USGS Evening Public Lecture Series
Lectures listed by each season:2016
( The season listings also includes information of lectures that were not recorded. )
All lectures beginning July 2015 have closed captions. If captioning is needed for older lectures in our archive, please send an email to email@example.com and we will do our best to accommodate your request.
All recorded lectures from March 2002 until present
Underwater Secrets of the Hayward Fault Zone: Integrated 3D imaging to understand earthquake hazards
by Janet Watt, USGS Research Geophysicist
- Underwater imaging provides a unique opportunity to study urban fault hazards.
- How do we link surface structures to depths where earthquakes occur?
- How does "acoustic trenching" help us understand earthquake history?
Potential Corrosivity of Untreated Groundwater in the United States
by Kenneth Belitz, Chief, Groundwater Assessment, National Water-Quality Assessment Project
- Corrosive groundwater, if untreated, can dissolve lead and other metals from pipes
- National maps have been prepared to identify the occurrence of potentially corrosive groundwater in the U.S.
- These findings have the greatest implication for the 44 million people dependent on domestic wells for drinking water.
Brown Bears, Sea Otters, and Seals, Oh My!: Unexpected interactions on the Katmai Coast
by Grant Hilderbrand, Chief of the Marine Ecosystems Office
- Highlights of ongoing research on brown bears on the coast of the Katmai National Park
- Observations from video collars deployed on brown bears
- Implications for population health and species adaptability
Geology Up-Close: Big answers from small scale observations
by Leslie Hayden-USGS Geologist, Diane Moore-USGS Geologist, Kathryn Watts-USGS Research Geologist, Marjorie Schulz-USGS Research Hydrologist, and Laura Stern-USGS Research Geophysicist
- How does a scanning electron microscope (SEM) work?
- What does USGS study with the SEM? Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Mineral and energy resources, Soil and aquifer processes
Unusual Sources of Tsunamis - From Krakatoa to Monterey Bay
by Eric Geist, USGS Research Geophysicist
- Not all tsunamis are generated by earthquakes.
- Tsunamis can be caused by volcanoes, landslides, and even atmospheric disturbances
- Data from tide gauges can help unravel the complex physics of these sources
Ecological Stressors: It's a Lot of 'WERC'
There is no place like California
by A. Keith Miles, USGS Center Director, Western Ecological Research Center
- Highlights of the science of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center
- Wildfire, drought, sea level rise
- Endangered species, species of concern
- Alternate energy, urbanization, species connectivity
Rock falls in California's Sierra Nevada: Pursuing explanations for exfoliation and seemingly spontaneous fracture of rock
by Brian D. Collins, USGS Research Civil Engineer, Landslide Hazards Program
- Exfoliation is a process by which layers of rock erode from the surface of landscapes
- In California's Sierra Nevada, exfoliation in steep granite cliffs is common, sometimes leading to potentially hazardous rock falls.
- New research sheds light on how, where and when rock falls may occur from exfoliation, and the effect daily heating cycles may have on exfoliation itself.
- Recent rock fall studies by the USGS and National Park Service provide sound basis for risk reduction actions in Yosemite National Park.
Flyer: Oct16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Remembering Mount Pinatubo 25 Years Ago
A look back at one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century
John Ewert, Geologist, USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
- This recording only includes an introduction and follow-up comments by John Ewert. Due to copyright restrictions, it does not include the actual film, which can be purchased from PBS.
- Join us for a special showing of the NOVA film "In the Path of a Killer Volcano".
- This 60-minute film follows USGS scientists as they work with local agencies to monitor the restless volcano and forecast its eruption.
- USGS Geologist John Ewert, featured in the film, will introduce it and be on hand to answer questions afterwards.
The New Eyes in the Sky
Putting Drones to work for scientific research
by Jeff L. Sloan, Geographer, Project Leader - USGS National Unmanned Systems Project Office
- Why is there so much interest in unmanned technology?
- What are the rules to legally fly within the National Airspace?
- How does this technology increase safety, lower costs, and lead to the collection of better scientific data?
- Will this technology become a commonly used tool for Scientists?
The USGS California Volcano Observatory
It's not just earthquake country!
by Margaret T Mangan, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS CalVO
- Volcanic Eruptions occur in the State about as frequently as the largest San Andreas Fault Zone earthquakes.
- California's "watch list" volcanoes are dispersed throughout the State and future eruptions are inevitable--the likelihood of renewed volcanism is on the order of 1 in a few hundred to one in a few thousand annually.
Flyer: July Flyer (Acrobat PDF)
Mercury and Rice in the California Delta
Lessons Linking Wetlands to Water to Wildlife
by Lisamarie Windham-Myers, USGS Research Ecologist, National Research Program
- Wetlands are hotspots for mercury methylation and export of methylmercury to aquatic foodwebs.
- Rice is the most abundant wetland type in California and globally in temperate and tropical latitudes.
- Physical, chemical and biological Hg transformations are temporally pulsed in agricultural wetlands, due largely to seasonal water management practices.
- Monitoring methylmercury at the right time and location is essential to managing and projecting future exposure for wildlife and humans.
Flyer: June16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Forcasting Ashfall Impacts from a Yellowstone Supereruption
by Larry Mastin, USGS Hydrologist
- Yellowstone is one of a few dozen volcanoes on Earth capable of "supereruptions" that expel more than 1,000 cubic km of ash and debris.
- The plumes from such eruptions can rise 30 to 50 km into the atmosphere, three to five times as high as most jets fly.
- Yellowstone has produced three supereruptions in the past 2.1 million years. The most recent was 0.6 million years ago.
- Eruptions this large can create their own continental-scale wind field, pushing ash more than 1,000 km against the prevailing, ambient wind field.
Flyer: May16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Untapped Capacity: Our 4,000 Species of Native Bees
So many unknowns and so many potentials
by Sam Droege, USGS Wildlife Biologist
- In secret, Native Bees, not honey bees, do most of our pollinating
- Why we don't know the status of 99% of our Native Bees
- Why are there 400 Native Bees without names
- Why biodiverse native plant communities = biodivers native bee communities
Flyer: Apr16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Marine Terraces of California: Landscapes from the Waves
by Marjorie Schulz, USGS Research Hydrologist
- Did you know soils on California's marine terraces can be over a million years old?
- Have you wondered why California's rugged shorelines are terraced?
- Soils on marine terraces aid our understanding of soil formation, water movement, and carbon transformations under changing climate.
Flyer: Mar16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Gold Rush and the 1906 Earthquake
How they combined to create the breakthrough discovery of modern seismic science
by Ross S. Stein, USGS Scientist Emeritus & Consulting Professor of Geophysics, Stanford University
- Accidents of Gold Rush merchant marine navigation transformed a seismic disaster into a seminal discovery and led to San Francisco's extreme liquefaction vulnerability today.
- Just about everything that we love about the Bay area is brought to us by the faults. We enjoy their daily fruits and so must live with their occasional spoils.
- No one knows when the next damaging quake will strike; we must frame the 'payback period' for seismic expenditures in terms of chance.
Flyer: Feb16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Last Land: How humans changed erosion in Hawaii
by Jonathan Stock, Research Geologist and Director, USGS Innovation Center
- Hawaii is one of the last habitable places on Earth reached by humans
- Fromfirst Hawaiian arrivals c.1000-1200 A.D. to now, humans have accelerated erosion
- Dirty water threatens the economic and social assets of the island
- Mapping, monitoring and modeling (M3) can focus cost-eective mitigation
Flyer: Jan16flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The April 25, 2015, Gorkha, Nepal, Earthquake:
An Expected Event that Defied Expectations
by Susan Hough, USGS Research Geophysicist
- Scientists have long known that large earthquakes will inevitably occur along the Himalaya front
- Experts had long feared that large earthquakes would take a devastating toll on Nepal
- The 2015 Gorkha earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people, but the toll was not as catastrophic as had been feared
- Analysis of available data is helping scientists understand why damage was not worse, and what lessons can be drawn about hazard from future earthquakes
Flyer: Dec15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Waterbirds in a Changing Landscape:
Evaluating Avian Response to the West Coast's Largest Tidal Marsh Restoration Project
by Susan De La Cruz, USGS Research Wildlife Biologist
- The urbanized San Francisco Bay is a critical wintering and stop-over area for more than a million migratory annually that rely on a mosaic of Bay habitats, including former salt ponds.
- The 15,100 acre South Bay Salt Pond (SBSP) Restoration Project is in the process of restoring 50 to 90% of former salt production ponds to tidal marsh while maintaining the rest as foraging and roosting areas for migratory birds.
- How are birds responding to the preliminary phases of this project? How can research help optimize future restoration actions to benefit migratory birds?
Flyer: Nov15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Fire-climate Relationships in the Sierra Nevada:
Surprises relevant to future fire regime forecasts
by Jon E. Keeley, USGS Research Scientist
- Historical variation in annual fire activity is tied to climate only in the montane forests.
- Fires are largely insensitive to winter temperatures but significantly affected by spring and summer temperatures.
- Future impacts of global warming on fire activity are largely dependent on the seasonal patterns of warming.
- Lower elevation foothill shrublands and savannahs are not strongly affected by high temperatures in any season.
Flyer: Oct15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
"Living With Fire" Video
Coral Reefs, Climate Change, and Atoll Sustainability
Will Micronesians become the U.S.'s first climate change refugees?
by Curt Storlazzi, USGS Research Geologist and Oceanographer
- Sea level is rising, threatening low-lying atoll islands throughout the western Pacific Ocean
- Climate change is degrading the coral reefs that atoll islands have developed upon, decreasing the reefs' ability to reduce wave energy and thus wave-driven island flooding
- Wave-driven island overwash events threaten the limited freshwater and agricultural resources on these low-lying islands
- We are trying to assess the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on the infrastructure, freshwater availability, and natural and historic resources of atoll islands under a variety of scenarios to determine "tipping points" - when islands are no longer habitable
Flyer: Sep15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes
by Justin Rubinstein, USGS Research Geophysicist
- The earthquake rate has dramatically increased in the central US in the last 6 years.
- Oklahoma had more M≥3 earthquakes in 2014 than California.
- This increase is due to earthquake activity induced by oil and gas operations.
- Most earthquakes are not caused by hydraulic fracturing.
- We may be able to control these earthquakes.
Flyer: Aug15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Giant Cascadia Earthquake of January 26, 1700
Detective Stories from North America and Japan
by Brian Atwater, USGS Seattle
- A tsunami from western North America entered Japanese written history in Jan 1700
- Decades of basic research on both sides of the Pacific led to this discovery
- The endings underpin public-safety measures in the United States and Canada
Flyer: July15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Breaking Badly:Forecasting California Earthquakes
by Morgan Page, USGS Research Geophysicist
- Scientists cannot currently predict the precise time, location, and size of future damaging earthquakes.
- Historical records of earthquakes in California date back over 150 years.
- Geologists have dug trenches to extend the known history on some faults back to around 1,000 years before today!
- We are learning more about the behavior of large earthquakes, such as the possibility for earthquakes to "link up" multiple geologic faults and the ability of one earthquake to trigger others.
- This information is being used to develop new, sophisticated earthquake forecasting models and to better determine the likely effects of future earthquake in California.
Flyer: May15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
A Sight "Fearfully Grand": Eruptions of Lassen Peak, California, 1914 to 1917
by Michael Clynne, USGS Geologist
- A summary of the eruptions and their effects
- Illustrated with historical photographs
Flyer: Apr15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Environmental Legacy of California's Gold Rush: Arsenic and Mercury Contamination from Historic Mining
by Andrea Foster, USGS Research Geologist & Christopher Kim, Associate Professor, Chapman University
- Why are arsenic and mercury associated with California's gold mines?
