Unified Interior Regions

Region 11: Alaska

Alaska Science Center

Alaska Science Center

4210 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7000

View Center Website

Volcano Science Center

Volcano Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7497

View Center Website

Climate Adaptation Science Center

Climate Adaptation Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: 907-301-7830

View Center Website

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USGS in Alaska engages approximately 400 scientists and support staff working across 3 major centers with a combined annual science budget of about $65 million. In just the last 5 years, USGS in Alaska has produced scientific benefits resulting from over 1000 publications and about 250 Technical Reports.

USGS publications for Alaska

Alaska Science Portal

AK CASC Projects

Alaska Volcano Observatory  

Filter Total Items: 175
Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Chilkat River

Chilkat River is one of the transboundary watersheds of Southeast Alaska.

Contacts: Jeff Conaway
Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Alsek River

The Alsek River is the furthest north watershed in the transboundary study of Southeast Alaska, reaching 300 miles north of Haines Junction, Yukon Territory.

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Super Gages and Water Quality Sampling

Super gages provide real-time data specifically designed to improve understanding of watershed processes and to address specific water-resource issues such as climate and land-use effects or hazardous substance spills.

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Stikine River

The Stikine River near Wrangell and Petersburg is the largest watershed in the transboundary study of Southeast Alaska.

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Taku River

Adverse water quality from a trio of historic mines in the Tulsequah River watershed, a tributary of the Taku River, have caused concern in local communities including Juneau, Alaska, and Atlin, British Columbia

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Salmon River

The Salmon River, located near Hyder, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia, is the smallest watershed in the transboundary study of Southeast Alaska.

Date published: November 29, 2017
Status: Active

USGS Transboundary River Monitoring in Southeast Alaska

The USGS Alaska Science Center operates super gages on the Alsek, Taku, Stikine, Unuk and Salmon Rivers. Discrete water quality, sediment, and biological sampling are also collected at each gage location. Discrete water quality samples are also collected annually at the Canada-Alaska border crossings of the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk Rivers. Water quality data collection began in 2018 on the Unuk...

Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Completed

Geologic Map of Alaska

In January 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey released the first ever digital geologic map of Alaska. This map reflects more than a century of work and provides a visual context for the abundant mineral and energy resources found throughout the state. The map also is available to use in three different formats: a professional GIS database, a public interactive version via a web browser, and an...

Date published: October 30, 2017
Status: Active

Pacific Nearshore Project

Sea otters are crucial indicators of the health of our nearshore waters and coastal resources, from kelp forests to fisheries. What clues does the sea otter's decline hold for our knowledge of ecosystem and global change? WERC's sea otter team and U.S. and Canadian researchers have teamed together to investigate. 

Relevance to USGS Missions:

This research project has direct...

Date published: September 5, 2017
Status: Active

Alaska Science Center Data Policy

The Data Policy for ASC staff and contractors requires that research data, computational models, software and scripts, web-based tools, and information products (collectively “data”) adhere to the following policy statements.

Date published: August 22, 2017
Status: Active

Beak Deformities in Landbirds

Over the past 20 years, Alaskans have witnessed a startling increase of beak deformities among Black-capped Chickadees and other species of resident birds. This disease, called avian keratin disorder (AKD), is characterized by debilitating beak overgrowth and other abnormalities of keratinized tissues. Affected birds have difficulty feeding and preening, and may suffer high rates of mortality...

Date published: August 10, 2017
Status: Active

Publication Briefs by the Alaska Science Center

These publication briefs feature research that informs partners and resource managers to make decisions relative to species habitat and status, natural resources, ecosystems, and human activities.

Contacts: Yvette Gillies

USGS research activities relevant to Alaska have yielded more than 9400 historical publications. This page features some of the most recent newsworthy research findings.

Search USGS publications for Alaska

Arctic Science for Decision Maker

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report
Filter Total Items: 2,691
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Year Published: 2020

Shorebird research at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center

Shorebirds—which include sandpipers, plovers, and oystercatchers—are perhaps best known by their presence on sandy beaches, running along the water’s edge while they probe for food. But they are probably less recognized for their impressive long-distance migrations. Millions of individuals travel from across the globe to breed throughout Alaska...

Ruthrauff, Dan; Tibbitts, T. Lee; Pearce, John
Ruthrauff, D.R., Tibbitts, T.L., and Pearce, J.M., 2020, Shorebird research at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020-3056, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203056.

