USGS News

Revised West Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia Maps Feature New Design

Summary: US Topo maps now have a crisper, cleaner design - enhancing readability of maps for online and printed use Newly designed US Topo maps covering West Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia are now available online for free download

Contact Information:

Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 ); Bob Davis ( Phone: 573-308-3554 );



US Topo maps now have a crisper, cleaner design - enhancing readability of maps for online and printed use. Map symbols are easier to read over the digital aerial photograph layer whether the imagery is turned on or off. Improvements to symbol definitions (color, line thickness, line symbols, area fills), layer order, and annotation fonts are additional features of this supplemental release. Users can now adjust the transparency for some features and layers to increase visibility of multiple competing layers.

This new design was launched earlier this year and is now part of the new US Topo quadrangles for West Virginia (418 maps), New Jersey (150) and Georgia (952 maps), replacing the first edition US Topo maps for those states.

“Users in West Virginia will appreciate improvements in the US Topo product, including the availability of improved contours, Forest Service trails, and vegetation cover (green tint),” said Craig Neidig, USGS Geospatial Liaison for West Virginia. “The product should find an audience among the many recreational users and outdoor enthusiasts in West Virginia, especially with the capability to use the US Topo maps on mobile devices.  We look forward to the addition of layers including mining sites, wetlands, and more historic features that users were accustomed to seeing on the old topographic quadrangles for the Mountain State.” 

US Topo maps are updated every three years. The initial round of the 48 conterminous states coverage was completed in September of 2012.  Hawaii and Puerto Rico maps have recently been added. More than 400 new US Topo maps for Alaska have been added to the USGS Map Locator & Downloader, but will take several years to complete. 

Re-design enhancements and new features:

  • Crisper, cleaner design improves online and printed readability while retaining the look and feel of traditional USGS topographic maps
  • New functional road classification schema has been applied
  • A slight screening (transparency) has been applied to some features to enhance visibility of multiple competing layers
  • Updated free fonts that support diacritics
  • New PDF Legend attachment
  • Metadata formatted to support multiple browsers
  • New shaded relief layer for enhanced view of the terrain
  • Military installation boundaries, post offices and cemeteries
  • Starting with Georgia, the railroad dataset is much more complete from a new contractor

To enjoy earlier legacy quads for West Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia, go to the USGS Historical Topographic Map Collection. These scanned images of paper maps up through 2006 are also available for free download from The National Map and the USGS Map Locator & Downloader website.

US Topo maps are created from geographic datasets in The National Map, and deliver visible content such as high-resolution aerial photography, which was not available on older paper-based topographic maps. The new US Topo maps provide modern technical advantages that support wider and faster public distribution and on-screen geographic analysis tools for users. The new digital electronic topographic maps are delivered in GeoPDF image software format and may be viewed using Adobe Reader, available as a no cost download.

For more information, go to: http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/

Historical map of the Cass, West Virginia area, 1922. (high resolution image 1.8 MB) US Topo map of the Cass, West Virginia quadrangle, March 2014. (high resolution image 1.2 MB)

Media Advisory: Catastrophic Earthquakes – In a Crowded World

Summary: April Public Lecture Flyer. (High resolution image) MENLO PARK, Calif. — Why have there been so many catastrophic earthquakes at the beginning of the 21st century? On April 24th, USGS Research Geologist Thomas Holzer will tell us the history and future of earthquake death tolls, and the urbanization of the planet. Find out what makes modern megacities vulnerable to natural hazards. Free USGS Public Lecture April 24

Contact Information:

Leslie  Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );



April Public Lecture Flyer. (High resolution image)

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Why have there been so many catastrophic earthquakes at the beginning of the 21st century? On April 24th, USGS Research Geologist Thomas Holzer will tell us the history and future of earthquake death tolls, and the urbanization of the planet. Find out what makes modern megacities vulnerable to natural hazards.

Who:

Thomas L. Holzer, USGS Research Geologist

What:

Slide-show-illustrated presentation: Catastrophic Earthquakes – In a Crowded World

When:

Thursday, April 24, 2014
7 p.m.—Public lecture open to all
(evening presentation will be live-streamed over the Internet)
Speaker is available on Wednesday for media inquiries

Where:

U.S. Geological Survey
Building 3 Auditorium, second floor
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025

More info and directions:  

USGS Evening Public Lecture Series Calendar
Menlo Park Campus Map

First USGS Streamgage Records 125 Years of Measuring New Mexico's Vital Water Resources

Summary: In 1889, the foundation for modern water management began on the Rio Grande in Embudo, N.M. Today, 125 years later, a celebration was held to honor the first U.S. Geological Survey streamgage in the picturesque town located 43 miles outside of Santa Fe.

Contact Information:

David Ozman ( Phone: 720-244-4543 ); Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );



In 1889, the foundation for modern water management began on the Rio Grande in Embudo, N.M. Today, 125 years later, a celebration was held to honor the first U.S. Geological Survey streamgage in the picturesque town located 43 miles outside of Santa Fe.

Reporting river flows is not just a job at USGS – it’s a matter of public safety, environmental protection and wise economic development. Streamgage data is used to forecast floods and droughts, manage flood flows, deliver water supplies, establish water rights and protect threatened aquatic habitats.

Ten years following the USGS’s birth in 1879, and under the advisement of John Wesley Powell, the proposition to inventory the flow of all streams in the arid West and evaluate the potential for crop irrigation came to fruition in Embudo, N.M., on Jan. 1, 1889.