- What types of arsenic and mercury contamination can be directly related to historic mining?
- How are geochemists studying the distribution and transformations of these contaminants in the environment?
- How does arsenic and mercury contamination from mining affect human and animal populations in California?
Flyer: Mar15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Undamming Washington's Elwha River
by Amy East USGS Research Geologist
- Hear about river response to the largest dam removal in history.
- Causing disturbance as a means of restoration: how well does it work?
- Will legendary salmon runs return?
Flyer: Feb15flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Ten Years After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami:
How geology is reducing tsunami risk
by Bruce Jaffe, USGS Research Oceanographer
- Improvements in tsunamis warnings since the 2004 Indian Ocean devastation.
- Is California vulnerable to tsunamis?
- What is the geologic calling card of a tsunami?
- How does the geologic record foretell of future tsunamis?
- Lessons learned in Japan about the value of the geologic record of tsunamis.
- How did the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami save lives in the 2009 South Pacific tsunami?
Flyer: Dec14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Water, Nuts, and the Nation's Fruit Bowl:
California's Central Valley Hydrologic Science
by Claudia Faunt, USGS Hydrologist
- Using about 1% of U.S. farmland, California's Central Valley supplies 7% of the U.S. agricultural output (by value) -- 1/4 of the Nation's food, including about half of the Nation's fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
- Approximately 20% of the Nation's groundwater is pumped from the Central Valley aquifer system.
- The recent drought, land-use changes, and restrictions on surface-water flows have resulted in extensive pumping, large groundwater-level declines, and widespread land subsidence.
Flyer: Nov14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Wolf and Elk Diseases in Yellowstone: Lessons on emerging pandemics
by Paul Cross, USGS Research Wildlife Biologist
- What can diseases of wildlife tell us about the emergence of human pandemics?
- Why is a bacterial disease expanding to animals beyond the Greater Yellowstone area?
- How are diseases affecting Yellowstone wolves?
Flyer: Oct14Flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Ground Shaking in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake: A view from 25 years later
by Brad Aagaard, USGS Research Geophysicist
- What factors controlled the variability in ground shaking in the earthquake?
- Will the ground shaking in future earthquakes display similar patterns?
- Hear about the advances made in recording ground shaking over the past 25 years.
- Learn how USGS uses this information to quickly assess the impact of earthquakes.
Flyer: Sep14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
A personal retrospective of the first 50 years
by Michael H. Carr, USGS Planetary Geologist
Hear stories about --
- Canyons, volcanoes and floods on Mars.
- Shifting ice floes on Europa's ocean.
- Rivers of methane on Titan.
- Perpetual volcanism on Io.
Things we want to know --
- Is there/was there any life out there?
- Human missions: why and when?
Flyer: Aug14Flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Ecological Value of Coastal Fog
-- Cooling relief and nebulous forecasts for northern California
by Alicia Torregrosa, USGS Physical Scientist
Did you know:
- The Moss Beach/Montara area north of Half Moon Bay is the foggiest place in the San Francisco Bay Area?
- Summertime fog in northern California depends on ocean conditions from Tahiti to Alaska?
- The presence of coastal fog is critical to maintain biodiversity?
- Fog water can be harvested by meshes that mimic desert dune grasses?
- New satellite sensors are among many new tools for ecologists and resource managers to understand fog dynamics?
Flyer:July14Flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Into the Abyss:
Living Without Light
by Nancy Prouty, Research Oceanographer
- As archives of natural and human activities, deep-sea corals are windows to the past.
- Scientific studies of these slow-growing and long-living animals lead to good stewardship for healthy ecosystems.
- Deep-sea coral communities are biological hotspots that are among the most diverse and productive on Earth.
Flyer:June14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Endangered Desert Fish to Human Hepatitis E2>
The diversity of USGS fisheries research has wide ranging applications
by Jill Rolland, Western Fisheries Research Center Director
- Recovering Cutthroat Trout in California
- River restoration and fish repopulation
- Endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon
- Using a fish virus as a model for Hepatitis E in humans
- Fish disease in the Yukon and implications from climate change
Flyer: May14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
by Thomas L. Holzer, USGS Research Geologist
In a Crowded World
- Why have there been so many catastrophic earthquakes at the beginning of the 21st century?
- The history and future of earthquake death tolls, and the urbanization of the planet.
- The modern megacity, and its vulnerability to natural hazards.
Flyer: April14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Preparing for California Climate Change
Climatologists Look Back and Peer Forward
By Dan Cayan, USGS Climate Change Researcher
- Climatologists are using observational history, climate and earth system physics and computer modeling to develop plausible scenarios of California's changing climate.
- How much will California's climate warm in future decades, and what are the greatest vulnerabilities to climate change?
- Experts are investigating how climate change might impact resources that are crucial to the state, including the Sierra Nevada snowpack, California coastal sea levels and the San Francisco Bay/Delta.
Flyer: Mar14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami
By George Plafker, USGS Geologist Emeritus
- March 27th, 1964, one of the most violent earthquakes of all time rocked southern Alaska.
- More than 50,000 square miles of the state was tilted to new elevation, and the resulting property damage disrupted the state's economy.
- Within 24 hours, a team of USGS geologists conducted scientific and engineering investigations, to help advise with the reconstruction effort.
Flyer: Feb14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Yellowstone Volcano: Past, Present and Future
Monitoring the sleeping giant beneath Yellowstone National Park
By Jake Lowenstern, Scientist-in-Charge, Yellowstone Volcano Observatory
- What's all the buzz about -- is the Yellowstone area really dangerous?
- Learn about Yellowstone's amazing geological history
- What's happening now with earthquakes, hot springs, and steam explosions?
- Hear how scientists monitor Yellowstone and other volcanoes to forecast future eruptions
Flyer: Jan14flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Is "THE IMPOSSIBLE" Possible in the Pacific Northwest?
-- Coastal Community Tsunami Hazards and Risk
By Nathan Wood, Geographer
- The movie "The Impossible", currently showing in theaters, portrays the destruction of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
- Recent tsunami disasters in the Pacific Ocean testify to their destructive power -- are similar events likely in the Pacific Northwest?
- Geographic research is helping to understand the risk, assisting planners with developing effective emergency response plans
- Which coastal communities are at greatest risk, and what can be now to prepare for future Cascadia tsunamis?
Flyer: feb13flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Exploring the Earth's Crust
--Seismology Uncovers Hidden Secrets Beneath our Feet
By Walter Mooney, Geophysicist
- During the past century, scientists have dissected the outer layer of our planet with bold scientific investigations revealing the deep properties of the Earth's crust
- Scientific creativity has fostered innovation in field measurements from the Tibetan Plateau to the deep Pacific Ocean, and beyond
- New insights are providing clues to processes that have been shaping the Earth during the past 4.5 billion years
Flyer: Jan13flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Colorful South Pacific Species
by Robert Fisher, Research Biologist
--New Discoveries and Looming Threats
- Exciting discoveries are spurring research to uncover hidden secrets deep within South Pacific tropical forests
- A scientific expedition roaming the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea recently discovered a new species dubbed the "bumblebee" gecko
- Some Pacific Islands species are endangered, while others pose emerging threats to nearby wildlife and ecosystems
- How are scientists studying these species, and what are herpetologists finding while studying Pacific lizard biodiversity?
Understanding Climate-Wildlife Relationships
by USGS Research Ecologist Erik Beever
-- are American pikas harbingers of changing conditions?
- American pikas are denizens of rocky talus and lava-flow habitats in mountain ecosystems across western North America
- Mountain environments, cauldrons of climatic harshness, exhibit sharp topographic, vegetative, and climatic gradients
- Pikas are providing scientists with a model for assessing species vulnerability to warming temperatures
- Are other species and indicators in the animal kingdom equally sensitive to changing climate conditions and warming temperatures?
Flyer: November Flyer
Exploring Mars With Curiosity
by Ken Herkenhoff, USGS Astrogeology Science Center
- The Mars Science Laboratory rover "Curiosity" landed successfully on August 5th to
begin its 23 month mission
- What have scientists discovered so far, particularly with respect to the geology of the
Gale crater landing site?
- Instruments aboard Curiosity are searching for evidence of environmental conditions
that could support microbial life
- How are dust and rocks analyzed and studied to learn about the role of water in
forming the Martian landscape?
Pacific Nearshore Ecosystem Mysteries
by USGS Research Wildflife Biologist James Bodkin
--from kelp forests to fisheries, sea otters aid in studying ocean vitality
- Nearshore marine ecosystems face unprecedented challenges, regionally and globally, with threats from adjacent lands and oceans
- Sea otter populations are experiencing reduced rates of increase across much of their range
- Scientists are evaluating the status of north Pacific nearshore ecosystems from southern CA to southwest Alaska looking for clues about processes influencing the sea otter and the nearshore environment
- New technology is being used to study nearshore food webs, define the effects of adjacent watersheds, and demystify sea otter behaviors
Global Food Security in the 21st Century
by Prasad Thenkabail, Research Geographer
--the increasing need for food production, cropland areas, and agricultural water
- Worldwide demand for food will require more than one billion hectares of new cropland to feed 9 billion plus people by 2050
- Presently, of all the water used by humans over 70% goes towards agriculture to produce food in most countries
- Remote-sensing from space will provide crucial data for policy development affecting croplands and their water use
- Social scientists recognize global food security as a primary requirement for human advancement, overall health, and peaceful coexistence.
Flyer: Aug12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Wind Energy and Wildlife
by Manuela Huso, Research Statistician
-- the challenges of wind-energy development and wildlife conservation
- Wind-power development in the United States is increasing exponentially, with proposals to provide 20% of the country's total power by 2030.
- High numbers of bird and bat carcasses at some wind farms have raised concerns about the environmental effects of this rapidly expanding industry.
- Why don't simple counts of carcasses beneath turbines provide reliable estimates of fatality?
- What tools are scientists developing to accurately estimate wildlife fatalities and help identity options for monitoring and mitigation?
Flyer: July12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Scanning the Seafloor with Sound
--modern sonar reveals hidden hazards and resources
by David Finlayson, Marine Geologist
- The USGS seafloor mapping program supports scientific studies across most marine disciplines, including geologic mapping, mineral exploration and environmental characterization.
- See dramatic, colorful imagery of underwater features presented using modern 3-D processing software
- Learn how state-of-the-art sonar systems are being used by marine geologists and oceanographers to interpret and study the seafloor in unprecidented detail
Flyer: June12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Exploring The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
-- a Centennial perspective of the Novarupta-Katmai eruption, the largest of the 20th century
By Judy Fierstein, USGS
- 100 years ago on June 6, a 3-day explosive eruption at Novarupta on the Alaska Peninsula created the spectacular Katmai caldera and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, called the eighth wonder of the world by early explorers.
- Why has this area remained scientifically important for 100 years, and what insights does it still offer about earth processes that shape our world?
