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Federal News

Bacteria No Match for Deep Floridan Aquifer

USGS Newsroom Technical - Tue, 03/11/2014 - 11:00
Summary: ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-- A first of its kind study has the potential to impact future regulatory decisions on disinfection practices for water prior to its recharge or following its storage in the Floridan Aquifer. New USGS study assesses the fate of coliform bacteria in recharged water

Contact Information:

John  Lisle ( Phone: 727-502-8140 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-- A first of its kind study has the potential to impact future regulatory decisions on disinfection practices for water prior to its recharge or following its storage in the Floridan Aquifer.

The U.S Geological Survey report found that coliform bacteria die off faster in a regional aquifer system than was previously known, though a small percentage survives. One of the state's regulatory criteria for ensuring the quality of recharged water is whether it contains coliform bacteria.

Aquifer storage and recovery facilities have been used in Florida for about 30 years to store large volumes of water over long periods of time, increasing water supply during seasonal and multi-year droughts. Potable water, treated and untreated groundwater, partially treated surface water and reclaimed water is recharged into zones of the Floridan Aquifer and later recovered when needed.

"Although it is commonly believed that bacteria are few in number and mostly inactive in the lower zones of the Floridan aquifer system, we found relatively high numbers of bacteria that are alive and active," said USGS microbiologist, John Lisle. "However, when we looked specifically at coliform bacteria, we found that they died off at higher rates in the aquifer than was previously known." Understanding that coliform bacteria die off faster than previously known has the potential to shape the standards or monitoring requirements that are set.

In addition to the coliform die off data, this study is the first to characterize both the geochemistry and natural microbial ecology of the Floridan Aquifer and how they influence groundwater quality. It provides a baseline that can be used to enhance geochemical models that predict changes in groundwater quality following any type of recharge event.

"Characterization of native bacterial communities in aquifers is important because of the direct connection between some groundwater quality variables and bacterial activities. Groundwater bacteria catalyze geochemical reactions under conditions that can be significantly different within the same aquifer," said June Mirecki, a hydrogeologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Fundamental studies, like this study, have significant implications for truly understanding the fate of contaminants in aquifers targeted for aquifer storage, carbon sequestration and deep well injection."

The Floridan Aquifer flows southward at between 800-3,000 feet below the ground. It is among the most productive groundwater sources in the U.S. The upper zones of the Floridan aquifer are used as a drinking water source, while the lower zones, like those in this study, have been targeted for the recharge of treated surface water and reclaimed water and carbon sequestration repositories.

The fate of coliform bacteria injected into the lower zones of the Floridan Aquifer was studied as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The study was done in cooperation with the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The full report "Survival of Bacterial Indicators and the Functional Diversity of Native and Microbial Communities in the Floridan Aquifer, South Florida" by John T. Lisle is available online. 

FEMA Awards $4,106,484 Grant to Pine County: Hazard Mitigation funds will be used to acquire and demolish 32 flood prone homes

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/11/2014 - 10:41

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $4,106,484 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Pine County, Minn., for the acquisition and demolition of 32 homes.

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New Mexico Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds Deadline Approaching

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 15:19

SANTA FE – Officials with the N

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FEMA Awards $7.6 Million to Texas for Relocation of Lone Star Flight Museum

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 12:13

DENTON, Texas – More than $7.6 million is being awarded to the state of Texas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to relocate the Lone Star Flight Museum out of a flood zone in Galveston to Ellington Field in Houston.

The FEMA grant was approved after it was determined that it would be better to relocate and construct a new complex, managed by the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, instead of repairing the Galveston-based museum and replacing damaged aircraft and/or contents.

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Fire Departments in Texas Receive More than $1.2 Million in FEMA Preparedness Grants

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 12:09

DENTON, Texas — Fire departments in Texas have been awarded more than $1.2 million in preparedness grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Lancaster Fire Department received more than $740,640 to boost hiring efforts for firefighters. The Leander Fire Department received $473,375 in funding, which will be used to hire a Volunteer Liaison who will recruit new, diverse volunteers and also work to retain current and future members.

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FEMA Awards $656,147 Grant to Clark County: Hazard mitigation funds will be used to acquire and demolish 12 flood prone structures

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 10:23

CHICAGO –The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released $656,147 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds to Clark County,Ill., for the acquisition and demolition of 12 residential structures located in the floodplain of the Wabash River and its tributaries. Following demolition, these properties will be maintained as permanent open space in the community.

