Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center

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Collaborative and Outside-Funded Projects

Information about Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry activities that are conducted in cooperation with other USGS science centers or outside entities.



State and Other Entities

CO Governor Energy Office | NM Environment Department | OK Water Resources Board

Completed Collaborative and Outside-Funded Projects

Department of the Interior - Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

Tuba City Landfill

The USGS will provide the BIA Environmental Division scientific and technical support regarding geologic, geophysical, geochemical and hydrologic issues related to the Tuba City Landfill. This support will include attending planning, information and technical meetings with the Tuba City Landfill Committee and the local community, participation in conference calls, assistance in proposal and technical document review. The USGS will also assist the BIA and their contractor(s) in the selection of drill sites, borehole logging, and water sampling at the landfill site. Water and soil samples will be collected and geochemically analyzed to help determine the source and distribution of uranium, arsenic and other metals in the landfill groundwater.


Contacts: Robert Horton

Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Field Support

USGS scientists provide technical assistance to BLM in completing in-house scientific characterization studies. Due to the complexity and diversity of problems encountered at these sites, assistance is needed in a range of disciplines. Services are applied in the field as well as the office and may include field assistance for the implementation of geophysical surveys and environmental sampling of soil and water; laboratory analyses; collation of data, GPS and GIS support, photogrammetry, and technical advisory roles for the scoping and oversight of projects and data interpretation.

Contact: Jared Abraham

Wyoming Mine (with Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety)

The potential for prevention of acid mine discharge from the Wyoming Mine, CO, is of significant interest to the BLM and the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. A preliminary geophysical investigation will be performed to determine the feasibility of the in-situ bulkhead seal by locating and characterizing the subsurface workings and site hydrology. The goals are to define where drilling should be targeted, as well as delineate background and contaminated ground water pathways, and their relationship to the underground workings.

Contacts: Jared Abraham and Theodore Asch

Hough Mine (with Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety)

The potential for prevention of acid mine drainage from the Hough Mine waste piles is of significant interest to the BLM, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, as well as the Lake Fork Watershed Stakeholders. The Hough Mine waste pile will be remediated in the future, but in order to understand the Hough site it is necessary to get volumetrics for the mine waste pile and gain an understanding of the ground water regime. In the future, the geophysical data will be used to design a reclamation project to encapslate the mine waste.

Contact: Jared Abraham

Department of the Interior - Bureau of Reclamation (BOR)


USGS provides the BOR with geochemical expertise for use in their environmental and land classification programs through the laboratory analysis of soils, sediments, waters, and plants. Assistance is provided upon request for the interpretation of laboratory results and planning for future field studies, especially as they relate to agricultural and irrigation practices in the western U.S.

Contact: Stephen Wilson

Department of Defense (DOD)

ALLTEM Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP)

Unexploded ordinance (UXO) exist on many active, closed, and closing military installations. Current methods of clearing UXO are prohibitively expensive and in many cases, detected metal items turn out to be harmless scrap metal. Methods to reliably discriminate between buried UXO and harmless scrap metal are required. ALLTEM is a multi-axis elecromagnetic induction system designed for UXO. USGS objectives are to demonstrate and verify that the ALLTEM system is capable of discriminating between UXO and scrap metal in realistic field demonstrations.

Contacts: Ted Asch and David Wright

National Guard - Camp Williams

Camp Williams is a formerly used National Guard training site. Training included use of many types of munitions which are still present on the surface and shallow subsurface. USGS will use geophysical and statistical mapping and analysis methodologies to detect and remove targets and materials of interest. This project will assist the National Guard in the clean up dangerous munitions and make the land safer for the public to use including open range and safely planting crops.

Contact: Ted Asch

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) - Martis Creek

Martis Creek Dam near Truckee, CA, north of Lake Tahoe is one of very few flood control dams for Reno, NV. This dam was built from 1970 to 1972 and had serious seepage concerns when its reservoir first started to fill in 1973. Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have completed several remediation projects and tried to refill the reservoir several times, but always to discover continuing seepage problems. They need subsurface information regarding the left abutment, the right abutment, the dam foundation materials, and possibly the embankment material to determine the best course of action with regard to this dam. They started a drilling program, but realized that geophysical surveys are cost effective, especially when used prior to designing costly drilling efforts. USGS agreed to help determine which geophysical tools are appropriate, where they should be used, and what relevant information they can reveal about the subsurface materials in this area. The dam foundation report and all available documentation about subsurface features will be reviewed. Field efforts will include acquisition with several methods along two important profiles, and will be used to determine the best methods and parameters at this site. Further field efforts will take place with methods, parameters, locations, and coverage as needed to understand subsurface water table, flow paths, and bedrock in the area relevant to dam safety.

