USGS

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. According to the study, mercury can come from a number of different natural and manmade sources. In Idaho, historic gold and silver mining is one source – as the element gets released into...

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. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the new model improves on previous versions that were narrower in scope. Funded by the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the state can use the model to anticipate how changes in things like snowpack and temperature could...

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. This site, and hundreds of others put up by the...

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. Wood says in her new role she...

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. Dave Evetts is leading the study in Idaho , and says he wants to know how the water supply has changed over time by measuring things like...

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. Erick Burns is the lead scientist for the study, and says he’s excited to find out more about what lies below the surface. “[Geothermal energy] is...

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...

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. USGS hydrologist Kenneth Skinner says the Snake River aquifer is one of the cleanest in the country, but pollution has been growing. The biggest culprit is nitrate from agricultural fertilizer and dairies. In drinking water, nitrate...

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...

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. “That includes domestic, industrial, agricultural, mining...

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. At the north end of the valley, which includes Ketchum, Hailey and Sun Valley, hydrologists didn’t see big changes in water amounts. But in the aquifer under the southern,...

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

A new U.S. Geological Survey report indicates a slightly greater earthquake hazard in the Greater Yellowstone region of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho than previously thought. And the USGS map of seismic hazards shows that the region is as seismically hazardous as anywhere in the United States. University of Utah geophysicist Bob Smith tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the nationwide USGS earthquake hazard maps and adjoining documents were last updated in 2006. The documents are used...

Research geologists have just finished a field trial to test a less invasive way to complete seismic hazard surveys.

Earthquake Swarm Continues To Shake Central Idaho

Apr 14, 2014
U.S. Geological Survey

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a 4.6-magnitude earthquake occurred Monday afternoon 14.2 miles north of Challis. Early Monday morning, a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was measured 11 miles north northwest of the town. Mike Stickney is the director of the Earthquake Studies Office at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. He says this swarm of earthquakes in central Idaho started on March 24. He says at least 12 have been greater than magnitude 3, and many smaller tremors have also been...

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Challis, Idaho

Apr 10, 2014
earthquake, challis
Google Maps

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 4.1 earthquake has been recorded three miles underground near Challis, Idaho. USGS monitors recorded the quake at 6:21 a.m. Thursday. It occurred nine miles north-northwest of the town. The Weather Channel says it was the strongest earthquake recorded in Idaho since June of 2006. A USGS intensity map says the quake resulted in light shaking near the epicenter, and weak shaking as far south as the Wood River Valley. The largest earthquake ever...

usgs.gov

If you’ve driven across southern Idaho in the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen a lot of wind turbines. But have you ever wondered how many there are? Now you can count them and get stats on each one with a new interactive map . Jay Diffendorfer is an ecologist with the U. S. Geological Survey. He led the team that collected the data for the map. He sits in his Denver office and brings up the map on his computer. Diffendorfer says if you look at Idaho's representation, the first thing you...

id.water.usgs.gov

I spent 15 minutes entranced watching the Boise River sparkle and the fall leaves rustle on the computer screen in my windowless studio. U.S. Geological Survey hydraulic engineer Molly Wood talked about the features of the USGS Boise River web camera while I played with the controls. I zoomed in on trees upstream and flipped it around to see the cars on the Glenwood Bridge. Wood says anyone can go to the site and control the camera for a minute at a time. About 2,000 people have since last...