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News Archive - stories from December 2017.

For information about a story, contact Ann Tihansky (202) 208-3342.

Photo shows USGS scientist Amy East showing some visitors how to sieve sand. USGS scientist Shawn Harrison looks on.Enthusiastic response to open house at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz

USGS scientists at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, spoke with an estimated 300 visitors during a December 9 open house. Adults and kids explored interactive exhibits, video and photo displays, posters, deep-sea rocks and minerals, and oceanographic equipment. Exhibits (and people) filled the lobby and entrance courtyard. “The public was excited to see what we do,” said Center Director Guy Gelfenbaum, “and many were engaged in interesting and meaningful conversations about the science.” Media coverage later that day included an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and a segment on KION TV’s late-night news. Contact: Rex Sanders,, 831-460-7555posted: 2017-12-22

USGS researcher to brief staffer of U.S. Representative Charlie Crist

On Wed., Dec 20th, SPCMSC research geologist Cheryl Hapke, along with Phil Kramer, the director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO), will brief a staffer from U.S. Representative Charlie Crist's St Petersburg office on the Florida Coastal Mapping Program (FCMP). The researchers from the USGS SPCMSC and FIO are spearheading the development of the FCMP, a Federal-State partnership, to inventory existing coastal seafloor data for 2,100 km of the Florida coastline, conduct a gap analysis, and have a stakeholder meeting (January 9–11, 2018) to develop a prioritization and a strategy to fill data gaps over the coming decade. The effort is focusing on data in the 0–200m water depth, dividing the Florida coast into 6 regions. The request for a briefing came after the new St. Petersburg Innovation District showcased the FCMP at an Expo in early December. Rep. Crist's staffer Dilion Stafford was in attendance and requested to be put in contact with Hapke and Kramer to learn more about FCMP. For more information on the January workshop, see Contact Cheryl Hapke ( for more information.

posted: 2017-12-18

Photograph of a boiling black smoker emitting hydrothermal fluids into seawater at Niua vent field in the Lau basin, southeast Pacific.First observation of gold particles in hot hydrothermal fluids

For the first time, scientists have found gold particles in boiling fluids from a hydrothermal vent. USGS scientist Amy Gartman and coauthors published their discovery in the journal Geology. Gold is one of the metals in hydrothermal vent deposits that may make mining them economical. The discovery of gold colloids—particles smaller than 1 micron (a human hair is about 60 microns in diameter) suspended in seawater—will advance understanding of how, and how fast, seafloor gold deposits form. Gartman and colleagues collected the colloids from hydrothermal fluids at Niua volcano in the South Pacific on a 2016 Schmidt Ocean Institute cruise. Gold colloids are widely used in biomedicine and technology and have long been hypothesized to exist in natural fluids. This study is the first to find them in hydrothermal fluids. Contact: Amy Gartman,, 831-460-7562. Photo credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute, ROV ROPOSposted: 2017-12-11

Open house at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz.Open House at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 9, USGS scientists treated visitors to displays about their research at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. We had interactive exhibits, video and photo displays, posters, deep-sea rocks and minerals, oceanographic equipment, and colorful handouts. Our first open house in 13 years, visitors poured in to the courtyard and lobby at 2885 Mission Street to learn about our science as part of the “Holiday Bazaar at the Wrigley Building.” Contact: Rex Sanders,, 831-460-7555

Read about the Open House in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.posted: 2017-12-10

Photograph shows flooding on a road in Olympic National Park, Washington, on November 24, 2017.Physical processes dominate channel evolution in Olympic National Park rivers--A reply

A team of federal scientists addressed comments from researchers who disagree with their conclusions that river channel evolution is driven primarily by physical factors rather than an overabundance of elk after wolf eradication. The team, led by USGS geologist Amy East, does not dismiss the influence of elk on river-bank vegetation, but contend that the weight of evidence indicates floods and other physical drivers have dominated the change in river channels during the last 70 years while biological drivers are secondary. The disagreement highlights the difficulties of determining the causes of ecological change in a complex world. Read the original paper and the reply. Contact: Amy East,, 831-460-7533, and Kurt Jenkins,, 360-565-3041posted: 2017-12-08

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