Mission Areas


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Water is one of seven science mission areas of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Water's mission is to collect and disseminate reliable, impartial, and timely information that is needed to understand the Nation's water resources.

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Filter Total Items: 138
Image: A Rainbow Trout Rests Among Substrate in Panther Creek
April 6, 2015

STATUS: Completed

Historically, Idaho has been home to many productive underground and open-pit mining operations. These activities have also produced water quality problems in some areas. One such example is the Blackbird Mine in central Idaho. Following mining operations from the 1940s through the 1960s, Panther Creek and its tributaries were severely damaged by runoff from the...

Mobile River Basin Chart
September 22, 2014

The Mobile River Basin study is one of several NAWQA studies that began in Federal fiscal year 1997 (October 1996). Study planning and design, and analysis of existing data will be done during the first 2 years, which is consistent with all NAWQA studies. After the 2-year planning period, surface- and ground-water and biological data will be collected intensively for 3 years during a high-...

September 10, 2014

STATUS: Completed

To make scientifically based water-resource decisions, elected officials, water managers, and the general public need additional information about the Wood River Valley aquifer system. A crucial part of this information is an improved understanding of the extent, thickness, and hydraulic properties of the aquifer—a hydrogeologic framework....

Sample site for water-quality assessment
September 9, 2014

STATUS: Completed

A component of groundwater availability is whether the water quality is suitable for a particular use. Elected officials, water managers, and the general public have raised concerns about whether water quality has been affected in developed and agricultural areas by wastewater disposal, fertilizer application, and animal waste.

Eastern Ada County, Idaho
September 9, 2014

STATUS: Completed

Groundwater is the primary source of water supply to Ada County’s growing population. Because of a proposed development near Mayfield, the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) initiated the East Ada County Hydrologic Project to improve the scientific understanding of the...

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012-5119
September 9, 2014

STATUS; Completed

The endangered Bruneau hot springsnail (Pyrgulopsis bruneauensis) exists only in a geographically limited habitat of thermal springs and seeps in southwestern Idaho. As a part of its 2002 recovery plan for the springsnail, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) targeted conservation efforts to increase groundwater levels in the Bruneau area to protect the...

Low Flow Study Images
May 1, 2014

As part of their mission to protect public health and aquatic ecosystems, Alabama state agencies need accurate and representative streamflow statistics to establish realistic and applicable criteria for both water quality and water quantity (fig. 1). Historically, low-flow statistics, such as the annual minimum 7-day average flow that likely will occur, on average, once every 10 years (7Q10),...

Streamgage operated by Idaho Power Company on the Snake River below Swan Falls Dam near Murphy, Idaho
January 2, 2014

STATUS: Completed

The State of Idaho needs to determine stream discharge, adjusted to remove fluctuations resulting from the operation of hydropower facilities, in the Snake River below Swan Falls Dam near Murphy, Idaho. The State will use this information to distribute water to owners of water rights in the middle Snake River, particularly at thresholds of 3,900 and 5,600 ft3/s....

Development along shoreline of Coeur d'Alene Lake
January 1, 2014

STATUS: Completed

Development around Coeur d'Alene Lake has accelerated over the past 25 years. Commercial and residential development adjacent to the lake plus demands for irrigation, recreation, and hydropower raise concerns about the potential for declining lake levels.

A comprehensive lake water budget helps resource managers determine the possible effects of growth on...

Osprey pair nesting on a sign in Coeur d'Alene Lake
January 1, 2014

STATUS: Completed

The mining district in the South Fork Coeur d’Alene River valley was among the Nation’s largest producers of silver, lead, zinc, and other metals from the 1880s to the 1980s. These activities have produced large quantities of waste material that contain environmentally hazardous contaminants such as cadmium, lead, and zinc. Much of this material has been...

Black Warrior River Map
September 22, 2012

Static flood-inundation map libraries consist of maps that have been created in advance of a flood that are ready to be served through the Internet. Each library consists of a set of flood extent and depth maps developed for predetermined stream stage intervals (for example, a map for each one foot of stage). A user can view real-time or forecast stage data from a USGS streamgage or National...

Map of Mt. Pleasant Waterworks wells in the Charleston aquifer
September 22, 2012

StreamStats is a Web-based tool that provides streamflow statistics, drainage-basin characteristics, and other information for USGS streamgaging stations and for user-selected ungaged sites on streams. When users select the location of a streamgaging station, StreamStats provides previously published information from a database. When users select a site on an ungaged stream, StreamStats will...

