ATLANTA - September’s National Preparedness Month reminds us of the importance of preparing for hurricanes. While the southeast is no stranger to life-changing hurricanes, this September marks 10 years since hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne affected Florida and other states, 15 years since Hurricane Floyd crossed North Carolina’s coast and 25 years since Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina. Each storm left its own unpredictable mark on the people and communities they touched.Language English
Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought, according to a study by researchers from Mississippi State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other institutions.
Methane plumes identified in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts, are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps on the outer continental shelf and the continental slope. Taken together, these areas, which lie between the coastline and the deep ocean, constitute the continental margin. Prior to this study, only three seep areas had been identified beyond the edge of the continental shelf, which occurs at approximately 180 meters (590 feet) water depth between Florida and Maine on the U.S. Atlantic seafloor.
Cold seeps are areas where gases and fluids leak into the overlying water from the sediments. They are designated as cold to distinguish them from hydrothermal vents, which are sites where new oceanic crust is being formed and hot fluids are being emitted at the seafloor. Cold seeps can occur in a much broader range of environments than hydrothermal vents.
“Widespread seepage had not been expected on the Atlantic margin. It is not near a plate tectonic boundary like the U.S. Pacific coast, nor associated with a petroleum basin like the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Adam Skarke, the study’s lead author and a professor at Mississippi State University.
The gas being emitted by the seeps has not yet been sampled, but researchers believe that most of the leaking methane is produced by microbial processes in shallow sediments. This interpretation is based primarily on the locations of the seeps and knowledge of the underlying geology. Microbial methane is not the type found in deep-seated reservoirs and often tapped as a natural gas resource.
Most of the newly discovered methane seeps lie at depths close to the shallowest conditions at which deepwater marine gas hydrate can exist on the continental slope. Gas hydrate is a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of methane and water, and forms at temperature and pressure conditions commonly found in waters deeper than approximately 500 meters (1640 feet).
“Warming of ocean temperatures on seasonal, decadal or much longer time scales can cause gas hydrate to release its methane, which may then be emitted at seep sites,” said Carolyn Ruppel, study co-author and chief of the USGS Gas Hydrates Project. “Such continental slope seeps have previously been recognized in the Arctic, but not at mid-latitudes. So this is a first.”
Most seeps described in the new study are too deep for the methane to directly reach the atmosphere, but the methane that remains in the water column can be oxidized to carbon dioxide. This in turn increases the acidity of ocean waters and reduces oxygen levels.
Shallow-water seeps that may be related to offshore groundwater discharge were detected at the edge of the shelf and in the upper part of Hudson Canyon, an undersea gorge that represents the offshore extension of the Hudson River. Methane from these seeps could directly reach the atmosphere, contributing to increased concentrations of this potent greenhouse gas. More extensive shallow-water surveys than described in this study will be required to document the extent of such seeps.
Some of the new methane seeps were discovered in 2012. In summer 2013 a Brown University undergraduate and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings Scholar Mali’o Kodis worked with Skarke to analyze about 94,000 square kilometers (about 36,000 square miles) of water column imaging data to map the methane plumes. The data had been collected by the vessel Okeanos Explorer between 2011 and 2013. The Okeanos Explorer and the Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle, which has photographed the seafloor at some of the methane seeps, are managed by NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.
"This study continues the tradition of advancing U.S. marine science research through partnerships between federal agencies and the involvement of academic researchers,” said John Haines, coordinator of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program “NOAA's Ocean Exploration program acquired state-of-the-art data at the scale of the entire margin, while academic and USGS scientists teamed to interpret these data in the context of a research problem of global significance."
The study, Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic Margin, by A, Skarke, C. Ruppel, M, Kodis, D. Brothers and E. Lobecker in Nature Geoscience is available on line.
USGS Gas Hydrates Project
The USGS has a globally recognized research effort studying natural gas hydrates in deepwater and permafrost settings worldwide. USGS researchers focus on the potential of gas hydrates as an energy resource, the impact of climate change on gas hydrates, and seafloor stability issues.
For more information about the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gas Hydrates Project, visit the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey Gas Hydrates Project website.
