Science picks - leads, feeds and story seeds

September 10, 2002

Leads
The Dust of that Infamous Day - We all remember the scene of workers and passersby fleeing from the storm of dust that followed the Sept. 11 collapse of the World Trade Center. Two days after the collapse, USGS scientists, at the request of the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Public Health Service, conducted a remote sensing and mineralogical study of the dust deposited in lower Manhattan around the WTC. View the full report at http://geology.cr.usgs.gov/pub/open-file-reports/ofr-01-0429/. Photos and captions are available at http://www.usgs.gov/features/sciencepicks.html. Carolyn Bell (cbell@usgs.gov) 703-648-4460

Cruising for Energy - Beneath the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, scientists may find the answer to our country's future energy needs - gas hydrates. Research has shown that gas hydrate deposits exist in concentrations that may literally dwarf the world's known oil reserves. USGS scientists on a 21-day cruise took giant core samples from beneath the ocean's floor. The samples are being studied to learn about the geophysical properties of methane (gas) hydrates and their potential as an energy source. Check out the USGS energy web site: http://energy.usgs.gov/. Preview the video news release and b-roll footage from the research cruise at http://mam.er.usgs.gov:8080/ramgen/methanehydrates.rm. Click here to see what methane hydrates looks like. A.B. Wade (abwade@usgs.gov) 703-648-4460

West Nile Virus Does Not Discriminate - The number of species of birds falling victim to WNV is increasingly on the rise. Currently, the USGS has documented nearly 120 different avian species as having been infected. Some of these species are endangered, raising additional concerns for the spread of this non-native disease. Follow this link (http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/research/west_nile/wnvaffected.html) for a complete list of the infected species and to learn more about how the USGS monitors the spread of WNV and provides diagnostic support to wildlife and public health agencies. A.B. Wade (abwade@usgs.gov) 703-648-4460

Water, Water Everywhere-and Now Online! - Green for normal, blue for wet, and an ominous red for drought-parched streams - now anyone with an Internet connection can log into their computer and see what's happening in real time with the rivers and streams around their neighborhood and around the Nation. Log on to the new USGS Water Watch web site (http://water.usgs.gov/waterwatch). From the easy-to-use, color-coded map of the Nation, visitors to Water Watch can then click on their state and then on the nearest stream and get information that is only hours old. This invaluable service has provided life-saving information to citizens and emergency managers when floodwaters threaten homes and critical community infrastructure. And when the streams show up red, it's helpful for local water managers to be able to adjust their supply sources and to operate dams and reservoirs to greatest efficiency. Butch Kinerney (bkinerney@usgs.gov) 703-648-4460

Taking a Long (more than 400 miles high) Look at a Changing Earth - Diminishing glaciers, dwindling water resources, deforestation and desertification: we live on a changing Earth. What causes these changes and what are the implications? Without an objective, consistent record of the Earth's surface, we just don't have the answers. Fortunately, we have such a record in the USGS National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive. For more than 40 years, the USGS has been keeping a comprehensive and impartial register of the planet's land surface. These fascinating and colorful satellite images enable scientists to address global environmental issues such as those raised at the recent United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. Check out: http://earthshots.usgs.gov for comparative satellite images of environmental change, including deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Closer to home, these USGS images aid experts in the study of national water, energy and environmental resource issues. The archive includes more than 28,000 gigabytes of data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) carried aboard NOAA polar orbiting weather satellites and more than 880,000 declassified intelligence satellite photographs. Check out the register at: http://edc.usgs.gov/archive/nslrsda/overview.html Jon Campbell (joncampbell@usgs.gov) 703-648-4460

