Frequently Asked Questions

Data, Tools, and Technology

The USGS has developed many tools and techniques for analyzing data and specialized websites for sharing information and products with the public.

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Photo showing a variety of USGS publications
If you can't find a known publication in our USGS Publications Warehouse, first try contacting the Publications Warehouse Team. If a print copy is readily available to them, they’re sometimes able to scan it and post it online for free download within a few days. If that doesn’t work, chances are good that the publication can be requested through...
Books on a shelf
Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine...
Water Quality Watch website screenshot
The USGS does not require a specific format when citing our websites. You should follow the citation guidelines provided by instructors or publication editors as appropriate. Unless you are citing a specific USGS publication, the author of a USGS website is almost always "U.S. Geological Survey". Also acceptable: "United States Geological Survey"...
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone)
Yes, approval is required for operating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The USGS receives flight approval from the Federal Aviation Administration prior to every UAS mission. The official document is referred to as a Certificate of Authorization and Waiver. It is the approval process by which the Federal Aviation Administration allows for public...
Drone Pilot Training
Training for USGS Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operators is provided by the Department of the Interior Office of Aviation Services. The training has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and is specific to the types of UAS that the department operates. The training provides operators with the skills and knowledge necessary to...
UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle used to remotely collect data used in hydrologic studies.
All data collected by USGS unmanned aircraft systems are processed and used in support of mission-specific research objectives. The vast majority of the resource management and scientific data will be archived for long-term use and placed in the public domain. Learn more: National Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office
Unmanned Aircraft System
The USGS is a bureau within the Department of the Interior (DOI), which requires the following actions related to privacy: Operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) primarily over DOI lands. Obtaining written permission from landowners when UAS operations need to launch and/or land on their property. Following standard Federal Aviation...
Closeup photo of a drone on cracked pavement
The Department of the Interior (and USGS) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operational strategy emphasizes small systems with a combined aircraft and payload weight of fewer than 55 pounds. These small UAS are designed to support short (90 minutes) missions and usually operate on rechargeable batteries. This strategy recognizes that any given small...
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ignites Controlled Fires
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide an affordable solution when the USGS needs "eyes in the sky" but doesn’t have the budget to maintain a fleet of aircraft or to obtain commercial imagery.  The USGS relies on a variety of remotely sensed data. UAS can provide a range of remote sensing data types, from aerial images to hyperspectral or...
Drone shot looking at brightly colored red and orange lava flows
The USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office and the Office of Aviation Services lead the development and testing of UAS scientific and resource management technology across the Department of the Interior in coordination with the other bureaus. Department of the Interior UAS capabilities supports a range of activities, including...
Image: New Accessions Arriving at Field Records
The USGS Field Records Collection is an archive of unpublished field notes, maps, correspondence, manuscripts, analysis reports, and other data created or collected by USGS Geology Discipline scientists during field studies and other project work. The collection is located in the USGS Library in Denver, Colorado, and is available for on-premises...
Ray Copper Mine
After 85 years of service, the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) closed in 1996. Certain functions, such as the collection, analysis, and dissemination of minerals information, have been returned to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). For information on former USBM programs or publications, please see the following sources: The National Technical Reports...