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Special Topics

The USGS mission is to monitor, analyze, and predict current and evolving dynamics of complex human and natural Earth-system interactions and to deliver actionable intelligence at scales and timeframes relevant to decision makers. 

    • Mississippi River

      Science around the Mississippi River.

    • Subduction Zone Science

      Most of the world’s earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions are caused by the continuous motions of the many tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s outer shell. The most powerful of these natural hazards occur in subduction zones, where two plates collide and one is thrust beneath another.

    • San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary

      The San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is one of the largest estuaries in the United States. It provides water to more than 25 million California residents, farmlands, and key fish and wildlife habitats. To help ensure the health of this crucial estuary, the U.S. Geological Survey provides science essential to address issues of importance to our partners and the public.

    • Wildland Fire Science

      USGS Fire Science is fundamental to understanding the causes, consequences, and benefits of wildfire and helps prevent and manage larger, catastrophic events. USGS scientists possess diverse technical capabilities that are used to address a variety of problems posed by wildland fires.

    • Drought

      Drought poses a serious threat to the resilience of communities and ecosystems in the U.S. USGS has developed a new coordinated and integrated drought science strategy that represents a new path forward towards understanding the complexity of drought issues, their impact on human and natural systems, and the opportunities to inform policy and decision-making for adaptation and mitigation.

    • Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection

      Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) represents a new generation of land cover mapping and change monitoring from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. LCMAP answers a need for higher quality results at greater frequency with additional land cover and change variables than previous efforts.

    • Remote Sensing Phenology

      Phenology is the study of plant and animal life cycles in relation to the seasons. EROS maintains a set of nine annual phenological metrics for the conterminous United States, all curated from satellite data. Taken together, the metrics represent a powerful tool for documenting life cycle trends and the impacts of climate change on ecosystems.

    • Deep Sea Exploration, Mapping and Characterization

      Deep sea areas support unique ecosystems and are sources for energy and minerals. Exploring and mapping the oceans will help us fill gaps to better understand planetary-scale processes including tectonics and marine hazards; energy, mineral and biological resources; and other large-scale Earth systems.

    • Coastal National Elevation Database (CoNED) Applications Project

      The Coastal National Elevation Database (CoNED) Applications Project develops enhanced topographic (land elevation) and bathymetric (water depth) datasets that serve as valuable resources for coastal hazards research and Earth science applications.

    • Hurricanes

      When hurricanes threaten our coasts, the USGS provides comprehensive science and information that decision makers, emergency responders, resource managers and communities can use to help them prepare for, cope with, and recover from a storm. Information gained from each storm continually advances our science capabilities to improve preparedness, reduce risk and enhance our resilience.

    • Big Sur Landslides

      The dynamic coastal landscape of California’s Big Sur, about 140 mi south of San Francisco, is a setting where science disciplines in tectonics, landslides, coastal change, ecosystems, wildfire, and hydrology come together. USGS brings expertise from multiple Programs at the USGS to improve understanding as we fulfill the mission for reducing risk from natural hazards for the Natio

    • Monitoring Vegetation Drought Stress

      Climate change is expected to alter precipitation patterns worldwide, potentially increasing chances for drought in places where rainfall decreases over extended periods. Currently, droughts are responsible for $6 to $8 billion in losses each year in the United States alone. Accurate monitoring of drought conditions is vital in helping to mitigate drought impacts.

    • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

      The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was established in 2009 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The USGS is collaborating with partners to provide science to meet GLRI Action Plan goals and inform resource management decisions.

    • Elevation Derivatives for National Applications (EDNA)

      EDNA is a multi-layered database derived from a version of the National Elevation Dataset (NED), which has been hydrologically conditioned for improved hydrologic flow representation. The seamless EDNA database provides 30 meters resolution raster and vector data layers.

    • USGS Investigations and Monitoring in the Coastal Waters and Watershed of Long Island Sound

      Long Island Sound (LIS) is a major estuary bordered by the New York City metropolitan area and the densely developed coastal regions of Connecticut and Long Island, New York. The USGS conducts scientific investigations and data collection in LIS and its watershed to improve understanding of LIS ecosystems and natural resources and inform management actions by stakeholders in the region.

    • Significant Topographic Changes in the United States

      The USGS has developed a national inventory of significant topographic changes based on seamless multitemporal elevation data and land cover data. The National Elevation Dataset (NED) and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data form a unique pair of seamless elevation datasets that can be used to detect and analyze 20th century topographic surface changes in the United States.

    • Land Use Land Cover Modeling

      Scientists at EROS look at local and global drivers of land-use change to project how different scenarios will impact and change landscapes. Using the FOREcasting SCEnarios of Land-use Change (FORE-SCE) modeling framework provides spatially explicit projections of future land-use and land-cover change. 

    • Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI)

      The goal of Earth MRI is to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework in the United States and to identify areas that may have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources. Enhancement of our domestic mineral supply will decrease the Nation’s reliance on foreign sources of minerals that are fundamental to our security and economy.

    • Gulf of Mexico

      USGS provides science about ecosystems, natural hazards, water resources, energy, and minerals. Our scientists are conducting research in the Gulf of Mexico that investigates the past, present and future trajectories of coastal ecosystems, the stressors that impact those ecosystems, and restoration and management alternatives that aim to recover and sustain ecosystem functions and services.

    • Reducing Risk

      The Natural Hazards Mission of the USGS is to develop and apply science to help protect the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation. USGS provides a diverse set of expertise, data, and resources to reduce risk from multiple hazards.

    • Water Science School

      Water Science School

      Welcome to the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Water Science School. We offer information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where you can give opinions and test your water knowledge.

    • Puerto Rico Earthquakes

      News and Information related to the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.