Conduct geological and geophysical surveys to determine the potential of Alaskan land for production of metals, minerals, fuels, and geothermal resources, the potential geologic hazards to buildings, roads, bridges, and other installations and structures; and conduct such other surveys and investigations as will advance knowledge of the geology of the state. (AS 41.08)
- Produce timely and reliable new energy-related geologic information in areas of poor geologic understanding and high energy-resource potential
- Produce timely and reliable new minerals-related geological and geophysical information in areas of limited information and high mineral-resource potential
- Produce timely and reliable new information on geologic hazards in areas at risk of casualties, economic losses, and infrastructure failure from natural disasters
- Provide timely delivery of geological and geophysical information to industry, government, and the public in support of resource exploration, development, and pre-disaster hazard mitigation for continued economic growth and public safety
- Preserve the state's archive of representative geologic materials from across the state and provide improved public access to the non-proprietary sample inventory in support of resource exploration, land management, and geologic education
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|Mission Results||Core Services|
|A: Result - GEOLOGIC DATA COLLECTION AND INTERPRETATION: Continually gather and interpret new geologic field data in emerging areas of interest related to energy supply, mineral deposits, and geologic hazards.|
Target #1: Publish new geologic mapping to address the state's needs for evaluating energy resources, mineral resources, and geologic hazards
Square Miles of Published New Geologic Mapping
Analysis of results and challenges: Detailed, reliable and publicly available geologic maps and analytical data are critical for attracting new exploration investment in minerals and energy resources; identifying geologic hazards that pose risks to public safety, infrastructure and the environment; and providing detailed information for state resource and land-use management. Detailed geological and geophysical maps of Alaska at scales needed for resource exploration, land-use management and geologic-hazards assessment are scattered geographically and currently available for only about 17 percent of the state but our field programs are increasing this coverage gradually each year. The division prioritizes the selection of new mapping areas in consultation with other state agencies, appropriate state boards and commissions, its Geologic Mapping Advisory Board, industry resource-interest groups and other stakeholders. We are committed to delivering the results of our extensive field mapping programs to the public in a timely manner.
Several large-area maps were released in early FY2016, including a sizable amount of field mapping performed many years ago. Included in the FY2016 total is 11,916 sq. miles, published in 2015 by Nokleberg, W.J and others (Geologic maps of the eastern Alaska Range, Alaska - 44 quadrangles, 1:63,360 scale). Total square miles of published mapping (606 sq. mi.) was below average in FY2018, derived from three reports highlighting the geology of Kasatochi and Mt. Chiginigak volcanoes and the Tok River area, Tanacross A-5 and A-6 quadrangles, eastern Alaska Range. Although this FY18 target was not reached, DGGS published many other datasets and reports that were not traditional geologic maps (i.e. coastal elevation data and tsunami inundation and permanent flooding maps).
|A1: Core Service - Produce timely and reliable new energy-related geologic information in areas of poor geologic understanding and high energy-resource potential|
Target #1: Publish reports on energy-related geology that assist the energy industry and state agencies in exploring for and managing energy resources on state-interest lands
New Reports Published on Energy-Related Geology
Analysis of results and challenges: Publicly available detailed geologic knowledge is important for energy resource development and management. This information must result from the most modern analyses and incorporate all available data in order to identify frontier areas of energy exploration on state lands. A critical component of this effort is the publication of geologic reports on a wide range of energy sources.
During FY2018, the Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys published four reports providing new geologic data to assist oil and gas exploration throughout Alaska, which was three short of the target. The three reports not published were delayed due to the complexity of the data sets they summarize; they will be published in FY2019. Two reports were published in Geosphere, an internationally distributed professional journal focusing on new, ground-breaking developments in the geosciences. One of the Geosphere reports focused on the origin and significance of the Bruin Bay fault zone, a major crustal-scale fault system bordering the west side of Cook Inlet basin, and the other Geosphere report included a detailed analysis of fracture systems in sedimentary rocks in lower Cook Inlet and their significance for unconventional petroleum resources. A third report, a DGGS Report of Investigations, described a newly discovered 35-meter-thick oil-stained sand body exposed along the west side of Cook Inlet and its significance for undiscovered oil resources in the basin. The fourth report included isotopic age dates that help constrain the timing of motion along the Bruin Bay fault zone, an important structure that helped control formation of petroleum traps in producing fields in upper Cook Inlet.
During FY2018, Energy Section staff collaborated extensively with geologists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG), and Boise State University. The collaboration with BEG involves a compilation of information on key petroleum reservoir and source rock intervals on the North Slope for a multi-national oil company with a major lease position on the North Slope.