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Year Published: 2020

Focused fluid flow and methane venting along the Queen Charlotte fault, offshore Alaska (USA) and British Columbia (Canada)

Fluid seepage along obliquely deforming plate boundaries can be an important indicator of crustal permeability and influence on fault-zone mechanics and hydrocarbon migration. The ~850-km-long Queen Charlotte fault (QCF) is the dominant structure along the right-lateral transform boundary that separates the Pacific and North American tectonic...

Prouty, Nancy G.; Brothers, Daniel; Kluesner, Jared; Barrie, J. Vaughn; Andrews, Brian D.; Lauer, Rachel; Greene, Gary; Conrad, James E.; Lorenson, Thomas; Law, Michael D.; Sahy, Diana; Conway, Kim; McGann, Mary; Dartnell, Peter

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Year Published: 2020

Migration routes and population status of the Brent Goose Branta bernicla nigricans wintering in East Asia

Of the world’s Brent Goose Branta bernicla populations, the migration routes and winter distribution of the East Asian population of Brent Geese B. b. nigricans are the least well known. We therefore marked Brent Geese at their primary pre-migratory staging area in Notsuke Bay, Hokkaido, Japan to describe their migration between breeding and...

Sawa, Yusuke; Tamura, Chieko; Ikeuchi, Toshio; Fujii, Kaoru; Ishioroshi, Aisa; Shimada, T.; Tatsuzawa, Shiro; Deng, Xueqin; Cao, Lei; Kim, Hwajung; Ward, David H.

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Year Published: 2020

Using hair cortisol to assess physiological stress in Alaska polar bears

The concentration of cortisol in hair (HCC) of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) may provide a retrospective view of physiological stress they experience and a link to their response to environmental change. To understand this relationship, we assayed HCC from polar bears captured in the Alaska Beaufort, Bering and Chukchi seas during 1983–1989 and...

Durner, George M.

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Year Published: 2020

Detection and assessment of a large and potentially‐tsunamigenic periglacial landslide in Barry Arm, Alaska

The retreat of glaciers in response to global warming has the potential to trigger landslides in glaciated regions around the globe. Landslides that enter fjords or lakes can cause tsunamis, which endanger people and infrastructure far from the landslide itself. Here we document the ongoing movement of an unstable slope (total volume of 455...

Dai, Chunli; Higman, Bretwood; Lynett, Patrick J.; Jacquemart, Mylène; Howat, Ian; Liljedahl, Anna K.; Dufresne, Anja; Freymueller, Jeffery T.; Geertsema, Marten; Jones, Melissa Ward; Haeussler, Peter

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Year Published: 2020

Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in merlins (Falco columbarius) and cross-species amplification in gyrfalcons (F. rusticolus) and peregrine falcons (F. peregrinus)

I. Background: Merlins, Falco columbarius, breed throughout temperate and high latitude habitats in Asia, Europe, and North America. Like peregrine falcons, F. peregrinus, merlins underwent population declines during the mid-to-late 20th century, due to organochlorine-based contamination, and have subsequently recovered, at least in North...

Hull, Joshua M.; Sage, George K.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Gravley, Megan C.; Martinico, Breanna L.; Booms, Travis L.; Swem, Ted; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Interaction between watershed features and climate forcing affects habitat profitability for juvenile salmon

Opportunities for growth and survival of aquatic organisms are spatially and temporally variable as habitat conditions across watersheds respond to interacting climatic, geomorphic, and hydrologic conditions. As conservation efforts often focus on identifying and protecting critical habitats, it is important to understand how this spatial and...

Walsworth, Timothy E.; Baldock, Jeffrey R; Zimmerman, Christian E.; Schindler, Daniel E.

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Year Published: 2020

QCam: sUAS-based doppler radar for measuring river discharge

The U.S. Geological Survey is actively investigating remote sensing of surface velocity and river discharge (discharge) from satellite-, high altitude-, small, unmanned aircraft systems- (sUAS or drone), and permanent (fixed) deployments. This initiative is important in ungaged basins and river reaches that lack the infrastructure to deploy...

Fulton, John W.; Anderson, Isaac E.; Chiu, C.-L.; Sommer, Wolfram; Adams, Josip; Moramarco, Tommaso; Bjerklie, David M.; Fulford, Janice M.; Sloan, Jeff L.; Best, Heather; Conaway, Jeffrey S.; Kang, Michelle J.; Kohn, Michael S.; Nicotra, Matthew J.; Pulli, Jeremy J.

