The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it.
Founded on March 3, 1879, it is an unbiased, fact-finding research organization with no regulatory responsibility. Since 1962, it has been involved in global, lunar and planetary exploration and mapping. Part of the United States Department of the Interior, it is the department's sole scientific agency. The USGS employs approximately 10,000 people and is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, with major offices in Denver, Colorado, and Menlo Park, California.
The USGS is the primary civilian mapping agency in the United States, and is best known for its 1:24,000 scale, 7.5-minute quadrangle topographic maps.
The USGS operates the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado which detects the location and magnitude of earthquakes worldwide. The NEIC informs both appropriate authorities and the media, domestic and worldwide, about significant earthquakes.
The USGS has four major science disciplines, concerning biology, geography, geology, and water.
The motto of the USGS is "science for a changing world."
- USGS official site (http://www.usgs.gov/)
- USGS Circular 1050 (History of the USGS) (http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/c1050/)
- Major USGS Discipline sites: Water (http://water.usgs.gov/), Geology (http://geology.usgs.gov/index.shtml), Geography (http://geography.usgs.gov/), Biology (http://biology.usgs.gov/)
- TerraServer-USA (http://www.terraserver-usa.com/) and TopoZone (http://www.topozone.com/) host USGS topographic maps (and aerial photos on TerraServer-USA); Maptech (http://historical.maptech.com/) hosts historical USGS topos in the northeast U.S.