For more information, visit the Mississippi State University website.Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners. None of the seeps shown here was known to researchers before 2012. (High resolution image)
After Assault by Sandy, FEMA, State, Fund Model Mitigation Project for Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority
Eatontown, NJ -- In October of 2012, storm surges caused by Hurricane Sandy rose from the waters of Newark Bay and engulfed the 152-acre Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s wastewater treatment facility.Language English
Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );
USGS collects a wide range of hydrologic data, assures the quality of these data, and makes historical and continuing records of the nation’s water resources freely available in national databases. USGS scientists have recently published two separate papers that provide national overviews of the status of USGS water resources information in the context of historical and technical developments in the last half-century.
Robert M. Hirsch and Gary T. Fisher (retired) point out in “Past, Present, and Future of Water Data Delivery from the U.S. Geological Survey” that USGS innovations, aided by rapidly improving technology, have enabled a transition in recent years from paper reports to online reports and from daily data to instantaneous data. An increasing emphasis on national and international data standards and web services makes it possible for users in the water management and research communities to quickly and easily import USGS water data into the operational and scientific software tools that they use. Further, distributing water data with applications on new mobile platforms brings value to new and nontraditional consumers of hydrologic information.
Writing in the May 2014 edition of Water Resources Impact, USGS Chief Scientist for Water Jerad D. Bales reviews (PDF) 1974 predictions of how water data would be collected in the future and notes how those predictions have been fulfilled or altered. He also describes factors, both technical and otherwise, affecting changes in water-resources data collection and management, as well as future challenges for water data collection.
Robert M. Hirsch and Gary T. Fisher. “Past, Present, and Future of Water Data Delivery from the U.S. Geological Survey” in Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, Universities Council on Water Resources, Issue 153, April 2014, pp. 4-15.
Jerad D. Bales. “Progress in Data Collection and Dissemination in Water Resources – 1974-2014” (PDF) in Water Resources IMPACT, May 2014, v. 16, no. 3, pp. 18-23.
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 North Dakota.
Assistance for the State, Tribal and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:Language English
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 North Dakota to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding during the period of June 25 to July 1, 2014.Language English
FEMA Public Affairs (626) 431-3843
OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the state of California combat the Way Fire currently burning in Kern County.Language English
Dunkirk Fire Department to Gain Mobile Burn Simulator - $360,000 Training Unit the Result of a Federal Grant
New York, NY -- Chautauqua County’s city of Dunkirk will receive a mobile burn unit that will allow the New York fire department and the county’s 42 other departments to conduct live-fire training. The award, an Assistance to Firefighters Grant, was announced here today by Ms. Dale McShine, Director of Grants for Region II of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the grant program.
With the local share of $40,000, the grant will total $400,000.Language English
FEMA Public Affairs (626) 431-3843
OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the state of California combat the Junction Fire currently burning in Madera County.Language English
For the past decade, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have shared their expertise with the Afghanistan Geological Survey (AGS) in efforts to build an inventory of Afghanistan’s water resources. A new fact sheet details how these efforts help the country quantify and monitor its water resource.
“This partnership with the Afghanistan Geological Survey and other international agencies is extremely important for Afghanistan,” said Jack Medlin, USGS regional specialist, Asia and Pacific Region. “There’s a broad consensus that water availability is a global issue, and these collaborative efforts created the data collection networks necessary to help quantify water conditions in the region and manage future water supplies.”
A number of success stories were realized during this decade-long partnership.
In 2004, USGS and AGS initiated plans to rebuild Afghanistan’s capacity for various geologic sciences including hydrology. USGS accomplished the goal with teaching scientists from AGS to apply modern techniques for use of global positioning systems, field hydrology, water-quality sampling, and by developing water-resource databases.
The first efforts of the partnership were to inventory groundwater and surface water resources in Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul. After inventorying about 150 wells in the first year, data from a subset of wells were monitored over ten years and indicated that water levels were decreasing in the city of Kabul. The water samples collected and analyzed for physical, chemical, and microbiological properties formed the basis of the first joint hydrologic investigation in Kabul.
“Now after 10 years of groundwater-level monitoring, recent analysis of the data shows an improved understanding of groundwater resources and its sustainability in Kabul,” said Thomas Mack, USGS hydrologist. “AGS engineers have established similar groundwater monitoring networks in other major cities across Afghanistan, which are critical for understanding current conditions and water availability at other population and economic centers.”
USGS assisted a World Bank effort to restore approximately 127 historical streamgages in Afghanistan with modern equipment and continues to monitor the country’s hydrologic network.
In the early days of the partnership, the USGS helped establish the Afghanistan Agrometerology Program. By 2014, the program had installed and was operating 102 stations recording precipitation amounts, snow cover, and other meteorological parameters that are crucial for calibrating and validating remote sensing models of Afghanistan.
A focus of the most recent research was to quantify and monitor water resources in the Chakari Basin, a watershed near Kabul and an area that contains considerable copper and other mineral resources.
“Understanding the water and mineral resources of the Chakari Basin is important for Afghanistan’s economic development and for balancing the needs of domestic and industrial water users,” said Michael Chornack, USGS hydrologist.
The hydrogeologic field investigations and water quality sampling conducted by AGS hydrologists provides valuable data needed for assessing water resources in Afghanistan’s mineral resource areas.
The USGS work in Afghanistan has been possible with assistance from other government agencies.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a free Spanish-language app with information on what individuals can do before, during and after a disaster to keep their families and communities safe.
FEMA’s Spanish-language app offers a wide array of information for the public and disaster survivors, including preparedness tips, locations of nearby shelters, what to include in an emergency supply kit and a user friendly interface for survivors who may need assistance from FEMA after a disaster.Language English
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Receives A Nearly $1.5 Million FEMA Grant to Address Volunteer Firefighter Health
DENTON, Texas — The University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston has received nearly $1.5 million in preparedness funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address the health of volunteer firefighters.
DENTON, Texas– After working together for months to create new preliminary flood maps, Bastrop County and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials want to hear from the public about preliminary flood maps.
Homeowners, renters and business owners in the unincorporated areas of Bastrop County should look at the preliminary flood maps to better understand where flood risks have been identified. Anyone who has comments or who would like to file an appeal has a 90 day window that runs from August 14, 2014 until November 11, 2014 to submit them.Language English
DENTON, Texas– After working together for months to create new preliminary flood maps, officials from Travis County, six cities, one village and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) want to hear from the public about the preliminary flood maps.Language English
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 Tennessee.
Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:Language English
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 Tennessee to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding during the period of June 5-10, 2014.Language English
ANCHORAGE, AK – The final six repairs to homes in Circle damaged as a result of last year’s spring breakup flooding along the Yukon River have been completed thanks to a united effort that included faith-based skilled volunteers, the State of Alaska and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
For more than six weeks, 27 Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers worked nearly 3,000 hours to complete the final repairs. Last summer, 27 Mennonite volunteers, three of whom returned to Circle this year, completed work on eight homes in the Interior Alaska community.Language English
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced $120 million in federal funding to assist organizations dedicated to feeding, sheltering and providing critical resources to our nation's hungry and homeless.
Funding was made available by Congress for the national board of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) for fiscal year 2014 to support social service agencies in cities and counties across the country.Language English
Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );
Despite the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that hit northern Chile in April 2014, the plate boundary in that region is still capable of hosting shocks of the same size or even greater in the near future, according to new research presented in Nature.
The seismic gap theory, which can identify regions of elevated hazard based on a lack of recent seismic activity in comparison with other portions of a fault, had previously identified the northern Chile subduction zone as an area of concern for future magnitude 8.0+ (megathrust) earthquakes. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and partner agencies show that while the 2014 Iquique earthquake occurred within this gap in activity, it did not fill the entire spatial extent of the gap; thus the potential for a magnitude 8.0 or greater earthquake in northern Chile is still high.
Significant sections of this subduction zone have not ruptured in almost 150 years, so it is likely that future megathrust earthquakes will occur to the south and potentially to the north of the 2014 Iquique sequence in the future.
“As well as revealing interesting aspects of earthquake interactions in this subduction zone, our study indicates that the occurrence of the 2014 magnitude 8.2 event does not mean short-term hazard of large earthquakes in northern Chile has decreased – in fact, while we unfortunately cannot predict the timing of such events, similar-sized or indeed larger earthquakes are possible in the near future,” said USGS research geophysicist Gavin Hayes.
EATONTOWN, N.J -- When Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi was promoted to Director of Cape May County’s Emergency Management Communications Center in August 2013, he found himself with two things: another job title, and a problem that most people wouldn’t expect a county surrounded by open water on three sides to have.
“There were no shelters in the county before I took over,” he said.Language English