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Year Published: 2020

Drivers of wildfire carbon emissions

Increasing fire frequency and severity may shift boreal forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources and amplify climate warming. Analysis indicates that that fuel characteristics are important drivers of wildfire carbon emissions across a broad range of North America’s boreal forest.

Loehman, Rachel A.

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Year Published: 2020

Imaging the tectonic grain of the Northern Cordillera orogen using Transportable Array receiver functions

Azimuthal variations in receiver function conversions can image lithospheric structural contrasts and anisotropic fabrics that together compose tectonic grain. We apply this method to data from EarthScope Transportable Array in Alaska and additional stations across the northern Cordillera. The best‐resolved quantities are the strike and depth of...

Schulte-Pelkum, Vera; Caine, Jonathan; Jones, James V.; Becker, Thorsten W

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Year Published: 2020

Four decades of land-cover change on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Detecting disturbance-influenced vegetation shifts using landsat legacy data

Across Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, disturbance events have removed large areas of forest over the last half century. Simultaneously, succession and landscape evolution have facilitated forest regrowth and expansion. Detecting forest loss within known pulse disturbance events is often straightforward given that reduction in tree cover is a readily...

Baughman, Carson; Loehman, Rachel A.; Magness, Dawn R.; Saperstein, Lisa; Sherriff, Rosemary L.

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Year Published: 2020

Can oceanic prey effects on growth and time to fledging mediate terrestrial predator limitation of an at‐risk seabird?

Most seabird species nest colonially on cliffs or islands with limited terrestrial predation, so that oceanic effects on the quality or quantity of prey fed to chicks more often determine nest success. However, when predator access increases, impacts can be dramatic, especially when exposure to predators is extended due to slow growth from...

Knudson, Timothy; Lovvorn, James R.; Lawonn, M. James; Corcoran, Robin; Roby, Dan; Piatt, John F.; Pyle, William

Browse a selection of videos, audio clips, images, and more from a wide range of science topics covered by USGS!

"Science for a Changing World" - watch the short film here!

Documentary on walruses here!

Watch the first-ever footage of a polar bear on Arctic sea ice!

Join USGS geologists as they collect lava samples from Kilauea Volcano.

Watch researchers in the Arctic!

Filter Total Items: 975
View of muddy, eroding coastal bluffs with a visible permafrost layer and a tumbling tundra layer on top.
July 3, 2018

Eroding bluffs in Kaktovik

View looking east of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, which is located on the northern coast of Alaska.

Two people stand atop a coastal cliff where the grassy edges are beginning to fall off onto the beach below.
July 3, 2018

Barter Island coastal bluff studies

Scientists Cordell Johnson, left, and Li Erikson stand atop the coastal bluff of Barter Island in northern Alaska, a coastal area that is experiencing very high rates of erosion.

Two birds grabbing fish out of the ocean
June 28, 2018

Black-legged Kittiwakes forage on Pacific sand lance and capelin

Black-legged Kittiwakes forage on Pacific sand lance and capelin near their colony on Gull Island, Cook Inlet on June 28, 2018. 

A female McKay's Bunting songbird standing on the ground
June 17, 2018

Female McKay's Bunting on St. Matthew Island

Female McKay's Bunting on St. Matthew Island.

A male McKay's Bunting songbird sitting on a rock
June 14, 2018

Male McKay's Bunting on St. Matthew Island

Male McKay's Bunting on St. Matthew Island

Large instruments waiting to loaded on a boat
May 7, 2018

Loading ocean bottom seismometers for deployment in the Gulf of Alaska

Ocean bottom seismometers being loaded onto the R/V Sikuliaq to be deployed on the sea floor in the Gulf of Alaska.

Man pointing to ground
May 2, 2018

Stratigraphic contact marking 1964 uplift of Montague Island, Alaska

Stratigraphic contact marking uplift of Montague Island, caused by slip on the Patton Bay fault system during the 1964 M9.2 Great ALaska Earthquake. 

Hot springs and hot muddy pools (Alaska) caused by geothermal activity underground.
March 8, 2018

Hot springs (Alaska) caused by geothermal activity underground.

Hot springs can occur in many parts of the world. The water is hot not due to climate, but rather due to geothermal activity underground, such as volcanic activity or active hydrothermal heating from hot material in the ground. Hot springs result from water heated by underground geothermal activity finding its way to the land surface. 