Target #2: Collect new geologic field data to support resource evaluations of areas prospective for oil, gas and coal
Square Miles of Prospective Hydrocarbon Resource Areas Evaluated with New Geologic Field Data
Analysis of results and challenges: The evaluation of new geologic field data in areas of high energy-resource potential is critical for attracting new industry players and providing detailed information for government, academia and exploration companies. The Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys set the FY2018 target of evaluating 8,000 square miles of hydrocarbon resource areas based on evaluating the central North Slope. The Energy Resources Section exceeded this target by evaluating the central north slope and part of lower Cook Inlet basin. The FY2019 target is 9,000 square miles, and includes the the central North Slope and part of the 1002 Area in ANWR. The latter work will be partially funded by a federal grant.
|A2: Core Service - Produce timely and reliable new minerals-related geological and geophysical information in areas of limited information and high mineral-resource potential|
Target #1: Publish airborne geophysical survey data for Alaska's minerals-interest lands
Square Miles of Published Minerals-Related Airborne Geophysical Data
Analysis of results and challenges: Much of Alaska’s lands with high mineral-resource potential have poorly exposed geology due to tundra and tree cover. Airborne geophysical surveys measure physical properties of the earth; these properties correspond to various geologic features and measurements are not affected by vegetation. Airborne geophysical survey data are invaluable for guiding subsequent ground-based geologic mapping, sampling, and associated mineral-assessment work. Only about 28 percent of prioritized mineral-bearing state lands have been geophysically surveyed, and the Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (DGGS) is committed to acquiring data in remaining areas of the state that have high mineral-resource potential, subject to availability of funding.
In FY2017, DGGS contracted for a new federally-funded airborne geophysical survey covering about 5,382 square miles in the Porcupine River area in northeastern Alaska. DGGS also partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the USGS to fly four additional surveys for geologic-hazard assessments, covering a total of 185 square miles. These datasets are scheduled for public release in FY2019, with an anticipated release of 5,566 square miles of geophysical surveys.
The state-funded Strategic and Critical Minerals (SCM) project (FY2013-2015) allowed DGGS to annually publish more than twice the amount of airborne geophysical data published in prior years under the state’s annually funded, Airborne Geophysical/Geological Mineral Inventory (AGGMI) program. Budget cuts in FY2016 eliminated both the SCM project and AGGMI program, and the lack of state funding means that no further state-funded airborne geophysical surveys of mineral districts are planned. If the federal 3DEEP critical minerals program is funded by the U.S. Congress in FFY2019, DGGS may be contracted by the USGS to manage geophysical contracts covering large portions of Alaska’s mineral districts, potentially starting as early as late FY2019.
Target #2: Publish reports and/or digital data sets on mineral-resource geology and mineral-industry exploration activity
Published Reports and Datasets on Mineral-Resource Geology and Mineral-Industry Exploration
Analysis of results and challenges: The Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys’ minerals-related geologic reports and digital datasets provide important statewide, up-to-date geologic information for mineral exploration companies and state land managers regarding the potential of Alaska land for hosting mineral resources, and has been shown to directly influence industry investment decisions and exploration success in Alaska and increase state revenue. Additionally, the annual Alaska’s Mineral Industry report provides an accurate record of industry activity and economic statistics relevant to a broad user base including legislators, industry, and investors. The sharp increase in the number of mineral-resource geology reports and datasets in FY2014–16 reflects geochemical and other geologic datasets that are a direct result of work completed as part of the FY2012–14 Strategic and Critical Minerals Capital Improvement Project (CIP) appropriations. We expect output to again increase starting in FY2019 as the state will likely start receiving millions of dollars in federal funds for statewide critical-minerals-related geophysical and geologic mapping.
Target #3: Attract maximum amount of industry investment in mineral exploration in Alaska for each state dollar spent on mineral resource assessment
Industry Exploration Dollars Spent per State Dollar Spent on Mineral Resource Assessment
Analysis of results and challenges: A primary goal of the Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys' (DGGS) Airborne Geophysical/Geological Mineral Inventory program is to attract exploration investment by private companies to Alaska. While there are many other factors, such as the cyclical nature of commodity prices and worldwide availability of venture capital, development and production costs, tax structure, and regulatory environment, that influence a company's decision whether to spend their exploration capital in Alaska versus elsewhere, the public availability of detailed, reliable geological and geophysical data helps to significantly reduce exploration risks and attract industry investment.
One way to gauge the effectiveness of state investment for encouraging mineral-industry activity in the state is to compare industry expenditures on mineral exploration in Alaska to state expenditures for mineral-resource assessment and knowledge transfer. Data on exploration investment comes from DGGS’s annual mineral industry report. We compare the reported exploration value to our estimated expenditures for mineral-resource assessment during the previous state fiscal year. Because mineral-industry exploration data are not available until well into the following calendar year, this measure lags behind by one year.