Filter Total Items: 1,477
Year Published: 2016

U.S. national categorical mapping of building heights by block group from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data

This dataset is a categorical mapping of estimated mean building heights, by Census block group, in shapefile format for the conterminous United States. The data were derived from the NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which collected “first return” (top of canopy and buildings) radar data at 30-m resolution in February, 2000 aboard the Space...

Falcone, James
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2016

USGS measurements of water quality in San Francisco Bay (CA), 1969-2015

The U.S. Geological Survey maintains a program of water-quality studies in San Francisco Bay (CA) that began in 1969. This Data Release makes available all measurements made from 1969 through 2015. Water-quality constituents include salinity, temperature, light attenuation coefficient, and concentrations of chlorophyll-a, dissolved oxygen,...

Cloern, James E.; Schraga, Tara
Attribution: Water
Cloern, J.E., and Schraga, T.S., 2016, USGS Measurements of Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (CA), 1969-2015: U. S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7TQ5ZPR.

Year Published: 2016

Updated atomic weights: Time to review our table

Despite common belief, atomic weights are not necessarily constants of nature. Scientists’ ability to measure these values is regularly improving, so one would expect that the accuracy of these values should be improving with time. It is the task of the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) Commission on Isotopic Abundances and...

Coplen, Tyler B.; Meyers, Fabienne; Holden, Norman E.
Attribution: Water
Coplen, T. B., Meyers, F., Holden, N. E. 2016, Updated Atomic Weights: Time to Review Our Table. Chemistry Views Magazine, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chemv.201600015

Year Published: 2016

Watershed boundaries for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network

The National Water Quality Network (NWQN) for Rivers and Streams includes 113 surface-water river and stream sites monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Program (NWQP). The NWQN represents the consolidation of four historical national networks: the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project, the USGS...

Baker, Nancy T.
Attribution: Water
Baker, N.T., 2016, Watershed Boundaries for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7SF2TBD.

Year Published: 2016

Hydrogeology and hydrologic conditions of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system

The hydrogeology and hydrologic characteristics of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system were characterized as part of ongoing U.S. Geological Survey efforts to assess groundwater availability across the Nation. The need for such a study in the Ozark Plateaus physiographic province (Ozark Plateaus) is highlighted by increasing demand on groundwater...

Hays, Phillip D.; Knierim, Katherine J.; Breaker, Brian K.; Westerman, Drew A.; Clark, Brian R.
Hays, P.D., Knierim, K.J., Breaker, Brian, Westerman, D.A., and Clark, B.R., 2016, Hydrogeology and hydrologic conditions of the Ozark Plateaus aquifer system: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016–5137, 61 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20165137.

Year Published: 2016

Special issue “The phreatic eruption of Mt. Ontake volcano in 2014”

Mt. Ontake volcano erupted at 11:52 on September 27, 2014, claiming the lives of at least 58 hikers. This eruption was the worst volcanic disaster in Japan since the 1926 phreatic eruption of Mt. Tokachidake claimed 144 lives (Table 1). The timing of the eruption contributed greatly to the heavy death toll: near midday, when many hikers were...

Yamaoka, Koshun; Geshi, Nobuo; Hashimoto, Tasheki; Ingebritsen, Steven E.; Oikawa, Teruki
Attribution: Water
Yamaoka, K., Geshi, N., Hashimoto, T., Ingebritsen, S.E., and Oikawa, T., 2016, Special issue “The phreatic eruption of Mt. Ontake volcano in 2014”: Earth, Planets, and Space, v. 68, doi:10.1186/s40623-016-0548-4.

Year Published: 2016

A dynamic leaf gas-exchange strategy is conserved in woody plants under changing ambient CO2: evidence from carbon isotope discrimination in paleo and CO2 enrichment studies

Rising atmospheric [CO2], ca, is expected to affect stomatal regulation of leaf gas-exchange of woody plants, thus influencing energy fluxes as well as carbon (C), water, and nutrient cycling of forests. Researchers have proposed various strategies for stomatal regulation of leaf gas-exchange that include maintaining a constant leaf internal [CO2...

