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Federal News

FEMA Awards $187,500 Grant to Gasper Township: Hazard Mitigation funds will be used to construct a tornado safe room

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 16:33

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released $187,500 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Gasper Township, Ohio, for the construction of a safe room at the Boys Scouts of America’s Woodland Trails Camp in Preble County.

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200 Years of Magma at Kīlauea Volcano Described in New Book

USGS Newsroom Technical - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 15:00
Summary: A new book that summarizes the Kīlauea magma system is now available online, with printed copies to follow soon

Contact Information:

Thomas Wright ( Phone: 301-365-2287 );



Professional Paper 1806: Two Hundred Years of Magma Transport and Storage at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaiʻi, 1790–2008

ISLAND OF HAWAIʻI, Hawaiʻi — A new book that summarizes the Kīlauea magma system is now available online, with printed copies to follow soon.  The U.S. Geological Survey monograph summarizes the evolution of the internal plumbing of Kīlauea Volcano on the Island of Hawaiʻi from the first documented eruption in 1790 to the explosive eruption of March 2008 in Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. 

For the period before the founding of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in 1912, the authors rely on written observations of eruptive activity, earthquake swarms, and periodic draining of magma from the lava lake present in Kīlauea Caldera by missionaries and visiting scientists. After 1912 the written observations were supplemented by continuous measurement of tilting of the ground at Kīlauea’s summit and by a continuous instrumental record of earthquakes, both measurements made during 1912–56 by a single pendulum seismometer housed on the northeast edge of Kīlauea’s summit. Scientific interpretations become more robust following the installation of seismic and deformation networks in the 1960s. A major advance in the 1990s was the ability to continuously record and telemeter ground deformation to allow its precise correlation with seismic activity before and after eruptions, intrusions, and large earthquakes.

In Kīlauea’s 200-year history, USGS scientists and authors of the new volume, Thomas Wright and Fred Klein, identify three regions of the volcano in which magma is stored and supplied from below. Source 1 is at 1-km depth or less beneath Kīlauea’s summit and fed Kīlauea’s summit lava lakes throughout most of the 19th century and again from 1907 to 1924. Source 1 was used up in the series of small Halemaʻumaʻu eruptions following the end of lava-lake activity in the summit collapse of 1924. Source 2 is the magma reservoir at a depth of 2–6 km beneath Kīlauea’s summit that has been imaged by seismic and deformation measurements beginning in the 1960s. This source was first identified in the summit collapses of 1922 and 1924. Source 3 is a diffuse volume of magma-permeated rock between 5 and 11 km depth beneath the east rift zone and above the near-horizontal fault at the base of the Kīlauea edifice. 

Kīlauea’s history can be considered in cycles of equilibrium, crisis, and recovery. The approach of a crisis is driven by a magma supply rate that greatly exceeds the capacity of the plumbing to deliver magma to the surface. Crises can be anticipated by inflation measured at Kīlauea’s summit coupled with an increase in overall seismicity, particularly manifest by intrusion and eruption in the southwest sector of the volcano. Unfortunately the nature of the crisis—for example, a large earthquake, new eruption, or edifice-changing intrusion—cannot be specified ahead of time. The authors conclude that Kīlauea’s cycles are controlled by nonlinear dynamics, which underscores the difficulty in predicting eruptions and earthquakes.

Highlights of interpretations for the period prior to 1952 are:

• Prior to and including 1924, major subsidence events include draining of the deep magma system identified beneath Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone. 1924 is the last such occurrence.

• A massive intrusion on the lower east rift zone preceding the 1924 phreatic activity at Kīlauea’s summit stabilized the south flank and the present magmatic system.

• The 1952 eruption was preceded by deep earthquakes associated with the magma supply path from the mantle resulting in the beginning of a steady increase in magma supply rate extending to 2008.  A large earthquake swarm on the offshore part of Kīlauea’s south flank in the months before the 1952 eruption ushered in the modern era of seaward spreading.

Interpretations in the post-1952 period are based on connecting events over a far longer time period than the duration of any one person’s tenure on the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staff.

Highlights are:

• Kīlauea’s shallow magma system is envisioned as a small molten core surrounded by a partially molten matrix able to record both short- and long-period seismicity.

• Magma coming from the mantle enters the rift zone before it reaches the molten core and appears in rift eruptions before it is seen as a summit eruption.

• Earthquake swarms beneath Kīlauea’s south flank precede as well as succeed shallow intrusions, supporting the modern idea of deep magma pressure being exerted from beneath the East Rift Zone.