- USGS geologist and noted Novarupta-Katmai expert Judy Fierstein will describe the excitement and rewards of conducting geologic fieldwork in this remote and wild setting
Flyer: Katmai Volcano Flyer (Acrobat PDF)
Restoring the Wild Heart of South San Francisco Bay
--The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project
By Laura Valoppi, Lead Scientist
- This is largest Western U.S. coastal wetlands restoration project, encompassing 15,100 acres of former salt ponds around the edge of South San Francisco Bay
- The project will restore and enhance South Bay wetlands for endangered species and migratory birds while providing flood management and wildlife oriented public access and recreation
- USGS multidisciplinary science is guiding the restoration effort, providing an integral part of the adaptive management process being used to restore this area over the next 50 years
- Scientists are conducting studies in avian and invertebrate biology, water quality, hydrology, geomorphology, and chemistry to better understand the wetland ecosystem
Flyer: may12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
--building an earthquake early warning system for California
by Doug Given, USGS Earthquake Early Warning Coordinator
- Millions of Japanese citizens received advance warning of the 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake -- can such a system be built for use in California?
- University researchers and government agencies are working together to create an Earthquake Early Warning system in California to reduce earthquake losses
- April is Earthquake Awareness Month in California -- how could you and your family best prepare for severe ground shaking using 30 seconds of advance warning?
Flyer: april12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Projected Climate Change Impacts in California
--the consequences of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases
Tom Suchanek, USGS Western Ecological Research Center Lead Scientist and Climate Change Coordinator
- How will decisions that the global
community makes about emissions likely
affect the future of the western U.S.?
- How will rising sea level likely affect
coastal human communities and
vulnerable ecological systems along the
- What might changes in atmospheric
CO2 concentrations mean to human
land-use and environmental systems
throughout California, and the San
Francisco Bay Area?
- What might Sierra snowpack, sensitive
fire regimes, and species distributions look
like in our children's and grandchildren's
Flyer: mar12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Mapping a Flood..... Before it Happens
-- the new USGS FloodPath early warning system
By Marijke van Heeswijk, USGS Hydrologist
- Historically, floods have been the most destructive natural hazard in the Nation
- The USGS and National Weather Service have developed an early warning system that produces online maps of tomorrow's floods today
- The new USGS FloodPath system maps a forecast flood 3 days before it happens, showing when and where floodwaters will be and the likely water depths
Flyer: feb12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Lassen Volcanic National Park
--a wonderland of volcanoes and thermal features
By Patrick Muffler, Geologist Emeritus
- Lassen Peak, the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range,explosively erupted in 1915, devastating nearby areas and raining volcanic ash as far away as 200 miles to the east
- Lassen National Park, in addition to prominent volcanic areas,contains the most spectacular array of thermal features in the Cascade Range including fumaroles, bubbling mud pots, and a boiling lake
- A new USGS map shows volcanic centers in unprecedented detail,enabling development of products to better evaluate and assess regional volcanic hazards
Flyer: jan12flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
2011 Video Archives
Tracking Ongoing Kilauea Eruptions
by Matthew Patrick, USGS, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
- Spectacular Kilauea eruptions have produced a summit lava lake, roiling for several years, and a flank eruption recently sending lava flows downslope to threaten residential areas
- How do USGS scientists monitor and track subsurface molten rock movement, measure the state of volcanic unrest, and forecast eruptions?
- Hawaiian volcano "plumbing systems" force deep molten magma into subsurface reservoirs, through eruptive fissures, and onto the surface to form large lava flows
Colorado River High-Flow Experiments
- a story of Grand Canyon geology, water, and biology
by Jack Schmidt & David Rubin
- New insights from recent Glen Canyon Dam high-flow experiments on the Colorado River
- Are these high flows doing more than building large sand bars in Grand Canyon National Park?
- The challenge of adaptively managing a highly regulated river
- USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center: www.gcmrc.gov
USGS Science for a Changing Bay Area
by Patrick Barnard and William Ellsworth
-- a special USGS public lecture celebrating the inaugural Bay Area Science Festival
- USGS scientists will be
speaking about current Bay
Area research, including
recent discoveries beneath
Bay waters and the latest on
earthquake research. The
scientists will be presenting
information in non-technical
terms for the general public.
Following the speakers, a
"video theatre" will feature
two award-winning USGS
products, "Delta Revival" and
"Wetland Revival", on scientists working to restore San
Understanding Migratory Connectivity in a Changing Climate
by Susan Haig, Wildlife Ecologist
- Scientists are studying global migratory animal movements throughout their annual cycles to improve conservation efforts
- Changing climate conditions have accentuated this need, as species movements and their ranges are fluctuating every year
- Technology being used to study the migratory patterns ranges from leg bands to satellite telemetry and isotopic markers
- The USGS and the Smithsonian Institution have partnered to form the Migratory Connectivity Project to address this issue
Tracking the Nation's Groundwater Reserves
by William Alley, USGS Office of Groundwater
--issues facing current and future water supplies
- Ground water is among the Nation's most important natural resources, providing half of our drinking water as well as being essential to agriculture and industry, and the health of ecosystems throughout the country
- During the past 50 years, groundwater depletion has spread from isolated pockets to large areas in many countries throughout the world
- What are the issues involved, how much groundwater do we have left, and are we running out?
- Scientists are discovering more about where our Nation's groundwater resources are most stressed, and where they are most available for future supply
Through the Lens of Time
by Robert Webb, Hydrologist
Repeat Photography in an Era of Global Change
- Repeat photography remains an essential and cost-effective technique for scientists and researchers working to track and study changing environmental conditions
- Scientists worldwide are exploring methods to apply this technique in various important research areas in the natural sciences
- Studies of global change using repeat photography include many diverse areas such as geomorphology, ecosystems and landscapes, as well as demographics and land-use practices
Flyer: aug11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
How is San Francisco Bay Doing?
by Jim Cloern, Senior Research Biologist
discoveries from 4 decades of studies
- San Francisco Bay is in a continual state of change.
- Drivers of change include:
- residiual effects of the Gold Mining era
- the 1972 Clean Water Act
- urbanization of the landscape
- transoceanic shipping
- damming of rivers
- a 1999 climate shift across the North Pacific
Flyer: july11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Exploring California's Amazing Seafloor
--the visionary California Seafloor Mapping Program
by Sam Johnson, USGS Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
- California Seafloor Mapping Program
- California's Ocean faces unprecedented challenges from climate change, ecosystem degradation, coastal development, and geologic hazards
- The collaborative California Seafloor Mapping Program is providing the resources and scientific expertise for an exciting new phase of multidisciplinary research and a comprehensive high-resolution,bathymetric, geologic, and habitat base map for all of California's coastal waters
- New mapping technology is being used to delineate areas for marine ecosystem protection and restoration, refine nautical charts, develop models of sediment dynamics, improve natural hazard assessments, and evaluate sites for offshore energy
- Can new exploration and development meet future high-tech industry needs for these materials?
Flyer: june11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Future of Rare Earth Elements
by Keith Long, USGS Mineral Resource Analyst
--Will these high-tech industry elements continue in short supply?
- Rare earth elements provide critical material for flat-panel display screens, cell phones, electric cars, windmills, etc.
- Although relatively abundant in nature, deposits of rare earth elements that are economic to mine are uncommon
- China produces 96% of the world's rare earth elements but severely restricts their export
- Can new exploration and development meet future high-tech industry needs for these materials?
Flyer: may11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
by Susan Hough, USGS Seismologist
--updating earthquake prediction--fact vs. fiction
- Although scientists were optimistic about earthquake prediction in the 1970s, reliable short-term prediction has remained an elusive goal
- What have seismologists learned from recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Japan?
- Great strides have been made in earthquake forecasting, and to a large extent damaging earthquakes are predictable
- Active fault zones have been identified where damaging earthquakes are inevitable -- possibly within our lifetimes
Flyer: april11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Unraveling the Mystery of Avian Navigation
New research indicates that birds are listening to the landscape to find their way
By Jon Hagstrum, Research Geophysicist
- For nearly 40 years, biologists have been unable to agree on how birds find their way over great distances during homing or migrational flights
- Do birds use their olfactory senses, the Earth's magnetic field, or low-frequency acoustic (infrasonic) signals to navigate by?
- New findings indicate that birds use infrasonic signals radiated from the land surface for navigational purposes during their journeys
- Perplexing behavior by birds observed during experimental releases can be readily explained by the influences of topography and atmospheric variations on the propagation of infrasound
Flyer: mar11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Is Our Coast in Jeopardy?
-predicting the impact of extreme storms on the California Coast
By Patrick Barnard, USGS Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
- Extreme storms are expected to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change
- The USGS has developed the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) for predicting the impact of extreme storms hitting the California Coast
- CoSMoS provides an increased understanding and prediction of coastal flooding, erosion, wave heights, current strength, and cliff failure along the California coastline
- Ultimately, the model could contribute to real-time warning system used by emergency managers, lifeline operators, and recource managers
Flyer: feb11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Capture and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide to Mitigate Global Warming
Is Sequestration Necessary? Can We Do It at an Acceptable Total Cost?
By Yousif Kharaka, USGS National Research Program
- Combustion of fossil fuels currently releases approximately 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere annually
- Increased anthropogenic emissions have dramatically raised atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the last 100 years
- There is broad scientific consensus that global warming, and resulting climate changes, are caused mainly by increases in atmospheric CO2
- Geochemistry of CO2 sequestration: Recent results and remaining major technical and environmental challenges for successful geologic storage
Flyer: jan11flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Forecasting Volcanic Eruptions in Alaska
by Stephanie Prejean, USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory
-- the contrasting stories of two recent spectacular eruptions
- Alaskan volcanoes erupt frequently and violently. However each eruption is preceded by a unique set of geophysical precursors.
- Eruptions of Redoubt and Kasatochi volcanoes highlight the challenges of doing real-time science in remote environments
- Volcanic hazards and the impacts of eruptions vary widely, but all eruptions provide scientists with real-time, providing grounds for USGS research
- Successful response to reuptions requires an understanding of Earth physics and close cooperation between government agencies
Silicon, Software, and Science
by Rian Bogle, Remote Sensing Specialist
Monitoring the Earth's Landscape with Low-Cost High-Tech
- The USGS is one of the world's largest providers of remote sensing data, employing the best tools and techniques to expand our knowledge of the Earth.
- Working with low-cost field and aerial imaging technologies, together with emerging technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles, wireless sensor networks, and light detection and ranging systems, USGS scientists are developing new methods to provide earth scientists, land managers, and land-use planners with better information about our environment.
- The USGS is developing and testing new systems, sensors, and methodologies, while fostering critical domestic and global partnerships to fully utilize the rapidly evolving science and technology of remote sensing.
Dam Removal in the Pacific Northwest
by Jonathan Warrick, Research Geologist
- a new tool for river restoration
- Dams provide water supply, power generation and flood control, but they have finite life spans and can disrupt river and coastal ecosystems.
- Removal of two large dams on the Elwha River of Washington in 2011 will be the largest dam removal project ever.
- Will removing the dams aid the recovery of the once flourishing salon runs on the river?
- Dam removal will release 10's of millions of cubic meters of sediment, which may help restore river spawning and reduce coastal erosion.