Contact: Michael Powers

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) - Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC)

Project objectives are to provide rock property information to the ERDC. Knowledge of rock properties is required to determine what geophysical methods need to be applied for further studies. Rock properties will be determined by laboratory analysis, including geochemical and petrophysical analysis, on submitted samples.

Contact: Robert Horton

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) - Hidden Dam

USGS will conduct geophysical investigations to improve the USACE's understanding of seepage issues at Hidden Dam, north of Fresno, CA. Geophysical methods utilized include self-potential and dc-resistivity measurements to understand subsurface water flow under the downstream toe of the dam.

Contact: Michael Powers

Department of Energy (DOE)

AEM Techologies

The Department of Energy has need to develop and apply state-of-the-art geophysical methods to on-going projects. In particular this project concentrates on the Powder River Basin. USGS will provide technical support for DOE studies using airborne, ground, and borehole geophysics. The current emphasis is water co-produced with coal bed natural gas in the Powder River Basin.

Contact: Bruce Smith

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Scale Analysis for Corrosion Products

Objectives are to provide scale analysis for corrosion products.

Contact: Stephen Wilson

Snake River, Colorado

The Snake River in Summit County, Colorado, is impacted by a legacy of mining. Dissolved metals and low pH originating on abandoned mine lands limit the aquatic ecosystem for many miles in the Snake River and select tributaries. USGS will provide senior level aquatic toxicological and biological assistance in data review, compilation, and interpretation related to investigation at the Pennsylvania Mine and Peru Creek Mining District sites.

Contact: Andrew Todd

Standard Mine

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has listed the Standard Mine in the Elk Creek drainage near Crested Butte, Colorado as a Superfund Site. Drainage from the Standard Mine enters Elk Creek, contributing loads of zinc, cadmium, copper and other metals. Elk Creek is a tributary to Coal Creek, which is part of the drinking-water supply for the town of Crested Butte. The objective of the project is to collect chemical and geophysical data that will lead to a better understanding of hydrogeochemical processes occurring in the upper Elk Creek basin, and will assist the USEPA in designing effective remediation strategies for the Standard Mine site. More specifically, More specifically, the collection high-temporal-resolution in-stream chemical data is to better understand stream metal loads in Elk Creek and how these vary seasonally. The collection of down-hole geophysical data is to better understand the character of the fractures in the bedrock, which control the migration of ground water to the mine workings (assumed metal source). The objective of obtaining chemical data from water and solids samples collected from the mine workings is to better define the source of high metal concentrations in water discharging from the Standard Mine. The performance of surface geophysical surveys is to better understand the geology and ground-water flow system in the shallow subsurface immediately above the mine workings. The logging of drill core retrieved from a boring immediately above the mine is to better understand the mineralogy and structure of rocks overlying the mine workings.

Contact: Andrew Manning

Department of the Interior - Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

Subsurface Salinity Mapping

USGS will provide subsurface salinity mapping for the Fish and Wildlife Serivice by conducting geophysical terrain conductivity surveys.

Contact: Bruce Smith

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Cassini Data Analysis Program (CDAP)

USGS will analyze Cassini Data and laboratory spectroscopy data on organics and other compounds found in the Saturn system. The spectra of compounds will be measured and compared to Cassini VIMS and other data.

Contact: Roger Clark

Cassini, Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS)

The NASA Cassini mission to Saturn carries an imaging spectrometer called VIMS that will be used to map compositions of the planet's atmosphere, rings and satellites. USGS scientists will analyze the spectral data to map minerals and other materials on the solid surfaces of the moons and rings of Saturn. Understanding the composition of these bodies will help us to understand their origin and evolution, and give us a better understanding of the origin of the solar system, the resources that will be available to people, and the potential hazards for future travel.

Cassini VIMS Team Page | USGS Spectroscopy Lab Cassini VIMS Page | NASA JPL Cassini Page

Contact: Roger Clark

Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM)

USGS will analyze data to map mineralogy of Mars.


Contact: Roger Clark

Moon Mineralogy Mapper

USGS will use the NASA Moon Mineralogy Mapper to map minerals on the moon. The mapper will obtain hyperspectral imaging data which will be analyzed for the minerals present. Maps of the moon's minerals will be created.

