USGS Home Page

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

120.1 - Organization - Creation, Mission, and Functions


OPR: Admin/Office of Personnel

1. Creation and Authority. The Geological Survey was established by the Organic Act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. 394; 43 U.S.C. 31), which provided for "the classification of the public lands and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain." The Act of September 5, 1962 (76 Stat. 427; 43 U.S.C. 31(b)), expanded this authorization to include such examinations outside the national domain. Topographic mapping and chemical and physical research were recognized as an essential part of the investigations and studies authorized by the Organic Act, and specific provision was made for them by Congress in the Act of October 2, 1888 (25 Stat. 505, 526).

Following the early work on classification of land available for irrigation, provision was made in 1894 for gaging the streams and determining the water supply of the United States (28 Stat. 398). Authorizations for publication, sale, and distribution of material prepared by the Geological Survey are contained in several statutes (43 U.S.C. 41-45; 44 U.S.C. 1318, 1320).

The authority of the Director as delegated by the Secretary of the Interior is set forth in Parts 205 and 220 of this Manual.

2. Mission. The mission of the Geological Survey is to provide geologic, topographic, and hydrologic information that contributes to the wise management of the Nation's natural resources and that promotes the health, safety, and well-being of the people. This information consists of maps, data bases, and descriptions and analyses of the water, energy, and mineral resources, land surface, underlying geologic structure, and dynamic processes of the earth.

3. Functions. To accomplish its mission, the Geological Survey:

A. Conducts and sponsors research in geology, mapping, hydrology, and related sciences; describes the onshore and offshore geologic framework and develops an understanding of its formation and evolution; assesses energy and mineral resources, determines their origin and manner of occurrence, and develops techniques for their discovery; evaluates hazards associated with earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, droughts, toxic material, landslides, subsidence, and other ground failures, and develops methods for hazards prediction; produces and updates geographic, cartographic, and remotely sensed information in graphic and digital form, and develops advanced mapping techniques as well as new applications for cartographic and geographic data; collects and analyzes data on the quantity and quality of surface water and ground water, on water use, and on quality of precipitation; and assesses water resources and develops an understanding of the impact of human activities and natural phenomena on hydrologic systems.

B. Publishes reports and maps, establishes and maintains earth-science data bases, and disseminates earth-science data and information; provides scientific and technical assistance in the effective use of earth-science techniques, products, and information; and develops new technologies for the collection, coordination, and interpretation of earth-science data.

C. Coordinates topographic, geologic, and land-use mapping, digital cartography and water-data activities in support of national needs and priorities; provides scientific support and technical advice for legislative, regulatory, and management decisions; and cooperates with other Federal, State, and local agencies, and with academia and industry in the furtherance of its mission.

Return to Survey Manual Table of Contents
Return to Survey Manual Index
Return to Survey Manual Home Page
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA, USA
Contact: APS, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 19-Dec-2012@10:38 (kk)
Privacy Statement