Regions

Utah

States L2 Landing Page Tabs

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

photo of grasslands surrounding Winnemucca, Nevada
June 12, 2018

The advent of remote sensing was a boon to the ancient science of phenology.

Satellite data offered a global view of nature’s seasonal life cycles that historical tabulators of budding trees and buzzing bees could scarcely imagine.

From the start, however, remotely sensed phenology has come with caveats.

Bear Lake to Receive Water Quality and Weather Monitoring Equipment
March 30, 2018

Bear Lake will house water quality and weather monitoring equipment that will provide near real-time information to the public and water managers beginning in early April and continuing through 2022.

Dry wash in San Rafael Desert with white surface salts
January 25, 2018

Salinity loads that originate from groundwater within the Upper Colorado River Basin have decreased from 1986-2011, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study done in cooperation with the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program.

Filter Total Items: 38
Salt Wash in the San Rafael Swell with white surface salts
Date Published: June 15, 2018
Status: Active

Salinity

Approximately 6.4 million tons of dissolved solids are discharged from the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) to the Lower Colorado River Basin each year. This results in substantial economic damages, and tens of millions of dollars are spent annually on salinity control projects designed to reduce salinity loads in surface waters of the UCRB. Dissolved solids in surface water and groundwater...

Contacts: Matthew Miller
Technicians work on water-quality instrumentation deployed on platforms on Bear Lake, Utah
Date Published: May 30, 2018
Status: Active

Bear Lake Water Quality

Bear Lake, located approximately 50 kilometers (km) northeast of Logan, Utah, straddles the Utah-Idaho border and is nestled in a graben valley between the Bear Lake Plateau on the east and the Bear River Range on the west (Reheis and others, 2009) (fig. 1). Its calcium carbonate type water is a brilliant green-blue color that, in combination with sandy beaches and easy access, draws thousands...

Contacts: Ryan Rowland
Screenshot of the Land Treatment Planning Tool with proposed treatment drawn on screen.
Date Published: May 10, 2018
Status: Active

Land Treatment Planning Tool

The Land Treatment Planning Tool provides a practical resource for managers who are planning restoration and rehabilitation actions on public lands. The tool generates a variety of spatial products while being user friendly for all levels of GIS expertise, even to those with little or no experience.

Photo of Bird Bands in a Variety of Sizes and Types
Date Published: May 1, 2018
Status: Active

Bird Banding Laboratory

The Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) is an integrated scientific program established in 1920 supporting the collection, archiving, management and dissemination of information from banded and marked birds in North America.  This information is used to monitor the status and trends of resident and migratory bird populations. Because birds are good indicators of the health of the environment, the...

Basemap showing Great Basin and model study area
Date Published: February 13, 2018
Status: Completed

Great Basin Carbonate and Alluvial Aquifer System (GBCAAS)

The Great Basin Carbonate and Alluvial Aquifer System (GBCAAS) was part of the federally-funded USGS Water Availability Program. Specific objectives of the study included quantifying current ground-water resources, evaluating how those resources have changed over time, and developing tools to assess system responses to stresses from future human uses and climate variability. The GBCAAS study...

Contacts: Tom Marston
Great Salt Lake, old staff plate
Date Published: January 23, 2018
Status: Active

Great Salt Lake Elevations

Great Salt Lake Elevations

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been collecting water-surface-elevation data from Great Salt Lake since 1875 and continuously since October 1902. The north part of the lake has been monitored since April 1966.

Contacts: Mike Freeman
Map of the Colorado Plateau, including the San Juan River pilot study area.
Date Published: January 19, 2018
Status: Active

Colorado Plateau Regional Groundwater Availability

Study goals

This project seeks to quantify the status of groundwater as an integrated resource with surface water in the arid and semiarid region of the Colorado Plateau principal aquifer system. Surface-water resources that originate in this region are over allocated and serve 35 million people, 4.5 million acres of farmland, and are used to generate 12 billion...

West Desert Windmill on bluebird day
Date Published: December 18, 2017
Status: Active

Groundwater Conditions in Utah

Small amounts of groundwater can be obtained from wells throughout most of Utah, but large amounts that are of suitable chemical quality for irrigation, public supply, or industrial use generally can be obtained only in specific ares. Most wells in Utah yield water from unconsolidated basin-fill deposits, and most are in intermountain basins that have been partly filled with rock materials...

Contacts: Tom Marston
WERC Ants collect seeds/floret
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Process-based Approaches for Ecological Restoration of Degraded Drylands

Surface disturbances ranging from military training, recreation, energy exploration and development, and wildfires impact a large majority of federal lands in the western US, but the ecological and economic impacts are poorly understood. Explore this webpage to learn how Dr. Lesley DeFalco and her research team are currently evaluating and refining conventional approaches for post-fire...