• Prior to the M7 south flank earthquake on November 29, 1975 south flank spreading was driven by Kīlauea’s magma supply. Following the earthquake the spreading rate was decoupled from the still increasing magma supply rate.

• The seismic signatures of “suspected deep intrusions” in the monograph are equated with similar signatures that characterize “slow-slip” or “silent” earthquakes. The occurrence of such events is inferred to extend as far back as the 1960s well before continuous geodetic monitoring could identify correlated spreading steps.

• Major changes in Kīlauea’s behavior, such as ends of long eruptions, large south flank earthquakes or changes in eruptive style are anticipated by increased seismic activity on the southwest side of the volcano. The nature of the coming event is not specified, which emphasizes the uncertainties in eruption and earthquake forecasting, even in an increasingly well-monitored, but yet imperfectly understood volcano.

Citation: Wright, T.L., and Klein, F.W., 2014, “Two hundred years of magma transport and storage at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai'i, 1790-2008,” U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1806, 240 p., plus 8 digital appendixes.

Appendices include yearly time-series seismic plots and map plots for all intrusion-related earthquake swarms covered in the text. Earthquakes are color-coded to indicate those preceding, during, and following the intrusion.

Ocean Warming Affecting Florida Reefs

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 14:22
Summary: Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey Increased Temperatures Spell Trouble for Corals

Contact Information:

Ilsa Kuffner ( Phone: 727-502-8048 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Researchers indicate that the warmer water temperatures are stressing corals and increasing the number of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae.  The corals can starve to death if the condition is prolonged.

“Our analysis shows that corals in the study areas are now regularly experiencing temperatures above 84 F during July, August and September; average temperatures that were seldom reached 120 years ago,” said Ilsa Kuffner, a USGS research marine biologist and the study’s lead author. “When corals are exposed to water temperatures above 84 F they grow more slowly and, during extended exposure periods, can stop growing altogether or die.”

The new analysis compares water temperatures during two time periods a century apart at two of Florida’s historic offshore lighthouses – Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, off Miami, and Carysfort Reef Lighthouse, off Key Largo, Florida. The first period included data from 1879 to 1912, while the second period spanned from 1991 to 2012. Temperatures at a third area, a reef off Islamorada, Florida, were also monitored from 1975 to 2007.

“What’s interesting is that the temperature increase observed during this recent 32-year period was as large as that measured at the lighthouses spanning 120 years,” said Kuffner. “This makes it likely the warming observed at the lighthouses has actually occurred since the 1970s.” 

The study indicates that August is consistently the month when Florida’s ocean temperatures peak. In the analysis of recent decades, average temperatures for August have been at or very close to 86 F.  At Fowey Lighthouse from 1879 to 1912, the average August temperature was just 84.2 F. Temperatures this August at the same location, though not included in the study, averaged 87 F. 

Coral bleaching is currently underway in the Florida Keys, highlighting the real-time impact that warmer ocean temperatures are having on reefs. Corals can recover from bleaching if the waters cool down within a few weeks, but mortality usually ensues if corals remain bleached longer than a month or two.

The study, “A century of ocean warming on Florida Keys coral reefs: Historic in-situ observations,” was recently published in the journal Estuaries and Coasts and is available via open access.  

FEMA Region 6 Urges You to “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare”

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 17:14

DENTON, Texas — September is National Preparedness Month, so the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 6 office is urging you to “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.”

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Region 6 Urges You to “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare”

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 17:11

DENTON, Texas — September is National Preparedness Month, so the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 6 office is urging you to “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare,” especially if you live along the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast.

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Categories: Federal News

When You See the Yellow School Bus, Think Preparedness

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 15:18

Eatontown, N.J. --  September is the time of year when those big yellow school buses start making their rounds, offering safe passage to school for millions of kids across the nation.

For parents, teachers and school administrators, keeping children safe and protected is a priority.

That’s why it’s important to let your children know that life may throw some surprises their way, but with a little planning and support, we can handle them.

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2013 Colorado Floods Federal Assistance Fact Sheet

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 13:45

<H2>Federal Agency Assistance Overview</H2>

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Research Shows Historic Decline in Pacific Walrus Population

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 13:00
Summary: The Pacific walrus population roughly halved between 1981 and 1999, the last year for which demographic data are available. A recent study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey quantifies this historic population decline

Contact Information:

Rebecca Taylor ( Phone: 907-786-7004 ); Chris Trent ( Phone: 703-648-4451 );



ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Pacific walrus population roughly halved between 1981 and 1999, the last year for which demographic data are available. A recent study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey quantifies this historic population decline. The 18 year decline identified by the study was not steady across that period. The decline was most severe in the mid-1980s, and then moderated in the 1990s. 