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New Maps of Afghanistan Provide "Fingerprint" of Natural Resources

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 10:00
Summary: A coalition of scientists from the United States and Afghanistan today released 60 high-tech maps that will help Afghanistan chart a course for future economic development

Contact Information:

Mike Jarvis ( Phone: 571-428-9432 ); Diane Noserale ( Phone: 703-648-4333 );



A coalition of scientists from the United States and Afghanistan today released 60 high-tech maps that will help Afghanistan chart a course for future economic development.  These maps represent a milestone as Afghanistan is the first country to be almost completely mapped using hyperspectral imaging data.

The coalition of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, and the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), was created by the U.S. Department of Defense, to share American international science and technology as a strategic tool for promoting economic development. 

"Hyperspectral data from this research provides a fingerprint that identifies Afghanistan’s natural resources," said Dr. Suzette Kimball, acting USGS director. "This detailed data serves as the backbone of crucial scientific information needed for economic development of natural resources as well as the potential to identify water, biological and natural hazard information."

Hyperspectral imaging is an advanced imaging technique that measures visible and near-infrared light reflecting off the Earth's surface. Researchers use hyperspectral imaging spectrometer data to identify and characterize mineral deposits, vegetation, and other land surface features.

Data were collected in 28 flights that commenced from Kandahar Air Field in 2007. Because of great advances in technology, this information was gathered in just two months where in the past, it would have likely taken up to 25 years to acquire.

The project utilized NASA's WB-57 high altitude research jet outfitted with an imaging spectrometer. Flying at an altitude of 50,000 feet, the spectrometer captured hyperspectral images over 400,000 square kilometers.  Scientists using data from the flights have mapped an area that covers more than 70 percent of Afghanistan.

The maps are the newest and most detailed addition to a series of hyperspectral data from the USGS and the TFBSO. In July 2012, the hyperspectral data team released two surface materials maps of Afghanistan produced in partnership with the Afghan Geological Survey and TFBSO.

Learn more about USGS projects in Afghanistan.                    

New Permafrost… But is it Permanent?

USGS Newsroom Technical - Mon, 03/10/2014 - 09:52
Summary: A recent USGS-led study shows new, recently-formed patches of permafrost in one of Alaska's retreating lakes, a finding that, at first glance, would seem at odds with prevailing theories about arctic climate.

Contact Information:

Ethan Alpern ( Phone: 703-648-4406 );



A recent USGS-led study shows new, recently-formed patches of permafrost in one of Alaska's retreating lakes, a finding that, at first glance, would seem at odds with prevailing theories about arctic climate.

Widespread lake shrinkage in discontinuous regions of permafrost has been linked to climate warming and shallow permafrost thaw.  Counter-intuitively, USGS scientists have observed newly forming permafrost around Twelvemile Lake in interior Alaska, where lake water level has dropped by several meters over the past three decades.

"Central Alaskan lake shrinkage may be caused by shallow permafrost changes and not by increasing deep aquifer connections," said Martin A. Briggs, USGS, lead author of the study. "Newly formed permafrost along the shores of shrinking lakes may reduce groundwater outflow and allow them to refill."

Permafrost, or frozen ground lasting at least two consecutive years, typically forms in colder climates when average annual temperatures remain close to or below freezing. Permafrost soils accumulate ice and plant material and can impede groundwater flow. While the upper 1-2 meters may thaw seasonally, frozen soil and dead plant material continues to accumulate at depth over thousands of years, depending on the strength and duration of the colder climate.

During periods of thaw, water and gases are released from their frozen pockets of ice. By understanding permafrost thaw, its degradation in a warming climate, and its impacts on ecosystems and society, managers will be able to plan for rising global temperatures, and climate change. New permafrost formation should also be considered as a possibility in some systems.

This study considered ecological succession, the pattern of vegetation regrowth, within the receded lake margin as the driver of new permafrost through alterations in ground shading and water infiltration. This hypothesis was tested by modeling variably saturated groundwater flow and heat transport under freeze-thaw conditions.

The simulations supported new permafrost development under current climatic conditions, when the net changes effects of woody vegetation are considered, thus pointing to the role of ecological succession.