From historical data, a ratio of $100 of industry exploration for every state dollar spent was a reasonable annual target from FY2005-12, but that situation changed dramatically in FY2013-15. Worldwide metal prices and availability of venture capital for exploration peaked in 2011 and entered a downward trend that continued through 2016; in 2016, metal prices reversed trend and are being reflected in a doubling of exploration spending in 2018 over levels in 2017. Two external factors that contributed to lower exploration expenditures in FY2013–15 were cessation of exploration at Pebble, and transition of the Donlin Gold project from exploration to development; development expenditures are not included in calculations for this performance measure. At the same time that industry spending slowed, the state increased spending through the Strategic and Critical Minerals project in FY2011–14. The combination of lower industry spending and higher state investment resulted in a ratio below 100 for FY2012–15. Industry cycles usually last for 3 to 5 years, and ratios below 100 can be expected when worldwide mineral economy cycles are at lower levels. The long-term investment of the State spurs renewed mineral industry activity in Alaska once market investment capital again becomes available.
|A3: Core Service - Produce timely and reliable new information on geologic hazards in areas at risk of casualties, economic losses, and infrastructure failure from natural disasters|
Target #1: Publish reports or maps providing improved assessment of geologic hazards that could pose significant risks to public safety or infrastructure
Published New Reports on Geologic Hazards that Pose Significant Risks to Public Safety
Analysis of results and challenges: Preventing economic losses and threats to public safety from natural disasters is closely tied to our understanding of the risks presented by Alaska’s complex geology. Mitigation of these risks can only come about through detailed geologic investigations that increase our understanding of natural hazards, and timely distribution of that information. Growing population and increasing development in Alaska create significant demands for acquiring new geologic data and distributing it in a timely fashion. DGGS hazards-related programs evaluate coastal flooding and erosion, earthquakes and active faulting, climate-related hazards, volcano hazards, and other geologic hazards such as permafrost degradation and landslides along infrastructure corridors.
In FY2018, DGGS published 32 new reports and peer-reviewed publications on geologic hazards, and released two posters and one presentation. Key publications include tsunami inundation maps for Kodiak, Juneau, Skagway, and Haines; coseismic permanent flooding maps for Valdez, Chenega, Chignik, and Chignik Lagoon; a protocol for coastal storm surge water level observations; information circulars about climate change, landslides, and coastal hazards in Alaska; and color-indexed elevation maps for flood-vulnerable coastal communities in western Alaska. Along with new elevation data and aerial photographs of the western Alaska coastline and a portion of the Haines Highway, these products are valuable tools for community and emergency planners. In cooperation with the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission, DGGS also published a seminal report summarizing the state of knowledge of active faults and seismic hazards in Alaska. Other engineering-geologic studies on slope instability along the Alaska Highway at Northway Junction, Arctic hydrology, and Alaska glacier characteristics contributed to our understanding of the behavior of geologic surface processes in a changing climate. A greater number of reports and data related to coastline data and potential flooding were published in FY2018, doubling the amount that DGGS produced in FY2017.
The Volcanology Section, working in conjunction with federal U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) partners, published a geologic map of Chiginagak and Kasatochi volcanoes and provided summaries of reports of volcanic activity in Alaska, including the 2014 eruption of Pavlof volcano. ashfall hazards are the primary volcano hazard in Alaska, and in FY2018, the Volcanology section released a publication that details all mapped ashfall occurrences in Alaska—this geospatial dataset now serves as the primary basemap for ashfall hazard mapping in the State. Volcanology section staff responded to multiple explosions at Bogoslof and Cleveland volcanos and increase in seismicity and a small explosion at Great Sitkin volcano. Response activities include issuance of volcanic eruption alerts in collaboration with USGS and UAF colleagues, 24/7 seismic and satellite monitoring, detailed record keeping of eruptions and impacts, and maintaining current information on the public website, Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Target #2: Evaluate Alaska land for potential geologic hazards affecting public safety or existing or proposed infrastructure
Square Miles Evaluated for Geologic Hazards to Public Safety or Infrastructure
Analysis of results and challenges: Public safety and preventing economic disasters caused by natural phenomena are closely tied to our understanding of the risks associated with the complex geology of Alaska. Mitigation of these risks can only come about through detailed field mapping and understanding of the natural hazards and processes, and timely distribution of that information to emergency planners, the government and the public. Increasing population and development in Alaska create significant demands for acquiring the geologic data distributed and published by DGGS. The survey’s capacity to conduct geologic hazards assessments has been greatly enhanced by its ability to collect, process, and interpret high-resolution Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) elevation data.
