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USGS releases new digital map of Alaska

The US Geological Survey has completed a new digital geologic map of Alaska
USGS releases new digital map of Alaska

A new digital geologic map of Alaska has been released providing land users, managers and scientists geologic information for the evaluation of land use in relation to resource extraction, conservation, natural hazards and recreation. 

The map gives visual context to the abundant mineral and energy resources found throughout the state.

“I am pleased that Alaska now has a state-wide digital map detailing surface geologic features of this vast region of the United States that is difficult to access,” said Suzette Kimball, director of the  US Geological Survey (USGS). “This geologic map provides important information for the mineral and energy industries for exploration and remediation strategies. It will enable resource managers and land management agencies to evaluate resources and land use, and to prepare for natural hazards, such as earthquakes.” 

“This new map makes a real contribution to our state, from the scientific work it embodies to the responsible resource production it may facilitate,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. “Projects like this one underscore the important mission of the US Geological Survey, and I’m thankful to them for completing it.”

This map reflects the changes in our modern understanding of geology as it builds on the past. More than 750 references were used in creating the map, some as old as 1908 and others as new as 2015. As a digital map, it has multiple associated databases that allow creation of a variety of derivative maps and other products. 

Geologists and resource managers alike can utilize this latest geologic map of Alaska, and a lay person can enjoy the colorful patterns on the map showing the state’s geologic past and present.

More than other areas of the US, Alaska reflects a wide range of past and current geologic environments and processes. The map sheds light on the geologic past and present. Today, geologic processes are still very important in Alaska with many active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, receding and advancing glaciers and visible climate impacts. 

“This map is the continuation of a long line of USGS maps of Alaska, reflecting ever increasing knowledge of the geology of the state,” said Frederic Wilson, USGS research geologist and lead author of the new map. “In the past, starting in 1904, geologic maps of Alaska were revised once a generation; this latest edition reflects major new mapping efforts in Alaska by the USGS and the Alaska state survey, as well as a revolution in the science of geology through the paradigm shift to plate tectonics, and the development of digital methods. Completion of this map celebrates the 200th anniversary of world's first geologic map by William Smith of England in 1815.”

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