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Value of U.S. Mineral Production Increases Despite Lower Metal Prices

February 6, 2015 Comments off

Value of U.S. Mineral Production Increases Despite Lower Metal Prices
Source: USGS

The estimated value of mineral production increased in the United States in 2014, despite the decline in price for most precious metals, the U.S. Geological Survey announced today in its Mineral Commodity Summaries 2015.

The estimated value of mineral raw materials produced at mines in the United States in 2014 was $77.6 billion, an increase of 4.6 percent from $74.2 billion in 2013. U.S. economic growth supported the domestic primary metals industry and industrial minerals industry, however, weak global economic growth and the strong U.S. dollar limited U.S. processed mineral exports, which decreased to $108 billion in 2014 from $129 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, low-priced metal imports increased during most of 2014.

The annual report from the USGS is the earliest comprehensive source of 2014 mineral production data for the world. It includes statistics on about 90 mineral commodities essential to the U.S. economy and national security, and addresses events, trends, and issues in the domestic and international minerals industries.

Historical Hydraulic Fracturing Trends and Data Unveiled in New USGS Publications

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Historical Hydraulic Fracturing Trends and Data Unveiled in New USGS Publications
Source: USGS

This national analysis of data on nearly 1 million hydraulically fractured wells and 1.8 million fracturing treatment records from 1947 through 2010 is used to identify hydraulic fracturing trends in drilling methods and use of proppants (sand or similar material suspended in water or other fluid to keep fissures open), treatment fluids, additives, and water in the United States. These trends are compared to peer-reviewed literature in an effort to establish a common understanding of the differences in hydraulic fracturing and provide a context for understanding the costs and benefits of increased oil and gas production. The publications also examine how newer technology has affected the amount of water needed for the process and where hydraulic fracturing has occurred at different points in time. Although hydraulic fracturing is in widespread use across the United States in most major oil and gas basins for the development of unconventional oil and gas resources, historically, Texas had the highest number of records of hydraulic fracturing treatments and associated wells documented in the datasets.

Natural Hazards of 2014

January 8, 2015 Comments off

Natural Hazards of 2014
Source: USGS

Going into the New Year, the USGS reflects on the natural hazards of 2014 as a reminder of the dangers we face and the need for preparedness to save lives and property.

In 2014, several damaging natural earthquakes occurred around the world. A devastating landslide occurred in Washington State, while heavy rains and landslides also hit California. Notable volcanic activity occurred in Alaska, Hawaii and Iceland, with some alerts and eruptions still ongoing. A drought state of emergency was declared in California, and sinkholes have continued to be of heightened interest. USGS scientists also analyzed seismic data to help focus investigations on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Who Will Come to Your Bird Feeder in 2075?

December 24, 2014 Comments off

Who Will Come to Your Bird Feeder in 2075?
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

The distribution of birds in the United States today will probably look very different in 60 years as a result of climate, land use and land cover changes.

A new U.S. Geological Survey study predicts where 50 bird species will breed, feed and live in the conterminous U.S. by 2075. While some types of birds, like the Baird’s sparrow, will likely lose a significant amount of their current U.S. range, other ranges could nearly double. Human activity will drive many of these shifts. The study was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

USGS Repeat Photography Project Documents Retreating Glaciers in Glacier National Park

December 3, 2014 Comments off

USGS Repeat Photography Project Documents Retreating Glaciers in Glacier National Park
Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Glacier National Park’s namesake glaciers have receded rapidly since the Park’s establishment in 1910, primarily due to long-term changes in regional and global climate. In the last century, the five warmest years have occurred in the last 8 years – in this order: 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004 (NASA). These changes include warming, particularly of daily minimum temperatures, and persistent droughts. This warming is ongoing and the loss of the Park’s glaciers continues, with the park’s glaciers predicted to disappear by 2030.

National Water-Use at Lowest Levels since before 1970

November 7, 2014 Comments off

National Water-Use at Lowest Levels since before 1970
Source: USGS

Water use across the country reached its lowest recorded level in nearly 45 years. According to a new USGS report, about 355 billion gallons of water per day (Bgal/d) were withdrawn for use in the entire United States during 2010.

This represents a 13 percent reduction of water use from 2005 when about 410 Bgal/d were withdrawn and the lowest level since before 1970.

“Reaching this 45-year low shows the positive trends in conservation that stem from improvements in water-use technologies and management,” said Mike Connor, deputy secretary of the Interior. “Even as the U.S. population continues to grow, people are learning to be more water conscious and do their part to help sustain the limited freshwater resources in the country.”

California accounted for 11 percent of the total withdrawals for all categories and 10 percent of total freshwater withdrawals for all categories nationwide. Texas accounted for about 7 percent of total withdrawals for all categories, predominantly for thermoelectric power, irrigation and public supply.

Florida had the largest saline withdrawals, accounting for 18 percent of the total in the country, mostly saline surface-water withdrawals for thermoelectric power. Oklahoma and Texas accounted for about 70 percent of the total saline groundwater withdrawals in the United States, mostly for mining.

Nesting Gulf Sea Turtles Feed in Waters Filled With Threats

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Nesting Gulf Sea Turtles Feed in Waters Filled With Threats
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

Nesting loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf of Mexico feed among areas that were oiled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and where human activities occur, several of which are known to pose threats to sea turtles, a new U.S Geological study showed.

The feeding areas for 10 turtles overlapped with an area that experienced surface oiling during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These sites, and others, also overlapped with areas trawled by commercial fishing operations and used for oil and gas extraction.

The study, which is the largest to date on Northern Gulf loggerheads, examined 59 nesting females, which scientists believe could be 15 percent of the breeding females in the Northern Gulf of Mexico—a small and declining subpopulation of loggerheads that is federally classified as threatened.

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