United States Geological Survey

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U.S. Geological Survey

Established as part of the Department of the Interior in 1879 and funded by Congress, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides support to federal agencies (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard) in the form of useful information for decision-making purposes concerning the management of U.S. environmental and natural resources. As part of this support, the USGS examines the relationship between humans and the environment by conducting data collection, long-term research assessments, and ecosystem analyses, and providing forecast changes and their implications. One example of this support is the provision of information about earthquake and seismic activities that is used to assess the potential impact of such activities on water quality. In addition to its federal agency support, the USGS also manages some of the following programs that address the problems of environmental pollution: (1) coastal and marine geology program; (2) contaminants program; (3) energy program; (4) fisheries and aquatic resources; and (5) global change/wetland ecology program. These external support activities and internal programs have been similarly adopted by countries such as Australia, Britain, Finland, and Japan, although not to the same degree as provided by the USGS.

see also Environmental Protection Agency; Interior Department, United States; National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); U.S. Coast Guard.


natural research council, committee on geosciences, environment and resources. (2001). future roles and opportunities for the u.s. geological survey. washington, d.c.: national academy press.

internet resource

coastal and marine geology program site. available from http://marine.usgs.gov.

Robert F. Gruenig

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United States Geological Survey, bureau organized in 1879 under the Dept. of the Interior to unify and centralize the work already undertaken by separate surveys under Clarence King, F. V. Hayden, George W. Wheeler, and J. W. Powell. The functions of the bureau cover the exploration of the country to gather information as to geological structure; the preparation of geological and topographical maps of all parts of the country; the examination and assessment of natural resources; the study of problems of irrigation and water power; the classification of public lands; the investigation of natural disasters; the monitoring of global environment change, and the annual publication of papers, bulletins, and maps based upon surveys made. In 1962 the bureau was authorized to conduct surveys outside the public domain. The Geological Survey is also responsible for directing the National Geologic Mapping Program, using the most sophisticated of cartographic equipment for researching and compiling data.