Archival aerial stereo-photographs are a source of information that can be used to create historical topography models for rapidly changing landscapes. Researchers completed a pilot study in Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (MDSHP), which was once the largest hydraulic mine (1.6 square kilometers) in the Sierra Nevada of California. Legacy impacts in these mined landscapes include remnant steep exposures of highly erodible Eocene-aged auriferous sediments.
The National Map Corps (TNMCorps), a crowdsourced mapping project, relies on volunteers to assist the USGS National Geospatial Program by collecting and editing man-made structures data for The National Map. Through their participation, volunteers make important contributions to the USGS’s ability to provide the Nation with accurate mapping information.
The USGS National Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office, the USGS Cascades Volcano Center, and Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Aviation Services (OAS) trained personnel and equipment were deployed on May 17, 2018, to support the remote sensing data acquisition needed for monitoring eruptions of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.
The potential for gravitational and explosion-driven collapse is one of the greatest hazards of lava dome eruptions. Topographic modeling of active lava domes is useful for detecting changes that may influence collapse or explosive activity. It also provides constraints on the volume of potentially collapsible material, a key parameter of effective hazard assessment.
The 2018 eruption of the Kīlauea volcano in the Hawaiian islands is historically unprecedented in many ways, with explosions and repetitive large-scale collapse events at the volcano’s summit and voluminous lava output in the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) that has strongly impacted communities in the lower district of Puna. Additionally, it marks the Federal Government’s first UAS response to a volcanic eruption.
Accurate assessment of ongoing land subsidence and ground failure requires periodic imaging of the ground surface and reconstruction of topographic changes over multiple timescales. The USGS monitors active land-surface deformation of playas occupying Red Pass and Bicycle Basins in the Mojave Desert to evaluate the influence of tectonic stress, fault barriers to groundwater flow, and declining groundwater levels due to pumping in nearby wells.
In 2017, the National Park Service approached the USGS National Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office to acquire geospatial data in support of developing a flood management plan for the Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Originally established as a private fur trading fort in 1834, Fort Laramie evolved into the largest military post on the northern plains and eventually became part of the National Park System in 1938.
New approaches to habitat characterization are needed to address questions about ecosystems effectively and cost-efficiently, particularly in montane ecosystems where rapid changes in community assemblages have coincided with recent warming trends. Talus provides unique and essential habitat for several montane species but is inadequately mapped to support studies of ecosystem dynamics.
Barrier islands provide numerous invaluable ecosystem services, including storm protection and erosion control for the mainland, habitat for fish and wildlife, salinity regulation in estuaries, carbon sequestration in marsh, recreation, and tourism. These islands are dynamic environments due to their position at the land-sea interface.
The USGS has been working with the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) team to locate the most promising deposits of water ice for future human colonies on Mars. By carefully targeting and analyzing the 25-centimeter/pixel images, the team discovered 100-meter-tall cliffs of almost pure water ice in locations that should be accessible to Mars landers (not too far from the equator and not too high in elevation).