The United States Geological Survey, abbreviated USGS and formerly simply known as the Geological Survey, is a scientific
agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which govern the behavior Behavior (Am ...
of the
United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or Ameri ...
. The
scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves ...

s of the USGS study the
landscape A landscape is the visible features of an area of land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and ...

of the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., federal di ...

United States
, its
natural resource , Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Se ...
s, and the
natural hazard A natural hazard is a natural phenomenon Types of natural phenomena include: Weather, fog, thunder, tornadoes; biological processes, decomposition, germination seedlings, three days after germination. Germination is the process by which ...
s that threaten it. The organization's work spans the disciplines of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Developmenta ...

geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγρα ...

geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which th ...

, and
hydrology Hydrology (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mill ...
. 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 The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is a federal executive department of the U.S. government. It is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resources, and the administration of programs ...
; it is that department's sole scientific agency. The USGS employs approximately 8,670 people and is headquartered in
Reston, Virginia Reston is a census-designated place A census-designated place (CDP) is a Place (United States Census Bureau), concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. CDPs have been used in each decenni ...
. The USGS also has major offices near
Lakewood, Colorado The City of Lakewood is the List of municipalities in Colorado#Home rule municipality, home rule municipality that is the List of municipalities in Colorado, most populous municipality in Jefferson County, Colorado, Jefferson County, Colorado, Uni ...
, at the
Denver Federal CenterThe Denver Federal Center, in Lakewood, Colorado The City of Lakewood is the List of cities and towns in Colorado#Home rule municipality, home rule municipality that is the List of cities and towns in Colorado, most populous municipality in Jefferso ...
, and
Menlo Park, California Menlo Park is a city at the eastern edge of San Mateo County, California, San Mateo County within the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the United States. It is bordered by San Francisco Bay on the north and east; East Palo Alto, 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".

Organizational structure

upEarthquake animations from 16 May 2010 to 22 May 2010 Since 2012, the USGS science focus is directed at topical "Mission Areas" that have continued to evolve iteratively over time. Further organizational structure includes headquarters functions, geographic regions, science and support programs, science centers, labs, and other facilities.


The USGS regional organization aligns with the U.S. Department of the Interior Unified Interior Regions: * Region 1: North Atlantic-Appalachian * Region 2: South Atlantic-Gulf * Region 3: Great Lakes * Region 4: Mississippi Basin * Region 5: Missouri Basin * Region 6: Arkansas-Rio Grande-Texas-Gulf * Region 7: Upper Colorado Basin * Region 8: Lower Colorado Basin * Region 9: Columbia-Pacific Northwest * Region 10: California-Great Basin * Region 11: Alaska * Region 12: Pacific Islands

Science programs, facilities, and other organizations

USGS operates and organizes within a number of specific science programs, facilities, and other organizational units:

Earthquake Hazards Program

Earthquake Hazards Program The 2004 re-authorization of National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) directed that the Director of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) establish the Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR) ...
earthquake An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth resulting from a sudden release of energy in the Earth's lithosphere that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can range in size from those that ...

activity worldwide. The
National Earthquake Information CenterThe National Earthquake Information Center (abbreviated NEIC) is part of the United States Geological Survey The United States Geological Survey (USGS, formerly simply Geological Survey) is a scientific government agency, agency of the Federal g ...
(NEIC) in
Golden, Colorado The City of Golden is the home rule municipality Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized governm ...
on the campus of the
Colorado School of Mines Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain West region of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primaril ...

Colorado School of Mines
detects the location and magnitude of global earthquakes. The USGS also runs or supports several regional monitoring networks in the United States under the umbrella of the
Advanced National Seismic SystemThe Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) is a collaboration of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and regional, state, and academic partners that collects and analyzes data on significant earthquakes to provide near real-time (generally within 10 ...
(ANSS). The USGS informs authorities, emergency responders, the media, and the public, both domestic and worldwide, about significant earthquakes. It also maintains long-term archives of earthquake data for scientific and engineering research. It also conducts and supports research on long-term
seismic hazardA seismic hazard is the probability that an earthquake will occur in a given geographic area, within a given window of time, and with ground motion intensity exceeding a given threshold. With a hazard thus estimated, risk can be assessed and includ ...
s. USGS has released the UCERF California earthquake forecast.

Volcano Early Warning Systems

As of 2005, the agency is working to create a National Volcano Early Warning System by improving the instrumentation monitoring the 169 volcanoes in U.S. territory and by establishing methods for measuring the relative threats posed at each site.

Center for Coastal Geology

The USGS Center for Coastal Geology is located on the University of South Florida's
St. Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), ...
campus with the goal to conduct research in geology, mapping, hydrology, biology, and related sciences; evaluate hazards associated with floods, droughts, hurricanes, subsidence, human activity, and climate change; map onshore and offshore geologic framework; assess mineral resources and develop techniques for their discovery; assess water resources and develop an understanding of the impact of human activities and natural phenomena on hydrologic systems; assess links between biodiversity, habitat condition, ecosystem processes and health; and develop new technologies for collection and interpretation of earth science data.

National Geomagnetism Program

The USGS National Geomagnetism Program monitors the
magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space. For instance, a vector field in the plane can be visualised as a collection of arrows with ...

magnetic field
at magnetic observatories and distributes
magnetometer A magnetometer is a device that measures magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence on moving electric charges, electric currents, and magnetic materials. A moving charge in a magnetic field experi ...
data in real time.

North American Environmental Atlas

The USGS collaborates with
Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or all) of these connections exist and are collectively the source of ...

Mexican Mexican may refer to: Mexico and its culture *Being related to, from, or connected to the country of Mexico, in North America ** Being related to the State of Mexico, one of the 32 federal entities of Mexico ** Culture of Mexico *** Mexican cuisi ...

government scientists, along with the
Commission for Environmental Cooperation The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC; es, Comisión para la Cooperación Ambiental; french: Commission de coopération environnementale) was established by Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ...
, to produce the
North American Environmental Atlas The ''North American Environmental Atlas'' is an interactive mapping tool created through a partnership of government agencies in Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten ...
, which is used to depict and track environmental issues for a continental perspective.


The USGS operates the streamgaging network for the United States, with over 7400 streamgages. Real-time streamflow data are available online.

Water Resources Research Institute

As part of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984, the State Water Resources Research Act Program created a Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) in each state, along with Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. Together, these institutes make up the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR). The institutes focus on water-related issues through research, training and collaboration.

Climate Adaptation Science Centers

The National and regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) is a partnership-driven program that teams scientific researchers with natural and cultural resource managers to help fish, wildlife, waters, and lands across the country adapt to climate change. The National CASC (NCASC), based at USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia, serves as the national office for the CASC network, whil
eight regional CASCs
made up of federal-university consortiums located across the U.S., U.S. Pacific Islands, and U.S. Caribbean deliver science that addresses resource management priorities of the states within their footprints.


Since 1962, the
Astrogeology Research Program Image:AstroEntrance.jpg, 300px, Displays in the entryway of the USGS Shoemaker Building, featuring Grover, a version of the lunar rovers used to train astronauts in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Astrogeology Science Center is the entity within the United ...
has been involved in global,
lunar Lunar most commonly means "of or relating to the Moon". Lunar may also refer to: Arts and entertainment * Lunar (series), ''Lunar'' (series), a series of video games * Lunar (song), "Lunar" (song), by David Guetta * "Lunar", a song by Priestess fr ...
, and planetary exploration and
mapping Mapping may refer to: * Mapping (cartography), the process of making a map * Mapping (mathematics), a synonym for a mathematical function and its generalizations ** Mapping (logic), a synonym for functional predicate Types of mapping * Animated ...


In collaboration with
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. Stan ...

Stanford University
, the USGS also operates the USGS-Stanford Ion Microprobe Laboratory, a world-class analytical facility for U-(Th)-Pb
geochronology 300px, An artistic depiction of the major events in the history of Earth Geochronology is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (gen ...
and trace element analyses of minerals and other earth materials.

National Streamflow Information Program

USGS operates a number of water related programs, notably the National Streamflow Information Program and National Water-Quality Assessment Program. USGS Water data is publicly available from their National Water Information System database.

National Wildlife Health Center

The USGS also operates the National Wildlife Health Center, whose mission is "to serve the nation and its natural resources by providing sound science and technical support, and to disseminate information to promote science-based decisions affecting wildlife and ecosystem health. The NWHC provides information, technical assistance, research, education, and leadership on national and international wildlife health issues." It is the agency primarily responsible for surveillance of
H5N1 Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 (A/H5N1) is a subtype of the influenza A virus which can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type ...

avian influenza Avian influenza, known informally as avian flu or bird flu, is a variety of influenza Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease caused by ''influenza viruses''. Symptoms range from mild to severe and often include fe ...

avian influenza
outbreaks in the United States. The USGS also runs 17 biological research centers in the United States, including the
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is a biological research center in Maryland. It is one of 17 research centers in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


The USGS is investigating collaboration with the social networking site
Twitter Twitter is an American microblogging Microblogging is an online broadcast medium that exists as a specific form of blogging A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical di ...

to allow for more rapid construction of ShakeMaps.Mahalia Miller, Lynne Burks, and Reza Bosagh Zade
Rapid Estimate of Ground Shaking Intensity by Combining Simple Earthquake Characteristics with Tweets
Tenth U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Reza Bosagh Zade
Using Twitter to measure earthquake impact in almost real time
Twitter Engineering

Select activities

The following are older descriptions of select activities that will be updated or moved to new locations as this page continues to be edited.

Topographic mapping

The USGS produces several national series of
topographic maps Topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topography is a fiel ...
which vary in
scale Scale or scales may refer to: Mathematics * Scale (descriptive set theory)In the mathematical discipline of descriptive set theory, a scale is a certain kind of object defined on a set (mathematics), set of point (mathematics), points in some Poli ...
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 In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the w ...

and two lines of
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate A geographic coordinate system (GCS) is a coordinate system associated with position (geometry), positions on Earth (geographic position). A GCS can give positions: *as Geodetic coordinates, ...

spaced 7.5
minutes Minutes of First Meeting of the Hawkes Bay Earthquake Relief Fund Committee Minutes, also known as minutes of meeting (abbreviation MoM), protocols or, informally, notes, are the instant written record of a meeting or hearing (law), hearing. They ...
apart. Nearly 57,000 individual maps in this series cover the 48 contiguous states,
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland. It is the only state outside North America, the only state that is an archipelago, a ...

, U.S. territories, and areas of
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Yup'ik The Yup'ik or Yupiaq (sg & pl) and Yupiit or Yupiat (pl), also Central Alaskan Yup'ik, Central Yup'ik, Alaskan Yup'ik ( own name ''Yup'ik'' sg ''Yupiik'' dual ''Yupiit'' pl; rus ...

Anchorage Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; Dena'ina language, Dena'ina: ) is a unified municipal consolidated city-county, consolidated city-borough in the U.S. state of Alaska, on the West Coast of the United States. With an es ...

Fairbanks Fairbanks is a home rule city and the county seat, borough seat of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, Fairbanks North Star Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. Fairbanks is the largest city in the Alaska Interior, Interior region of Al ...
, and
Prudhoe Bay Prudhoe Bay or Sagavanirktok is a census-designated place A census-designated place (CDP) is a Place (United States Census Bureau), concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. CDPs have b ...
. 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 . At 49° north latitude, 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
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 ''The National Map'' is a Collaboration, 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 effor ...
'' (not to be confused with the National Atlas of the United States produced by the
Department of the Interior The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is a federal executive department of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. government. It is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resource ...
, 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 for maps covering the continental United States, but was discontinued during the last quarter of the twentieth century. 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 The metric system is a system of measurement A system of measurement is a collection of units of measurement and rules relating them to each other. Systems of measurement have historically been important, regulated and defined for the purposes ...

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 The Army Map Service (AMS) was the military cartographic agency of the United States Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an United States federal executive departments, executive branch departm ...
in the 1950s, prior to the maps in the larger-scale series, and consists of 489 sheets, each covering an area ranging from at 30° north to 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 A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grou ...

section Section, Sectioning or Sectioned may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * Section (music), a complete, but not independent, musical idea * Section (typography), a subdivision, especially of a chapter, in books and documents ** Section sign ...
method within the
Public Land Survey System The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is the surveying method developed and used in the United States to plat, or divide, real property for sale and settling. Also known as the Rectangular Survey System, it was created by the Land Ordinance of 1785 ...

Public Land Survey System
, and
cartesian coordinates A Cartesian coordinate system (, ) in a plane Plane or planes may refer to: * Airplane or aeroplane or informally plane, a powered, fixed-wing aircraft Arts, entertainment and media *Plane (Dungeons & Dragons), Plane (''Dungeons & Dragons'') ...
in both the
State Plane Coordinate System The State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS) is a set of 124 geographic zones or coordinate systems designed for specific regions of the United States. Each state contains one or more state plane zones, the boundaries of which usually follow county lin ...
and the
Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) is a map projection In cartography, a map projection is a way to flatten a globe's surface into a plane in order to make a map. This requires a systematic transformation of the latitudes and longitudes of lo ...
. Other specialty maps have been produced by the USGS at a variety of scales. These include
county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and Robert Chambers (publisher bo ...
maps, maps of special interest areas, such as the
national parks#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state dec ...
, and areas of scientific interest. 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 The public domain consists of all the creative workA creative work is a manifestation of creative effort including fine artwork (sculpture Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the pl ...

public domain
, it is also possible to find many of these maps for free at various locations on the Internet.
GeoreferenceGeoreferencing means that the internal coordinate system of a map or aerial photo image can be related to a geographic coordinate system A geographic coordinate system (GCS) is a coordinate system associated with positions on Earth (ge ...

d map images are available from the USGS as
digital raster graphic A digital raster graphic (DRG) is a digital image A digital image is an image An SAR radar imaging, radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cruz de Tener ...
s (DRGs) in addition to digital data sets based on USGS maps, notably
digital line graph A Digital Line Graph (DLG) is a cartographic map feature represented in digital vector form that is distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). DLGs are collected from USGS maps and are distributed in large-, intermediate- and small-scale ...
s (DLGs) and
digital elevation model A digital elevation model (DEM) is a 3D computer graphics representation of elevation data to represent terrain, commonly of a planet, moon, or asteroid. A "global DEM" refers to a discrete global grid. DEMs are used often in geographic informati ...
s (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 to 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.

The National Map and U.S. Topo

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 surveys 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.

USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility

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 publications

USGS researchers publish the results of their science in a variety of ways, including peer-reviewed scientific journals as well as in one of a variety of USGS Report Series that include preliminary results, maps, data, and final results. A complete catalog of all USGS publications is available from th
USGS Publications Warehouse


Prompted by a report from the
National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
, the USGS was created, by a last-minute amendment, to an act of
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different countries, constituent state A constituent state is a state (polity), state entity that constitutes a administrative division, part of a sovereign state. A constituent state h ...

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 The Louisiana Purchase (french: Vente de la Louisiane, translation=Sale of Louisiana) was the acquisition of the Louisiana (New France), territory of Louisiana by the United States from French First Republic, Napoleonic France in 1803. In return ...

Louisiana Purchase
in 1803 and the
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. ...

Mexican–American War
in 1848. The legislation also provided that the Hayden, Powell, and
Wheeler Wheeler may refer to: Places United States * Wheeler, Alabama Wheeler (also known as Wheeler Station) is an unincorporated area, unincorporated community in Lawrence County, Alabama, Lawrence County, Alabama, United States. Wheeler had a United St ...
surveys be discontinued as of June 30, 1879.
Clarence King Clarence Rivers King (January 6, 1842 – December 24, 1901) was an American geology, geologist, mountaineer and author. He was the first director of the United States Geological Survey from 1879 to 1881. King was noted for his exploration of the S ...

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 John Wesley Powell (March 24, 1834 – September 23, 1902) was a geologist, U.S. Soldier, explorer of the American West, professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions. He is famous for ...

John Wesley Powell

List of USGS directors

* 1879–1881
Clarence King Clarence Rivers King (January 6, 1842 – December 24, 1901) was an American geology, geologist, mountaineer and author. He was the first director of the United States Geological Survey from 1879 to 1881. King was noted for his exploration of the S ...

Clarence King
* 1881–1894
John Wesley Powell John Wesley Powell (March 24, 1834 – September 23, 1902) was a geologist, U.S. Soldier, explorer of the American West, professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions. He is famous for ...

John Wesley Powell
* 1894–1907
Charles Doolittle Walcott Charles Doolittle Walcott (March 31, 1850February 9, 1927) was an American paleontologist Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start o ...

Charles Doolittle Walcott
* 1907–1930
George Otis Smith George Otis Smith (February 22, 1871 – January 10, 1944) was an United States, American geologist. Life and career Smith was born in Hodgdon, Maine. He graduated from Colby College in 1893 and earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University ...
* 1930–1943 Walter Curran Mendenhall * 1943–1956 * 1956–1965 * 1965–1971 * 1971–1978 Vincent Ellis McKelvey * 1978–1981 Henry William Menard * 1981–1993 Dallas Lynn Peck * 1994–1997 Gordon P. Eaton * 1998–2005 Charles G. Groat * 2006–2009 Mark Myers * 2009–2013 Marcia McNutt * 2014–2017 Suzette Kimball * 2018–2021 James F. Reilly

See also

* Alaska Volcano Observatory * California earthquake forecast * Cascades Volcano Observatory * Core Research Center * Geographic Names Information System * Hawaiian Volcano Observatory * National mapping agency#List of national mapping agencies, List of national mapping agencies * National Lidar Dataset (United States) * QuakeSim * Timeline of environmental history * Variscale ruler * Volcano Disaster Assistance Program * Water Resource Region



External links

in the Federal Register
Open-File reports online
Mytopo historical maps
hosts historical USGS topos in the northeast U.S. * U.S. Geologica
Survey Documents at Texas Tech University 1873–2015
* Historic technical reports from USGS (and other Federal agencies) are available in th
Technical Report Archive and Image Library (TRAIL)
{{Authority control United States Geological Survey, Geography organizations Geological surveys Geography of the United States Geology of the United States Climatological research Exploration of North America Maps of the United States Scientific organizations based in the United States United States Department of the Interior agencies Government agencies established in 1879 Scientific organizations established in 1879 1879 establishments in Virginia Environmental organizations based in California San Mateo County, California Environmental organizations based in Virginia Reston, Virginia