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A YEAR OF CHANG FM
Vernal Falls, Yosemite National Park.
During the past 100 years of service as the Nation's earth science agency, the U.S. Geological Survey has faced numerous changes and challenges. We have taken on functions that our founding fathers never dreamed of, and we have spun off agencies and offices that now perform vital services to the public. That they perform these well is in no small part due to their initial nurturing and shaping by the Survey. We have faced challenges in the past that range from the harsh natural conditions at the South Pole and along the North Slope to the harsh management realities of necessary budget restraints; today, we must learn to do more
with less. Our 103d year probably brought as much
change and challenge as any other single year in our history. Approximately onequarter of our staff and operating budget was reassigned through the transfer of our Conservation Division and support personnel in other Divisions to the new Minerals Management Service. As part of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, we have been asked to aid the Nation's economic recovery by limiting our use of people and dollars.
We continue to be involved in helping to understand and provide solutions to problems that need scientifically sound resolutions: acid rain, underground storage of toxic and nuclear wastes, increased dependence on foreign supplies of critical minerals and energy resources, and future water supplies. Perhaps even more challenging than the conduct of science is the important task of making people aware of the problems, and providing on a timely basis the best information on possible mitigation measures. This basic and applied research effort must be effective today if there are to be scientifically sound solutions tomorrow. In essence, we must not only be the best possible scientists and managers of the Nation's earth science needs, but we must also be the best possible communicators.
I believe that we have met these challenges during the past year and have made significant new contributions to the Nation's store of scientific and technical
knowledge. We also have increased our
scientific productivity in innovative ways. We have and will continue to provide the best in earth science for the public good.
The Yearbook provides a more detailed summary of the changes, challenges, and accomplishments of fiscal year 1982. I am pleased to summarize some of those accomplishments here.
The Survey’s record of accurate predictions at Mount St. Helens Volcano continued in 1982 with advance warnings issued for each eruption. These warnings of continuing activity provided notice for the safe evacuation of people potentially threatened by an eruption. Seismic activity at Long Valley, California, led the Survey to issue a notice of potential volcanic activity hazard for that area. The detailed story of this geologic hazard is the subject of a major essay in this volume. In a broader contribution, the National Earthquake Information Center designed and implemented an efficient new technique for automatically summarizing digital data collected at stations worldwide and quantitatively describing the physical nature of earthquake sources. This technique greatly increases the accuracy of earthquake descriptions and facilitates recognition of long-term seismic patterns.
Significant advances in mineral resource research during the year include the initiation of a new program to assess the adequacy of U.S. and world resources of nonfuel minerals for the defense and industrial needs of the nation, the completion of mineral resource assessments for 44,000 square miles in nine States under the Conterminous U.S. Mineral Appraisal Program, and the publication of a highly useful new guide for the discovery and evaluation of metallic ore deposits. In addition, the second flight of the space shuttle Columbia included in its scientific payload the Shuttle Multispectral Infrared Radiometer, which successfully distinguished important mineral and rock types in a geologically diverse terrain. The results of this experiment by scientists from the Survey and the California Institute of Technology represent a major advance in the use of remote sensing for
mineral exploration. The experiment is described further in one of the Yearbook articles.
In 1982, the Survey reevaluated the Nation's undiscovered recoverable oil and gas resources in onshore and offshore basins. Survey Circular 860 lists these resource estimates for 15 regions, which comprise 137 provinces. Mean values of the estimates were 82.6 billion barrels of oil and 593.8 trillion cubic feet of gas. Survey marine geologists produced informative reports on the geology of petroleum basins in Alaskan and other offshore waters. In addition, our scientists made pioneering discoveries concerning the occurrence of polymetallic sulfides and metal-rich crusts on the sea floor. The sulfides offer a pristine natural laboratory for the study of ore-forming processes. The sea-floor crusts contain manganese, cobalt, and nickel, three strategic commodities, and are found at less than one-half the depth of the well-known manganese nodules.
The Survey’s hydrologic investigations in 1982 focused on major national problems. Many studies were carried out in cooperation with more than 850 Federal, State, and local agencies. The Survey continues to investigate long-term changes in the environment caused by acid precipitation using data from several sources including its Benchmark Network. The Benchmark Network, established in 1958, is the only long-term water-quality network in the Nation. Studies provide fundamental information for Federal and State agencies involved in efforts to understand and mitigate the effects of substances from the atmosphere on the Nation's water resources. In an investigation of the Potomac tidal river and estuary, Survey scientists have increased our understanding of chemical, physical, and biological processes that occur in the river so that future development in the river basin can be quantitatively evaluated. The isolation of highlevel radioactive waste continues to be a subject of major national concern. In cooperation with the Department of Energy, we have established a systematic approach to screening regions for repository sites that can best isolate such waste from the rest of the environment. In 1982, the Regional Aquifer Systems Analysis Program produced new information on the availability of ground-water supplies and variations in ground-water quality. Such information is critical in planning for irrigation and public
and industrial water supplies. The program in fiscal year 1982 focused primarily on hydrologic analyses of fifteen of the Nation's most important aquifer systems, including the Atlantic and Southeastern Coastal Plains, Southeastern Carbonates, Northern Great Plains, High Plains, Snake River Plain, and the Central Valley of California.
Management of vital water resources information collected by the Survey was improved with the implementation of a new decentralized computer network that will provide field and research offices across the country with an integrated system for analyzing and distributing hydrologic information.
Increased concern regarding the balanced use of our lands and resources have placed heavy demands on our topographic mapping efforts. The Survey has responded with a number of innovative mapping products. In 1982, we made available to the public new provisional maps for the 1:24,000-scale series on a much more rapid production schedule than is normally achievable. We have also successfully developed and produced a major new computerized data base for regional and national small-scale maps. The new digital data base at 1:2,000,000 scale has been produced in response to a need for an information source that can be applied to problems of all kinds and updated rapidly. Cultural and physiographic data are digitized and can be obtained as computer tapes from the National Cartographic Information Center. A new milestone in the mapmaking process was achieved with the completion of the first computer-generated topographic map. Each item of information on the map is digitized with photogrammetric instruments specially equipped to record features appearing on aerial photographs. The recorded digital information is then processed through a series of computer programs which format and edit the data for producing maps on a highspeed automatic plotter. The new process, although still in the experimental stage, offers the potential for large increases in efficiency, speed of production, and flexibility of data presentation. In a new application of cartographic data, a small-scale digital framework has been established for assessment of natural resources on federally owned lands. These data, when merged with geologic information and with petroleum production data from adjoining lands, can be used to develop accurate