Leslie Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );
A new study suggests that the degraded breakdown products of oil-spill contaminants in groundwater could be just as important to monitor as the original contamination itself.
At sites where crude oil or petroleum hydrocarbon fuel spills have occurred and contaminants have entered groundwater, naturally occurring microbes in the soil can digest or break down the original crude oil, producing byproducts known as metabolites. The metabolites are more soluble in groundwater than the parent compounds and are transported from the original source forming a groundwater plume.
Results of a recent U.S. Geological Survey study suggest that at oil-spill sites where residual sources are present, the monitoring of metabolites or breakdown products may be an important part of an effective evaluation of the fate and effects of groundwater contaminant plumes.
The study of two crude-oil spill sites in Minnesota focused on the occurrence and fate of the combination of all dissolved organic carbon metabolites in existing contaminant plumes. Contaminants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are commonly found in groundwater plumes from crude oil. It was the metabolites of those contaminants as well as the less soluble components of the crude oil – the biodegradation products of the original oil contaminants – that were studied.
Scientists discovered concentrations of oil breakdown products at greater concentrations than the typical regulated-compound concentrations. These types of crude-oil metabolites in groundwater plumes at the two sites are not covered by regulatory monitoring and reporting requirements in Minnesota and other states. Yet at study sites where the spilled oil is still present, the total concentration of metabolites can exceed the concentrations of regulated compounds by one to two orders of magnitude. In addition to possible concerns about toxicity, these plumes of metabolites can slow the biodegradation of other compounds in the contaminant plume.
“We compiled 20 years of monitoring data to understand the occurrence of the metabolites relative to other regulated crude-oil contaminants,” said USGS hydrologist and lead author of the study, Barbara Bekins. “Concentrations of the regulated crude oil compounds are one-third to one-half of the total concentration of the metabolites found in groundwater at our study sites. The values of the metabolites are 10 times higher than benzene and two to three times higher than the standard regulatory measure of diesel-like compounds in the same wells. Monitoring data show that the plume of metabolites is expanding more rapidly than the benzene plume.”
“Metabolites of hydrocarbon degradation, such as those found at these crude oil spill sites, are also common at sites contaminated by other fuels such as gasoline leaks and spills,” said USGS co-author Isabelle Cozzarelli.
“This analysis was possible because of USGS scientists’ long-term monitoring of hydrocarbon degradation progression. Long-term collection of hydrologic and geochemical measurements is the foundation of USGS science. This study is a great example of the application of science to inform potential regulatory process updates,” said USGS groundwater specialist and co-author Melinda Erickson.
This new research, “Crude oil metabolites in groundwater at two spill sites,” published in the journal “Groundwater,” is available online.
The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $4 million in cooperative agreements to support participation in the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network (NGWMN).
The USGS is working with the Federal Advisory Committee on Water Information’s (ACWI) Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW) to develop and administer the NGWMN. The NGWMN is designed as a cooperative groundwater data collection, management, and reporting system that will be based on data from selected wells in existing Federal, State, Tribal, and local groundwater monitoring networks. The Network is envisioned as a long-term collaborative partnership among Federal and non-Federal data providers that will help address present and future groundwater management questions facing the nation.
Cooperative agreements will provide support for both new and existing data providers in the NGWMN. The USGS will fund new data providers to select and classify sites within existing monitoring programs, to set up web services that will link the data to the NGWMN Portal, and to produce a report describing this process. Existing data providers will receive funds to maintain web services and keep site information current. Data providers may also receive funding to collect data to improve site information, to maintain wells, and to drill new or replacement Network wells. Information about the cooperative agreements is available on the NGWMN Cooperative Agreements page.
Two Webinars are scheduled to review the application package and answer any question about the opportunity. These are scheduled for April 13th at 1 pm EDT and May 3rd at 2 pm EDT. Registration for the webinars is required. After your registration is accepted, you will receive meeting information. You may register for the webinars at:
Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 );
Scientists studying rare earth and critical elements now have a solid foundation for future research, as detailed in a special volume of the Society of Economic Geologists. This review volume, featuring several papers authored and co-authored by the U.S. Geological Survey, provides a comprehensive review of the current state of knowledge for rare earth and critical elements in ore deposits.
In addition, on March 30th at 1:00 PM EDT, American Geosciences Institute (AGI) will co-host a webinar titled Underpinning Innovation: The Science and Supply of America's Critical Minerals and Materials. USGS speakers include Larry Meinert, the program coordinator of the USGS Mineral Resources Program and Steve Fortier, the director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center. In addition, Rod Eggert, the deputy director of the Critical Minerals Institute, Ames Laboratory will be a featured speaker.
This webinar is based on a March 3rd Congressional briefing organized by AGI on behalf of the Mineral Science & Information Coalition. The webinar will address the efforts being taken at the federal level to ensure a steady supply of critical minerals and materials.
The special volume, entitled "Rare Earth and Critical Element in Ore Deposits," represents an important contribution to our understanding of where, how, and why individual critical elements occur and should be of use to both geoscientists and public policy analysts. While the papers in this volume provide an overview of the state of knowledge concerning the economic geology of rare earth and critical elements, they also demonstrate the lack adequate data on the occurrence of these elements in many deposit types.
Critical minerals and materials are key components of the innovation economy. Minerals are a part of almost every product we use on a daily basis, either as the raw materials for manufacturing processes or as the end products themselves. Advanced technologies for communications, clean energy, medical devices, and national security rely on raw materials from mines throughout the world.
The concept of element criticality is useful for evaluation of the fragility of commodity markets. This fragility is commonly due to a potential risk of supply disruption, which may be difficult to quantify because it can be affected by political, economic, geologic, geographic, and environmental variables. For instance, in 2010, China curtailed exports of rare earth metals and sparked major concern about the security of global supply chains for a range of vital minerals and materials.
Critical elements may be recovered either as primary commodities or as by-products from mining of other commodities. For example, nearly 90 percent of world production of niobium (Nb) is from the Araxá niobium mine (Brazil), whereas gallium (Ga) is recovered primarily as a by-product commodity of bauxite mining or as a by-product of zinc processing from a number of sources worldwide. Critical elements that are solely produced as by-product commodities pose a particular supply risk because their production is tied to other markets and thus fluctuations in their supply can be independent from their demand.
Rare earth elements are a focus of this volume because price spikes of these commodities over the past several years have created broad interest. As demonstrated in the papers in this volume, ore-grade enrichment of REEs can occur in a variety of deposit types.
USGS scientists Haiping Qi and Tyler Coplen were key contributors, among 24 contributing scientists, to a recently completed international project to develop isotopic reference materials for mass spectrometers. An article in the journal Analytical Chemistry details the findings.
The team established 19 new organic reference materials for stable hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotope-ratio measurements. These materials will be used by isotope laboratories worldwide to calibrate their mass spectrometers so that the complex instruments will indicate the same measurement results on the same sample.
The announcement of so many isotopic reference materials at one time is unprecedented since isotope measurements of the elements hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen began expanding in the early 1950s. Authoritative standard references for mass spectrometers help advance their use in many disparate fields, including anthropology, archaeology, atmospheric sciences, biology, chemistry, ecology, environmental sciences, food and drug authentication, forensic applications, fossil fuel and biofuel research, geochemistry, geology, medical diagnostics, oceanography and paleoclimatology.
The USGS scientists performed most of the testing of the materials to confirm isotopic homogeneity prior to the distribution of those materials to 11 isotope laboratories that participated in the project.
The USGS Science Data Catalog (SDC) recently completed and launched a new and improved interface, making USGS data more accessible and discoverable for users. The USGS SDC is a searchable public data catalog for more than 7,000 USGS data assets and 20 USGS collections.
The SDC was launched in January of 2014, in response to the White House Open Data Initiatives to make federally funded data more available and open to the public.
The SDC serves as the single point of entry that connects USGS data listings to the Department of the Interior and data.gov catalog. USGS programs and science centers partner with SDC as data providers to contribute data from a wide array of relevant science topics including energy and minerals, land cover, natural hazards, hydrology and ecosystems research.
To search for a USGS data asset, go to the Search page and enter one or more search terms. Alternatively users can search by location using the map tool. Results will be displayed with further information about each particular resource. Users can further sort or filter results to discover and explore data assets. The SDC will point to the location where the data can be downloaded.
Notable updates to the SDC include:
- New Home page – View frequently accessed USGS datasets and data highlighted from USGS programs and science centers
- Addition of collection-level datasets – Search datasets within large USGS collections (i.e. US Topo Maps and National Land Cover Dataset)
- New Browse page – Discover USGS datasets by browsing through newly implemented Science Topics, in addition to USGS Mission Areas and data sources represented by USGS Programs and Centers
- Easy-to-use myReports Page – For USGS data providers, easily access record reports and monitor the records that your center or program is providing to the SDC
- Data visualization feature for comma delimited value (.csv) data – Instantly visualize selected USGS data in comma separated value (.csv). Future improvements are continuing on this feature.
All USGS programs and science centers are encouraged to participate as data providers, as outlined in the new USGS Instructional Memoranda for Data Management.
For further information about SDC or how to visualize your csv datasets for users, contact email@example.com.
The new home page of the USGS Science Data Catalog. Image: USGS Science Data Catalog home page featuring the National Water Information System (NWIS)]
The new search page allows users to search for USGS datasets based on keywords, location and other filters. Image: Screenshot of a search page results for the keyword, “sediment samples.”
A new exploratory and discovery feature allows the catalog to visualize selected USGS datasets for users. Datasets with the "View Data" button allow users to visualize csv datasets in a variety of different charts and graphs. Image: Example screenshot of a pop up page displaying a graph with a display of different variables contained in the dataset.
Jessica Fitzpatrick ( Phone: 703-648-6624 );
On March 28, USGS scientists will release a report and the first-ever maps showing potential ground-shaking hazards from both human-induced and natural earthquakes. In the past, USGS maps only identified natural earthquake hazards.
This will also be the first one-year outlook for the nation’s earthquake hazards, and is a supplement to existing USGS assessments that forecast earthquake shaking over 50 years.
This report can be used by government officials to make more informed decisions as well as emergency response personnel to assess vulnerability and provide safety information to those who are in potential danger. Engineers can use this product to evaluate earthquake safety of buildings, bridges, pipelines and other important structures.
The USGS is the only federal agency with responsibility for recording and reporting earthquake activity nationwide and assessing seismic hazard. USGS hazard assessments are incorporated into building codes that influence a trillion dollars in new construction annually and improve the nation’s resilience to earthquake disasters.
The USGS invites media to join a telephone press conference to discuss this new research and updates to the nation’s earthquake hazards.
- Mark Petersen, Chief of the National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project, USGS
- Michael Blanpied, Associate Coordinator, Earthquake Hazards Program, USGS
- Justin Rubinstein, Deputy Chief of the Induced Seismicity Project, USGS
Monday, March 28, 2016
1:00 pm ET
To join, please call 1-888-989-7565 and use the passcode 1317771.
For those outside of the U.S., call 517-308-9122 and use the passcode 1317771.
A recording of the event will be available approximately one hour after the call is completed, and it will be accessible for 30 days. It can be retrieved at 1-800-925-4633 (toll free) or 203-369-3529 (toll for those outside of the U.S.).
The Central Asia Salt Basin of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan has the potential to contain between 39 and 54 billion metric tons of undiscovered potash resources, according to a global mineral resource assessment led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Known potash resources in the Central Asia Salt Basin consist of 1.63 billion metric tons.
Potash is produced worldwide at amounts exceeding 30 million metric tons per year, mostly for use in fertilizers. The term “potash” refers to potassium-bearing, water-soluble salts derived from evaporite basins, where seawater dried up and precipitated various salt compounds; the word for the element “potassium” is derived from potash. In fact, industry uses potash to refer to potassium chloride, as well as potassium sulfate, nitrate, and oxide forms.
The Central Asia Salt Basin hosts significant discovered potash resources and originated in an inland sea during Late Jurassic time. Seawater flowed into the Basin, mostly from its extreme northwestern margin near the modern Caspian Sea, during several evaporation episodes that deposited at least five different packages of evaporites, with virtually all potash in the second and fourth packages.
In this study, the Central Asia Salt Basin was subdivided into three tracts, also known as permissive areas, for evaluation: the Amu Darya tract in the west, the Gissar tract in the center, and the Afghan-Tajik tract in the east. The Gissar and Amu Darya tracts were each quantitatively assessed. The Afghan‑Tajik tract was only qualitatively assessed because of the extreme depth (as deep as 7 km) of the Jurassic salt, extensive deformation and a lack of known potash deposits.
In 2013 (the most recent year for which complete information is available), world potash production was 34.5 million metric tons of K2O-equivalent. Canada was the leading producer of potash (10.1 million metric tons K2O-equivalent), followed by Russia, China, Belarus, Germany, Israel, Jordan, and Chile. Of the 12 known potash-producing countries in 2013, 8 produced 1 million metric tons or more; production in the United States was slightly less than 1 million metric tons, and production in Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom was less than 500,000 metric tons each.
The USGS Mineral Resources Program delivers unbiased science and information to understand mineral resource potential, production, consumption, and how minerals interact with the environment. To keep up-to-date on USGS mineral research, follow us on Twitter!
The Federal Geographic Data Committee is now accepting nominations for the Doug D. Nebert National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Champion of the Year Award. Doug was a recognized national and international leader in the establishment of spatial data infrastructures and technical visionary as well as respected colleague.Doug Nebert presenting at a conference, expanding on his vision of National Spatial Dataset Infrastructure issues (undated photo). Doug Nebert getting ready to lift off in a private plane, his other lifelong passion (undated photo).
To commemorate Nebert’s varied contributions to and passions for our nation’s geography and cartography, the FGDC is accepting nominations for the newly established award.
“This award commemorates Doug’s influence in promoting the vision of the NSDI,” said Ivan DeLoatch, Executive Director of the FGDC. “This is a unique opportunity to honor significant contributions to an individual or group of individuals that have furthered the goal of available and easily integrated data to enhance the understanding of our physical and cultural world.”
Eligibility: The nominations are available to an individual or a team representing federal, state, tribal, regional, and/or local government, academia, or nonprofit and professional organization that has developed an outstanding, innovative, and operational tool, application, or service capability used by multiple organizations that furthers the vision of the NSDI. The nominee must be a US citizen.
Nomination Process: Each nomination package will be submitted in electronic form through the award website and include justification and related nomination information. Nominations are due by May 6, 2016.
Award Selection: An interagency team of SDI experts from the FGDC will review all nominations and make a recommendation for the award to the FGDC Chair who will make the final decision on the award. The award information will be posted on the FGDC website.
The award is based on the following foundational precepts:
- Innovation and vision
- Use of standards
- Advancement of NSDI principles
- Service to communities of users
- Developed once, used by many
- Improved performance and service
- Real-world application
The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $7 million in grants for earthquake hazards research in 2017.
"The USGS has a long-standing grants program that supports innovative earthquake research, and we are currently soliciting project proposals for 2017," said Bill Leith, who is the USGS Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards. "We seek proposals to better characterize earthquake sources, reduce uncertainty in earthquake hazard assessments or improve forecasts and other efforts to reduce risk. In addition, we welcome proposals that provide more accurate and timely earthquake information or aim to better inform the public about earthquakes and earthquake safety."
Interested researchers can apply online at GRANTS.GOV under funding opportunity number G16AS00024. Applications are due May 25, 2016.
Every year the USGS awards earthquake research grants to universities, state geological surveys and private institutions. Past projects included:
- trench investigations to better understand the size and age of large earthquakes between Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah;
- the application of innovative techniques to map seismic hazards near the nation’s capital;
- exploring the use of rapid and precise GPS recordings to improve earthquake early warning;
- analysis of the potential for large earthquakes in the Gorgonio Pass, an area of complex faulting east of San Bernardino, Calif.;
- investigation of recent earthquake activity along major fault lines crossing southeast Alaska; and
- studies to characterize and understand the causes of potentially induced earthquakes in California, Kansas, Wyoming, Texas and Ohio.
A complete list of funded projects and reports can be found on the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program external research support website.
The U.S. Geological Survey has announced the first recipients of the 2016 partnership funding awards for the 3D Elevation Program. This program, referred to as 3DEP, presents a unique opportunity for collaboration between the USGS and other federal, state and local agencies to leverage the services and expertise of private sector mapping firms that acquire high-quality, three-dimensional mapping data of the United States.
“We are very excited about the growing interest in our 3DEP initiative across all levels of government. I’m particularly pleased with the outstanding quality of the project proposals we received for this award opportunity,” said Kevin Gallagher, USGS Associate Director for Core Science Systems.
Thus far in 2016, partnership funding has been awarded to 21 proposals in 19 states and territories. The total data acquisition for FY16 is expected to result in the influx of more than 150,000 square miles of public domain lidar point cloud data and derived elevation products into the 3DEP program.
These 2016 awards are the result of a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the 3D Elevation Program, issued on July 17, 2015. (Fed Biz Opps G15PS00558 and Grants.gov G15AS00123). The BAA is a publicly accessible process to develop partnerships for the collection of lidar and derived elevation data for 3DEP.
The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect nationwide lidar data, with IfSAR data in Alaska, over an 8-year period. 3DEP is designed based on an extensive benefit-cost analysis to conservatively provide new benefits of $690 million/year with the potential to generate $13 billion/year in new benefits through applications that span the economy.
Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing detection system that works on the principle of radar, but uses light from a laser. Similarly, IfSAR, short for interferometric synthetic aperture radar is used to collect data over Alaska due to cloud cover, extreme weather conditions, rugged terrain and remote locations.
Current and accurate 3D elevation data are essential to help communities cope with natural hazards and disasters such as floods and landslides, support infrastructure, ensure agricultural success, strengthen environmental decision-making and bolster national security.
Federal funds to support this opportunity were provided by the USGS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The USGS is acting in a management role to facilitate planning and acquisition for the broader community, through the use of government contracts and partnership agreements.
More information about 3DEP including updates on current and future 3DEP partnership opportunities is available online.
Map depicts the status of BAA awards to date. Project selection is ongoing and will be posted at the 3DEP website. The FY16 3DEP data acquisition is projected to add more than 150,000 square miles of 3DEP quality lidar data to the national database. For the complete list, visit the 2016 Lidar Awards Page.