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Notice of Data Quality Issue for the Inorganic Section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory, and Closure of the Inorganic Section (Program Update, March 10, 2017)

We are continuing to follow-up on both data quality incidents (1996-2008 and 2008-2014) that occurred in the Inorganic Section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL), and have taken (or are taking) the following actions:

We have completed an evaluation of impacts to publications from the second data quality incident (2008-2014). We have reviewed several project areas for potentially affected publications, and the results of this review are available HERE:

  • Tabular .xlsx
  • Document .pdf (62KB)

From this review, we have found that three publications total – two USGS-published reports and one journal article – were affected by this data quality incident and required revision. Revisions to the journal article and one USGS report have already been completed with new data; the other USGS report revision is pending. In addition, several draft publications were identified as potentially affected; these draft publications either have been revised, withdrawn, or delayed pending collection of new data. We will continue to monitor for additional potentially affected publications from this data quality incident, and will update the table above if there are any changes.

In response to the second data quality incident (2008-2014), we have received several inquiries into which data (and possible journal articles/publications) may have been impacted.  As one example of these, ERP was contacted regarding a series of uranium studies performed in the Grand Canyon area and whether any samples used in these studies were analyzed in the Inorganic Section of the EGL.  It is evident that no samples analyzed by the Inorganic Section of the EGL were used in Secretary Salazar’s policy decision to withdraw lands from uranium mining and that the samples in question were analyzed by other laboratories.  The Arizona Geological Survey conducted its own review, and concluded that “it is not apparent with available information that any data in USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5025 were produced by the USGS Energy Geochemistry Laboratory.”  The Arizona Geological Survey published its findings as an Open-File Report entitled “Review of a US Geological Survey Scientific Misconduct Incident that Potentially Affected Mining and Land Management on Federal Land in Northern Arizona (OFR-16-02)”, available HERE.

We continue to make progress on implementing a revised, externally vetted Quality Management System (QMS) within ERP for Energy laboratories. In January 2017, we hired a QMS Manager who reports directly to the ERP Program Coordinator. In addition, we hired a dedicated Quality Assurance Specialist for the Central Energy Resources Science Center in February 2017. We will seek to hire a full-time Quality Assurance Specialist in the Eastern Energy Resources Science Center as soon as possible given constraints imposed by the Presidential hiring moratorium. In the meantime, we will fill this Quality Assurance Specialist role on an interim basis until a permanent hire can be interviewed and selected.

Following a December 6, 2016, hearing convened by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Natural Resources Committee, the ERP has focused efforts on better understanding the potential impacts from the first data quality incident (1996-2008) in the Inorganic Section of the EGL. This review of potential impacts is ongoing. We will post findings from this review to our website in a future update.
 

For more information:

For any questions regarding this data quality issue, including potentially affected analyses and science publications and information products, please contact the USGS Energy Resources Program at:

gd-energyprogram@usgs.gov

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, March 15, 2017