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The Year in Review
For 104 years, the U.S. Geological Survey has served to meet the Nation's need for knowledge about the Earth and its resources. In the spirit of that proud tradition and as tribute to the many goals and accomplishments met and achieved, I am pleased to present the U.S. Geological Survey Yearbook for 1983.
Events during the past year reminded us of the fundamental importance of the earth sciences to the Nation and presented the Geological Survey with many challenges. The tremendous power of nature was once again demonstrated by unusually widespread flooding, a devastating earthquake in Coalinga, California, volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, and landsliding in California and Utah. Disposal of toxic and nuclear wastes repeatedly made headlines, as did acid rain. The increasing use of computers to store and analyze earth science data has sparked the growth in demand for digital cartographic data by State and Federal agencies and by the private sector. Continued emphasis on environmentally sound and expeditious development of the Nation's mineral and energy resources and the Presidential proclamation of an Exclusive Economic Zone, which expanded the Nation's area of jurisdiction by 170 percent, increased the need for earth science information.
The storms and flooding of 1982 and 1983 confronted the Nation with a rare series of hydrologic events. Severe flooding affected much of the Mississippi and Missouri River basins, the Texas Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes basin, coastal California, and the Colorado River basin. A description of many of these floods and of the Survey's role in responding to the floods is the subject of a major essay in this volume.
The Geological Survey has an important role in providing State and local agencies with current, accurate evaluations of water conditions and critical water issues. In March of this year, the Geological Survey added a new dimension to its role as the Nation's water resources information agency by beginning preparation of an annual National Water Summary that will provide an overview of changing water conditions and describe specific water situations and concerns. A large part of the first National
Water Summary was developed through the technical contributions and aid of the more than 800 State and local agencies that form the non-Federal part of the Survey's Federal-State Cooperative Program. The report, scheduled to be published in January 1984, describes the major hydrologic events that occurred during 1982 to mid-1983, summarizes the water issues of concern in each State, and provides a hydrologic perspective on these issues. In addition to describing the condition of the Nation's water resources, future reports will focus on selected geographic areas and issues of special interest and importance.
The 1983 National Water Summary has identified ground-water contamination and acid rain as two prominent water resource issues. The Geological Survey has recently increased its scientific effort to address these concerns.
In 1982, we began a program to study toxic waste and ground-water contamination problems. This program is designed to provide the Nation with earth science information necessary to improve wastedisposal practices and to help solve existing and future ground-water contamination problems. This year, we began new research studies at three field sites having documented, but different, histories of ground-water pollution. These studies involve teams of scientists examining the physical, chemical, and biological processes affecting the movement and fate of the contaminants in a variety of groundwater environments.
In addition to research projects to develop an understanding of the processes of contamination, we are beginning a longterm program to assess the quality of the Nation's ground-water resources, particularly with regard to trace substances. This will be done by studying individual areas that are representative of wider regions in terms of climate, ground-water hydrology, and human activities. Over a period of years, a number of these studies will be carried out in each of the major climatic and geohydrologic regions of the Nation.
Considerable attention and debate are currently directed towards the environmental effects of acid rain and various emission-control strategies. Much of the