If the moderating trend has continued up to the present time then the population might be stabilized. That, however, cannot be determined until more recent data are collected and analyzed. USGS is working to obtain the data needed to close the gap from collection of the last demographic data to the present day. This information will be vital because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to determine whether the Pacific walrus should be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2017. Population dynamics, such as those investigated in this USGS study, will be a critical factor in the decision.

“We integrated data from many sources,” said lead author of the study research statistician Rebecca Taylor, with the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage. “These included annual harvest records, 6 age structure surveys and 5 population size surveys conducted at various times over the 32 year study. The age structure data—collected between 1981 and 1999—were particularly informative, and enabled us to quantify the population decline and the birth and death rates that caused it.”

Scientists think past walrus population dynamics were affected mainly by harvest. Previous work suggests the population probably increased rapidly in the 1960s due to reduced hunting and reached or exceeded the size that could be supported by food resources in the late 1970s to early 1980s.  The decline quantified by the USGS analysis was probably initiated by this overabundance of walruses and exacerbated by a return to the relatively high harvests of the 1980s.

“The decline probably was prompted by these historical reasons, but we can’t rule out other possible contributing factors,” said Taylor. “The environment isn’t static, and food may have become less available to walruses over time, possibly because of sea ice loss.”  Sea ice is important to walruses because they rest on it between dives to the ocean floor to eat clams and other invertebrates.

Taylor’s analytical approach allows the incorporation of new data to understand more recent population dynamics.  In 2013 and 2014, the USGS, USFWS and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game jointly surveyed walruses in Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea to estimate current age structures and test a new method of estimating population size using a genetic mark-and-recapture approach. Another survey is planned for 2015.

In 2011, due to the combined threats of harvest and sea ice loss, the USFWS determined that listing of the population as threatened under the Endangered Species Act was warranted but was precluded by higher priorities. The agency is under a court order to make a listing decision in 2017.

This research effort is part of the USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative. The results of this new study were published in the online journal Marine Mammal Science on September 5, 2014. 

For further information:

Multimedia Gallery links:

2013 Colorado Floods Public Assistance Fact Sheet

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:45
FEMA Public Assistance Program Overview (as of August 25, 2014)

The FEMA Public Assistance program provides funding for emergency actions undertaken by communities as well as aid to repair or replace damaged public infrastructure.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA’S GIS Team Uses High-Tech Tools to Help People

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:35

DENVER – When Colorado’s historic rains fell last September, help came quickly.

Resources went to areas that needed it most thanks, in part, to the innovative work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region VIII Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) unit in Denver.

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One Year After Historic Colorado Flooding: Disaster Unified Review Team Expedites Environmental Recovery

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 12:22

DENVER – One year after devastating historic flooding, a team of specialized recovery partners is working together in a unified approach to environmental and historic preservation. The top objective of the team is to help expedite long-term recovery in the Centennial State – and in ways that will also benefit recovery after future disasters.

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FEMA Hires Local Residents During Colorado floods

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:34

In the aftermath of the 2013 Colorado floods, FEMA and other agencies brought in personnel from all over the country to assist.   At the other end of the spectrum were 54 local residents that FEMA hired to support response and recovery efforts.  Following a disaster declaration, FEMA frequently hires local residents to work in various positions, augmenting existing staff.  By hiring locals, the agency gets a unique perspective and critical local knowledge.

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Arkansas and Louisiana Receive Nearly $2.5 Million in FEMA Preparedness Grants

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:47

DENTON, Texas — Fire departments in Arkansas and Louisiana and been awarded more than $2.49 million in preparedness grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In Arkansas, the grants total more than $1.3 million and cover a variety of items including:

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Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas Receive More Than $2.5 Million in FEMA Preparedness Grants

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 10:43

DENTON, Texas — Emergency management agencies in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas have been awarded more than $2.5 million in preparedness grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In Oklahoma, the grants total more than $1million and cover a variety of items such as:

• Firefighting equipment for the Blanchard Fire Department, the city of Ponca City, the Frederick Fire Department, the Hanna Rural Fire Association, the Marble City Volunteer Fire Association and the Grady County Fire Department;

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Endocrine Disruption May Make Fish More Prone to Disease

USGS Newsroom Technical - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 07:57
Summary: New USGS-led research suggests that fish exposed to estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals may have increased susceptibility to infectious disease

Contact Information:

Luke  Iwanowicz ( Phone: 304-724-4550 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );



LEETOWN, W.Va. -- New USGS-led research suggests that fish exposed to estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals may have increased susceptibility to infectious disease.