Contacts: Lesley DeFalco
Plants grown in a greenhouse
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Native Plant Materials for Ecological Restoration of Degraded Drylands

There is a growing consensus among resource managers to use native plant materials for ecological restoration of degraded drylands. Some plant species may be suitable for re-introduction across broad environmental gradients. Other species may fail under narrower conditions, or their re-introduction may have genetic consequences for local ecotypes, particularly when adapting to future climate...

Contacts: Lesley DeFalco
Eureka Valley. Desert Landscape photo
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Conservation of Rare, Sensitive, and At-risk Desert Plant Species

The Mojave Desert is among the hottest and driest of the North American drylands, but in spite of these extreme conditions, and in part because of them, a diverse flora exists. This diversity of rare, endemic, and endangered species is threatened by the complex interaction between fluctuating climate and human-mediated disturbances. USGS studies have identified rare species “hotspots” for...

Contacts: Lesley DeFalco
Joshua trees burning in the Bulldog Fire in Mojave Desert tortoise habitat of southwestern Utah
Date Published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Aridlands Disturbances and Restoration Ecology

Desert landscapes are rapidly changing due to increases in invasive plant species, frequency of wildfires, urban and energy development, recreational use, military training, and climate variation. Dr. Todd Esque, USGS researchers, and collaborators are working together to investigate these changes and provide managers with key information that can be used to manage natural resources more...

Contacts: Todd Esque
Filter Total Items: 30
Web Application
/data-tools/land-treatment-planning-tool

Land Treatment Planning Tool

Screenshot of the Land Treatment Planning Tool with proposed treatment drawn on screen.
May 3, 2018

The Land Treatment Planning Tool is designed for resource managers to use when planning land treatments. The tool provides useful summaries of environmental characteristics of planned treatment areas and facilitates adaptive management practices by comparing those characteristics to other similar treatments within a specified distance or area of interest.  Provisional Software.

GIS Data
/data-tools/national-map

The National Map

National Map Logo
February 22, 2018

The National Map is a collaborative effort among the USGS and other Federal, State, and local partners to improve and deliver topographic information for the Nation. It has many uses ranging from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response. The National Map is easily accessible for display on the Web, as products and services, and as downloadable data.

Science Datasets
/data-tools/prospect-and-mine-related-features-us-geological-survey-75-and-15-minute-topographic

Prospect- and Mine-Related Features from U.S. Geological Survey 7.5- and 15-Minute Topographic Quadrangle Maps of the United States

data location map
December 1, 2017

These data are part of a larger USGS project to develop an updated geospatial database of mines, mineral deposits and mineral regions in the United States. Mine and prospect-related symbols, such as those used to represent prospect pits, mines, adits, dumps, tailings, etc., are currently being digitized on a state-by-state basis from USGS Historical Topographic Maps.

Science Datasets
/data-tools/usgs-southwest-repeat-photography-collection-kanab-creek-southern-utah-and-northern

USGS Southwest Repeat Photography Collection: Kanab Creek, southern Utah and northern Arizona, 1872-2010

Image: View Down Kanab Creek
November 8, 2017

This data release contains data, repeat images, and field notes collected from 80 repeat photography stakes along Kanab Creek 1872 and 2010. The Kanab Creek repeat photography collection is part of the USGS Southwest Repeat Photography Collection assembled over decades by USGS scientists Drs. Robert H. Webb and Raymond M. Turner and curated by the Southwest Biological Science Center.

Water
/data-tools/national-water-information-system-nwis

National Water Information System (NWIS)

Application screenshot thumbnail
September 1, 2017

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.

Real-time Data
/data-tools/national-water-information-system-nwis-mapper-0

National Water Information System (NWIS) Mapper

NWIS-Mapper thumbnail image
August 30, 2017

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.

Science Datasets
/data-tools/catchment-flowline-network-and-selected-model-inputs-enhanced-and-updated-spatially

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

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

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.

Science Datasets
/data-tools/sagebrush-mineral-resource-assessment-data-sources

Sagebrush Mineral Resource Assessment Data Sources

Sagebrush MRA map
October 26, 2016

List of USGS information resources used in carrying out the Sagebrush Mineral Resource Assessment in 2016. Portal to an interactive map and OGC WMS service.

Science Datasets
/data-tools/usmin-mineral-resource-data-us-geological-survey-sagebrush-mineral-resource-assessment

USMIN Mineral-Resource Data for the U.S. Geological Survey Sagebrush Mineral-Resource Assessment Project

study area map
September 28, 2016

The point and polygon layers within this geodatabase represent locations of mineral occurrences, mines, mining and mineral districts and sites of active mineral exploration within or near the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sagebrush Focal Areas in Montana, Wyoming and Utah, central Idaho, and the Oregon-Nevada-Idaho border area for use in the USGS Sagebrush Mineral Resource Assessment.