NASA JPL Moon Mineralogy Mapper Site

Contact: Roger Clark

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)

Imaging Spectroscopy

USGS will develop methods to analyze imaging spectroscopy data for mapping.

Contact: Roger Clark

National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST)


USGS will process and analyze various geological materials to assist the NIST Analytical Chemistry Division in their mission.

Contact: Stephen Wilson

Department of the Interior - National Park Service (NPS)

Montezuma Well

The NPS seeks information to better understand the sources of ground water and flow paths to three water sources within the vicinity of Montezuma Castla National Monument: 1) Montezuma Well, 2) Soda Spring, and 3) Wet Beaver Creek spring. The results of the work will provide information for long-term water-resource management and protection of water rights. The USGS objectives are:

  1. Identify travel paths for ground water supplying Montezuma Well, Soda Springs, and Wet Beaver Creek spring on the basis of chemical and isotopic analyses of ground-water samples and rock samples. Isotopic and chemical data will be used as naturally occurring tracers of recharge source areas and water-rock interactions.
  2. Develop a conceptual hydrogeologic framework model that identifies the principal stratigraphic and structural features that serve as constraints or conduits for ground-water movement for the region surrounding Montezuma Well. The model will integrate available geologic, geophysical, hydrological, and geochemical data. A multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to establish confidence in the interpretation.

Contact: Raymond Johnson

Yellowstone Chloride Monitoring

Chloride monitoring is a major focus of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory's effort to provide hydrologic monitory for possible renewed volcanism and related hazards in the Yellowstone region. Different hydrogeologic processes affect the geothermal flux of chloride to Yellowstone streams and Yellowstone National Park (YNP) has monitored chloride for 30 years. Application of the newly developed in-situ Field Chloride Analyzer, developed at the USGS, will increase sampling resolution, reduce the cost per sample, allow examination of the details of high frequency processes and episodic events which control geothermal chloride flux, and provide real-time information on potential volcanic hazards in YNP.

Contact: Thomas Chapin

San Luis Valley Mountain Front Geophysics

Understanding concealed faults and basement structure near the mountain front on the eastern side of the San Luis Valley play key roles in understanding ground water movement and recharge, in assessing seismic hazards, and evaluating geothermal resources. These are all important objectives for the state of Colorado, water districts, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and nearby wildlife refuges. USGS will acquire geophysical data over the mountain front on the east side of the San Luis Valley, Colorado. A helicopter magnetic survey will be flown to map shallow, concealed faults and delineate basement structure near the mountain front.

Contact: Tien Grauch

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Gamburtsev Aerogeophysical Mapping of Bedrock and Ice Targets (GAMBIT)

Our GAMBIT program will be to advance the understanding of fundamental Earth processes of how mountain ranges contribute to ice sheet dynamics, how mountain ranges form within the interior of East Antarctica, and the controls on the origin and distribution of subglacial lakes. Airborne gravity, magnetic and radar surveys will be conducted over the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, which have been targeted for geophysical and drilling studies by the solid Earth, glaciology and climate modeling communities for many years. Goals are to enhance research infrastructure by helping develop long-range aerogeophysical capabilities for the polar science community.

USGS GAMBIT Page | Antarctica's Gamburtsev Province Project (AGAP) Site

Contact: Carol Finn

Application of Fe and Zn Isotopes to Fingerprint and Track Metal Fluxes in Streams and Groundwater in Alpine Watersheds

This project will characterize isotopic ratios of iron and zinc in surface and ground water samples to track the movement of these elements in alpine watersheds that are affected by mining or hydrothermal mineralization in Colorado. Specific problems that will be addressed through field and laboratory studies include: characterization of metal contamination in watersheds; characterization of instream processes that occur during metal transport; and estimation of pre-mining baseline metal concentrations.

Contact: Richard Wanty

Department of the Interior - U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Biological Resources Discipline - Stable Isotopic Analysis of Environmental Samples

Stable isotopes represent a powerful set of tools for better understanding biogeocheical cycles, contaminants, food webs, and ecosystem structure. The USGS Stable Isotope Laboratory has extensive expertise in isotope systematics and maintains a state of the art facility capable of high sample throughput of virtually limitless sample matrices. USGS objectives are to provide stable isotope analyses and data interpretations for proof of concept, pilot, and field studies for our internal and external partners; and, when necessary, develop novel analytical procedures for analyzing unique samples. Current work is looking at the tissue-diet isotopic discrimination in captive Stellar sea lions; nutrient allocation in juvenile salmonids within the Kenai River watershed; and assessing avian influenza prevalence in Dunlin from Asia using stable isotopes to document their winter distribution.

