The United States Geological Survey (USGS, formerly simply Geological Survey) is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology, geography, geology, and hydrology. The USGS is a fact-finding research organization with no regulatory responsibility.
The USGS is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior; it is that department's sole scientific agency. The USGS employs approximately 8,670 people and is headquartered in Reston, Virginia. The USGS also has major offices near Lakewood, Colorado, at the Denver Federal Center, and Menlo Park, California.
The current motto of the USGS, in use since August 1997, is "science for a changing world." The agency's previous slogan, adopted on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary, was "Earth Science in the Public Service."
|United States Geological Survey (USGS)|
Seal of the United States Geological Survey
Official identifier of the U.S. Geological Survey
Flag of the United States Geological Survey
|Formed||March 3, 1879 (as Geological Survey)|
|Headquarters||John W. Powell National Center|
Reston, Virginia, U.S.
|Annual budget||$1.1 billion (FY2010)|
|Parent agency||United States Department of the Interior|
Since 2012, the USGS science focus is directed at six topical "Mission Areas", namely (1) Climate and Land Use Change, (2) Core Science Systems, (3) Ecosystems, (4) Energy and Minerals and Environmental Health, (5) Natural Hazards, and (6) Water. In December 2012, the USGS split the Energy and Minerals and Environmental Health Mission Area resulting in seven topical Mission Areas, with the two new areas being: Energy and Minerals and Environmental Health. Administratively, it is divided into a Headquarters unit and six Regional Units. Other specific programs include:
The USGS produces several national series of topographic maps which vary in scale and extent, with some wide gaps in coverage, notably the complete absence of 1:50,000 scale topographic maps or their equivalent. The largest (both in terms of scale and quantity) and best-known topographic series is the 7.5-minute, 1:24,000 scale, quadrangle, a non-metric scale virtually unique to the United States. Each of these maps covers an area bounded by two lines of latitude and two lines of longitude spaced 7.5 minutes apart. Nearly 57,000 individual maps in this series cover the 48 contiguous states, Hawaii, U.S. territories, and areas of Alaska near Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Prudhoe Bay. The area covered by each map varies with the latitude of its represented location due to convergence of the meridians. At lower latitudes, near 30° north, a 7.5-minute quadrangle contains an area of about 64 square miles (166 km2). At 49° north latitude, 49 square miles (127 km2) are contained within a quadrangle of that size. As a unique non-metric map scale, the 1:24,000 scale naturally requires a separate and specialized romer scale for plotting map positions. In recent years, budget constraints have forced the USGS to rely on donations of time by civilian volunteers in an attempt to update its 7.5-minute topographic map series, and USGS stated outright in 2000 that the program was to be phased out in favor of The National Map (not to be confused with the National Atlas of the United States produced by the Department of the Interior, one of whose bureaus is USGS).
An older series of maps, the 15-minute series, was once used to map the contiguous 48 states at a scale of 1:62,500, but was discontinued some time ago for maps covering the continental United States. Each map was bounded by two parallels and two meridians spaced 15 minutes apart—the same area covered by four maps in the 7.5-minute series. The 15-minute series, at a scale of 1:63,360 (one inch representing one mile), remains the primary topographic quadrangle for the state of Alaska (and only for that particular state). Nearly 3,000 maps cover 97% of the state. The United States remains virtually the only developed country in the world without a standardized civilian topographic map series in the standard 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 metric scales, making coordination difficult in border regions (the U.S. military does issue 1:50,000 scale topo maps of the continental United States, though only for use by members of its defense forces).
The next-smallest topographic series, in terms of scale, is the 1:100,000 series. These maps are bounded by two lines of longitude and two lines of latitude. However, in this series, the lines of latitude are spaced 30 minutes apart and the lines of longitude are spaced 60 minutes, which is the source of another name for these maps; the 30 x 60-minute quadrangle series. Each of these quadrangles covers the area contained within 32 maps in the 7.5-minute series. The 1:100,000 scale series is unusual in that it employs the Metric system primarily. One centimeter on the map represents one kilometer of distance on the ground. Contour intervals, spot elevations, and horizontal distances are also specified in meters.