The Great Missoula Floods & Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
by Richard Waitt, Geologist
- a journey through the landscape of Earth's greatest floods
- Glacial Lake Missoula released scores of cataclysmic floods, sculpting the bizarre landscape of Washington's Channeled Scabland
- New video depicts the enormous 3-day flood releasing 500 cubic miles of water
- Floodwaters poured as deep as 1100 feet down Columbia Valley, carrying enormous boulders and icebergs
- Collaborative efforts have spawned the new Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail in the Pacific Northwest
Invasives and Wildfires in the West
by Julio Betancourt, Sr. Scientist and Desert Ecologist
New Crossroads in Science, Policy, and Management
- Exponential spread of non-native grasses is a pressing environmental issue in American Deserts
- Invasive grasses increased fuel continuity and large wildfires in desert scrub that previously experienced little or no fire
- Impacts include threats to biodiversity, conservation efforts, life and property, and local and regional economies
- Successful mitigation will need unparalleled collaboration among scientists, managers, policy makers and general public
Flyer: aug10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Looking Down On Our Planet
by Ron Beck, USGS Land Remote Sensing Program
New satellite imagery reveals a changing global surface
- Nearly 40 years of USGS satellite imagery shows dramatic changes earth's surface features
- Changing patterns of land use are seen in urban growth, clear cutting of amazon forests, and surface mining
- Landsat imagery monitors potential natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding and records the environmental impact of human disasters such as the Chernobyl incident and Deepwater Horizon oil spill
- Future satellite programs will provide scientists, planners, and managers with valuable information about our environment
Flyer: july10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Monterey Canyon - Superhighway to the Deep-Sea
USGS-MBARI Cooperative Oceanographic Research
By Charles K. Paull, Senior Scientist Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA
- Monterey Bay provides a diverse 4,000 meter-deep "laboratory" for both biologists and geologists
- Ocean studies are providing critical information on climate change, ecosystems, and environmental hazards
- New discoveries reveal how sediment travels to the deep ocean - the triggers, quantity, and timing of events
- Underwater vehicles assist in seafloor mapping and exploration
Flyer: june10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
The Heat is On: Desert Tortoises & Survival
Introduced & discussed by USGS Ecologist Todd Esque & Ken Nussear, Wildlife Biologist
A New USGS documentary video exploring the world of the mojave desert tortoise
- The Mojave Desert tortoise, an important indicator of desert ecosystem
health, is being threatened by habitat loss, predators, wildfire, and
- Population numbers have severely declined during the last 40 years,
raising survival concerns and driving recent recovery efforts
- Can scientists meet the challenge of providing the information required to reverse trends impacting the
habitat and wellbeing of the tortoise, and threatening extinction?
- The Heat Is On - Desert Tortoise & Survival, USGS General Product 98, Produced & Directed by Stephen M. Wessells
Flyer: may10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Large, Destructive Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile
by USGS Geophysicists, Walter Mooney & Eric Geist
Lessons Learned for the San Francisco Bay Area
- Why was the January 2010 magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti the 4th deadliest in history?
- What have scientists discovered from seismology, satellite observations, and field investigations?
- The Chilean magnitude 8.8 earthquake is the 5th largest ever recorded, generating a deadly tsunami-- what have we
learned from this mega-earthquake?
- Is the Bay Area prepared for the next large earthquake?
Flyer: april10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Changing Times-- A Changing Planet!
Using phenology to take the pulse of our planet
By Jake F. Weltzin, Executive Director, USA National Phenology Network
- Citizens, scientists and natural resources managers are teaming-up to track biological
events and cycles responding to changing climate
- Phenology is providing new insights into seasonal changes in response to global cliamte
- Scientists need phenology data to better understand the delicate interaction between plants
and animals, climate change, and future environmental health/li>
- Learn about the new animal monitoring system and how to participate in exciting USA-NPN activities
Flyer: mar10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
A Scenario of a Massive West Coast Storm
By Dale Cox, Project Manager, USGS Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project
- Scientists are preparing ARkStorm for emergency planning and disaster preparedness
- A series of "Atmospheric River" events slams into the West Coast with hurricane force overal several weeks
- Weather models show expected hazards such as floods, landslides, and erosion impacting life and property
- Storms of this magnitude are projected to become more frequent and intense as a result of changing climate conditions
Flyer: feb10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Coral Reefs, the 6th Extinction, and You
By Michael Field, Senior Marine Geologist
- Five major episodes of biological extinction have occurred on Earth during geologic time -- what caused these extinctions and why are they relevant today?
- Scientists are concerned that life on Earth may be facing a 6th major extinction, severely limiting the biodiversity of animals and plants -- why is this important to us?
- Coral reefs, one of the most diverse and important ecosystems on the planet, are thriving in many places but are threatened in many others -- a harbinger of things to come?
- If there is indeed a growing wave of extinction, what can you as an Êindividual do to help shape the future?
Flyer: jan10flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
2009 Video Archive
A New Generation of Maps
by Mark DeMulder, Director of the National Geospatial Program
Topographic Maps for the 21st Century
- December 5 marks the 125th Anniversary of the popular USGS topographic map, used by engineers and surveyors, industry, academia, and outdoor enthusiasts for reliably accurate information
- Starting December 3 the new US Topo maps will be available free on the Web at the USGS Store: http://store.usgs.gov. Each USGS Topo quadrangle is constructed in GeoPDF format from key Layers of geographic data found in The National Map
This new technology enables richer content, providing the user with more than a standard map
- The National Map provides a continuous evolution and incorporation of additonal data layers. For more information: http://nationalmap.gov
Geohazards in the Aleutian Islands
by Steve Kirby, Geophsicist, and Dave Scholl, Scientist Emeritus
Great Earthquakes, Great Waves, and Great Volcanic Explosions!
- The Aleutian Islands are discussed with respect to geology, climate
change, and the fates of sediments produced by mountain building and
- These islands, occupied by maritime indigenous cultures known as the
Aleuts for 9,000 years, lie over an active crustal subduction zone spawning
seven great earthquakes since 1895, resulting in several destructive
- Over a dozen catastrophic volcanic eruptions have occurred during
the time of the Aleuts, forcing cultural separation and differences
in Inuit and Aleut languages
- Continued research promises to uncover the Holocene prehistory of
such events and aid in future forecasting of mega-earthquake probabilities.
Paddling for a Purpose in a Troubled Sea
by Eric Grossman, USGS Tribal Journey Science Advisor
Sampling the Salish Sea During Tribal Canoe Journeys
- Deteriorating water quality in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia is causing population declines in valued species such as salmon, orcas, and a number of sea birds
- USGS scientists and the Coast Salish Peoples are blending science and tradition to sample water quality in ancestral waters along canoe routes during annual Tribal Journeys
- Water sampling will identify the extent and likely causes of poor water quality, possibly related to changes in land use and changing climate conditions
- Studying Puget Sound water quality is crucial for making informed decisions about balancing the needs of coastal ecosystems and human livelihood
Meeting the Challenge of the Loma Prieta Earthquake
by Jack Boatwright, USGS Seismologist
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake ended decades of seismic tranquility
in the San Francisco Bay region. It was considered then . as well
as now . to be a wake-up call for the region to prepare for potentially
even more devastating earthquakes. How well is the Bay Area prepared
for the next large earthquake?
- Learn what scientists now think happened during
the Loma Prieta earthquake
- How did this destructive event change scientific
thinking and influence Bay Area earthquake
- Future large Bay Area earthquakes are inevitable .
are we prepared?
The Future of Geothermal Energy
by Colin F. Williams, USGS Geophysicist
a discussion of present opportunities and future challenges
- A new USGS assessment of our
Nation.s geothermal resources
identifies favorable areas for
- Can geothermal energy help
satisfy the growing need for
.clean. energy sources?
- Seven western states are currently
generating electricity from geothermal
- Emerging technologies may dramatically
increase the potential for geothermal
Flyer: aug09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Restoring California's "Inland Sea"
by Lee Case, Chief Scientist, USGS Salton Sea Science Office
Status of efforts to restore the Salton Sea
- The Salton Sea is California's largest lake and has a surface elevation about 230 feet below sea level
- The Salton Sea is a terminal lake - it has no outlets, inflows are principally from agricultural drainage, and its salinity not as mercury-contaminated is about 30% greater than the Pacific Ocean
- This "inland sea", a critical stop for migratory birds on the Pacific and Central Flyways, is used used by more than 400 species of birds
- Proposed water transfers will result in loss of aquatic aquatic and wetland habitat, increased salinity, and degraded regional air quality quality unless mitigation actions are taken
Flyer: jul09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Tracking Mercury from Ore to Organism
Mercury Cycling and Bioaccumulation
In a Mine-Dominated Ecosystem
By Tom Suchanek, USGS Western Ecological Research Center
- Nearly 300 abandoned mercury mines and prospects are found in the California Coast Range-- the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine at Clear Lake, CA is one of them
- Clear Lake is one of the most mercury-contaminated lakes in the world, but fish and wildlife there are not as mercury-contaminated as might be expected
- Learn about mercury concentration in the Clear Lake water column and sediments, mercury bioaccumulation in the food web, and which fish have mercury-contamination that exceeds recommended levels for consumption
Flyer: jun09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
SOILS, CARBON, and Global exCHANGE
by Jennifer Harden, USGS Soil Scientist
- Studying Arctic Changes during the International Polar Year
- Why soils aren't just for growing crops
- What does carbon have to do with global weather and climate?
- Balancing tradeoffs between the carbon cycle, econoic concerns, and the environment
- Making choices-- from household decisions to national policies
Flyer: apr09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
Can our Western Forests Take the Heat?!
Climatic change and the future of forests in the western United States
By Philip van Mantgem, Ecologist
- Tree death rates have more than doubled over the last few decades in old-growth forests of our western states, possibly reflecting increasing temperatures, with potentially serious consequences for wildlife, fire risks, and the global carbon cycle
- Rising regional temperatures have lengthened the summer drought, likely stressing trees and leading to higher death rates
- Is this alarming trend a harbinger of larger, more abrupt changes in our forests?
Flyer: mar09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
PETROLEUM IN THE ARCTIC:
Geology, Climate, and National Interests
By Donald L. Gautier, Geologist
- For better or worse, technological advances and diminishing opportunities elsewhere make the Arctic increasingly attractive to oil and gas exploration. Retreating polar ice, shifting ecosystems, and heightened development potential are vital issues to the nations of the Arctic, to petroleum companies, and to all concerned about the region's fragile environments.
Flyer: feb09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
February 19, 2009
* Special Guest Lecture *
A lecture by Martha A. Sandweiss on her latest book -
Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line"
By Martha Sandweiss, Princeton University
- After leading one of the four great surveys of the western U.S., Clarence King was appointed to be the first Director
of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1879. For thirteen years he lived a double life-- as the celebrated white
explorer, geologist and writer Clarence King, and as a black Pullman porter and steel worker named James
Todd. The fair, blue-eyed son of a wealthy China trader passed across the color line, revealing his secret to his
black common-law wife, Ada Copeland, only on his deathbed.
EXPLORING MARS: Geology, Climate Change and Prospects for Past Life
By Michael H. Carr, USGS Astrogeologist
- Data from a recent polar lander, two still active rovers
and three spacecraft in orbit are changing our
perceptions about how Mars evolved. What do
these new data imply for the prospects of past and present life?
Flyer: jan09flyer.pdf (Acrobat PDF)
2008 Video Archive
Gemstone Deposits of the United States
by Pete Modreski, USGS Gemstone Specialist
Commercial production - localities visited by mineral collectors
- Gemstones found in the United States include sapphire, opal, tourmaline, aquamarine, turquoise, amethyst, peridot, and many others
- More than a half-dozen states are known for their gemstones, including unusual and exotic varieties such as red beryl, benitoite, and sunstone
- The gem material produced in the U.S. having the greatest overall value, does NOT come from rocks . what is this valuable commodity?
- In how many states have diamonds have been found; which states have produced diamonds commercially?