"Large lake level swings due to shallow permafrost thaw and subsequent refreezing due to ecological succession may be an important natural cycle," said Briggs. "However, in the long term, model simulations projected into the future to reflect even moderate climate warming indicate new permafrost around similar lake sites will stop forming and recede within seven decades, possibly ending the current natural cycle of lake level waning and waxing."

In summary, the findings in this study highlight the importance of vegetation succession in promoting permafrost regeneration in a lake system near the Arctic Circle, which is highly sensitive to subtle soil temperature changes.

This study was conducted by team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and was published in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters.

Colorado Flooding – Six Months Later

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 03/07/2014 - 16:28

DENVER – In the past six months, more than $284 million in federal funds has been provided to Coloradans as they recover from last September’s devastating floods.

More than $222 million has come in the form of disaster grants to individuals and families, flood insurance payments and low-interest loans to renters, homeowners and businesses. More than $62 million has been obligated to state and local governments’ response and recovery work.

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Federal Aid Programs for the State of Georgia Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:26

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Georgia.

Assistance for State, Tribal, and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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President Declares Disaster for Georgia

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 03/06/2014 - 23:24

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Georgia to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm during the period of February 10-14, 2014.

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2011 Oklahoma Induced Earthquake May Have Triggered Larger Quake

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 03/06/2014 - 17:00
Summary: In a new study involving researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists observed that a human-induced magnitude 5.0 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma in November 2011 may have triggered the larger M5.7 earthquake less than a day later

Contact Information:

Susan  Garcia ( Phone: 650-346-0998 );



PASADENA, Calif. — In a new study involving researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists observed that a human-induced magnitude 5.0 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma in November 2011 may have triggered the larger M5.7 earthquake less than a day later. This research suggests that the M5.7 quake was the largest human-caused earthquake associated with wastewater injection.

"The observation that a human-induced earthquake can trigger a cascade of earthquakes, including a larger one, has important implications for reducing the seismic risk from wastewater injection," said USGS seismologist and coauthor of the study Elizabeth Cochran.

Historically, earthquakes in the central United States have been uncommon. Yet in the year 2011 alone, numerous moderate-size earthquakes occurred in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Arkansas.  Many of these earthquakes occurred near waste-water injection wells, and some have been shown to be caused by human activities.

The 2011 Oklahoma earthquake sequence included the November 6, 2011, M5.7 earthquake that ruptured a part of the Wilzetta fault system, a complex fault zone about 200 km (124 mi) in length near Prague, Oklahoma.  Less than 24 hours prior to the M5.7 earthquake, a M5.0 foreshock occurred on November 5, 2011.  That foreshock occurred near active waste-water disposal wells, and was linked in a previously published study to fluid injection in those wells.  The earthquakes have not been directly linked to hydrofracturing. 

The research published this week suggests that the foreshock, by increasing stresses where M5.7 mainshock ruptured, may have triggered the mainshock, which in turn, triggered thousands of aftershocks along the Wilzetta fault system, including a M5.0 aftershock on November 8, 2011. If this hypothesis is correct, the M5.7 earthquake would be the largest and most powerful earthquake ever associated with wastewater injection.  All three earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and greater along the Wilzetta fault exhibited strike-slip motion at three independent locations along the fault, suggesting that three separate portions of the Wilzetta fault system were activated.  

The paper, "Observations of Static Coulomb Stress Triggering of the November 2011 M5.7 Oklahoma Earthquake Sequence," by D.F. Sumy, E.S. Cochran, K.M. Keranen, M. Wei, G.A. Abers, from the University of Southern California, USGS, Cornell University, Brown University, and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, was published in the "Journal of Geophysical Research" this week.

Global Undiscovered Copper Resources Estimated at 3.5 Billion Metric Tons

USGS Newsroom - Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:30
Summary: The first-ever, geologically-based global assessment of undiscovered copper resources estimates that 3.5 billion metric tons of copper may exist worldwide

Contact Information:

Diane Noserale ( Phone: 703-648-4333 ); Larry Meinert ( Phone: 703-648-6100 );



The first-ever, geologically-based global assessment of undiscovered copper resources estimates that 3.5 billion metric tons of copper may exist worldwide. The U.S. Geological Survey outlined 225 areas for undiscovered copper in 11 regions of the world.  The amount of undiscovered global copper estimated by the USGS would be enough to satisfy current world demand for more than 150 years.

According to the assessment, South America is the dominant source for both identified and undiscovered copper resources.  Particularly important, several regions of Asia including China have a large potential for undiscovered copper resources.

"This ground-breaking USGS assessment of future copper resources identifies a huge potential supply that is roughly six times greater than all the copper mined throughout human history," said Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Anne Castle. "If enough of this copper can be developed in an environmentally responsible and economical way, it will be a boon to new manufacturing and other initiatives that rely on the availability of copper such as the Administration's energy efficiency initiative."

Copper is one of the first metals ever extracted and its first use in coins dates back to about 8000 B.C. It continues to be the material of choice for a variety of industrial needs.

"Copper is one of the building blocks of civilization and is used in almost every aspect of modern life such as plumbing, electrical wiring, cars, cell phones, and energy systems such as wind turbines. In fact, copper has become so valuable that it is even being stolen from construction sites and out of backyards," said Larry Meinert, USGS Mineral Resources Program Coordinator. 

U.S. consumption is 2 million metric tons of copper per year whereas world consumption is about 20 million metric tons per year. 

The USGS Global Copper Assessment was completed in cooperation with numerous international collaborators from national geological surveys, industry, and academia. The USGS is the principal Federal provider of research and information on nonfuel mineral resources.  

Supporting studies, including documentation of the assessment methodology, descriptions of individual tracts, and spatial data for use in geographic information systems (GIS) are available from the USGS Mineral Resources Program.  Information on production and consumption of copper as well as general information about copper is available from the USGS.

Global copper consumption. (High resolution image)

FEMA Awards $707,507 Grant to City of Carmi: Hazard mitigation funds will be used to acquire 22 flood prone structures and seven vacant lots in floodplain

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:11

CHICAGO – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released $707,507 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds the City of Carmi, Ill., for the acquisition and demolition of 22 residential structures and the purchase of seven flood prone vacant lots located in the Little Wabash River floodplain. Following demolition, these properties will be maintained as permanent open space in the community.

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Be “Alert Savvy” to Stay Safe in Severe Weather

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 18:07

CHICAGO - Understanding severe weather watches and warningswill help to keep you and your family safe during a disaster. FEMA and the National Weather Service (NWS) encourage everyone to learn this life-saving information and act if extreme weather threatens their area.

NWS alerts that are used to warn of severe weather, flood and tornado hazards include:

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COLORADO AND FEMA ANNOUNCE DISASTER CASE MANAGEMENT GRANT

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 12:12

Denver – FEMA, in conjunction with the State of Colorado, announced on Tuesday that Colorado will receive a Disaster Case Management Grant in the amount of $2,667,963.  The money will be used for the Disaster Case Management Program for survivors of the devastating floods in Colorado last September.

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Severe Weather: Get the Facts. Know How to Act.

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 11:55

CHICAGO – Do you know your tornado and severe weather risks and what to do if bad weather threatens your community? FEMA wants to make sure you’re not relying on severe weather myths when it comes to keeping your family safe.

"Severe weather can strike unexpectedly, but there are steps you can take to prepare for it,” said Andrew Velasquez III, regional administrator, FEMA Region V. "Learn your risk and what to do now so you're ready to act in dangerous weather conditions."

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Severe Weather Safety: What You Need to Know

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/04/2014 - 18:14

CHICAGO – Severe weather can happen anytime, anywhere. <?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Spring flooding is common throughout Minnesota—whether along the Red River, Mississippi, or another one of the state’s many bodies of water. In addition, communities in Minnesota regularly face severe storms and tornadoes that leave behind costly damages for residents to recover from. Everyone should be ready for these risks.

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Keep Warm, but Beware “The Silent Killer”

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/04/2014 - 18:06

CHICAGO – As dangerously low temperatures persist throughout the Midwest, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to remain heat safe, and avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO).<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

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Severe Storm Safety: What You Need to Know

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 03/04/2014 - 17:32

CHICAGO – Severe storms can happen anywhere, anytime in Illinois. <?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Last spring, extensive flooding throughout the state of Illinois resulted in more than $166 million in federal assistance to individuals for essential home repairs and clean-up. Then in November, severe storms and tornadoes left more than 1,000 homes severely damaged or destroyed throughout Illinois.

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