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United States Geological Survey (USGS)

  • By: Barbara S. Poore
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a nonregulatory scientific research agency housed in the U.S. Department of the Interior employing scientists in five scientific disciplines—geology, hydrology, geography, biology, and geospatial information science—at more than 400 U.S. locations. USGS scientists provide decision makers with timely and relevant information on the nation's landscape, natural resources, and hazards. The USGS is the country's largest civilian mapping agency, providing online access to base data, map products, and geospatial Web services derived from satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and the 7.5-min. (minute) topographic maps of the United States.

The USGS was established by Congress on March 3, 1879. John Wesley Powell, its director from 1881 to 1894, initiated a plan for the topographic mapping of the entire United States. USGS scientists ...

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