USGS

Montana Hit With 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake

Jul 6, 2017
United States Geological Survey

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck western Montana a little after midnight Thursday.

 

The early morning quake was felt across hundreds of miles from eastern Washington to western Montana to Idaho. According to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake’s epicenter was around six miles southeast of Lincoln, Montana and about eight miles underground.

Penn State / Flickr

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey says southeast Idaho is overdue for an earthquake. Sometime within the next 50 years, USGS says the so-called “big one” will start rattling southeast Idaho along the Bear Lake Fault.

They estimate the likelihood of a magnitude 6.0 quake coming in the next half-century at 63 percent.

Kurt Carpenter / USGS

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is holding its 27th annual water quality workshop at Boise State this week. Dan Wise is with the U.S. Geological Survey in Oregon, and Wednesday he’s presenting his findings from a regional study on phosphorus in streams.

Here’s a quick high school science refresher: Phosphorus is a chemical element and is essential for life. It’s in chemical fertilizer, as well as in animal and human waste. But there’s a delicate balance – too much phosphorus can cause problems in waterways with too much plant growth.

Mike McMillan / USFS

Mercury contamination is well documented in the eastern United States. But USGS research ecologist Collin Eagles-Smith wanted to know how big of a problem is it in western states, including Idaho.  He led a comprehensive study that was released earlier this month, showing widespread mercury contamination.

Talo Pinto / Flickr Creative Commons

Like much of Idaho, people in the Wood River Valley rely on groundwater. Now, water managers have a new way of understanding the way surface water and groundwater are connected in the region, and potential problems with the supply.  

USGS

Just ten miles from downtown Boise, scientists are studying golden eagle migration in southwest Idaho. And they’re using roadkill to do it.

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Boise State University and Idaho Fish and Game created a series of motion-sensitive camera traps. They drag a 250-pound road-killed elk through the snow to the trap and leave. The cameras do the work, snapping pictures of whatever scavenger comes by for a snack.

USGS

The Environmental Protection Agency says when sediment gets into waterways, it can be a big problem. The deposits can be contaminated with pollutants we put in the environment, and then those pollutants get in rivers and streams.

Molly Wood hopes to figure out better ways to deal with that issue. Wood is a soil scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Boise. She was recently promoted to oversee the direction of sediment science on a national level.

USGS Idaho

It is common knowledge that the drought this year was pretty bad. But just how intense was it, and what can we learn about it for future water supply shortages? These are some of the questions scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey across the West are asking. They are studying streams and rivers in six states, including Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Stephen Mellentine / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama’s new EPA rule seeking drastic reductions in carbon emissions could create more room in the industry for cleaner forms of energy. One of those is geothermal. In eastern Oregon and parts of Idaho, a new study by the US Geological Survey (USGS) will look closer at this potential source, and its connection to the drought-stricken West.

The Washington National Guard -- joined by officers from Oregon and Idaho -- are preparing for a massive military relief effort.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

This story was updated at 4:55 p.m.

You might have noticed the Boise River was lower than normal Wednesday morning. At midnight, the gauge at Boise's Glenwood Bridge showed the river was flowing at 290 cubic feet per second (cfs). At 10:45 a.m., the river had dropped to just 81 cfs. 

Ryan Hedrick is a hydrologist at the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that controls the flow of water to the river at Lucky Peak. He says the significant drop this morning was due to a problem at a Boise hydroelectric plant in the middle of the night.

deq.idaho.gov

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) this week released several reports on important aquifers around the country. Idaho’s Snake River Plain Basin features in two of those reports. About a fifth of Idahoans rely on that aquifer as their only source of drinking water.

An 11-year state and federal study of selenium pollution in a southeastern Idaho watershed where some 700 sheep, cattle and horses have died over the last several decades after grazing in contaminated areas has found the toxin is likely moving through groundwater.

The 36-page study on the Upper Blackfoot River Watershed released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that selenium levels spiked in the river during spring thaw.

Researchers say the inactive Maybe Canyon Mine is producing the most contamination.

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

Idahoans are using more water per capita than residents of any other state according to a recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS does a detailed look at water use every fifth year.

Molly Maupin led the team that calculated the nation’s water use for 2010. It took them four years to compile all the data. They looked at all the different ways people were using water, from morning showers to cooling nuclear power plants.

rickotto62 / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds that ground water levels have dropped in parts of the Wood River Valley.

USGS hydrologist Jim Bartolino’s team looked at changes in ground water and surface water between 2006 and 2012.

Bartolino says there are two distinct parts to the aquifer under the valley.

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