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United States Geological Survey

12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192

703-648-4000 | Email:

DIRECTOR *David Applegate


Administration and PolicyRoseann C. Gonzales-Schreiner
OperationsCynthia L. Lodge

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) was established by the Organic Act of March 3, 1879 (Ch. 182 / 20 Stat. 394 / 43 U.S.C. 31). Since March 3, 1879, the Survey has provided the United States with science information needed to make important land use and resource management policy decisions.

The USGS serves as the Earth and natural science research bureau for the Department of the Interior. It is the only integrated natural resources research agency in the Federal Government. USGS research and data support the Department's resource and land management information needs. Other Federal, State, tribal, and local government agencies rely on USGS research and data for their biological, climate, energy, mineral resources, natural hazards, and water information needs. Emergency response organizations, natural resource managers, land use planners, and other customers use USGS research and data to protect lives and property, to address environmental health issues, and to promote the public weal.

The USGS conducts research, monitoring, and assessments to increase understanding of America's biological, land, and water resources. The Service informs American citizens and members of the global community by producing data, maps, and reports containing analyses and interpretations. These analyses and interpretations cover a range of topics: biological, energy, mineral, and water resources; land surfaces; marine environments; geologic structures; natural hazards; and dynamic processes of the Earth. Citizens, managers, and planners regularly use USGS data, analytical, and interpretive products to respond to and plan for changes in ecosystems and the environment.

The USGS has over 140 years of experience generating science-based data. In more than 400 science centers across the United States, the Service employs approximately 10,000 science and science-support staff, who work on locally, regionally, and nationally scaled studies, on research projects, and at sampling and monitoring sites.

Sources of Information

Archived Records

The "Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States" indicates that USGS records have been assigned to record group 057.

Business Opportunities

General information on contracting is available from the Office of Acquisition and Grants. Phone, 703-648-7376.

The "Small Business Program" web page has resources to help small-business owners. | Email:

Career Opportunities

The USGS relies on professionals with a range of expertise and diverse skills to carry out its mission. Many of these professionals have been educated and trained in various scientific disciplines: biology, cartography, chemistry, ecology, geology, geography, hydrology, and physics. | Email:

In 2019, the USGS ranked 168th among 420 agency subcomponents in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.

Contact Information

The "Contact USGS" web page has an electronic message form, as well as information on social media and web chat. Phone, 888-275-8747.

Critical Minerals List

On May 18, 2018, the Department of the Interior's Office of the Secretary published the notice "Final List of Critical Minerals 2018" in the Federal Register (83 FR 23295). The expertise of USGS staff plays a key role in reducing the Nation's vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of these minerals. On its website, the USGS posted the announcement "Interior Releases 2018's Final List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy." Each of the critical minerals is hyperlinked to a web page with statistics and other information on that particular mineral. Although the list is a final version, it should not be characterized as a permanent, but as a dynamic, list that will be updated.

Earthquakes for Kids

Earthquakes for kids provides online resources to help children and adults learn about earthquakes and earthquake science.

Federal Register

Documents that the USGS recently published in the Federal Register are accessible online.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The FOIA electronic reading room contains documents related to the Flow Rate Technical Group in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These documents have been cleared for public release, and the USGS expects to publish additional documents to this collection. Before submitting a FOIA request for agency records, an information seeker should search this reading room and other Federal Government Deepwater Horizon electronic reading rooms for documents and information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The USGS posts answers to FAQs on its website.


A landslides glossary is available on the USGS website.

The earthquake hazards program includes an online glossary.

The Office of Budget, Planning, and Integration maintains an online glossary of common terms and financial terms.

A glossary of collections management terms is available online.

A Landsat glossary and list of acronyms are available online.

The USGS published a glossary of glacier-related terms.

A list of water-related terms and their definitions are available online.


Mary C. Rabbitt's "The United States Geological Survey: 1879–1989" is available in electronic form on the USGS website. It is a 110-year history of the relation of geology to the development of policies for public land, Federal science, and mapping, and to the development of mineral resources in the United States.

Landsat Satellite Missions

In 1966, former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall announced the launching of the Earth Resources Observation Satellites (EROS) project. His vision was to observe the Earth for the benefit of all. One of the purposes of the ongoing project is to collect valuable resource data and use them to improve the environmental quality of the biosphere.


Established in 1879, the USGS library is now the largest library for earth sciences in the world. Professional librarians develop and maintain USGS library guides to connect users to relevant resources and research strategies. | Email:

National Map

The National Map website offers Internet users a trove of topographical information.

Natural Hazards

Information on the programs and activities of the natural hazards mission—including information on earthquakes, flooding, landslides, volcanoes, and wildfires—is available online.


The USGS posts national and State news items.


The USGS publications warehouse provides access to over 130,000 publications written by USGS scientists throughout the agency's history.

Science Snippets

The USGS posts fun facts and interesting snippets of science.

Site Map

The Website map allows visitors to look for specific topics or to browse content that aligns with their interests.

USGS Store

Educational materials, Federal recreation passes, maps, scientific reports, and more are available from the online USGS Store.

Social Media

The USGS maintains a presence on social media.

Volcanic Activity Alerts

Information on U.S. volcanoes and current activity alerts are available on the "Volcano Hazards" web page.

Water Resources

Reliable, impartial, and timely information on the Nation's water resources is available on the "Water Resources" web page. Phone, 888-275-8747.

A nationwide list of all of the USGS water resources mission area science centers and regions and hubs for critical water science that Federal, State, and other partners and stakeholders fund is available online.

Wetlands and Aquatics Research

The Wetlands and Aquatics Research Center conducts research, develops new approaches and technologies, and disseminates scientific information that is needed for understanding, managing, conserving, and restoring wetlands and other aquatic and coastal ecosystems and their associated plant and animal communities throughout the Nation and the world.

The Sources of Information were updated 12–2020.