Taking the Biological Pulse of Our Planet
by Jake Weltzin, NPN Executive Director
The USA National Phenology Network
- Phenology, an emerging integrated science, is combining government, university, and public knowledge to study seasonal cycles in the biosphere
- Recent findings in phenology are providing new insights into the timing of biological events and cycles in relation to changing seasons and global climate conditions
- Citizen scientists are contributing valuable information to Project BudBurst nationwide with backyard and field observations of nature
- Scientists are using phenology to study the effects of global climate change on the delicate interaction between plants and animals, and for predicting the future health of our environment
Prehistoric Packrat Piles --
by Kenneth Cole, USGS Research Ecologist
Archives of Climate Change
- Piles of ancient vegetation hoarded by packrats are providing clues to past events of rapid climate warming -- similar to those expected for the 21st century
- Preserved material shows the effects of three sudden warming events that occurred over the last 20,000 years
- Each historic warming event was followed by several thousand years of vegetation migration and succession
- Changes following these past warming events resemble some recently observed shifts in natural ecosystems, and can be incorporated into models of future ecosystems
Ready for the Next Big Bay Area Earthquake?
by Tom Brocher, USGS Seismologist
The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake was not the Bay Area's "Big One"
but a repeat of the destructive 1868 Hayward earthquake may qualify!
- The next large Hayward Fault earthquake will effect the entire San Francisco Bay Area - Are You Prepared?
- The Hayward Fault is the most urbanized active fault in the Bay Area. The fault crosses multiple freeways, major water pipelines, and BART runs parallel to and crosses the fault.
- A large earthquake on the Hayward Fault could impact more than 5 million people with $1.5 trillion in property damage.
- October 21st marks the 140th anniversary of the last large earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Are we due for a repeat?
How the Earth Copes with Our LUSTs
by Barbara Bekins, USGS Research Hydrologist
The amazing capabilities of subsurface life
LUST= Leaking Underground Storge Tank
- By some estimates, the total carbon in subsurface bacteria is nearly as large as the carbon in all surface plants
- Underground microorganisms are capable of biodegrading an array of industrial contaminants, including petroleum-based fuels
- In the late 1990s this knowledge was used to revise clean-up strategies for LUST sites
- There are more than 3,000 LUST sites in California-- more than 450 in the Bay Area
A Moroccan Adventure
by USGS Herpetologist Jeffrey Lovich and visiting Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakech) Professor Mohammed Znari
Searching for a blue-eyed turtle in the Sahara Desert
- See several ecoregions of central Morocco in a picturesque 1,000 mile journey
- Take a virtual tour from the
Atlantic coast through High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara Desert
- Learn about the only blue-eyed turtle in the world, found in a river flowing through the Sahara Desert
Cleanup on Aisle 9
Dave Stonestrom, USGS Research Hydrologist
The Long Lasting Legacy of Nuclear Waste
- Radioactive wastes:
- Where do they come from?
- How do we get rid of them?
- Once buried, do the wastes stay put?
- What are the risks of off-site migration?
- How does basic research inform decision making?
Michael Dettinger, USGS Research Hydrologist
- Increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases are linked to a rise
in global temperture of almost 1.5° F
- Is climate change already affecting Western lands and waters?
- What changes predicted by climate models are still to come -- when will they be here?
- Why is the West especially vulnerable, and California even more so?
The Hayward Fault in Google Earth
USGS scientists David Schwartz, Heather Lackey, Luke Blair, and Scott Haefner take you on a
virtual tour of the Bay Area's most urbanized fault
Visualizing Past, Present, and Future Earthquakes
- Explore the destructive 1868 Hayward earthquake and today's earthquake hazards using Google Earth
- Nearly 2.4 million people in the East Bay, critical infrastracture and lifelines, and large
public facilities are vulnerable to significant damage
- Scientists have estimated a high probability of a large earthquake on the Hayward Fault, the
single most dangerous in the entire Bay Area
- The next large Hayward Fault earthquake will affect the entire Bay Area, are you prepared?
A video production introduced and discussed by Steven E. Schwarzbach, Director, USGS Western Ecological Research Center
Restoring San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds to Wetlands Habitat
Nearly 15,000 acres of salt ponds in the southern San Francisco bay were purchased in 2003 for restoration
by a partnership of Federal, State, and nonprofit organizations
This new USGS video product documents how science is playing a crucial role in restoring these
wetland areas and shows that...
- ... USGS biologists, hydrologists, and geologists are playing a crucial role in restoring these salt
ponds through unprecendented restoration efforts
- ... endangered species including the California Clapper Rail and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
are expected to rebound as the salt marsh habitat returns
- ... restoration of wetlands habitat in the nations's most urbanized estuary faces many challenges but is important
for migration and wintering of waterfowl and shorebirds
Alaska's Rivers of Ice
USGS scientist Bruce Molnia, discusses the impact of
changing climate and conditions on Earth's glaciers
By Bruce Molnia, Geologist
See excerpts from this full-length film feature showing:
- How and where glaciers form
- How scientists study glaciers and climate
- The processes of glacial erosion and deposition
- Glacial ecosystems and ice worms
- The role glaciers play in global sea level change
The Indonesian Mud Crisis
Long-lived mud "eruption" inundates housing and infrastructure
By Thomas J. Casadevall, Geologist
In May, 2006 hot, dark mud appeared from a fissure covering more than 10 square kilometers, displacing more than 30,000 people. The ongoing mud extrusion has also damaged or broken important transportation and communication infrastructure, displaced an oil pipeline, caused the closure of numerous factories, and impacted agricultural development.
The USGS was invited for a fact-finding visit to assess the ongoing geological, social, economic, and political issues associated with the mud extrusion.
2007 Video Archive
Exploring Antarctica's Frozen Frontier
The USGS Antarctic Program from the 1957 International
By Jerry Mullins, Coordinator, USGS Antarctic, Arctic and Canadian Programs
Geophysical Year to the 2007 International Polar Year
and John Behrendt, USGS Geophysicist Emeritus
- Learn about USGS surveying and
mapping of "The Frozen Continent"
- Discover how geophysical surveys
reveal what lies beneath the ice
- Hear how the United States officially
names Antarctic geographic features
- Why does the geographic South Pole
survey maker need repositioning?
- See the new high resolution Landsat
Satellite Image Map of Antarctica
Disasters, Dust, .... and Danger?
Using geoscience to help understand whether health risks lurk in particles produced by disasters
By Geoff Plumlee, Research Geochemist
- Valley Fever outbreak following the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake
- World Trace Center collapse
- Hurricane Katrina flooding
- 1996 Marinduque, Philippines, mine tailings spill
Fire As An Ecosystem Process
Past, Present, And Future
By Jon E. Keeley, Research Ecologist
- Plants have evolved over hundreds of millions of years with fire.
- Are human-induced changes threatening naturally fire-prone ecosystems?
- How has human suppression of fire affected different ecosystems?
- Will predicted climate changes affect future fire-management decisions?
A Tale of Two Kelp Forests
Sea Otters and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Aleutians and the Commander Islands
By Tim Tinker, Research Biologist,
University of California, Santa Cruz
Sea otter populations in the central and western Aleutian Islands have declined by 75-95% over the past 15-20 years, while populations in the nearby Russian Commander Islands have remained roughly stable. There are no obvious environmental explanations for these disparate patterns, as the archipelagos are physically and biologically quite similar. Because of the differing population trajectories and the role of sea otters as keystone predators, the two kelp forest ecosystems that were once very similar are now quite different. What has caused these differences?
Dark Holes in Muir's "Range of Light"
Insights from southern Sierra Nevada caves and karst
By John C. Tinsley, Geologist
- Water long ago carved many caves in carbonate rocks of the Sierra Nevada
- As the Sierra (John Muir's "Range of Light") was uplifted, successively deeper caves were drained and decorated during the past 5 million years
- Vertical arrays of caves document the progressive uplift and erosion in Kings Canyon
- Lilburn Cave, with 21 miles of passages, is California's longest
- New spectacular and pristine caves are still being discovered as recently as 2006
Plate Tectonics in Action
Exploring the Earth with the new edition of This Dynamic Planet map and Web site
By Robert Tilling, Volcanologist, and Stephen Kirby, Earthquake Geophysicist
- Improved digital data on the distribution of Earth's volcanoes, earthquakes, and meteorite impact craters
- Special maps of polar regions, showing topography beneath the ice sheets
- Informative articles, tables, and illustration on the back of the map
- A series of global images showing the "dance of the continents" through geologic time
- A companion Web site offering an interactive version of the map http://www.minerals.si.edu/tdpmap/
Adventures in Southwest Geology
Exploring the colorful southern Colorado Plateau in 3-D
By Philip Stoffer, Geologist
Take a colorful tour with the help of 3-D photography through some of the region's highlights:
- A plethora of parklands- Petrified Forest, Chaco Canyon, Wupatki, Grand Canyon
- High desert climate changes, past, present, and future
- Colorado River history: a river ran through it, but where?
- Desert life and death-- and dunes
- Earth history laid bare: volcanoes, mountain-building, erosion
Alchemy in the Abyss
Probing the mysteries of deep-ocean minerals
By James R. Hein, Marine Geologist
- Since President Reagan in 1983 extended U.S. mineral rights 200 nautical
miles offshore, interest in deep-sea mining has increased
- Massive sulfide deposits form rapidly at very hot ephemeral vents..black
smokers. and .white smokers.
- Slow-forming manganese nodules cover vast areas of the cold abyssal depths
- Cobalt-rich crusts form extremely slowly on the tops of extinct sunken
- The year 2009 may see the first commercial mining of deep-sea polymetallic
sulfides in Papua-New Guinea waters
How the 1906 earthquake shook up California and science
A presentation of the award-winning USGS Video Shock Waves introduced
by David Schwartz, Earthquake Geologist
- The 46-minute film Shock Waves includes dramatic historical footage, colorful animations, and interviews with earthquake experts
- Shock Waves received recognition as an outstanding documentary at the 2006 Telly Awards and has been nominated for an Emmy
- The catastrophe of the great 1906 quake spurred a century of progress in earthquake science and engineering
- Current and future research includes drilling through the San Andreas Fault at depth in the SAFOD Experiment
- Learn what can you do to reduce the risk to yourself and your family
Piecing together the story of a giant meteorite crater beneath the Atlantic coast
By David S. Powars, Geologist, and R.D. Catchings, Geophysicist
- Buried under Chesapeake Bay is a very well preserved impact structure 56 miles across and more than 2 miles deep
- Following clues from drill holes and seismic imagery, careful detective work in the 1990's identified this ancient buried crater
- When a meteorite 2 miles in diameter slammed into what was then ocean, it instantly blew out a crater 7 miles deep, splashed water and debris 30 miles up, and spawned tsunamis thousands of feet high
- Long-mysterious glass stones ("tektites") found in the eastern U.S. and the Caribbean are now recognized as ejecta from the Chesapeake Bay impact
- After 35 million years, the landscape, drainage patterns, and underground water in the Chesapeake Bay area are still affected by the impact event
Riding the Storm
Landslide Danger in the Bay Area Hills
Peter Lyttle, National Landslide Hazards Program Coordinator,
will introduce the USGS premiere of the documentary
Riding the Storm by Karen Adams. A question-and answer session
with the producer, USGS researchers, and residents
featured in Riding the Storm will follow.