The final regular quadrangle series produced by the USGS is the 1:250,000 scale topographic series. Each of these quadrangles in the conterminous United States measures 1 degree of latitude by 2 degrees of longitude. This series was produced by the U.S. Army Map Service in the 1950s, prior to the maps in the larger-scale series, and consists of 489 sheets, each covering an area ranging from 8,218 square miles (21,285 km2) at 30° north to 6,222 square miles (16,115 km2) at 49° north. Hawaii is mapped at this scale in quadrangles measuring 1° by 1°.
USGS topographic quadrangle maps are marked with grid lines and tics around the map collar which make it possible to identify locations on the map by several methods, including the graticule measurements of longitude and latitude, the township and section method within the Public Land Survey System, and cartesian coordinates in both the State Plane Coordinate System and the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system.
A number of Internet sites have made these maps available on the web for affordable commercial and professional use. Because works of the U.S. government are in the public domain, it is also possible to find many of these maps for free at various locations on the Internet. Georeferenced map images are available from the USGS as digital raster graphics (DRGs) in addition to digital data sets based on USGS maps, notably digital line graphs (DLGs) and digital elevation models (DEMs).
In 2015, the USGS unveiled the topoView website, a new way to view their entire digitized collection of over 178,000 maps from 1884–2006. The site is an interactive map of the United States that allows users to search or move around the map to find the USGS collection of maps for a specific area. Users may then view the maps in great detail and download them if desired.
In 2008 the USGS abandoned traditional methods of surveying, revising, and updating topographic maps based on aerial photography and field checks. Today's U.S. Topo quadrangle (1:24,000) maps are mass-produced, using automated and semiautomated processes, with cartographic content supplied from the National GIS Database. In the two years from June 2009 to May 2011, the USGS produced nearly 40,000 maps, more than 80 maps per work day. Only about two hours of interactive work are spent on each map, mostly on text placement and final inspection; there are essentially no field checks or field inspections to confirm map details.
While much less expensive to compile and produce, the revised digital U.S. topo maps have been criticized for a lack of accuracy and detail in comparison to older generation maps based on aerial photo survey and field checks. As the digital databases were not designed for producing general purpose maps, data integration can be a problem when retrieved from sources with different resolutions and collection dates. Man-made features once recorded by direct field observation are not in any public domain national database, and are frequently omitted from the newest generation digital topo maps, including windmills, mines and mineshafts, water tanks, fence lines, survey marks, parks, recreational trails, buildings, boundaries, pipelines, telephone lines, power transmission lines, and even railroads. Additionally, the digital map's use of existing software may not properly integrate different feature classes or prioritize and organize text in areas of crowded features, obscuring important geographic details. As a result, some have noted that the U.S. Topo maps currently fall short of traditional topographic map presentation standards achieved in maps drawn from 1945 to 1992.
The Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) has four sections within its organizational structure; the Field Services Section which includes the warehouse, repair shop, and Engineering Unit; the Testing Section which includes the Hydraulic Laboratory, testing chambers, and Water Quality Laboratory; the Information Technology Section which includes computer support and the Drafting Unit; and the Administrative Section.
The HIF was given national responsibility for the design, testing, evaluation, repair, calibration, warehousing, and distribution of hydrologic instrumentation. Distribution is accomplished by direct sales and through a rental program. The HIF supports data collection activities through centralized warehouse and laboratory facilities. The HIF warehouse provides hydrologic instruments, equipment, and supplies for USGS as well as Other Federal Agencies (OFA) and USGS Cooperators. The HIF also tests, evaluates, repairs, calibrates, and develops hydrologic equipment and instruments. The HIF Hydraulic Laboratory facilities include a towing tank, jet tank, pipe flow facility, and tilting flume. In addition, the HIF provides training and technical support for the equipment it stocks.
The Engineering Group seeks out new technology and designs for instrumentation that can work more efficiently, be more accurate, and or be produced at a lower cost than existing instrumentation. HIF works directly with vendors to help them produce products that will meet the mission needs of the USGS. For instrument needs not currently met by a vendor, the Engineering Group designs, tests, and issues contracts to have HIF designed equipment made. Sometimes HIF will patent a new design in the hope that instrument vendors will buy the rights and mass-produce the instrument at a lower cost to everyone.
USGS researchers publish the results of their science in a variety of ways. Many researchers publish their science in peer-reviewed scientific journals as well as in one of a variety of series that includes series for preliminary results, maps data, and final results. These series include:
A complete listing of descriptions of USGS Series is available at the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (ADGGS) website.
The United States Geological Survey Library holds copies of current and historical USGS publications, and is the largest earth sciences library in the world. Most publications are available for inter-library loan within the United States. Under the Organic Act, which provided for the formation of the USGS, the library was given extra copies of all USGS publications when published to be used in exchange with other domestic and foreign geological agencies, making the acquisition of the USGS Library collection one of the most cost efficient libraries in the U.S. government.
USGS publications are available for purchase at USGS Store. Many USGS published reports are available to view and access on-line from the USGS Publications Warehouse, while many USGS publications are now available online (see Publications below).
Many older USGS publications have been scanned and digitized by such services as Google Books and the Hathi Trust and Internet Archive. An online search will quickly reveal if a digital version is available. All USGS publications are public domain.
Prompted by a report from the National Academy of Sciences, the USGS was created, by a last-minute amendment, to an act of Congress on March 3, 1879. It was charged with the "classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain". This task was driven by the need to inventory the vast lands added to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican–American War in 1848.
Clarence King, the first director of USGS, assembled the new organization from disparate regional survey agencies. After a short tenure, King was succeeded in the director's chair by John Wesley Powell.
The Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (ACAN or US-ACAN) is an advisory committee of the United States Board on Geographic Names responsible for recommending names for features in Antarctica. The United States does not recognise territorial boundaries within Antarctica, so ACAN will assign names to features anywhere within the continent, in consultation with other national nomenclatural bodies where appropriate.
ACAN has a published policy on naming, based on priority of application, appropriateness, and the extent to which usage has become established.Black River (Gogebic County)
The Black River is a 41.1-mile-long (66.1 km) river on the Upper Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan, flowing mostly in Gogebic County into Lake Superior at 46°40′03″N 90°02′57″W. Its source at 46°18′54″N 90°01′15″W is a boreal wetland on the border with Iron County, Wisconsin. The northern section of the river, 14 miles (23 km) within the boundaries of the Ottawa National Forest, was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1992.
At the Lake Superior mouth of the Black River is Black River Harbor, a former fishing station where commercial fishermen brought in cargoes of lake trout. The North Country Trail crosses the river here via a suspension footbridge.Black Rock Desert
The Black Rock Desert is a semi-arid region (in the Great Basin shrub steppe eco-region), of lava beds and playa, or alkali flats, situated in the Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, a silt playa 100 miles (160 km) north of Reno, Nevada that encompasses more than 300,000 acres (120,000 ha) of land and contains more than 120 miles (200 km) of historic trails. It is in the northern Nevada section of the Great Basin with a lakebed that is a dry remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan.
The Great Basin, named for the geography in which water is unable to flow out and remains in the basin, is a rugged land serrated by hundreds of mountain ranges, dried by wind and sun, with spectacular skies and scenic landscapes. The average annual precipitation (years 1971-2000) at Gerlach, Nevada (extreme south-west of the desert) is 7.90 inches (200 mm).The region is notable for its paleogeologic features, as an area of 19th-century Emigrant Trails to California, as a venue for rocketry, and as an alternative to the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, for setting land speed records (Mach 1.02 in 1997). It is also the location for the annual Burning Man event.
The Black Rock Desert is part of the National Conservation Area (NCA), a unit of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The NCA is located in northwest Nevada, and was established by legislation in 2000. It is a unique combination of desert playa, narrow canyons, and mountainous areas.
Humans have been in Black Rock Desert since approximately 11,000 BC. In 1300 BC the area was settled by the Paiute people. The large black rock formation was used as a landmark by the Paiute and later emigrants crossing the area. The landmark is a conical outcrop composed of interbedded Permian marine limestone and volcanic rocks. At its base is a large hot spring and grassy meadow, which was an important place for those crossing the desert headed for California and Oregon. In 1843, John Fremont and his party were the first white men to cross the desert, and his trail was used by over half the 22,000 gold seekers headed to California after 1849. In 1867, Hardin City, a short-lived silver mill town was established (now a ghost town).Carp River (Mackinac County)
Carp River is a 40.2-mile-long (64.7 km) river in Chippewa and Mackinac counties in the U.S. state of Michigan. 21.7 miles (34.9 km) of the river were added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1992.Geographic Names Information System
The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a database that contains name and locative information about more than two million physical and cultural features located throughout the United States of America and its territories. It is a type of gazetteer. GNIS was developed by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) to promote the standardization of feature names.
The database is part of a system that includes topographic map names and bibliographic references. The names of books and historic maps that confirm the feature or place name are cited. Variant names, alternatives to official federal names for a feature, are also recorded. Each feature receives a permanent, unique feature record identifier, sometimes called the GNIS identifier. The database never removes an entry, "except in cases of obvious duplication."Lillie Glacier
Lillie Glacier (70°45′S 163°55′E) is a large glacier in Antarctica, about 100 nautical miles (190 km) long and 10 nautical miles (19 km) wide. It lies between the Bowers Mountains on the west and the Concord Mountains and Anare Mountains on the east, flowing to Ob' Bay on the coast and forming the Lillie Glacier Tongue.
The glacier tongue (70°34′S 163°48′E), the prominent seaward extension of the glacier into Ob' Bay, was discovered by the British Antarctic Expedition, 1910–13, when the Terra Nova explored westward of Cape North in February 1911. It was named by the expedition for Dennis G. Lillie, a biologist on the Terra Nova. The name Lillie has since been extended to the entire glacier.
The lower half of the glacier was plotted by the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (Thala Dan) in 1962, which explored the area and utilized air photos taken by U.S. Navy Operation Highjump, 1946–47. The whole feature was mapped by the United States Geological Survey from surveys and U.S. Navy air photos, 1960–62.List of earthquakes in 2001
This is a list of earthquakes in 2001. Only earthquakes of magnitude 6 or above are included, unless they result in damage and/or casualties, or are notable for some other reason. All dates are listed according to UTC time.List of earthquakes in 2013
This is a list of earthquakes in 2013. Only earthquakes of magnitude 6 or above are included, unless they result in damage and/or casualties, or are notable for some other reason. All dates are listed according to UTC time. This year was quite busy with 17 events above magnitude 7 and two above magnitude 8, in Kamchatka and Santa Cruz Islands. Deadly quakes struck Pakistan, Philippines, China and Iran.List of earthquakes in 2017
This is a list of earthquakes in 2017. Only earthquakes of magnitude 6 or above are included, unless they result in damage and/or casualties, or are notable for some other reason. All dates are listed according to UTC time. Maximum intensities are indicated on the Mercalli intensity scale and are sourced from United States Geological Survey (USGS) ShakeMap data. Major events took place in Iran and Mexico, with the latter experiencing two such events, one of them exceeding magnitude 8.List of earthquakes in Italy
This is a list of earthquakes in Italy.List of earthquakes in Oklahoma
The following is a list of historical earthquakes with epicenters located within the boundaries of Oklahoma. Only earthquakes of greater than or equal to magnitude 4.5 are included. Information pertaining to time, magnitude, epicenter, and depth is retrieved from the United States Geological Survey or, when USGS information is unavailable, the Oklahoma Geological Survey where applicable. All times are given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) rather than local time (CT).List of islands of Michigan
The following is a list of islands of Michigan. Michigan has the second longest coastline of any state after Alaska. Being bordered by four of the five Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior—Michigan also has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds, as well as innumerable rivers, that may contain their own islands included in this list. The majority of the islands are within the Great Lakes. Other islands can also be found within other waterways of the Great Lake system, including Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, Detroit River, and St. Marys River.
The largest of all the islands is Isle Royale in Lake Superior, which, in addition to its waters and other surrounding islands, is organized as Isle Royale National Park. Isle Royale itself is 206 square miles (530 km2). The most populated island is Grosse Ile with approximately 10,000 residents, located in the Detroit River about 10 miles (16 kilometres) south of Detroit. The majority of Michigan's islands are uninhabited and very small. Some of these otherwise unusable islands have been used for the large number of Michigan's lighthouses to aid in shipping throughout the Great Lakes, while others have been set aside as nature reserves. Many islands in Michigan have the same name, even some that are in the same municipality and body of water, such as Gull, Long, or Round islands.List of mountain peaks of Colorado
This article comprises three sortable tables of major mountain peaks of the U.S. State of Colorado.
The summit of a mountain or hill may be measured in three principal ways:
The topographic elevation of a summit measures the height of the summit above a geodetic sea level. The first table below ranks the 55 highest major summits of Colorado by elevation.
The topographic prominence of a summit is a measure of how high the summit rises above its surroundings. The second table below ranks the 50 most prominent summits of Colorado.
The topographic isolation (or radius of dominance) of a summit measures how far the summit lies from its nearest point of equal elevation. The third table below ranks the 50 most isolated major summits of Colorado.List of mountain ranges in Montana
This is a list of mountain ranges in the state of Montana. Montana is the fourth largest state in the United States and is well known for its mountains. The name "Montana" means mountain in the Spanish language. Representative James Mitchell Ashley (R-Ohio), suggested the name when legislation organizing the territory was passed by the United States Congress in 1864. Ashley noted that a mining camp in the Colorado Territory had already used the name, and Congress agreed to use the name for the new territory.According to the United States Board on Geographic Names, there are at least 100 named mountain ranges and sub-ranges in Montana. However, mountain ranges have no official boundaries, and there is no official list of mountain ranges in the state.List of mountains and mountain ranges of Glacier National Park (U.S.)
Mountains in Glacier National Park (U.S.) are part of the Rocky Mountains. There are at least 150 named mountain peaks over 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in Glacier in three mountain ranges--the Clark Range, Lewis Range, Livingston Range. Mount Cleveland el. 10,479 feet (3,194 m)
is the highest peak in the park. Many peaks in Glacier National Park have both English and anglicized versions of native American names. The names listed here reflect the official names in the USGS U.S. Board on Geographic Names database.List of volcanoes in Antarctica
This is a list of volcanoes in Antarctica.Newall Glacier
Newall Glacier is a glacier in the east part of the Asgard Range of Victoria Land, flowing east between Mount Newall and Mount Weyant into the Wilson Piedmont Glacier. In its uppermost névé area sits Kaminuma Crag, a craggy, island-like nunatak, 0.75 nautical miles (1.4 km) long, rising to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft) high.The glacier was mapped by the New Zealand Northern Survey Party of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1956–58, who named it after nearby Mount Newall. The crag was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names in 1997 for Japanese geophysicist Katsutada Kaminuma, Professor of Earth Sciences at the National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo.Quadrangle (geography)
In geology or geography, the word "quadrangle" usually refers to a United States Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5-minute quadrangle map, which are usually named after a local physiographic feature. The shorthand "quad" is also used, especially with the name of the map; for example, "the Ranger Creek, Texas quad map". These maps are one-quarter of the older 15-minute series. On a quadrangle map, the north and south limits of the quadrangle are not straight lines, but are actually curved to match Earth's lines of latitude on the standard projection. The east and west limits are usually not parallel as they match Earth's lines of longitude. In the United States, a 7.5 minute quadrangle map covers an area of 49 to 70 square miles (130 to 180 km2).The surfaces of other planets have also been divided into quadrangles by the USGS. Martian quadrangles are also named after local features.Quadrangles that lie on the pole of a body are also sometimes called "areas" instead, since they are circular rather than four-sided.The National Map
The National Map is a collaborative effort of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and other federal, state, and local agencies to improve and deliver topographic information for the United States. The purpose of the effort is to provide "...a seamless, continuously maintained set of public domain geographic base information that will serve as a foundation for integrating, sharing, and using other data easily and consistently".The National Map is part of the USGS National Geospatial Program. The geographic information available includes orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures and land cover. The National Map is accessible via the Web, as products and services, and as downloadable data. Its uses range from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response.The National Map is a significant contribution to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and currently is being transformed to better serve the geospatial community by providing high quality, integrated geospatial data and improved products and services including new generation digital topographic maps. In addition, the National Map is foundational to implementation of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Geospatial Modernization Blueprint.The USGS also utilizes data from The National Map Corps, which consists of volunteers who devote some of their time to provide cartographic information on structures.The National Map is the official replacement for the USGS topographic map program.