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Explore our planet and learn more about our work through photographs and imagery from scientists and support staff.

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A small rural creek with clear water and a rocky bottom flows under an old farm road through three culverts.
War Branch
War Branch
War Branch

War Branch is a creek in Rockingham County, Virginia. Its 11 square mile watershed includes mostly poultry and beef agricultural activities. This stream is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Small Agricultural Watershed Monitoring Program. 

War Branch is a creek in Rockingham County, Virginia. Its 11 square mile watershed includes mostly poultry and beef agricultural activities. This stream is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Small Agricultural Watershed Monitoring Program. 

A small rural creek with eroding banks, fields of tall grass with some trees on either shore.
War Branch
War Branch
War Branch

War Branch is a creek in Rockingham County, Virginia. Its 11 square mile watershed includes mostly poultry and beef agricultural activities. This stream is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Small Agricultural Watershed Monitoring Program. 

War Branch is a creek in Rockingham County, Virginia. Its 11 square mile watershed includes mostly poultry and beef agricultural activities. This stream is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Small Agricultural Watershed Monitoring Program. 

View from bridge of North Fork of the Shenandoah River after a rainstorm with mountains in the background
North Fork of the Shenandoah River after a rainstorm
North Fork of the Shenandoah River after a rainstorm
North Fork of the Shenandoah River after a rainstorm

View from bridge at USGS streamgage (station ID: 01634000) of North Fork of the Shenandoah River after a rainstorm.

Winter 2024 Photo Contest Winner: James Webber, Honorable Mention category

View from bridge at USGS streamgage (station ID: 01634000) of North Fork of the Shenandoah River after a rainstorm.

Winter 2024 Photo Contest Winner: James Webber, Honorable Mention category

The long branch monitoring station next to a frozen stream.
Long Branch Monitoring Site in winter, Fairfax, VA
Long Branch Monitoring Site in winter, Fairfax, VA
Long Branch Monitoring Site in winter, Fairfax, VA

Photo of the Long Branch intensive water monitoring site.

A monitoring station in front of a turbid stream.
Water Quality Monitoring Station in Fairfax, Virginia
Water Quality Monitoring Station in Fairfax, Virginia
Water Quality Monitoring Station in Fairfax, Virginia

An intensive water quality monitoring station next to an urban stream in Fairfax, Virginia. During stormflow events, water levels can rise quickly and transport large amounts of nutrients and suspended sediment.

An intensive water quality monitoring station next to an urban stream in Fairfax, Virginia. During stormflow events, water levels can rise quickly and transport large amounts of nutrients and suspended sediment.

A turbid stream
Stormflow at Old courthouse spring branch in Fairfax County, Virginia
Stormflow at Old courthouse spring branch in Fairfax County, Virginia
Stormflow at Old courthouse spring branch in Fairfax County, Virginia

Stormflow in a Fairfax county stream. Part of the Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Network

A bridge over the Difficult Run stream with a stream gage in the foreground.
Difficult Run monitoring station in Great Falls, VA
Difficult Run monitoring station in Great Falls, VA
Difficult Run monitoring station in Great Falls, VA

The stream gage at the Difficult Run Near Great Falls, VA monitoring station. This site is a part of the USGS Nontidal Network.

Two partially submerged water quality monitoring probes installed in a stream beneath a bridge.
Water quality sondes at Difficult Run
Water quality sondes at Difficult Run
A hydrotech takes a water sample from a stream.
Water Quality Sampling at Accotink Creek
Water Quality Sampling at Accotink Creek
Water Quality Sampling at Accotink Creek

A USGS hydrotech conducts horizontally-integrated synoptic water quality sampling at Accotink Creek Near Annandale, VA.

A hydrotech takes readings in a shallow urban stream using a water quality sonde.
Measuring water quality parameters at Accotink Creek
Measuring water quality parameters at Accotink Creek
Measuring water quality parameters at Accotink Creek

A USGS hydrotech uses a water quality sonde to measure conditions at Accotink Creek Near Annandale, VA. This monitoring station is part of the USGS nontidal network.

An urban creek with heavily eroded edges and a fallen tree.
Accotink Creek near Annandale
Accotink Creek near Annandale
Accotink Creek near Annandale

Accotink Creek is an urban creek in the Potomac watershed. Like many urban streams, it suffers from bank erosion, leading to high suspended sediment loads, steep banks, and fallen trees.

Accotink Creek is an urban creek in the Potomac watershed. Like many urban streams, it suffers from bank erosion, leading to high suspended sediment loads, steep banks, and fallen trees.

A water sampling bottle connected to a long reel of rope sits on the edge of a bridge over an urban creek.
Taking water quality samples from a bridge over an urban creek
Taking water quality samples from a bridge over an urban creek
Taking water quality samples from a bridge over an urban creek

A water quality sampling bottle used to collect samples from S F Quantico Creek Near Independent Hill, VA. This site is part of the USGS nontidal network.

Photograph of a designed stream Rabbit Branch, Fairfax County.
Restored Rabbit Branch stream, Fairfax County
Restored Rabbit Branch stream, Fairfax County
Restored Rabbit Branch stream, Fairfax County

Photograph of the Rabbit Branch designed stream, located in Fairfax County. The effects of this stream restoration is monitored as a part of the Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Network.

Photograph of the Rabbit Branch designed stream, located in Fairfax County. The effects of this stream restoration is monitored as a part of the Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Network.

Photograph of a degraded urban stream pre-restoration, Fairfax County
Rabbit Branch Stream (pre-restoration), Fairfax County
Rabbit Branch Stream (pre-restoration), Fairfax County
Rabbit Branch Stream (pre-restoration), Fairfax County

The Rabbit Branch stream in Fairfax County before the stream was restored. The effects of this stream restoration is monitored as a part of the Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Network.

The Rabbit Branch stream in Fairfax County before the stream was restored. The effects of this stream restoration is monitored as a part of the Fairfax County Water Resources Monitoring Network.

USGS Surveyor works by bank of Lake Anna
Survey of Lake Anna, Virginia
Survey of Lake Anna, Virginia
Survey of Lake Anna, Virginia

Photo of: Blake Dudding, USGS; Photographer: Taylor Camper, USGS  

Lake Anna, Virginia  

A USGS hydrologist uses a rope and sampling bottle to collect a water sample from a bridge over the James River.
Collecting water samples from the James River
Collecting water samples from the James River
Collecting water samples from the James River

A USGS hydrologist conducts horizontally-integrated synoptic water sampling of the James River at Cartersville as part of the USGS's nontidal network monitoring efforts.

A USGS hydrologist conducts horizontally-integrated synoptic water sampling of the James River at Cartersville as part of the USGS's nontidal network monitoring efforts.

A USGS hydrologic technician kneels near a small urban stream while she prepares a sonde for deployment.
USGS hydrologic technician preparing a sonde for deployment
USGS hydrologic technician preparing a sonde for deployment
USGS hydrologic technician preparing a sonde for deployment

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic technician prepares a sonde for deployment for collecting continuous water-quality data.

A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic technician prepares a sonde for deployment for collecting continuous water-quality data.

Infographic showing how high turbidity limits light and leads to loss of aquatic plant life.
Turbidity
Turbidity
Turbidity

Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. High amounts of suspended solids increase turbidity. The more turbid the water, the less light can penetrate. In turbid waters, aquatic plants may die due to decreased light availability.

Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. High amounts of suspended solids increase turbidity. The more turbid the water, the less light can penetrate. In turbid waters, aquatic plants may die due to decreased light availability.

Infographic showing how excess nutrients can lead to algal blooms, low oxygen, and ecosystem collapse.
Nutrient Pollution
Nutrient Pollution
Nutrient Pollution

Nutrient pollution is caused when excess nutrients in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus are introduced into aquatic ecosystems, often due to leaching or surface water runoff. These excess nutrients can contribute to the degradation of downstream ecosystems.

Nutrient pollution is caused when excess nutrients in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus are introduced into aquatic ecosystems, often due to leaching or surface water runoff. These excess nutrients can contribute to the degradation of downstream ecosystems.