- A catastrophic 1982 rainstorm
triggered 18,000 landslides in
the Bay Area, claiming 25 lives
and causing $66 million in
- The combination of steep slopes,
weak rocks, and intense winter
storms make Bay Area uplands
an ideal setting for landslides
- Landslides include both swift,
potentially deadly debris flows
and slower, but destructive deepseated
- Learn what USGS scientists have
discovered about landslide
dynamics and which slopes are
most susceptible to sliding
- Hear the devastating stories of
Bay Area residents affected by
landslides and learn to recognize
the danger signs
The Hidden World of the Golden Gate
How tides, currents, and humans have created an array of sea-floor features
By Patrick Barnard, Marine Geologist, and Peter Dartnell, Physical Scientist
- A century of technical advances allow scientists to identify and visualize spectacular sea-bottom features
- Recent collaborative research outside the Golden Gate found that 100 million cubic yards of sediment disappeared in the past 50 years
- Swift, powerful tidal currents have scoured the Golden Gate down to bedrock and moved massive amounts of sediment
- Giant sand waves near the Golden Gate reach 30 feet in height and more than 700 feet in wavelength
- Why is the sediment in this area mostly from local sources, while farther out to sea are masses of sediment derived from erosion of the Sierra Nevada?
2006 Video Archive
The Mojave National Preserve
by David Miller, Geologist and John Nimmo, Soil Hydrologist
Geology and Water Shape Desert Plant Communities
- One of the largest units in the National Park System, the Mojave National Preserve was established in 1994
- The Preserve encompasses great sand dunes (including "singing sands"), young volcanic features, forests of Joshua trees, and fields of wildflowers
- Maps of the surface geology can predict the distribution of vegetation types
- How do the different ways soils accept rainwater affect plant communities?
- Learn how USGS researchers are modeling the relations of geology, water, and desert plants
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Drills, Spills, and Chills
by Ken Bird and Rick Stanley, Geologists
The inside story on USGS estimates of Alaskan oil and gas resources
- See the basic elements of a petroleum system.where the oil comes from and where it goes
- USGS resource assessments in Alaska have a long history and have changed over time
- Learn how the newest and best scientifi c research methods are used to prepare oil and gas estimates
- Find out what the USGS estimates really mean and how are they are applied to land-use decisions
- The North Slope (including Prudhoe Bay, NPRA, and ANWR) and the Yukon Flats area provide contrasting case studies
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
The Parkfield 2004 Earthquake
by Andy Michael, Geophysicist
Lessons From the Best-Recorded Quake in History
- To record high-quality measurements
close to a large earthquake, the
right instruments have to be in the
right place at the right time
- Such a convergence happened, for
the fi rst time ever, on September
28, 2004, when a magnitude 6
quake struck the San Andreas
Fault near Parkfield, California
- The fault at Parkfield is monitored
by a dense and diverse network
of instruments designed to record
events before, during, and after a
quake (the Parkfield Earthquake
- Parkfield was chosen for this
experiment because a magnitude
6 earthquake had struck that area
every two or three decades since
at least 1857
- New data from the 2004 event
provide important lessons about
earthquake processes, prediction,
and the hazards assessments
that underlie building codes and
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
by Randall T. Hanson, Research Hydrologist
Surface-water and ground-water flow in the Santa Clara Valley
- What has deep drilling in
the valley found about
- A new computer model
improves our understanding
of water-flow patterns
- Learn how underground
water makes the ground
rise and fall--is the valley
- Why is our ground water
so remarkably clean?
- Uncontrolled artesian
wells were once a nuisance
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Hidden Faults Under Silicon Valley
by R. D. Catchings, Geophysicist
Do new discoveries change our view of Santa Clara Valley earthquake hazards?
- Seismic profiles have revealed the valley.s deep structure and previously unknown faults
- Earthquakes and seismic reflection images suggest some reverse faults beneath the valley that
are not seen at the surface
- The disastrous 1994 Northridge earthquake occurred on a hidden fault like those now known to
underlie Silicon Valley
- Deep sedimentary basins on both sides of the valley can greatly amplify earthquake shaking
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Uncovering Silicon Valley
by Victoria E. Langenheim, Geophysicist
Weaving a tale of three sedimentary basins
- Geophysical probing
reveals the geology
under Santa Clara
- What does the new
3-D view tell us
about the San
- How does this affect
- Was the strong 1865
by a thrust fault
- Significant movement
on the Silver Creek
Fault may have
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Geology on Conveyor Belts
By Russ Graymer, Geologist
New ideas on Bay Area evolution from a decade of geologic mapping
- What was the Bay Area like during the Age of Dinosaurs?
- Learn about the distant origins of some rocks seen around the bay
- Hear how the San Andreas fault system has rearranged the region.
- Volcanoes in Berkeley?
- 3-D geologic mapping yields new ideas about active Bay Area faults- what.s next?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
What Lies Beneath?
By Richard G. Stanley, Geologist
Concealed sedimentary basins and hidden oil under Silicon Valley
- Before computers and cubicles there were orchards-- and a few oil wells, too
- Learn about the "oil boom" in Los Gatos about 100 years ago
- See how historical records from old oil wells, together with modern scientific
studies, reveal the hidden geology beneath the urban landscape
- Is there more oil to be found here?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
California's Greatest Fault
By Carol S. Prentice, Geologist
How historical data from 1906 have shed light on the San Andreas Fault
- What insights are gained from merging original 1906 observations and
field notes with today's earthquake science?
- Data collected during and after the catastropic 1906 earthquake prove to be essential to-
- determine the fault's slip rate in the Fort Ross area,
- map the fault through
Peninsula housing developments, and
- provide a better understanding of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
The Great 1906 Earthquake
By Mary Lou Zoback, Seismologist (and Chair of the Steering Committee,
1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance)
Lessons learned, lessons forgotten, and future directions in earthquake science
- The 1906 California
disaster taught us
- the San Andreas
Fault is a continuous
nearly the length of
- earthquakes are a
recurring process, not
- shaking is most
intense on "made
- much of the damage
to buildings is related
to construction style
- The elastic-rebound
theory came from
studies of the 1906
event--how is this
theory used today
- Why, so long after 1906,
do we still have--
- so many unreinforced
- development sited on
"made land" and soft
- New understanding
and new technology
promise a bright
future for earthquake
Science and Natural Resources
By Floyd Gray, Geologist
along La Frontera
- Natural systems-water, geology,
and wildlife-tend to cross the
1,900- mile-long arbitrary political
border between Mexico and the
- Rapid population growth on the
U.S. side and in Mexican border
cities is creating a variety of
and human health problems
- The San Pedro River, which flows
from Mexico into Arizona, is now
the most studied river in the U.S.
- One goal of joint U.S.-Mexican
studies is to combine and complete
geologic mapping of the
entire border at uniform scale and
Serving California's Needs
HOW THE CALIFORNIA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY IDENTIFIES AND MAPS NATURAL HAZARDS,
PROMOTES THE STATE'S ECONOMY, AND PROTECTS PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
By George J. Saucedo and Keith L. Knudson, Geologists
- Hear about the rich and productive
125-year history of the
California Geological Survey (CGS)
- Major emphases of CGS work
are mapping the geology, assessing
mineral resources, and reducing
risk from natural hazards
- CGS products and services enhance
the quality of decisionmaking
by local government, business,
and the public
- CGS cooperative programs
with the USGS include Trinet
and ShakeMaps for earthquakes,
SCAMP for geologic mapping
- In October, CGS relocated
their Bay Area office to the
USGS in Menlo Park, incorporating
the former USGS Map
and Publication Sales (ESIC)
and adding the full line of CGS
2005 Video Archive
Frozen in Time
by Todd Hinkley, Geologist
How Ice Cores Are Revealing the Composition and Temperature of Earth's Atmosphere During the
Past Million Years
- Scientifically invaluable ice cores taken from Antarctic and Arctic ice are stored and
safe guarded at the U.S. National Ice Core Laboratory, operated by the U.S. Geological Su
- These ice cores are the only systematic record of the composition (including "greenhou
se" gasses) and temperature of the Earth's atmosphere over the past million years
- The ice cores show that most of Earth's geologically recent climate history has been
characterized by great instability and rapid,
extreme swings of temperature, beyond anything we have experienced in historical times
- These ice cores are our only source of information about natural, pre-industrial levels
of toxic trace metals and other substances deposited from the atmosphere into the world's
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Shifting Shoals and Shattered Rocks--
by John Chin and Florence Wong, Geologists
HOW MAN HAS CHANGED THE FLOOR OF SAN FRANCISCO BAY
- San Francisco Bay is one of the world's finest natural harbors and a major
center of maritime trade
- All ships visiting bay ports are funneled through the central bay
- Bedrock knobs that rise from the central bay floor have been repeatedly
blasted to accommodate vessels of increasingly deeper draft
- Sediment dredged from harbors and shipping channels has been disposed
of on the bay floor
- Since the early 1900s, the bay floor has been mined for sand and gravel
- New tools are allowing scientists to create detailed views of the bay floor,
revealing changes that man has made since the Gold Rush
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
by Susan Hough, Seismologist
The Very Long Reach of Very Large Earthquakes
- How did the 1992 Landers
quake in the remote Mojave
Desert change scientists'
thinking about earthquake
- What is the explanation
of the 1906 San Francisco
reported in Arizona?
- How do large
quakes shake up
distant faults and
volcanic areas ?
- Are new theories
of earthquake interactions
- Do large earthquakes have a
long reach on human cultures
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
A Crack in the Edge of the World
by Simon Winchester
America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
- The international bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Kra
katoa vividly brings to life the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that leveled a
city symbolic of America's relentless western expansion. Simon Winchester has also fashion
ed an enthralling and informative look at the tumultuous subterranean
world that produces earthquakes, the planet's most sudden and destructive force.
- In the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, San Francisco and a string of towns to i
ts north-northwest and the south-southeast were overcome by an enormous
shaking that was compounded by the violent shocks of an earthquake, registering 8.25 on th
e Richter scale. The quake resulted from a rupture in a part of the San
Andreas fault, which lies underneath the earth's surface along the northern coast of Calif
ornia. Lasting little more than a minute, the earthquake wrecked 490 blocks,
toppled a total of 25,000 buildings, broke open gas mains, cut off electric power lines th
roughout the Bay area, and effectively destroyed the gold rush capital that
had stood there for a half century.^M
- Simon Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities -- as well as his unique
understanding of geology -- to this extraordinary event, exploring not only what
happened in northern California in 1906 but what we have learned since about the geologica
l underpinnings that caused the earthquake in the first place. But his
achievement is even greater: he positions the quake's significance along the earth's geolo
gical timeline and shows the effect it had on the rest of twentieth-century
California and American history.
- A Crack in the Edge of the World is the definitive account of the San Francisco
earthquake. It is also a fascinating exploration of a legendary event that changed the
way we look at the planet on which we live.
Toxic Mercury in Aquatic Ecosystems
by Mark Marvin-DiPasquale, Microbial Ecologist
Why Quality Trumps Quantity
- Different mercury sources generate different forms of mercury with different environmental consequences
- Learn how mercury is transported and transformed in air and water, and how it ultimately accumulates as toxic methylmercury in wildlife and humans
- How do mercury-methylating bacteria react with "new" mercury from atmospheric deposition and with "old" mercury from remobilized sediments?
- Why are fish in Florida's Everglades as contaminated with mercury as those in San Francisco Bay, even though total mercury inputs are much higher in the Bay?
- How do differences in landscape and vegetation type affect mercury cycling and bioaccumulation pathways?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
A Delicate Balance
by A. Keith Miles and John Y. Takekawa, Wildlife Biologists
Salt Ponds, Wetland Restoration, and Wildlife in San Francisco Bay
- Nearly 15,000 acres of salt ponds were purchased in 2003 for restoration by a partners
hip of Federal, State, and non-profit organizations
- How important are the salt ponds for migration and wintering of waterfowl and shorebir
- Restoration of wetland in the Nation\x92s most urbanized estuary faces many challenges
- Will it be possible to manage concentrated salts, low dissolved oxygen, and toxicity o
f sequestered mercury as pond levees are opened?