Contact: Craig Stricker

Biological Resources Discipline - Discovery Farms

North Dakota Discovery Farms is being established as a multi-year environmental research project that will determine the economic and environmental impacts of best management agricultural practices when applied to actual farm and ranch settings. USGS goals of the Discovery Farm project are to 1) identify any environmental impacts through monitoring and sampling of agricultural runoff and soils caused by current agricultural practices on actual production farms and ranches in North Dakota; 2) implement and evaluate management practices to alleviate or minimize negative environmental impacts while maintaining farm profitability; and 3) inform the agricultural community and the public of better agricultural practices that will balamce farm profitability with the regulations and policies that protect the State's natural resources.

Contact: JoAnn Holloway

Reimbursable Analysis

Geologic Discipline chemistry laboratories provide high-precison and -accuracy inorganic analysis of geologic materials while maintaining consistency for long-term programs such as the NAWQA Program. This project also provides analytical consultation and method development/modification for laboratory customers from the Water Resources Discipline. Services provided include:

  1. Inorganic analysis of solid phase materials
  2. QA/QC compilation and documentation of analysis
  3. Liaison/consultation on matters related to geochemical analysis and trace element geochemistry
  4. Method development/implementation to meet needs of Programs/Projects
  5. Assessment of reliability of data from in house techniques using enhanced QA/QC protocols and participation in round-robin analysis.

Contact: LaDonna Choate

Toxic Substances Hydrology Program - Contamination in Fractured Rock Aquifers

Hydraulic flow and transport of toxic substances through fractured rock is quite different from flow and transport through permeable rocks, sands, or soils. Therefore, numerical hydraulic modeling to predict flow in permeable materials cannot be relied upon to provide good predictions of flow and transport in fractured rock. The broad objectives of this project are to provide geophysical devices, techniques, data, interpretations, and site characterizations to assist in the development of better numerical models for hydraulic flow and transport in fractured media. Benefits of better models include improved predictions for toxic substance transport in the event of spills, and enhanced ability to predict the effectiveness of remediation techniques for clean-up of the Nation;s environment.

Toxic Substances Hydrology Contamination in Fractured Rock Aquifers Research | USGS Site for Naval Air Warefare Center Research Site, Trenton, New Jersey

Contact: Karl Ellefsen

Toxic Substances Hydrology Program - Geophysics for Groundwater Studies

The USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program characterizes the natural response of hydrologic systems to contamination. The Toxics Geophysics Project supports the Toxics program by providing geophysical investigations and expertise at selected field sites. Project objectives are to demonstrate the applicability of geophysics to toxic waste site problems, primarily by characterizing shallow stratigraphy and vadose zone hydrology, and to interpret and model geophysical measurements to provide quantitative hydrogeologic information. This is accomplished by providing quantitative and statistical descriptions of heterogeneity in shallow stratigraphy to measure and predict contaminant transport, to determine structures and geometries, and to correlate geophysical measurements with hydrological and geochemical information.

View project site.

Contact: Jeff Lucius

Colorado Governor Energy Office

Upper Arkansas Valley Geophysics

Understanding concealed faults and basement structure in the Upper Arkansas Valley plays a key role in understanding geothermal systems, ground water movement and recharge, and in assessing seismic hazards. These are all important objectives for the state of Colorado and water districts. USGS will acquire geophysical data for the Upper Arkansas Valley of Colorado. Aeromagnetic surveys will be flown to map shallow, concealed faults and delineate basement structure.

Contact: Tien Grauch

New Mexico Environment Department

Noble Gas Analyses

The New Mexico Environment Department is in need of noble gas data for ground water samples collected at Los Alamos National Lab. The USGS Noble Gas Laboratory will analyze groundwater samples for Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe, and He. Noble gas data will be used to calculate recharage parameters (most importantly recharge temperature) that will provide information about ground water recharge location and flow pathways. The New Mexico Environment Department will use this information to better understand the potential impacts of lab-generated ground water contaminants for their management of ground water resources in the vicinity of the lab.

Contact: Andrew Manning

Oklahoma Water Resources Board

HEM Interpretation

Helicopter electromagnetic data (HEM) were acquired in 2007 over four areas of interest. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is interested in having the data for two areas analyzed and interpreted for inclusion of results in their comprehensive Arbucckle-Simpson aquifer study project.

Contact: David V. Smith

Mineral Resources Program
Eastern Central GMEG Alaska Minerals Information Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Spatial Data