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USGS publishes first digital geologic map of Alaska

In the past, geologists have put out a map of Alaska every 20 years, but the last map was published in 1980.

By Brooks Hays
USGS publishes first digital geologic map of Alaska
Researchers say the new digital geologic map of Alaska will help land managers better protect land resources. Photo by USGS

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The United States Geological Survey has published the first digital geologic map of Alaska. The new map incorporates the theory of plate tectonics, revealing the geologic details of Alaska both above and below surface level.

"I am pleased that Alaska will now have a state-wide digital map detailing both surface and subsurface geologic resources and conditions," Suzette Kimball, who was recently confirmed as the new director of USGS, said in a news release.

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"This geologic map provides important information for the mineral and energy industries for exploration and remediation strategies," Kimball added. "It will enable resource managers and land management agencies to evaluate resources and land use, and to prepare for natural hazards, such as earthquakes."

The map was compiled using datasets collected from as far back as 1908 and as recently 2015. Because it's completely digital, the map and its corresponding data can be used built a multitude of derivative maps.

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"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 geologist who served as lead author of the new map.

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In the past, geologists have put out a map of Alaska every 20 years. But the last map was published in 1980.

"The 35-year gap between this edition and the last has been a time of major new mapping efforts by the USGS, as well as a revolution in the science of geology through the paradigm shift to plate tectonics, and the development of digital methods," Wilson said.

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