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can affect the reproductive system and cause the development of characteristics of the opposite sex, such as eggs in the testes of male fish. Wild- caught fish affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been found in locations across the county.  Estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals are derived from a variety of sources from natural estrogens to synthetic pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals that enter the waterways.

In this study, researchers discovered that cellular receptors for estrogen were present in cells of the channel catfish immune system, which alters the immune system response. These cellular receptors are similar to “on-off switches” that require a lock and key for activation. The study looked at channel catfish because of their well-researched leukocyte cell lines. Leukocytes are immune system cells involved in defending the body against infectious disease and foreign invaders.

Estrogens have been shown to modify immune system responses in mammals and a diverse group of ray-finned fishes that include tunas, halibut, herring and catfish. Most fish species are members of this group, called teleosts. Prior to this research few studies looked at how estrogen receptors in fish leukocytes function. 

The study also marks the first time the dynamics of estrogen receptor gene behavior has been evaluated in activated immune cells. Immune cells are either activated or not, much like a dimmable light, there are degrees of activation.   The researchers found that all cells of the immune system are not likely to be equally affected. 

“We found that B-cells that produce antibodies, T-cells that regulate and coordinate immune responses and destroy virus-infected cells, and macrophages that gobble up invaders, have different arrays of estrogen receptors,” said lead author, USGS research biologist Luke Iwanowicz. “It is likely that these cells are instructed by estrogens differently.”

Iwanowicz noted that this work moves researchers one step closer to better understanding the consequences of exposure to estrogenic substances on the immune function in fish.  “This new research not only means that endocrine disruptors may make fish more prone to disease, but it also provides the context and baseline data to enhance our ability to conduct similar work in wild-caught fishes and investigate relationships between disease in the aquatic environments and endocrine disruptors.”

Based on these findings, future research would explore age-related differences as well as seasonal differences in fish and estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.

The journal article, “Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) leukocytes express estrogen receptor isoforms ERα and ERβ2 and are functionally modulated by estrogens,” by L.R. Iwanowicz, J.L. Stafford, R. Patino, E. Bengten, N.W. Millerand V.S. Blazer, is available online in Fish & Shellfish Immunology.

Grant to Replace Obsolete Firefighting Equipment in New Jersey's Upper Deerfield Township

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 16:16

New York, NY, August 7, 2014 – Thirty-six self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) will replace outmoded equipment used by three regional fire companies in Upper Deerfield Township, in New Jersey’s northern Cumberland County, it was announced here today by Ms. Dale McShine, Director of Grants for Region II of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

The life-saving equipment will be provided through a grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), a FEMA program.  The federal grant’s value was $243,948; the local share was $12,197.

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Changing Weather in the Northeast Calls for Greater Local Preparation

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 16:00

FEMA and Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management Improve Community Disaster Resiliency through America’s PrepareAthon!

New York, NY – New York and New Jersey have seen their share of weather disasters in recent years. Based on recent experience and on current assessments of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the region is likely to endure continuing shifts in weather patterns, prompting a need for emergency management expertise, as well as community preparedness for severe weather.

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FEMA Releases Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Ocean County

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 15:00

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Friday, March 28, 2014, released Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Ocean County that reflect the latest refinements to the ongoing analysis of flood hazards. This release is the next step in the coastal Flood Insurance Study update. The Preliminary FIRMs replace the Preliminary Work Maps for Ocean County that were released in June of 2013 as an interim product.

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New York State Fire Training Facility Granted New, Fully Equipped Truck

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 14:32

Replaces 39-Year Old Vehicle Used to Train NYS Firefighters

New York, NY -- The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) has received a federal grant to purchase a new, well outfitted fire truck that will be used in the training of New York State’s firefighters that attend training at the New York State Academy of Fire Science, FEMA’s Ms. Dale McShine announced here today.

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Palm Beach County Residents Invited To See Preliminary Flood Maps

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 09/05/2014 - 13:00

Attend Open House and Learn about Flood Risks in Your Community

ATLANTA – People who live in Palm Beach County and its municipalities are invited to look at newly revised preliminary digital flood insurance rate maps for the county at four public open houses during the week of September 8th, 2014. Flood maps show the extent to which areas are at risk for flooding, and are used to help determine flood insurance and building requirements.

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