Voelker, Steven L.; Brooks, J. Renée; Meinzer, Frederick C.; Anderson, Rebecca D.; Bader, Martin K.-F.; Battipaglia, Giovanna; Becklin, Katie M.; Beerling, David; Bert, Didier; Betancourt, Julio L.; Dawson, Todd E.; Domec, Jean-Christophe; Guyette, Richard P.; Körner, Christian; Leavitt, Steven W.; Linder, Sune; Marshall, John D.; Mildner, Manuel; Ogée, Jérôme; Panyushkina, Irina P.; Plumpton, Heather J.; Pregitzer, Kurt S.; Saurer, Matthias; Smith, Andrew R.; Siegwolf, Rolf T.W.; Stambaugh, Michael C.; Talhelm, Alan F.; Tardif, Jacques C.; Van De Water, Peter K.; Ward, Joy K.; Wingate, Lisa
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2016

Atomic weights of the elements 2013 (IUPAC Technical Report)

The biennial review of atomic-weight determinations and other cognate data has resulted in changes for the standard atomic weights of 19 elements. The standard atomic weights of four elements have been revised based on recent determinations of isotopic abundances in natural terrestrial materials:cadmium to 112.414(4) from 112.411(8),molybdenum to...

Meija, Juris; Coplen, Tyler B.; Berglund, Michael; Brand, Willi A.; De Bièvre, Paul; Gröning, Manfred; Holden, Norman E.; Irrgeher, Johanna; Loss, Robert D.; Walczyk, Thomas; Prohaska, Thomas
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2016

Bounded fractional diffusion in geological media: Definition and Lagrangian approximation

Spatiotemporal Fractional-Derivative Models (FDMs) have been increasingly used to simulate non-Fickian diffusion, but methods have not been available to define boundary conditions for FDMs in bounded domains. This study defines boundary conditions and then develops a Lagrangian solver to approximate bounded, one-dimensional fractional diffusion....

Zhang, Yong; Green, Christopher T.; LaBolle, Eric M.; Neupauer, Roseanna M.; Sun, HongGuang
Attribution: Water
Zhang, Y, C.T. Green, E.M. LaBolle, R.M. Neupauer, ,and H.G. Sun, 2016, Bounded fractional diffusion in geological media: Definition and Lagrangian approximation, Water Resources Research, DOI: 10.1002/2016WR019178

Year Published: 2016

Deposition, accumulation, and alteration of Cl−, NO3−, ClO4− and ClO3− salts in a hyper-arid polar environment: Mass balance and isotopic constraints

The salt fraction in permafrost soils/sediments of the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) of Antarctica can be used as a proxy for cold desert geochemical processes and paleoclimate reconstruction. Previous analyses of the salt fraction in MDV permafrost soils have largely been conducted in coastal regions where permafrost soils are variably affected by...

Jackson, Andrew; Davila, Alfonso F.; Böhlke, John Karl; Sturchio, Neil C.; Sevanthi, Ritesh; Estrada, Nubia; Brundrett, Maeghan; Lacelle, Denis; McKay, Christopher P.; Poghosyan, Armen; Pollard, Wayne; Zacny, Kris
Attribution: Water

Year Published: 2016

Isotopic compositions of the elements 2013 (IUPAC Technical Report)

The Commission on Isotopic Abundances and Atomic Weights (ciaaw.org) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (iupac.org) has revised the Table of Isotopic Compositions of the Elements (TICE). The update involved a critical evaluation of the recent published literature. The new TICE 2013 includes evaluated data from the “best...

Meija, Juris; Coplen, Tyler B.; Berglund, Michael; Brand, Willi A.; De Bièvre, Paul; Gröning, Manfred; Holden, Norman E.; Irrgeher, Johanna; Loss, Robert D.; Walczyk, Thomas; Prohaska, Thomas
Attribution: Water
Pure Appl. Chem. 2016; 88(3): 293–306

Year Published: 2016

Assessing the role of climate and resource management on groundwater dependent ecosystem changes in arid environments with the Landsat archive

Groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) rely on near-surface groundwater. These systems are receiving more attention with rising air temperature, prolonged drought, and where groundwater pumping captures natural groundwater discharge for anthropogenic use. Phreatophyte shrublands, meadows, and riparian areas are GDEs that provide critical habitat...

Huntington, Justin; McGwire, Kenneth C.; Morton, Charles; Snyder, Keirith A.; Peterson, Sarah; Erickson, Tyler; Niswonger, Richard G.; Carroll, Rosemary W.H.; Smith, Guy; Allen, Richard
Attribution: Water

The USGS produces many types of multimedia products. Use the links below to browse our offerings of photograph galleries, podcasts and sound files, videos, aerial photos, and posters related to water. The USGS Newsroom has a Web page that highlights the main collection of multimedia products.

Filter Total Items: 801
Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler
January 9, 2017
A U.S. Geological Survey field crew uses an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler to measure water velocity on the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada.
Bath Creek, Bath County, VA
2016 (approx.)
Bath Creek, upstream of Blowing Springs Campground, George Washington National Forest, Bath County, VA.
Photo of USGS research boat conducting science on the Great Salt Lake.
2016 (approx.)
USGS scientist Robert Baskin takes a boat out on the Great Salt Lake to conduct research. Baskin is being awarded with a 2016 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Gov. Gary R. Herbert will present awards to 11 individuals and one company at the 30th anniversary awards dinner on January 18, 2017. Baskin is best known for his innovative research on Great Salt Lake, collaborating with the...
2016 (approx.)
This video provides an overview of the USGS Fractured Rock Geophysical Toolbox Method Selection Tool. The Fractured Rock Geophysical Toolbox Method Selection Tool (FRGT-MST) is an Excel-based tool for identification of geophysical methods most likely to be appropriate for project goals and site conditions. We envision the FRGT-MST: 1) equipping remediation professionals with a tool to understand...
2016 (approx.)
This video demonstrates how to measure total well depth below land surface using a weighted, graduated steel tape.
2016 (approx.)
Sometimes the whole is actually *less* than the sum of its parts. In this case, it turns out that cadmium and zinc, when combined in ratios like you'd see in the environment, they are actually less toxic to aquatic insects than adding up their individual toxicities. Read more: http://on.doi.gov/2dVvUtj Video shows caddisflies, one of the insects studied in the research, in an artificial stream...
two men standing near a well. Truck-mounted rig and well head visible.
2016 (approx.)
JJ Thordsen (USGS) and a wireline operator retrieving downhole vacuum sampler from a characterization well near a CO2 injection well at Citronelle oil field, Alabama.
Water flowing from culvert
2016 (approx.)
Hampton Roads WQMP Image 1. Water flowing from a culvert.
2016 (approx.)
This video will provide a brief history and purpose for one of the oldest streamgages in Indiana. The gage is at the Wabash River at Lafayette, Indiana. The site number is 03335500. This video was produced at the request of the West Lafayette Parks Department where this historic gage is located. A QR code is displayed on an interpretive plaque next to the gage which is located in a high profile...
Before and after pictures - Hurricane Rita and Holly Beach, Louisiana, USA
December 14, 2016
Hurricanes can cause severe beach erosion —​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​—​​​​​​​— The Storm-Induced Coastal Change Hazards component of the of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project focuses on understanding the magnitude and variability of extreme...
Filter Total Items: 344
Photo showing the Great Basin area
October 11, 2016

Large precipitation events that occur about every 10 years are a critical source of recharge for replenishing groundwater resources, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation.

USGS logo
October 9, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding or retrieve storm-tide sensors?

- In North Carolina, contact Jeanne Robbins, jrobbins@usgs.gov, 919-571-4017 

- In South Carolina, contact John Shelton, jmshelto@usgs.gov, 803-767-5542

- In Georgia contact Brian McCallum, bemccall@usgs.gov, 678- 924-6672

- In Florida contact Richard Kane, rkane@usgs.gov, 813-918-1275

This is a photograph of a storm-tide sensor used by the USGS to measure storm surge.
October 8, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey is using many forms of technology to track and document Hurricane Matthew’s effects on the eastern seaboard. Here is an in-depth look at one of those tools, the storm-tide sensor.

To learn about storm sensors and see their location, explore the USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal, or see satellite imagery before and after the storm, visit the USGS Hurricane Matthew page.

USGS logo
October 6, 2016

As the east coast prepares for Hurricane Matthew's arrival, the U.S. Geological Survey uses advanced models to forecast the coastal impacts Matthew could bring. 

USGS logo
October 3, 2016

As coastal development along the Gulf Coast continues to expand, tidal saline wetlands could have difficulty adjusting to rising sea levels.

Image shows flooded roads with boats alongside the banks
September 28, 2016

Some regional trends; no widespread national pattern

USGS: Science for a changing world
September 26, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Jason McVay at 319-430-6962.

September 23, 2016

Reporters: Do you want to accompany a USGS field crew as they measure flooding? Please contact Jason McVay at 319-430-6962.

Ariel photo of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
September 20, 2016

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey and partners illustrates how climate change is perceived among different generations of indigenous residents in subarctic Alaska. While all subjects agreed climate change is occurring, the older participants observed more overall changes than the younger demographic.

Image: Boise Watershed Watch
September 19, 2016

Now in its ninth year, Watershed Watch educates children and adults about the health of the Boise River watershed