BIG Ice Cubes and Plenty of Water
As Alaska's Hubbard Glacier - North America's largest tidewater glacier - advanced, it ruptured the dam formed by the slow advance of the glacier, unleashing a torrential flood of fast-moving water and large chunks of ice and debris that was the second largest glacial lake outburst worldwide in historic times. At its peak discharge, the glacial outburst's rate of flow was 30 times greater than the peak historic flow on the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, La. Glacial outbursts, such as the Aug. 14 one at Hubbard, are a unique natural phenomenon, with some potentially serious effects on local communities, public lands and shipping channels. USGS scientists monitor the glacier's patterns of advance and retreat to be able to predict these effects as far in advance as possible. Hubbard Glacier will continue the advance it began more than100 years ago, eventually causing another closure of Russell Fiord and the potential for a newly created Russell Lake to once again burst forth. View striking photographs at http://ak.water.usgs.gov/glaciology/hubbard. Heather Friesen (hfriesen@usgs.gov) 703-648-4460

Feeds
Can You Fold 57,000 Maps and Get Them in Your Glove Box? - It takes more than 57,000 USGS topographic maps at a scale of 1:24,000 (that's about 1 inch per mile) to cover the 48 conterminous United States. This is the only uniform map series that covers the entire area of the United States in considerable detail. The price for these great maps just went up $2, but at $6, it's still a great deal. The USGS today produces more than 80,000 different maps. These include the 7.5-minute series (1:24,000-scale), topographic maps at smaller scales, maps of U.S. possessions and territories and of Antarctica, special maps of national parks and monuments, and geologic and hydrologic maps. The new generation of maps - The National Map - will provide digital access to current, accurate, and nationally consistent data and topographic maps derived from those data. This seamless, continuously maintained set of public domain geographic base information will serve as a foundation for integrating, sharing, and using other data easily and consistently. Learn more at: http://nationalmap.usgs.gov/

Did You Feel the Earth Move? - Did you know that you can help provide information about the extent of shaking and damage from earthquakes in the United States? Check out the following link to "Did you feel it?" and find out how what you tell the USGS may provide specific details about helping your community to better respond to future earthquakes? Learn more at http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/shake/ and be ready the next time you feel the Earth move under your feet. Wondering about earthquakes on a specific date? Check out: http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/history/

Dating and Mating Butterfly Style - Male butterflies find females by sight and use chemicals called pheromones at close range. If the female accepts the male, they couple end to end and may go on a short courtship flight. They may remain coupled for an hour or more, sometimes overnight. The male passes a sperm packet called a spermatorphore to the female. The sperm then fertilize each egg as it passes down the female's egg-laying tube. USGS scientists conduct research on butterflies and other species and develop technical applications to assist land managers in understanding and managing biological systems. Want to learn more? (Interesting facts on butterflies and pages to color): http://www.mesc.usgs.gov/resources/education/butterfly/bfly_start.asp

Story Seeds
25 Years Old and Still Shaking - At the ripe old age of 25, the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act has some things to celebrate. On October 7, shake, rattle and roll a little with the USGS in recognition of all that the Nation has learned about protecting lives and property from damaging earthquakes since the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program was begun. Thanks to improvements in earthquake monitoring instruments, emergency response people in the areas most vulnerable to earthquakes can now look at ShakeMaps of actual ground shaking less than 10 minutes after an earthquake strikes. That kind of quick information means that lives can be saved and property protected. For more information about ShakeMaps and the Advanced National Seismic System - the future of earthquake science and response, visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/recenteqs/

Earth Science Week - Mark your calendars for October 13-19, 2002, and learn more about "Water is All Around Us," the theme for this year's Earth Science Week, sponsored by the American Geological Institute, the USGS and many other partners around the world. Take a water quiz and get a certificate as a Water Genius! Watch for more news at www.usgs.gov

During that same week, citizens and volunteers around the country will be participating in National Water Monitoring Day on October 18, taking samples of their local water supplies and gathering data on basic components of water quality - commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Good photo ops! Check for locations of activities near you: http://water.usgs.gov/monitoring_day/
-end-
Looking for other science stories? Check out the USGS web site: www.usgs.gov -- there are a thousand and one stories waiting for you. Contact the USGS Office of Communications, Public Affairs Team at 703-648-4460.

US Geological Survey

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