“It’s such a pleasure to be here to mark the 125th anniversary of this New Mexico landmark and the starting point of the USGS program of measuring the flows of our nation’s rivers and streams,” said USGS Acting Director, Suzette Kimball. “At a time when the competition for water resources is growing and reaching critical levels in many areas, especially in the West, the public needs to have relevant, timely and trustworthy information about water quantity and quality.”

Long-term streamflow information is used by a number of federal, state and tribal agencies, including the National Weather Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Thousands of boaters and fishermen also access the data every day to plan recreational outings.ore Rd.,apid City N. Mt. Rushmore Rd., Rapid City.

Embudo was selected as the site of the first gaging station because of the need for systematic water resource assessments of western states as it not only offered a favorable climate and easy rail access, but qualified for congressional funding tapped specifically for the “arid West.” 

More than 247 million daily observations from 26,000 streamgages are currently available through the USGS National Water Information System, including those first Embudo recordings in 1889. The USGS operates 4,461 stations with more than 30 years of record, and 8,024 gages comprise the U.S. streamgage network today.

 

High Concentrations of Trace Elements More Prevalent in Southern Desert Groundwater than Statewide

Summary: SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Inorganic trace elements – fluoride, arsenic, molybdenum and boron – were detected at high concentrations in 42 percent of groundwater used for public supply in the Borrego Valley, and southern desert areas of California, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS evaluated the quality of untreated groundwater for this study – not treated tap water.

Contact Information:

Bonnie  Dickson, USGS ( Phone: 916-278-3318 ); George Kostyrko, SWRCB ( Phone: 916-341-7365 );



SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Inorganic trace elements – fluoride, arsenic, molybdenum and boron – were detected at high concentrations in 42 percent of groundwater used for public supply in the Borrego Valley, and southern desert areas of California, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS evaluated the quality of untreated groundwater for this study – not treated tap water.

These findings are significant because elsewhere in the state, high concentrations of trace elements generally are found in only six to 28 percent of the groundwater used for public supply. Fluoride, arsenic, molybdenum, and boron are naturally present in rocks and soils, and the water that comes in contact with those materials. High concentrations generally are the result of natural processes, but human activities may have some influence.

“High” are concentrations above the Environmental Protection Agency's or California Department of Public Health's established Maximum Contaminant Levels or other non-regulatory health-based levels for chemical constituents or elements not having MCLs. “Moderate” are concentrations greater than one-tenth the MCL.

“Local water distributors, regional agencies, as well as the U.S. EPA, are aware of the presence of arsenic, fluoride, boron, and other trace elements in groundwater in the desert region, and are actively working to manage local groundwater resources and assure that water delivered to consumers meets water-quality standards,” said Dr. Miranda Fram, chief of the USGS Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment program. “This quantitative assessment of where, what, and how much contamination is in the groundwater will help agencies better manage groundwater resources.”

Nitrate was detected at high concentrations in less than three percent of groundwater used for public supply. Household, commercial, industrial and agricultural products and pesticides were detected at moderate concentrations in about five percent of the groundwater tested.

The study is part of the State Water Resources Control Board GAMA Program Priority Basin Project, for which the USGS California Water Science Center is the technical lead. In cooperation with the SWRCB, the USGS is monitoring and assessing groundwater quality in 120 priority basins, and groundwater outside of basins to better understand the natural and human factors affecting groundwater quality in California. The main goals of the GAMA Program Priority Basin Project are to improve comprehensive statewide groundwater monitoring and to increase the availability of groundwater-quality information to the public.

The complete findings are detailed in a new report from the USGS and in a related four-page fact sheet intended for the public.

New Mexico Streamgage Marks 125 Years of Running Strong

Summary: The first USGS streamgage in the country is turning 125 years old, and the U.S. Geological Survey, along with many partner agencies, is commemorating the event on Tuesday, April 22, with a celebration at the Embudo streamgage near Espanola. New Mexico State Engineer Scott Verhines and USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball will join a number of federal, state and local officials at a ceremony to recognize the device that set the foundation for modern water management. Officials to Gather near Espanola for Anniversary Event

Contact Information:

David Ozman ( Phone: 720-244-4543 ); Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );



The first USGS streamgage in the country is turning 125 years old, and the U.S. Geological Survey, along with many partner agencies, is commemorating the event on Tuesday, April 22, with a celebration at the Embudo streamgage near Espanola. New Mexico State Engineer Scott Verhines and USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball will join a number of federal, state and local officials at a ceremony to recognize the device that set the foundation for modern water management.

Reporting river flows is a matter of public safety, environmental protection, and wise economic development.  USGS streamgage data is used to forecast floods and droughts, manage flood flows, deliver water supplies, establish water rights, and protect threatened aquatic habitats. Thousands of boaters and fishermen also access the data every day to plan recreational outings.

What: 125th Anniversary Celebration of first USGS Streamgage

Who: USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball
New Mexico State Engineer Scott Verhines
Congressional representatives and other federal, state and local officials

When: Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 11 a.m.

Where: Embudo, N.M.   Directions to the Embudo Streamgage Commemoration Event. (high resolution image)

Drive three miles north of the town of Velarde. At the Embudo Station sign, turn left on to the bridge over the Rio Grande. Park once over the bridge and walk to the event tent. Image shows the exact location.

Situated 43 miles from Santa Fe, Embudo was selected as the site of the first gaging station because of the need for systematic water resource assessments of western states. Embudo not only offered a favorable climate and easy rail access, an important consideration for transporting the imperative scientific and camp equipment, but qualified for congressional funding tapped specifically for the “arid West.” 

Today, More than 247 million daily observations from 26,000 streamgages are available through the USGS National Water Information System, including those first Embudo recordings in 1889. The USGS operates 4,461 stations with more than 30 years of record, and 8,024 gages comprise the U.S. streamgage network today.