National Geophysical Data Retrieval and Integration Project

Science Center Objects

This project helped to streamline the workflow from geophysical data acquisition to data distribution, and additionally provided user support for integration and interpretation of these complex data sets. There were four main objectives: 1) contracting geophysical surveys, 2) converting data from analog to digital format, 3) archiving, retrieving, and integrating geophysical data, and 4) outreach.

Why did USGS update their geophysical data sets?

Since the 1940s, the USGS has spent millions of dollars conducting airborne geophysical surveys. This trend continues as the USGS contracts commercial vendors to acquire new geophysical data sets that support research within the Mineral Resource Program and other USGS Programs. These government-funded data sets are valuable products that the USGS provides to both internal and external users.

geophysical survey index map

Index map of 1,598 airborne geophysical surveys conducted or contracted by the USGS since the 1940s. The Project generated survey footprints and attributed each with survey specific information that helps users quickly assess available data sets on our geophysical data portal.

(Public domain.)

What did USGS do to these data sets?

This Project helped to streamline the workflow from data acquisition to data distribution, and additionally provided user support for integration and interpretation of these complex data sets.

There were four main objectives:

  1. Contracting geophysical surveys
  2. Converting data from analog to digital format
  3. Archiving, retrieving, and integrating geophysical data
  4. Outreach

Contracting Geophysical Surveys: The collection of airborne geophysical data is mostly contracted to commercial vendors. As such, the Federal Government requires that the contracts are overseen by a Contracting Officer’s Representative. The Project supported this role and worked with USGS scientists and the Office of Acquisition and Grants to ensure that all legal obligations were met. The Contracting Officer’s Representative maintains a catalog describing each survey.

Converting Data from Analog to Digital Format: Many vintage USGS airborne survey data sets were only available as scanned contour maps. These data could be easily integrated within geographic information systems (GIS). However, the contour lines needed to be digitized and attributed allowing the data to be fully leveraged and manipulated within modern geophysical data processing software packages. This project performed the digitization task for known data gaps across the U.S. and for specified areas defined by other Mineral Resource Program projects.

Archiving, Retrieving, and Integrating Geophysical Data: USGS spatial data delivery has been rapidly evolving over the last several years. Traditionally, airborne geophysical survey data were released through USGS publications; however, increased cost and time for generating these reports have made this form of data distribution less optimal. The Project developed alternative pathways for data distribution that aligns with USGS Data Management Policy.

The Project made the data archive publicly available through the Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data website. These data can now be found through map interfaces and by state/county, and there are also national-scale compilations that include magnetics, radiometrics, and gravity.

Outreach: We addressed geophysical data questions from the public, as well as USGS scientists. The questions covered airborne and ground-based geophysical surveys with methods that include: magnetics, gravimetrics, radiometrics, and resistivity. The solutions sometimes involved data integration and manipulation that demonstrated the utility of these data sets when exploring for mineral deposits.


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