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People and Programs of the
Our Nation is faced with some serious questions concerning the availability and use of land, water, energy, and mineral resources of the Earth. How can we ensure an adequate supply of critical resources in the future? In what ways are we irreversibly altering our natural environment when we use these resources? How can we predict, prevent, or mitigate the effects of natural hazards? Responses to these and similar questions depend on continually increasing the knowledge about the structure, resources, and dynamics of the Earth. Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating the scientific information necessary to answer these questions is the primary mission 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 geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain."
Since 1879, the research and factfinding role of the USGS has grown and has been modified to meet the changing needs of the Nation it serves. The USGS, however, has remained principally a scientific and technical agency rather than a developmental or regulatory one. Today's programs serve a diversity of needs and users. The current mission of the USGS is to provide geologic, topographic, and hydrologic information that contributes to the wise management of the Nation's natural resources and that promotes the safety and wellbeing of the public. This information consists of maps, data bases, and descriptions and analyses of the water, energy, and mineral resources, the land surface, the underlying geologic structure, and the dynamic processes of the Earth.
As the Nation's largest earth-science research agency, the USGS maintains a long tradition of providing accurate and impartial information to all, which underscores its continued dedication to "Earth Science in the Public Service."
Organization and Budget
The USGS is headquartered in Reston, Va., near Washington, D.C. Its scientific programs are administered through the Geologic, Water Resources, and National Mapping Divisions, supported by the Administrative and Information Systems Divisions. The Survey conducts its research and investigations through an extensive organization of regional and field offices located throughout the 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the Trust Territories.
In fiscal year 1988, the USGS had obligational authority for $662.1 million, $448.2 million of which came from direct appropriations; $7.4 million came from estimated receipts from map sales, and $206.5 million came from reimbursements. The Survey was reimbursed for work performed for other Federal, State, and local agencies whose needs for earthscience expertise complement USGS program objectives. Work for State, county, and municipal agencies is most often conducted on a cost-sharing basis.
Most of the appropriations and reimbursements received by the USGS in fiscal year 1988 were distributed to geologic, hydrologic, mapping, and administrative areas of responsibility. Budget tables appear at the back of this section.
The headquarters office of the Geologic Division is located in Reston, Va., and consists of the Office of the Chief Geologist and six subordinate offices: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering; Regional Geology; Mineral Resources; Energy and Marine Geology;
International Geology; and Scientific Publications. Assistant Chief Geologists in the Eastern, Central, and Western Regions act for the Chief Geologist in carrying out general objectives, policies, and procedures for the Division. Project operations are conducted by personnel located principally in regional centers at Reston, Va.; Denver, Colo.; and Menlo Park, Calif.; and at field centers in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Anchorage, Alaska; Woods Hole, Mass.; Tucson, Ariz.; Reno, Nev.; and Spokane, Wash.
Geologic Hazards Surveys
The Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program conducts a national research effort to reduce hazards and risks from future earthquakes in the United States. Specific tasks include evaluation of earthquake potential for seismically active areas of the United States and operation of global seismic networks.
The Volcano Hazards Program conducts research on volcanic processes to help reduce the loss of life, property, and natural resources that can result from volcanic eruptions and related hydrologic events. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and the Cascades Volcano Observatory, in Vancouver, Wash., are the principal field research centers for this program.
The Landslide Hazards Program emphasizes field and laboratory research into the active earth processes that result in ground failures such as landslides, mudflows, and debris flows.
Geologic Framework and
The National Geologic Mapping Program conducts basic geologic research to acquire fundamental data on the Nation's geologic structure and the environmental and dynamic processes that have shaped it. Geologic mapping, geophysical research on the properties of Earth materials, age determinations of rocks, and modernization of mapping techniques are the main components of the program.
The Deep Continental Studies Program conducts research to obtain information on the composition, structure, formation, and evolution of the middle and lower crust and upper mantle of the Earth.
The Geomagnetism Program measures and interprets changes in the strength and direction of the Earth's magnetic field. Eleven geomagnetic observatories provide data for continually updating global navigational charts and maps produced by various Federal agencies.
The Climate Change Program conducts research on the natural variability of past climate, on the extent of human influence on natural patterns of change, and on the magnitude of climate change demonstrated in the geologic record.
The Coastal Erosion Program provides geologic information on the nature, extent, and cause of coastal erosion, which is used by various Federal and State agencies to mitigate coastal retreat and land loss.
Offshore Geologic Surveys
The Offshore Geologic Framework Program conducts scientific investigations to acquire an understanding of basic geologic and geophysical characteristics of the continental margins, adjacent slope and deep-ocean areas, and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Results of these studies and analysis of new information are essential for energy and mineral resource evaluation of these areas.
Mineral Resource Surveys
The National Mineral Resource Assessment Program provides comprehensive scientific surveys to identify significant new targets for industry exploration in the conterminous United States and Alaska and also provides mineral resource information for planning the use of public lands.
The Strategic and Critical Minerals Program provides comprehensive information on domestic and world resources of nonfuel minerals that are essential to a strong national economy and defense.
The Development of Assessment Techniques Program carries out basic and applied research on the origin and the geologic, geochemical, and geophysi
cal characteristics of mineral deposit systems in order to develop concepts and techniques to improve the capability to identify and evaluate mineral resources.
Energy Geologic Surveys
The Evolution of Sedimentary Basins Program studies the tectonic framework and depositional, thermal, and diagenetic processes of sedimentary basins in the United States to develop data essential to the successful exploration for and evaluation of mineral and energy resources.
The Coal Investigations Program conducts geologic, geophysical, and geochemical research to develop scientifically based assessments of the quality, quantity, and availability of the Nation's coal resources.
The Oil and Gas Investigations Program supports basic and applied research on the generation, migration, and entrapment of petroleum and natural gas.
The Oil Shale Investigations Program conducts research to assess the Nation's oil shale resources, including investigation of the structure and chemistry of oil shale deposits and identification of oil shale deposits suitable for exploitation under current environmental and technological constraints.
The Uranium/Thorium Investigations Program conducts basic research to determine the nature and distribution of uranium and thorium resources, including newly forming uranium deposits and daughter products, such as radon, that may be health hazards.
The Geothermal Investigations Program conducts basic research to determine the nature, distribution, and magnitude of the Nation's geothermal resources. These studies define the geologic and hydrothermal regimes of the various classes of geothermal resources and identify the crustal, geochemical, and hydrothermal processes that produce geothermal systems.
The World Energy Resources Assessment Program provides information on worldwide energy resources for use by other agencies in the development of national-energy, international-trade, and foreign policies.
The headquarters office of the Water Resources Division is located in Reston, Va. The Chief Hydrologist, the Associate Chief Hydrologist, and five Assistant Chief Hydrologists are responsible for the overall direction of the Division. National water-research programs are developed at Division headquarters under the direction of the Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Research and External Coordination.
General direction of the Division's field programs is conducted through four Regional Hydrologists, located in Reston, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Denver, Colo.; and Menlo Park, Calif. Forty-two District Offices carry out the water-resources investigations and data-collection programs of the Division in all 50 States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Trust Territories.
National Water Summary
The National Water Summary Program provides water information on a State-by-State and national basis to aid policymakers in the analysis and development of water policies, legislation, and management actions. Changing patterns in availability, quantity, quality, and use of water resources are summarized for use by Government officials, natural resources managers, and the general public.
The principal products of the program are National Water Summary reports that describe hydrologic events and water conditions for a water year and provide a State-by-State overview of specific water-related issues.
National Water-Quality Assessment Program
The National Water-Quality Assessment Program seeks to provide nationally consistent descriptions of the quality of
the Nation's water resources over a large, diverse, and geographically distributed portion of the country; provide a baseline for evaluating future trends in water quality and, where possible, define trends in water quality over recent decades; and provide an understanding of the factors influencing water quality and thereby provide the basis to forecast change and evaluate the likely effect on water quality of various proposed remedial actions. Initial efforts involve four surface-water and three ground-water pilot studies.
Hazardous Waste Hydrology
The USGS conducts research and investigations into the disposal of hazardous chemical and radioactive wastes to provide information that will help in alleviating their effects on the Nation's water resources. The Survey evaluates the existing and potential effects on water resources of the earth-science aspects in hazardous-waste disposal and provides baseline data on the chemical contamination of surface and ground water to assist the Department of Energy in developing procedures and guidelines for identifying suitable waste-disposal sites. Radioactivewaste studies are conducted in the Nuclear Waste Hydrology Program, the principal emphasis of which is a better understanding of radionuclide transport in ground-water systems. Nonradioactive wastes are the focus of the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, which provides data to mitigate existing and potential contamination problems.
Regional Aquifer Systems Analysis Program
The Regional Aquifer Systems Analysis Program is a systematic study of a number of regional ground-water systems that represent a significant part of the Nation's water supply. The program includes assessment of dischargerecharge dynamics, hydrogeologic and chemical controls governing response of aquifer systems to stress, and development of computer simulation models.