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Military geology unit of the U.S. Geological Survey during World War II

January 1, 1998

On June 24, 1942, the temporary Military Geology Unit of the U.S. Geological Survey was formalized after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested them to prepare terrain intelligence studies to meet wartime priorities. The entire Military Geology Unit wartime roster was 114 professionals, including 88 geologists, 11 soil scientists, and 15 other specialists; 14 were women. Assisting staff (illustrators, typists, photographers, and others) totaled 43. The unit produced 313 studies, including 140 major terrain folios, 42 other major special reports, and 131 minor studies. These reports contain about 5,000 maps, 4,000 photographs and figures, 2,500 large tables, and 140 terrain diagrams. Most products were designed in the beginning for general strategic planning in Washington and later for detailed strategic planning overseas; they utilized graphics and nontechnical, telegraphic-style tabular texts.

The Military Geology Unit's principal effort was the preparation of the terrain folios titled Strategic Engineering Studies. They varied somewhat in content and format, but the key components usually were introduction, terrain appreciation, rivers, road and airfield construction, construction materials, and water resources. The folios, produced at an average rate of about one per week and at an average cost of $2,500, were compiled from scientific journals, books, maps, and photographs available in the Washington area by a team of 3 to 8 scientists; 8 to 12 teams might be working concurrently. MGU personnel took great pride in never having missed a delivery deadline.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1998
Title Military geology unit of the U.S. Geological Survey during World War II
DOI 10.1130/REG13-p49
Authors Maurice J. Terman
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70217707
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse