Large areas of the United States long considered geologically stable with little or no detected seismicity have recently become seismically active. The increase in earthquake activity began in the mid-continent starting in 2001 (1) and has continued to rise. In 2014, the rate of occurrence of earthquakes with magnitudes (M) of 3 and greater in Oklahoma exceeded that in California (see the figure). This elevated activity includes larger earthquakes, several with M > 5, that have caused significant damage (2, 3). To a large extent, the increasing rate of earthquakes in the mid-continent is due to fluid-injection activities used in modern energy production (1, 4, 5). We explore potential avenues for mitigating effects of induced seismicity. Although the United States is our focus here, Canada, China, the UK, and others confront similar problems associated with oil and gas production, whereas quakes induced by geothermal activities affect Switzerland, Germany, and others...
Fort Collins Science Center Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Science Accomplishments
The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Southwest Region, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and those of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land and resource management. Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. We organized our report into an Executive Summary, a cross-reference table, and an appendix. The executive summary provides brief highlights of some key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area. The table cross-references all major FY2012 and FY2013 science accomplishments with the various Mission Areas that each supports. The one-page accomplishment descriptions in the appendix are organized by USGS Mission Area and describe the many and diverse ways in which our science is applied to resource issues. As in prior years, lists of all FY2012 and FY2013 publications and other product types also are appended.
Continental-scale, seasonal movements of a heterothermic migratory tree bat
Long-distance migration evolved independently in bats and unique migration behaviors are likely, but because of their cryptic lifestyles, many details remain unknown. North American hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus cinereus) roost in trees year-round and probably migrate farther than any other bats, yet we still lack basic information about their migration patterns and wintering locations or strategies. This information is needed to better understand unprecedented fatality of hoary bats at wind turbines during autumn migration and to determine whether the species could be susceptible to an emerging disease affecting hibernating bats. Our aim was to infer probable seasonal movements of individual hoary bats to better understand their migration and seasonal distribution in North America. We analyzed the stable isotope values of non-exchangeable hydrogen in the keratin of bat hair and combined isotopic results with prior distributional information to derive relative probability density surfaces for the geographic origins of individuals. We then mapped probable directions and distances of seasonal movement. Results indicate that hoary bats summer across broad areas. In addition to assumed latitudinal migration, we uncovered evidence of longitudinal movement by hoary bats from inland summering grounds to coastal regions during autumn and winter. Coastal regions with nonfreezing temperatures may be important wintering areas for hoary bats. Hoary bats migrating through any particular area, such as a wind turbine facility in autumn, are likely to have originated from a broad expanse of summering grounds from which they have traveled in no recognizable order. Better characterizing migration patterns and wintering behaviors of hoary bats sheds light on the evolution of migration and provides context for conserving these migrants.
Western Energy Citation Clearinghouse, Version 1.0 [Web Application]
Montag, J.M., C. Willis, L. Glavin, M.K., Eberhardt Frank, A.L. Everette, K. Peterson, S. Nicoud, and A. Novacek
In 2002 we published Rocky Mountain Futures, an Ecological Perspective (Island Press) to examine the cumulative ecological effects of human activity in the Rocky Mountains. We concluded that multiple local activities concerning land use, hydrologic manipulation, and resource extraction have altered ecosystems, although there were examples where the “tyranny of small decisions” worked in a positive way toward more sustainable coupled human/environment interactions. Superimposed on local change was climate change, atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and other pollutants, regional population growth, and some national management policies such as fire suppression.
Where eagles nest, the wind also blows: consolidating habitat and energy needs [Science Feature]
Energy development is rapidly escalating in resource-rich Wyoming, and with it the risks posed to raptor populations. These risks are of increasing concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for protecting the persistence of protected species, including raptors. In support of a Federal mandate to protect trust species and the wind energy industry’s need to find suitable sites on which to build wind farms, scientists at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) and their partners are conducting research to help reduce impacts to raptor species from wind energy operations. Potential impacts include collision with the turbine blades and habitat disruption and disturbance from construction and operations. This feature describes a science-based tool—a quantitative predictive model—being developed and tested by FORT scientists to potentially avoid or reduce such impacts. This tool will provide industry and resource managers with the biological basis for decisions related to sustainably siting wind turbines in a way that also conserves important habitats for nesting golden eagles. Because of the availability of comprehensive data on nesting sites, golden eagles in Wyoming are the prototype species (and location) for the first phase of this investigation.
Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico: An online resource for decision-makers and the public [Science Feature]
Carr, N.B., N. Babel, J. Diffendorfer, D. Ignizio, S. Hawkins, N. Latysh, K. Leib, J. Linard, and A. Matherne
In order to balance the benefits of energy development with the potential consequences for ecosystems, recreation, and other resources, managers and other decision-makers need geospatial data on existing energy development and energy potential that is accessible and usable for evaluating tradeoffs among resources, comparing development alternatives, or quantifying cumulative impacts. To allow for a comprehensive evaluation among different energy types, an interdisciplinary team of USGS scientists has developed an online Interactive Energy Atlas for Colorado and New Mexico. The purpose of the EERMA Interactive Energy Atlas is to facilitate access to geospatial data related to energy resources, energy infrastructure, and natural resources that may be affected by energy development. The Atlas is designed to meet the needs of varied users, including GIS analysts, resource managers, policymakers, and the public, who seek information about energy in the western United States.
Gas energy development and pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) site occupancy in Wyoming
Germaine, S.S. and D. Ignizio
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Utah State University’s Restoring the West Conference 2012: Balancing Energy Development and Biodiversity, October 30-31, 2012, Logan, Utah
The Energy and Environment in the Rocky Mountain Area (EERMA) project is composed of interdisciplinary U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists working to provide land management agencies and decision makers with synthesized information and comprehensive, virtual tools to promote understanding of the trade-offs of energy development. The purpose of the Interactive Energy Atlas is to provide data and decision support tools to visualize and assess the potential effects of energy development on terrestrial/hydrological resources at multiple scales...
A tale of two land uses in the American West: rural residential growth and energy development
This paper describes a spatiotemporal land use map for a rural county in the western United States. Sublette County, Wyoming has undergone recent land use change in the form of heightened rural residential development on private land and increased energy development on both public and private land. In this study we integrate energy production data, population census data, ownership parcel data, and a series of Landsat Thematic Mapper and Enhanced Thematic Mapper scenes (over a 25-year period) to create a map that illustrates the changing landscape. Spatial change on the landscape is mapped at 30 square meters, congruent with a Landsat pixel. Sublette County has a wealth of wildlife and associated habitat which is affected by both types of growth. While we do not attempt to quantify the effect of disturbance on wildlife species, we believe our results can provide important baseline data that can be incorporated into land use planning and ecological wildlife research at the landscape scale.