- Restoring wetlands while controlling invasive species, such as smooth cord grass, may
prove very difficult
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
By Eric L. Geist, geophysicist, Bruce E. Jaffe, oceanographer, and Brian F. Atwater, geologist
Lessons and Questions from the Indian Ocean Disaster
- What do computer animations reveal about transoceanic tsunamis?
- What varied marks of its force and height did the December 26 tsunami leave in the coa
- Why did waves 100 feet high strike norhtern Sumatra in December, while low-lying Bangl
adesh was spared?
- Can a Sumatra-size tsunami occur on the U.S. Pacific coast?
- What is the tsunami threat to central California, and how is this region getting prepa
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
By Judy Layzer, MIT Political Scientist, and Herman Karl, USGS Earth Scientist
The Impact of Science on U.S. Climate-Change Policy
- Why have science and scientiests had so little impact on U.S. climate-change policy?
- Hear about the present implications of past societal collapses resulting from climate
- Can citizens and scientists work together to find creative and durable solutions to th
e climate-change crisis?
- Learn how flood-management projects in the San Francisquito watershed may be affected
by climate-change policy
- How can programs like the MIT-USGS Science-Impact Collaborative help thaw the deep fre
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Research Ecologists Cecil Schwalbe and Todd Esque will introduce
the 2003 USGS video Sonoran Desert: Fragile Land of Extremes,
present an update on recent research, and answer your questions.
Fragile Land of Extremes
A video presentation and discussion
- Learn about the fantastic biodiversity in North America's lushest desert
- The venomous Gila Monster is turning out to be a medical miracle
- Why is the saguaro cactus, icon of the Sonoran Dessert, going up in smoke?
- Scientists hop to it!--to help the lowland leopard frog face the challenges
of fire, flood, drought, and disease
- What can we do about the threat posed by buffelgrass, an aggressive invasivespecies fr
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Earthquakes at the USGS
Ross Stein, representing the USGS Earthquake Hazards Team
Blowing the Lid off Seismic Science for 40 Years
The Parkfield earthquake of 1966 launched a torrent of research at the USGS in Menlo Park. With the San Andreas Fault as a backyard lab and global earthquakes as a guide, the USGS has changed the landscape of earthquake science in:
- MAKING RAPID EARTHQUAKE ASSESSMENTS
- PROMOTING PUBLIC SEISMIC SAFETY
- DISCOVERING NEW AND HIDDEN FAULTS
- MEASURING FAULT STRESS AND STRAIN
- IMPROVING SEISMIC ENGINEERING
- UNDERSTANDING GROUND SHAKING
- FORECASTING FUTURE EARTHQUAKES
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Commotions in the Oceans
William R. Normark, and
USGS Shipboard Research Sparked Scientific Advances
David W. Scholl, Marine Geologists
- Alaskan work from the Survey's M/V Eider in the 1950's led to visualizing how great earthquakes and tsunamis originate along trenches
- In the 1970's, researchers discovered deep-sea "black smokers" and the Survey's R/V S.P. Lee found massive sulfide deposits on the Juan de Fuca Ridge
- USGS scientists on the R/V Farnella confirmed and mapped humongous submarine landslides off Hawaii's coasts in the 1980's
- Extensive international Pacific Ocean expeditions of the Lee in 1982-84 yielded a rich harvest of discoveries, including sea-floor cobalt concentrations
- Where we are heading-what are the challenges for future discoveries in the oceans?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
When Rocks Fall and the Land Slides
By Gerald F. Wieczorek, Geological Engineer, and
Hear why California makes an ideal environment for landslides North face
Raymond C. Wilson, Landslide Geologist
- Hear why California makes an ideal environment for landslides North face
- Learn about rock falls, debris flows, and other landslides Rocks fall
- There have been more than 500 documented rock falls and other slope failures in Yosemite National Park what triggers these? How do park rangers deal with this hazard?
- John Muir gave a remarkable account of an 1872 rock fall in Yosemite Valley
- Large rock falls in Yosemite can generate air blasts potentially dangerous to campers and hikers
- How did ancient glaciers help create the rock-fall hazard in Yosemite? ascent
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Deciphering an Estuarine Ecosystem
By John Conomos, Scientist Emeritus
Years of San Francisco Bay Studies
- USGS research in the Bay system began in the 1960s with a
search for underwater earthquake faults
- In the 1970s, the research team expanded to cover studies
of water properties and quality, water mixing and flow, and
- Early scientifc findings clashed with assumptions behind
massive and unbridled modifcations of the Bay system and served to
stimulate much public debate
- The USGS Bay research program and its scientists became
renowned-- they have set the standards for the study of estuaries
- Thirty-five years of scientifc data and publications form a
unique resource for decisions by legislators, planners, and coastalzone
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
2004 Video Archive
by Robert L. Christiansen and
Robert I. Tilling, Volcanologists
Advances in Understanding and
Coping with their Hazards
- The development of plate tectonic theory in the 1960s shed new light on the origins of volcanoes
- Mount St. Helens' spectacular 1980 eruption stimulated much productive new research
- Frequent eruptive activity in Hawaii provides a natural laboratory for understanding active volcanoes
- Deciphering "lifestyles" of volcanoes helps to assess their hazards and mitigate risks
- A unique USGS volcano "SWAT" team deals with volcano crises around the world
- What might the future bring--in volcanic eruptions and in our understanding of them?
Plane Tables to
by Susan P. Benjamin, Research Geographer
The Revolution in Mapping
at the U.S. Geological Survey
- Mapping the United States in the 19th century was arduous, dangerous
work; flash floods, bears, and bandits were just a few hazards
- By the mid-20th century, aerial photography, photogrammetry, and
stereophoto pairs, allowed technicians to map land-elevation contours
without fifi eld visits
- The "art" of cartography has evolved from hand scribing to computer
digitization and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- Satellite, airborne, and other remote-sensing technologies have
greatly improved the acquisition of map data
- The Internet has revolutionized map availability--many maps are
now available on-line; some are customizable from your computer
Hot Oil, Frozen Ground,
by George Gryc, Arthur Lachenbruch, and
Robert Page, Scientists Emeriti
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline story--
so far, so good!
- The 1968 discovery of North America.s largest oil fi eld on the
Arctic coast posed the challenge of an 800-mile pipeline to
carry hot oil across mountains, rivers, and the giant Denali Fault
- The oil industry's plan was to bury the hot pipeline, even through extensive tracts
of permafrost (frozen ground)
- After USGS scientists raised the alarm about hazards to the pipeline and the environment,
a USGS working group set performance requirements for the pipeline
- Redesign of the pipeline--elevated over ice-rich permafrost and set on "sliders"
across the Denali Fault--delayed the project 2 years and increased its cost from
$900 million to $8 billion
- When the Denali Fault slipped 14 feet under the pipeline in a powerful 2002 quake,
the design worked--no oil was spilled!
- The story of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has been a complex battle of scientific,
economic, safety, environmental, and political concerns--what lessons can we
learn from it?
The Winemaker's Dance
by David G. Howell, Geologist Emeritus
and Wine in Napa Valley
- Does a glass of wine really contain 100 million
years of geologic history ?
- How did continental glaciation help shape
the Napa Valley's soils?
- Are the hills in Napa Valley that help control
its microclimates really megalandslides?
- What effect will global warming have on the
- If "2-buck chuck" is drinkable, why bother
with a $100 bottle of wine?
- Do wine critics play a role in influencing the
"quality" of wine?
Featuring the new award-winning
USGS video Precipice of Survival.
The Southern Sea Otter by Stephen
Wessells, introduced and discussed
by sea otter researchers including
Alisha H. Kage and M. Tim Tinker,
What is the Future of the Southern Sea Otter?
- The southern subspecies of sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, is a keystone
organism in the kelp forests along the California coast
- One of the otters' favorite foods is sea urchins, which feed on the kelp-hence
changes in the otter population affect all levels of the ecosystem
- The species Enhydra lutris originally was found all the way around the North
Pacific, from Baja California to Japan, and may have numbered half a million
- The southern subspecies was thought to be extinct in the early 20th century,
but a tiny colony was found off Big Sur in the 1930's and has since expanded to
about 2,500 animals along our coast
- In the 1990's, otter numbers off California began to decline again--but why?
Secrets in Stone
Presentation of the award-winning USGS video "Secrets in Stone" (35 minutes), introduced by Jack Hillhouse,
Research Geophysicist, and followed by a tour of the USGS Paleomagnetics Laboratory
The Role of Paleomagnetism in the Evolution of Plate Tectonic Theory
- Crucial discoveries in the early 1960.s were made in a "tar-paper shack" at the
USGS Menlo Park campus
- Learn how the old idea of .continental drift. was surprisingly revived by these
discoveries and woven into the new theory of plate tectonics
- Hear about the strange behavior of the Earth.s magnetic field: drift and occasional
reversals of North and South poles
- Do we know when the next flip (reversal) of the Earth's magnetic field will happen?
- Tour the USGS Paleomagnetics Laboratory (Building 16 - see map on back) after the
presentation and learn about the current research taking place there. All welcome.
From Strawberry Fields to the Ozone Layer
By Laurence G. Miller, Biogeochemist
The Methyl Bromide Story
- Methyl bromide (CH3Br) is an important agricultural
pesticide widely used in growing
strawberries and other field crops
- Methyl bromide---much of it from natural
sources---is one of the gases contributing to
destruction of Earth's ozone layer
- No single replacement has been identified for
its use in the strawberry fields
- USGS research discovered bacteria that metabolize
methyl bromide and so could help
save the ozone layer
Delta Revival -- Restoration of a California Ecosystem
Ecologist Jim Cloern will introduce the video Delta Revival, produced jointly by the USGS and the CALFED Bay-Delta Authority.
Video presentation and discussion
USGS Scientists wil answer your questions about this documentary, which shows:
- biologists, chemists, physical scientists, and engineers working together
to solve a complex environmental problem,
- team-based science learned form 3 decade of studies in San Francisco
Bay and applied to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem,
- the joy of scientific discovery, and
- how new scientific discoveries can guide future ecosystem restoration.
Science, Society, and the Survey
By David G. Howell, Geologist
50 Years of the USGS in Menlo Park
Hear about some of the scientific highlights from 1954 to 2004 --
- The search for strategic minerals
- Exploring the high seas
- The birth of astrogeology
- Advancing the theory of plate tectonics
- From topo maps to digital GIS
- Predicting volcanic eruptions
- Monitoring the health of San Franscisco Bay
- Understanding earthquake hazards
Mapping the American West
By James G. Moore, Geologist
Clarence King and the 40th Parallel Survey
- After completing a geology degree at Yale and coming West in a wagon train, Clarence King worked with the California Geological Survey and was in the field party that discovered Mount Whitney
- King led the United States Geological Exploration of the 40th Parallel (1867-79), which mapped topography and geology along a 100-mile-wide strip across Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming
- King discovered the first known glaciers in the U.S., exposed the .great diamond hoax. of 1872, and wrote "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada", a book that became a classic in western writing
- In 1879 Clarence King became the founding Director of the U.S. Geological
Survey, the Nation.s first civilian government science agency
- King's enduring legacy includes excellence in combining mapping of geology and topography and supporting geologic field work with a full range of laboratory studies
Life and Death of Hawaiian Coral Reefs
By Michael E. Field, Marine Geologist & Curt D. Storlazzi, Coastal Oceanographer
New Studies Track the Life Cycle of Maui's Changing Reefs
- How are coral reefs changing, and why is it a
- Agents of change on Maui's reefs have both natural
and human causes
- Coral eggs and sperm released during remarkable
spawning events are tracked using current
drifters and satellites
- New information is unraveling the ecological connection
between separated reefs on different
- Coral reefs may face serious future challenges
related to changes in climate and sea level
Roving Around Mars
By Devon M. Burr & Michael H. Carr, Planetary Geologists
Adventures in Exploring the Red Planet
- January 2004 will see two NASA rovers land on Mars to analyze rock and soil and measure environmental conditions
- By January, a European Mars probe and a Japanese orbiter should also be studying the planet's surface
- Share the excitement and intensity of running the rovers and interpreting the data they return
- Learn about the bizarre routine of scientists who wear "Mars watches" and work on Mars time
- Will these missions tell us finally whether Mars ever had oceans of water.or even life?
