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Striking USGS Image Shows Alaska In A New Light
Released: 5/15/1997

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Rebecca Phipps 1-click interview
Phone: 7036-648-4460

A computer-generated map published by the U.S. Geological Survey provides a striking portrayal of Alaska’s varied landscape.

Although the map resembles a satellite-generated photograph, it was actually created by the computer processing of 96 million elevation points to simulate the state’s landscape as it would look if lit by the sun from a low angle.

Mountain ranges, lowlands, and lakes are readily apparent, as is the active Denali fault that cuts through some of Alaska’s highest mountains, including Mount McKinley, in central Alaska. In southeastern Alaska, the active Fairweather fault, which is the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates, can be seen. These and other faults mark major geologic boundaries in the giant patchwork of crustal fragments that have migrated, some thousands of miles, and seamed together over geologic time to form Alaska.

A closer inspection reveals a multitude of details. Deposits marking the past positions of glaciers during the Ice Ages, as well as many of Alaska’s active volcanoes, are readily located. In addition, subtle alignments of valleys that have not been depicted before can be identified on the new image. These subtle features are the result of crustal forces in the recent geologic past, so the map should help to better understand the geologic processes that have helped to shape Alaska’s landscape, according to USGS authors of the map.

An accompanying booklet explains more than 100 features that can be seen on the image. The map and booklet should prove both interesting and useful to earth scientists, teachers and anyone else interested in the state’s vast landscape.

Information on how to order a $4 paper copy (plus $3.50 handling fee) of the 3x4-foot "Digital Shaded-Relief Image of Alaska," and its accompanying booklet is available by calling 1-800-ASK-USGS. Smaller, continuous-tone photographic prints or negatives of the map can be ordered from the EROS Data Center, Mundt Federal Bldg., Sioux Falls, SD 57198; telephone 605-594-6151. The digital topographic data sets that are the basis for the map can be obtained, free of charge, on the World Wide Web at http://www-eros-afo.wr.usgs.gov/agdc.


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(Editors: To receive more information or a full-size complimentary copy of the map for your newsroom, contact Jim Riehle or Dede Bohn at the USGS in Anchorage, telephone 970-786-7423, or 7128; outside Alaska, call Pat Jorgenson at 415-329-4000; or Rebecca Phipps, 703-648-4414.)

In Alaska Contact: Dede Bohn (907) 786-7128, dbohn@usgs.gov

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