Mission Areas


Changes to the natural world combined with growing human demands put our health and safety, national security, and economy at risk. We are focused on some of the most significant issues society faces, and our science is making a substantial contribution to the well-being of the Nation and the world. Learn more about the major topics our research covers and the programs focused on those topic


Understanding a changing world and how it affects our natural resources, livelihoods, and communities. Science plays an essential role in helping communities and resource managers understand the local to global implications of change, anticipate the effects of change, prepare for change, and reduce the risks associated with decisionmaking in a changing environment.

Critical Zone

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Core Science Systems (CSS) Mission Area builds on the core strengths of the USGS in characterizing and understanding complex Earth and biological systems through research, modeling, mapping, and the production of high-quality data. CSS delivers natural science information to the Nation in support of smart decisionmaking.

A female grizzly with a cub.  Adult females are considered the most important segment of the grizzly population and consequently

Ecosystems provides unbiased science, tools, and decision support to our Nation’s natural resource managers, with particular focus on the science needs of the Department of Interior bureaus to conserve species, lands, and priority ecosystems; fulfill treaty obligations; provide water for irrigation and human consumption; and manage mineral and energy resources.

Energy Minerals

The Energy and Minerals Mission Area conducts research and assessments that focus on the location, quantity, and quality of mineral and energy resources, including the economic and environmental effects of resource extraction and use.

Environmental Health Venn Diagram

The U.S. Geological Survey Environmental Health Mission Area works to safeguard the Nation’s health, economy, and resources by leading science to understand and minimize exposures to toxicological and infectious disease agents in the environment.

Natural Hazards

Every year in the United States, natural hazards threaten lives and livelihoods and result in billions of dollars in damage. We work with many partners to monitor, assess, and conduct targeted research on a wide range of natural hazards so that policymakers and the public have the understanding they need to enhance preparedness, response, and resilience.


Information about water is fundamental to the national and local economic well-being, protection of life and property, and effective management of the Nation’s water resources. The USGS works with partners to monitor, assess, and conduct targeted research on the wide range of water resources and conditions, including streamflow, groundwater, water quality, and water use and availability.