2003 Video Archive
WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ALASKA'S GLACIERS?
by Bruce F. Molnia, Research Geologist
Their Dynamic Response to Changing Climate and Other Factors
- Although the oceans contain more
than 95% of the Earth.s water, glaciers
hold 75% of the fresh water
- If all the world's glaciers melted, sea
level would rise more than 250 feet
- Of Alaska.s 2,000 or so large glaciers,
more than 99% are now retreating
- Photos taken decades apart at Glacier
Bay reveal the dynamic evolution
of the glacial landscape
- Why are Alaska's glaciers now
contributing more water to raising
sea level than Antarctica and other
CLEAN POWER FROM THE EARTH'S HEAT
by John Sass, Geophysicist
The Present and Future of Geothermal Energy
- Since ancient times, people have sought out geothermal hot springs for bathing, cooking, and supposed healing effects
- In Iceland, nearly half the electrical power and all space heating are derived from geothermal sources
- For Iceland and other volcanic regions of current volcanism, large-scale generation of geothermal energy is a viable, environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels
- Did you know that Northern California has the world.s largest electricity-generating geothermal development?
- Geothermal heat pumps can provide cost-effective space heating and cooling, almost anywhere
Beneath Crater Lake
by Charles R. Bacon, Geologist
An underwater volcanic landscape tells a complex tale
Visualizations presented by David W. Ramsey, Geologist
- Crater Lake, a jewel of the National Park system, partly fi lls a caldera
basin formed during a giant volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago
- Deepest of all U.S. lakes, Crater Lake has no surface outlet.how does
its fresh water leave the lake?
- Cooperative studies by USGS, National Park Service, and university
scientists have probed the lake's secrets
- New high-precision echo sounding and GPS navigation techniques
"strip away" the water to reveal volcanoes, lava deltas, and giant
Human Footprints on the Web of Life
by Robert N.Fisher, Research Zoologist
Biodiversity and Increasing Population and Development in California
- Why does California lead the country in endangered
species--why are so many reptiles and
amphibians in decline?
- Learn about the California lizard that keeps Lyme
disease in check and the butterflies that prevented
development on San Bruno Mountain
- California faces growing economic costs from fire
ants, Asian clams, and other aggressive
- The megamouth shark occurs off our coast, but
was not discovered until 1976--what else do
we still not know?
- How will California's spreading asphalt
(already 5 million acres) affect
future biodiversity? Thursday
Featuring the award-winning USGS video Molten Paradise-Kilaea Volcano by Stephen Wessells, introduced and discussed by Robert I. Tilling, Volcanologist
Video Presentation and Discussion
- The dramatic nonstop Pu'u O'o eruption, now entering its 21st year
- Rivers of glowing lava flow through underground tubes
- Scientists collect samples of molten rock hotter than 2000 F
- Lava ooze and drip down sea cliffs into the surf
- Scientists explain how volcanic eruptions built the Hawaiian Islands
The Quakes, They Are A-comin'--
By Michael Blanpied, Geophysicist
New Estimates of Earthquake Hazard and Risk Across the Bay Region
- A USGS-led Working Group has used new ideas about Bay Area faults and earthquakes
to revise the probabilities
for future quakes
- The slow movement of the Earth.s plates builds up stress that is relieved in violent earthquakes.where are we now in this relentless cycle?
- Earthquakes can.t yet be predicted, but scientists can estimate probabilities of their occurrence
- New scenario ShakeMaps provide a guide to expected shaking and damage from future quakes
The National Map -- Coming to Your Neighborhood!
By Ken Osborn, Cartographer
Integrating and Sharing Geographic Information in the Public Domain
- Begun by the USGS in 2001,
The National Map is a 10-year
vision for a seamless, constantly
updated, national geospatial
- This vast public database will
be continually updated through
local partnerships, selectively
printable, and available on the
Internet and at neighborhood
- Implementation projects --such
as the Lake Tahoe and Sacramento
benefi ts of integrating high-resolution
- With the current focus on homeland
security, datasets for 10
U.S. urban areas are scheduled
for completion this year, at a
resolution of 0.3 meter (1 foot)
- Because many printed maps
are more than 20 years old, The
National Map will be of great
value for multiple uses, including
planning, disaster response,
By Keith A. Kvenvolden, Geochemist
Methane and the Future of Natural Gas
- The Earth--or "Gaia," the Earth Goddess
of Ancient Greece-- exhales more than 1
million tons of methane each day
- Mud volcanoes around the world emit
about 5 million tons of methane each year
as part of Gaia's breath
- Energy sources used by society have
evolved from wood to coal to oil and
natural gas.soon possibly to hydrogen
extracted from natural gas?
- Gas hydrate--"ice that burns"--found
under the sea and in permafrost regions,
is a potential future source of energy
Is Your Neighborhood Going Downhill?
By Raymond C. Wilson, Landslide Geologist
How Landslides Threaten Bay Area Lives and Property
- Landslides-the underrated
hazard-cost the Nation billions
of dollars in property
- How do our local geologic
conditions make the Bay
Area an ideal habitat for
- El Nino storms or other heavy
rains can activate dormant
- Recent Bay Area landslides,
such as Devil's Slide (1995),
Polhemus Road (1997), La
Honda (1998), Mission Peak
(1998), and Daly City (1999),
remind us of the danger
- What makes certain kinds of
By Michael H. Carr, Planetary Geologist
Recent Discoveries and Upcoming Missions
- Thirty years of Mars exploration have
revealed a spectacularly diverse
- Dry river valleys and layered sediments
suggest a warm, wet past
- Huge f oods may have created transient
- Towering volcanoes, deep canyons,
and global fracture systems dwarf
their counterparts on Earth
- Two US rovers and a European lander,
to be launched this May and reach
Mars in January 2004, are expected
to shed new light on how the planet
2002 Video Archive
Hawai`i's Volcanoes--- Never a Dull Moment !
by Don Swanson,Volcanologist, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
20 Years of Eruption at Kilauea and Waiting for Mauna Loa
- Kilauea's Pu'u O'o-Kupaianaha eruption, which began on January 3, 1983, is already the volcano's longest rift eruption in at least 600 years
- Lava has destroyed 8 miles of highway and 189 structures,
while covering more than 40 square miles, and adding more than 500 acres to the Island of Hawai'i
- In addition to lava, Kilauea each day emits more than 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide gas--an irritant and possible health hazard
- After 18 years of quiet, 13,677-ft-high Mauna Loa began
swelling again in May 2002--when will it erupt?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
What is a Butterfly Worth?
by Alicia Torregrosa, Geographer and Ecologist
Challenge of Making Economic Estimates for Biodiversity
- How can we best strike a balance
between vineyard development
and wildlife in the Napa Valley?
- Geographic Information System
(GIS) facilitates comparing the
"apples and oranges" of endangered
species and the value of
- Linking GIS layers and models
gives them added meaning and
- Such data layers are part of biodiversity
software being developed
- This software will help decisionmakers
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Plumbing the Mysteries of the San Andreas Fault
By Stephen H. Hickman, Geophysicist
Deep Drilling to Test Fundamental Theories About Faulting and Earthquakes
- Scientists will make measurements, obtain samples and place instruments
directly within the fault at a depth of 2.5 miles, creating the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD)
- SAFOD's instruments will continuously measure fluid pressure, deformation, temperature, and seismic shaking through multiple earthquake cycles
- A 1.4-mile-deep pilot hole drilled this summer is already providing
earthquake data; Congressional approval is pending for the deeper SAFOD hole
- Data from these drill holes are providing a third dimension to the ongoing Parkfield Earthquake Experiment (see http://quake.usgs.gov/research/parkfield)
- Learning what really happens in the fault zone before, during,and after earthquakes will help scientists betterpredict the timing and severity of future quakes
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Healing the Redwood Creek Watershed
by Mary Ann Madej, Geologist
Successes and Failures in a Large-scale Watershed Restoration Program
- Can we undo the effects of decades of logging and road-building
on salmon habitat and redwood forest?
- The Redwood Creek restoration program in California--one of
the Nation.s largest and longest-running watershed projects--
was begun nearly 25 years ago
- What do agencies like the National Park Service actually do to
restore a watershed?
- The large 1997 floods in the Redwood Creek area provided the
first real test of the restoration efforts
- What lessons have been learned at Redwood Creek that can be
applied to restoring other disturbed watersheds?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Revealing the Hidden World Beneath Monterey Bay
by Steve Eittreim, Marine Geologist
Explore the diverse features on and below the sea floor in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
- Drowned bedrock pinnacles
that provide shelter for rockfish
- Earthquake faults that slice
through the sea floor
- New, highly detailed views of
the tortuous Monterey Canyon
- About buried former seacliffs
now 40 meters below sea level
- About Monterey Bay.s muds
that are migrating toward San
- About the value and importance
of a marine sanctuary
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Beyond the Golden Gate
by Herman A. Karl, Marine Geologist, and Edward Ueber, Director, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Oceanography, Geology, Biology, and Environmental Issues In The Gulf of the Farallones
- Learn about the complex marine geology offshore from the San Francisco Bay region
- Hear the story of the 47,000 barrels of radioactive waste that were dumped
near the Farallon Islands.and how they were found
- Has the highly radioactive aircraft carrier USS Independence, scuttled
somewhere in the Gulf in 1951, been located?
- The Marine Sanctuaries are facing the challenges of protecting
complex and diverse marine ecosystems adjacent to
densely populated metropolitan areas
- Why is the Gulf of the Farallones a favorite
habitat for great white sharks?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Finding Elusive Earthquake Faults
By Richard J. Blakely, Geophysicist and Ralph A. Haugerud, Geologist
New Mapping Techniques Reveal Potential Seismic Sources Beneath Seattle
- Geophysical methods reveal "the landscape
beneath the landscape"
- Why does the Seattle Fault exist, and why is
it so hard to locate and map?
- LIDAR imagery can depict faults and other
geologic features hidden under dense forest
- Learn how geologists unravel and translate
the stories concealed in landscapes
- Does the research in the Seattle area have
implications for other urban areas?
(Adobe Acrobat PDF)
LOSING THE RACE FOR SURVIVAL?
Kristin H. Berry, Desert Ecologist
The catastrophic decline of the desert tortoise in California
- Learn about the unique social behavior and fragile ecology of
the desert tortoise, some of whose populations have declined
by 70-90% in the past 20 years
- Why is this fabled creature sometimes referred to as the
"Methuselah of the Desert"?
- What is the importance of this species, already listed as
Threatened (and perhaps soon as Endangered), in the desert
- How can tortoises reproduce when females lay eggs only in the
spring and males have viable sperm only in the late summer?
- How have human activities influenced the increasingly
important role of diseases in tortoise mortality?
For additional information on the USGS Evening Public Lecture Series please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org