GIS Data
/data-tools/structures-data

Structures Data

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

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.

GIS Data
/data-tools/boundaries

Boundaries Data

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

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.

GIS Data
/data-tools/hydrography-data

Hydrography Data

Illustration related to the the river corridor
April 19, 2016

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

Filter Total Items: 2
Topoview logo for USGS interactive map viewer
February 23, 2018

Topographic maps are a signature product of the USGS. They were essential for integrating and analyzing place-based information, and were widely used by receationalists. After 125-year legacy of topographic mapping (1884-2009), the USGS embarked on an innovative future of integrating historical maps with computer-generated maps from a national geographical information system (GIS) database.

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.

Filter Total Items: 5
Year Published: 2016

Geology and mineral resources of the Southwestern and South-Central Wyoming Sagebrush Focal Area, Wyoming, and the Bear River Watershed Sagebrush Focal Area, Wyoming and Utah: Chapter E in Mineral resources of the Sagebrush Focal Areas of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming

SummaryThe U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed to withdraw approximately 10 million acres of Federal lands from mineral entry (subject to valid existing rights) from 12 million acres of lands defined as Sagebrush Focal Areas (SFAs) in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming (for further discussion on the lands involved see...

Wilson, Anna B.; Hayes, Timothy S.; Benson, Mary Ellen; Yager, Douglas B.; Anderson, Eric D.; Bleiwas, Donald I.; DeAngelo, Jacob; Dicken, Connie L.; Drake, Ronald M.; Fernette, Gregory L.; Giles, Stuart A.; Glen, Jonathan M. G.; Haacke, Jon E.; Horton, John D.; Parks, Heather L.; Rockwell, Barnaby W.; Williams, Colin F.
Wilson, A.B., Hayes, T.S., Benson, M.E., Yager, D.B., Anderson, E.D., Bleiwas, D.I., DeAngelo, J., Dicken, C.L., Drake, R.M., II, Fernette, G.L., Giles, S.A., Glen, J.M.G., Haacke, J.E., Horton, J.D., Parks, H.L., Rockwell, B.W., and Williams, C.F., 2016, Geology and mineral resources of the Southwestern and South-Central Wyoming Sagebrush Focal Area, Wyoming, and the Bear River Watershed Sagebrush Focal Area, Wyoming and Utah, (ver. 1.1, October 26, 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5089–E, 128 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165089E.

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: 1994

Accounting for Consumptive Use of Lower Colorado River Water in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah

In the Colorado River valley between the east end of Lake Mead and the international boundary with Mexico (see figure), the river is the principal source of water for agricultural, domestic, municipal, industrial, hydroelectric-power generation, and recreational purposes. Water is stored in surface reservoirs and in the river aquifer---permeable...

Owen-Joyce, Sandra J.; Wilson, Richard P.
Accounting for Consumptive Use of Lower Colorado River Water in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah; 1994; FS; 074-94; Owen-Joyce, Sandra J.; Wilson, Richard P.

Year Published: 1994

Method to identify wells that yield water that will be replaced by Colorado River water in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah

Accounting for the use of Colorado River water is required by the U.S. Supreme Court decree, 1964, Arizona v. California. Water pumped from wells on the flood plain and from certain wells on alluvial slopes outside the flood plain is presumed to be river water and is accounted for as Colorado River water. A method was developed to identify wells...

Wilson, Richard P.; Owen-Joyce, Sandra J.
Method to identify wells that yield water that will be replaced by Colorado River water in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah; 1994; WRI; 94-4005; Wilson, Richard P.; Owen-Joyce, Sandra J.

Year Published: 1984

Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste; characterization of the Bonneville region, Utah and Nevada

Bedinger, M.S.; Sargent, K.A.; Langer, W.H.
Studies of geology and hydrology in the Basin and Range Province, Southwestern United States, for isolation of high-level radioactive waste; characterization of the Bonneville region, Utah and Nevada; 1984; OFR; 84-744; edited by Bedinger, M. S.; Sargent, K. A.; Langer, W. H.

Filter Total Items: 96
Technicians deploy water-quality instrumentation on Bear Lake platforms
May 17, 2018

Bear Lake QW Platforms

Technicians deploy water-quality instrumentation on Bear Lake platforms

NASA image of Bear Lake with beautiful swirls in blue water showing mixing
May 1, 2018

Bear Lake Mixing

NASA image of Bear Lake with beautiful swirls in blue water showing mixing

Dry wash in San Rafael Desert with white surface salts
December 31, 2017

Dry wash in San Rafael Desert with white surface salts

Dry wash in San Rafael Desert with white surface salts. White efflorescent salts form on the soil surface as water evaporates from the soil leaving the salt at the surface. 

Salinity loads that originate from groundwater within the Upper Colorado River Basin have decreased from 1986-2011, according to a new U.S....

Lake Powell
December 31, 2017

Lake Powell

The USGS Utah Water Science Center and the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center conducted a collaborative geophysical research effort within Lake Powell, UT-AZ to map the bathymetry of the lake and characterize shallow sediment deposition near the mouths of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers.

USGS scientists check breach on glass-calm Great Salt Lake in surreal light.
December 19, 2017

Great Salt Lake, USGS boat at work

USGS scientists check breach on glass-calm Great Salt Lake in surreal light.

July 30, 2017

A Record of Change: Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo N.

A Record of Change—Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo Nation is a 25-minute documentary about collaborative studies using conventional physical sciences, combined with tribal elder observations to show that local knowledge and conventional science partnerships can effectively document ecosystem change and determine the resulting challenges to livelihoods. 

Sparse historic data...

Satellite images showing landsat 7 and landsat 8 fire images on the western U.S.
June 29, 2017

Fires in the Western United States

On an average day during the fire season, multiple wildfires burn in the western United States. For example, 216 fires were active on July 7, 2017. Firefighters were battling 27 of these fires through ground and air support.

A few of the larger fires in early July were in Arizona, Washington, and Utah. As with many wildfires, Landsat...

Photo of USGS research boat conducting science on the Great Salt Lake.
December 31, 2016

USGS research boat conducting science on the Great Salt Lake.

USGS scientist Robert Baskin takes a boat out on the Great Salt Lake to conduct research. 

Baskin is being awarded with a 2016 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Gov. Gary R. Herbert will present awards to 11 individuals and one company at the 30th anniversary awards dinner on January 18, 2017. Baskin is best known for his innovative research on Great Salt Lake, collaborating...

December 1, 2016

New Breach Allows Flow on the Great Salt Lake

The new Great Salt Lake breach was opened on Dec. 1 by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This created a new opening between the north and the south arm of the lake, allowing water to flow between the two sides. This time-lapse video shows the breach opening, which took about two hours. Before the new breach was opened, the north arm of the Great Salt Lake was at an historic low. Water had...

Lake Powell
October 26, 2016

Lake Powell

Lake Powell

View from Canyonlands Research Center
September 29, 2016

View from Canyonlands Research Center

View from Canyonlands Research Center. 

Photo of footprint damage to biocrusts.
September 29, 2016

Footprint damage to biocrusts

Many human activities can be unintentionally harmful to biological crusts. The biocrusts are no match for the compressional stress caused by footprints of livestock or people or tracks from vehicles.

Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become...

Filter Total Items: 94
photo of grasslands surrounding Winnemucca, Nevada
June 12, 2018

The advent of remote sensing was a boon to the ancient science of phenology.

Satellite data offered a global view of nature’s seasonal life cycles that historical tabulators of budding trees and buzzing bees could scarcely imagine.

From the start, however, remotely sensed phenology has come with caveats.

Bear Lake to Receive Water Quality and Weather Monitoring Equipment
March 30, 2018

Bear Lake will house water quality and weather monitoring equipment that will provide near real-time information to the public and water managers beginning in early April and continuing through 2022.

Dry wash in San Rafael Desert with white surface salts
January 25, 2018

Salinity loads that originate from groundwater within the Upper Colorado River Basin have decreased from 1986-2011, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study done in cooperation with the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program.

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.

Lake Powell
December 12, 2017

Develop a new bathymetry map of Lake Powell, UT-AZ, and characterize shallow sediment deposition near the mouths of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers. Bathymetric data, acoustic backscatter imagery, and limited CHIRP sub-bottom data were collected by the USGS Utah Water Science Center (UTWSC) and Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) within Lake Powell, October - November, 2017.

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.

Looking northeast along the Bear River Duck Club Canal toward the Wellsville Mountains. 
April 6, 2017

A new report illustrates how groundwater pumping can affect the amount of water available in streams within the Malad-Lower Bear River Area in Utah. The product was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water Rights.

View from Canyonlands Research Center
March 15, 2017

Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Lake Mead
March 15, 2017

The Colorado River system provides about 35 million Americans with a portion of their water supply. It irrigates 5½ million acres of land in the West and provides water to tribes, parks, and wildlife. The system serves parts of seven States and Mexico—but reservoir levels have crept lower over the past several years, sparking questions about how much water remains and who will have access.

Photo of an active oil and gas pad on Bureau of Land Management lands near Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
February 7, 2017

A new scientific approach can now provide regional assessments of land recovery following oil and gas drilling activities, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.