, Texas, were overwashed by large waves during the storm. Sand from the beach and dunes is covering the roadway behind the dunes and which may be impassable. The predicted probability of overwash in this area was 94%.
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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.

Image shows a detail shot of finchite
October 1, 2017

Everyone’s seen the news–scientists discover a new species of fly and name it for Beyonce; scientists discover a new species of monkey and auction its name off; etc. Hundreds of new species of animals, plants, and other organisms are discovered and named every year. But did you know that dozens of minerals are discovered every year too?

Photo Highlighting Predicted Erosion and Inundation areas in Texas
September 15, 2017

Pre- and post-storm photo comparisons using NOAA imagery

Image: Rio Grande and Cliffs in Boquillas Canyon, Big Bend National Park
September 14, 2017

A new U.S. Geological Survey report describes the below ground geology of the Rio Grande transboundary region of New Mexico and Texas, United States, and northern Chihuahua, Mexico.

USGS scientists J. Alton Anderson and Carole D. Johnson prepare to collect a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) log at a well.
September 13, 2017

Digital borehole geophysical logs and related data files are now easily accessible through GeoLog Locator a new web-based, map view and retrieval tool developed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS scientist David Rodriguez records high water marks from storm surge following Harvey near Corpus Christi, Texas. 
September 8, 2017

Editor’s note: this news release will be updated online with more information on the streamgage records being set in Texas as it becomes available.

Rivers and streams reached record levels as a result of Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall, with about 40 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages measuring record peaks.

Satellite captured image of the rapidly intensifying storm, Harvey
September 8, 2017

As Harvey’s record breaking rainfall and catastrophic flood waters recede in Texas and western Louisiana, U.S. Geological Survey teams are collecting high water marks, monitoring water levels and coastal change, retrieving storm tide sensors and collecting samples for water quality analysis.

A USGS crew measures flood waters off a bridge.
August 30, 2017

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Harvey, visit the USGS Hurricane Harvey page.

A USGS crew prepares to measure Hurricane Harvey floodwaters off of a bridge.
August 29, 2017

Reporters: Do you want to interview USGS scientists as they measure flooding? Please contact Jennifer LaVista or Lynne Fahlquist. 

U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring record flooding in parts of south-central Texas following intense rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey.

A USGS crew prepares to measure Hurricane Harvey floodwaters off of a bridge.
August 29, 2017

Reporters: Do you want to interview USGS scientists as they measure flooding? Please contact Jennifer LaVista or Lynne Fahlquist. 

U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring record flooding in parts of south-central Texas following intense rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey.