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Origin of the U.S. Geological Survey


The U.S. Geological Survey was established by an act of Congress on March 3, 1879, to provide a permanent Federal agency to conduct the systematic and scientific "classification of the public lands, and examination of the geologic structure, mineral resources, and products of national domain." An integral part of that original mission includes publishing and disseminating the earth-science information needed to understand, to plan the use of, and to manage the Nation's energy, land, mineral, and water resources.

Since 1879, the research and fact-finding role of the U.S. Geological Survey has grown and been modified to meet the changing needs of the Nation it serves. As part of that evolution, the U.S. Geological Survey has become the Federal Government's largest earth-science research agency, the Nation's largest civilian map-making agency, the primary source of data on the Nation's surface- and ground-water resources, and the employer of the largest number of professional earth scientists. Today's programs serve a diversity of needs and users. Programs include:

  • Conducting detailed assessments of the energy and mineral potential of the Nation's land and offshore areas.
  • Investigating and issuing warnings of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and other geologic and hydrologic hazards.
  • Conducting research on the geologic structure of the Nation.
  • Studying the geologic features, structure, processes, and history of the other planets of our solar system.
  • Conducting topographic surveys of the Nation and preparing topographic and thematic maps and related cartographic products.
  • Developing and producing digital cartographic data bases and products.
  • Collecting data on a routine basis to determine the quantity, quality, and use of surface and ground water.
  • Conducting water-resource appraisals in order to describe the consequences of alternative plans for developing land and water resources.
  • Conducting research in hydraulics and hydrology, and coordinating all Federal water-data acquisition.
  • Using remotely sensed data to develop new cartographic, geologic, and hydrologic research techniques for natural-resources planning and management.
  • Providing earth-science information through an extensive publication program and a network of public access points.
Along with its continuing commitment to meet the growing and changing earth-science needs of the Nation, the U.S. Geological Survey remains dedicated to its original mission to collect, analyze, interpret, publish, and disseminate information about the natural resources of the Nation---providing "Earth Science in the Public Service."

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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 09-Jan-2013 17:27:29 EST btj