This hot spring is located in

Attribution: Region 11: Alaska
March 5, 2018

Polar Bear Collar Cam B-Roll 2014, 2015, 2016

Exciting polar bear cam b-roll footage from the bear’s perspective from 2014, 2015, and 2016. The USGS Alaska Science Center Polar Bear Research Project conducts long-term research on polar bears to inform, local, state, national and international policy makers regarding conservation and management of the species and its habitat. The USGS’s studies are primarily focused on

Four people around a table
February 19, 2018

Sampling sea floor sediment cores from along the Queen Charlotte Fault

USGS and Geological Survey of Canada scientists sample sediment cores collected from the sea floor along the Queen Charlotte Fault. This was taken while they were working with (or in) the Geological Survey of Canada. The researchers are, from left to right: Amy East, Research Geologist, USGS Pacific Coastal Marine Science Center (PCMSC); Tom Lorenson, Physical Scientist,

A repeating animated GIF showing a walrus scratching it's side.
February 14, 2018

Walrus Itch

An animated GIF showing a Pacific Walrus scratching/rubbing themselves on their side with their "eye" rolling. The animation repeats in a reverse-motion.

Attribution: Region 11: Alaska
Image shows a river winding through a green landscape
December 31, 2017

Fish Creek Watershed in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Fish Creek wanders through the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million acre region managed by the Bureau of Land Management on Alaska's North Slope. USGS has periodically assessed oil and gas resource potential there. These assessments can be found here.

Browse a collection of stories about prominent USGS scientists and projects in Alaska news.

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 255
Lidar image showing the upper parts of the landslide that occurred in northwest Washington on March 22, 2014.
May 14, 2014

Want to know how elevation will benefit your state? The USGS National Geospatial Program is advancing the 3D Elevation Program, known as 3DEP, in response to the growing need for high-quality three-dimensional representations of the Nation’s natural and constructed features.

USGS science for a changing world logo
April 30, 2014

The coastal geology of Simeonof Island, the southeastern-most island in the Shumagin archipelago of the Aleutian Islands, suggests the region has not experienced a great megathrust earthquake in at least the past 3,400 years.

US Topo map of the Cass, West Virginia quadrangle, March 2014.
April 24, 2014

US Topo maps now have a crisper, cleaner design - enhancing readability of maps for online and printed use. Map symbols are easier to read over the digital aerial photograph layer whether the imagery is turned on or off. Improvements to symbol definitions (color, line thickness, line symbols, area fills), layer order, and annotation fonts are additional features of this supplemental release.

March 27, 2014

Ever since the great magnitude 9.2 earthquake shook Alaska 50 years ago today, scientists have suspected that the quake's rupture halted at the southwestern tip of Kodiak Island due to a natural barrier.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 20, 2014

Why does the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake Matter 50 Years Later? Scientific experts will talk about a half-century of scientific and monitoring advances triggered by the 1964 events.

Houses damaged in the 1964 earthquake
March 19, 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey has released two new videos about the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964 to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States. The videos include rare vintage film footage and photos of the earthquake damage, combined with modern interviews with some of the same scientists who first investig

Uplifted sea floor at Cape Cleare on Montague Island in Prince William Sound.
March 18, 2014

To commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States, the U.S. Geological Survey has reissued a series of landmark reports covering the results of investigations of the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 11, 2014

A recent U.S. Geological Survey-led study of the bar-tailed godwit, a shorebird known famously as the ultimate marathon champion of bird flight, suggests that these birds can sense broad weather patterns and optimally time their long, nonstop, transoceanic migrations to destinations thousands of miles away. 

Sea otter in kelp
February 28, 2014

Nearly 25 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill injured wildlife off the coast of Alaska, a new report issued today by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that sea otters have returned to pre-spill numbers within the most heavily oiled areas of Prince William Sound.

1964 Great Alaska Earthquake flyer thumbnail
February 24, 2014

On March 27th, 1964, the second largest instrumentally recorded earthquake worldwide rocked southern Alaska for 4 to 5 minutes. In addition to the earthquake, the event triggered a major tsunami that caused casualties and damage from the Kodiak Islands to northern California.

USGS science for a changing world logo
February 20, 2014

It's 1964 in Alaska. Imagine 4.5 minutes of powerful ground shaking underneath you from a magnitude 9.2 earthquake. You and your loved ones are then faced with resulting landslides and a devastating tsunami. You just experienced the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America. 

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in the Alaska Region by checking out our different social media accounts. You can also contact Alaska Regional Office staff or Center Directors for more information.