Total square miles evaluated for geologic hazards remained high in FY2018 as work progressed on activities in support of updating the State Hazard mitigation Plan (SHMP) and projects to evaluate snow avalanches, landslides, permafrost hydrology, coastal flooding and erosion, and active faults. The total area evaluated for hazards since FY2012 has typically amounted to several thousand square miles per year. That trend will likely continue in FY2019, as regional-scale work for the Arctic Strategic Transportation and Resources (ASTAR) project to assess geologic hazards and geologic-engineering considerations of proposed future development activities across the North Slope will increase.
|B: Result - ARCHIVE AND PUBLISH GEOLOGIC INFORMATION: Function as the state’s lead repository and primary source of information concerning Alaska’s geologic energy resources, mineral resources, and geologic hazards|
Target #1: Maximize online delivery of information and data from the Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys and Alaska Volcano Observatory websites
Total Combined Web Page Views in Millions - Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys and Alaska Volcano Observatory
Analysis of results and challenges: The Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys' (DGGS) focuses significant effort on developing and maintaining dynamic websites for timely delivery of data and information. In addition to running its own agency website, we develop and maintain the website for the Alaska Volcano Observatory, which is a federally funded, cooperative program with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.
DGGS has seen a dramatic increase in online geologic data inquiries since first posting its publications on the web in 1998. Major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions generate a large increase in website visits (i.e. FY2009) as interested persons or groups worldwide access the web pages, including real-time seismic data, ash cloud tracking and volcano web-camera images provided on the Alaska Volcano Observatory website.
In FY2018, DGGS continued to focus on web delivery of geologic data and currently maintains about 887 terabytes of digital and map-based geological, geophysical and geochemical data in a division-wide database that drives DGGS’s website. Staff have created online, interactive web interfaces that make it simpler for users to view and download data produced by the division. We also host Web Map Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS), which serve near-real-time data directly to the users’ own Geographic Information System software. These new web-based data services are leading to a rapid increase in web service use.
|B1: Core Service - Provide timely delivery of geological and geophysical information to industry, government, and the public in support of resource exploration, development, and pre-disaster hazard mitigation for continued economic growth and public safety|
Target #1: Deliver high-quality printed or digital-media geologic publications in response to requests from industry, government, academia and the public
Reports and Datasets Distributed
Analysis of results and challenges: Products of the Division of Geological & Geophysical Survey's (DGGS) field-geologic and geophysical studies are published as hardcopy technical reports, geological and geophysical maps, and informational publications; as PDF downloads of those reports; and as digital datasets, web map and feature services, and online interactive maps. Each year, division staff collect field data for many different areas, analyze those data and publish the products. DGGS archives and maintains about 887 terabytes of digital and map-based geological, geophysical, and geochemical data in a division-wide database that drives its website.
During FY18, DGGS continued to publish as much data as possible via the popular online interactive map format. The most frequently accessed dataset to be posted to date is “Elevation Datasets in Alaska”, which includes all publicly accessible data, from numerous agencies, collected using LiDAR, IfSAR/InSAR and Structure from Motion (SfM) technologies. In FY2018, DGGS celebrated the release of its 5,000th publication: “Potential maximum permanent flooding maps for the communities of Chignik and Chignik Lagoon, Alaska.” With the report’s publication, DGGS achieved an average rate of releasing one publication every four business days since statehood in 1959.
DGGS' publication, GIS, cartographic, and programming services helped foster 2,018,193 downloads of digital datasets and reports, totaling 104.5 TB of information in FY2018. Only 58 hardcopy publications were distributed in FY18, down from 247 in FY17.
Target #2: Respond to requests for geologic information needed by exploration companies, resource planners, emergency managers, scientific organizations, land managers, developers, and the public
Responses to Requests for Geologic Information
Analysis of results and challenges: Current, timely geologic information is critical for public safety, resource exploration, emergency management, scientific research, land management, and development. Regardless of the amount of information gathered, the distribution of that knowledge to those who need it is key to providing the desired outcome. The Alaska Volcano Observatory routinely responds to questions from the public regarding volcanic activity with frequent emails asking questions about steaming from active volcanoes such as Mt. Cleveland, Redoubt, Pavlof, or Shishaldin. The large numbers of requests in FY2017 and FY2018 were driven by increased interest in and DGGS response to geologic hazards, requests for publications and online datasets, and inquiries about available samples and tax credit seismic data at the Geologic Materials Center in Anchorage. The Governor’s focus on community resilience and response to coastal flooding and erosion also resulted in a high number of requests for information relating to geologic hazards. In FY2018, DGGS received an increased number of requests for minerals-related information and guidance, as a large number of new claims have been staked and new companies are coming to Alaska. The Energy Resources Section responded to requests for information on the Nanushuk Formation from Oil Search, the company that recently acquired a major share of the Pikka unit on the North Slope. The section also provided information on the Nanushuk Formation in several legacy wells in the eastern NPRA to ConocoPhillips.
The Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys is committed to continuing providing a timely response to all requests for geologic information.
Target #3: Deliver public presentations about geologic resources and hazards in Alaska, including technical talks and information displays at conferences, speaking at or teaching classes, and speaking at public meetings
Public Presentations on Geologic Resources and Hazards in Alaska
Analysis of results and challenges: Public awareness and knowledge of the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys’ geologic work and data archive is paramount to success of the organization's mission. Although the website and distribution of hard-copy publications are important tools to that end, the power of physical presence at public forums cannot be underestimated. Local and national technical conferences and public forums often provide the most cost-effective and timely method of disseminating new geologic findings about geologic resources and hazards in Alaska to the broadest audience of end-users. The division dedicates significant effort to this method of knowledge transfer, which is followed up by formal publication of data and interpretations. We present geologic knowledge in a wide range of other important public venues including schools, trade shows, and community meetings.
The above average increase in FY2018 was, in part, due to an impressive 47 public presentations by the Engineering Geology section and 34 public tours at the Geologic Materials Center in Anchorage. In support of the Governor’s focus on community resilience, DGGS continued to focus on the public awareness of geologic hazards through targeted outreach to support mitigation planning and resilience to earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, landslides, coastal erosion and inundation, permafrost, and climate change hazards. The addition of one full-time geologist to the Volcanology section allowed the survey to increase its public presence by participating in teacher’s conferences and giving presentations bout Alaska’s volcanoes in local schools.
|C: Result - MAINTAIN ALASKA’S GEOLOGIC SAMPLE REPOSITORY: Maintain and provide public access to Alaska’s invaluable archive of representative geologic samples from across the state|
Target #1: Accommodate and encourage client visits to the Geologic Materials Center for the purpose of studying rock or sediment samples in the interest of resource exploration or geologic-hazard evaluation
Client Visits to the Geologic Materials Center
Analysis of results and challenges: A significant amount of effort and capital has been spent over the past 60 years to obtain rock and mineral samples from locations throughout Alaska. Some of these samples are irreplaceable, or would be extremely difficult and expensive to re-acquire. The Alaska Geologic Materials Center (GMC), operated by the Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (DGGS), archives geologic samples and provides a wide range of users (industry, government, academia and public) access for identifying new resource prospects and increasing our geologic knowledge of the state. The new Anchorage repository opened on July 1st, 2015 and has completed its third fiscal year. Other significant changes included a senate bill (SB170) signed by the Governor in June 2016 that allowed DGGS to “charge and collect fees for facilities, equipment, products and services.” Fee collection began in Fall 2018.
There were 1,358 visits to the facility in FY2018, significantly exceeding the target of 1,000. Proximity and higher visibility to the much larger population center of Anchorage has increased both institutional and public visitors to the facility. Visits from the energy industry increased slightly this year as global demand for energy commodities increased. Markets for metals remained depressed this year and mining industry visits stayed low.
|C1: Core Service - Preserve the state's archive of representative geologic materials from across the state and provide improved public access to the non-proprietary sample inventory in support of resource exploration, land management, and geologic education|
Target #1: Provide efficient, user-friendly online access to the Geologic Materials Center's sample inventory
Public Search Queries Using the GMC Online Inventory Interface
Analysis of results and challenges: During FY2016, there was a drastic shift in tracking client access to the Geologic Materials Center (GMC) inventory. The former static file-based inventory to online inventory information was replaced by a more modern browser-based inventory search interface in January 2016. The new database-driven search engine allows users to quickly and easily view real-time details of the more than 717,959 sample inventory items before visiting the facility. This innovative and complex database and online search engine was developed in-house by DGGS staff and continues to serve user needs and receive positive feedback from industry.
FY2018 was the first full fiscal year that users were directed to the new browser-based inventory search interface. This metric tracks the number of sessions initiated on the data server to search the inventory through the browser-based interface. The 3,130 user sessions in FY2018 was an order of magnitude lower than last year, as excitement and initial testing by the public has declined. The new browser-based format is addressing user needs, but will continue to be refined to improve the user experience. We estimate that the number of user search sessions in FY2019 will be similar to the original target.
Current as of July 19, 2019