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Special Topics

The USGS Special Topic sites are areas of research and study of significant scientific value or integrated science disciplines rich with information and warrant a stand-alone website. These websites are not typically tied to any one part of the USGS organization.

Listing of USGS Special Topic websites
Title Purpose
2020 Puerto Rico Earthquakes News and Information related to the recent earthquakes in Puerto Rico.
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.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Investments The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in the USGS’ efforts to provide vital science to address critical minerals, energy and supply chain issues.
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.

Deep-Sea Exploration, Mapping, and Characterization

Deep-sea areas support unique ecosystems and are sources of 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. Improved knowledge of the deep sea will help us sustainably manage and use ocean resources.
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.
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.
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.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was established in 2009 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
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.


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. The information gained from each storm continually advances our scientific capabilities to improve preparedness, reduce risk and enhance our resilience.
Hurricane Sandy Hurricane Sandy made a variety of impacts along the highly populated northeastern Atlantic seaboard in October 2012. USGS received $43.2 million in Supplemental funding, supporting more than 25 projects designed to improve forecasts of impacts and ecological consequences.
Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) represent a new generation of land cover mapping and change monitoring from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.

Landsat Legacy

The Landsat Program changed the world in 1972, just by looking at it. On a planet now orbited and observed by thousands of satellites, one where Earth surface imagery is just a tap away on any smartphone map, it’s easy to lose sight of just how revolutionary that idea was. 
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. 
Mississippi River The science around the Mississippi River.
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.
National Science Foundation/USGS Internship Opportunities The National Science Foundation and USGS collaboration is designed to encourage, develop, and facilitate research opportunities at USGS for NSF-supported graduate students.
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.
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.
Salton Sea Changes in regional water management practices have reduced freshwater inflow to the Salton Sea, changing what was once a popular vacation destination to a shrinking hypersaline lake. 
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.
Science for a Changing World USGS scientists use innovative, state-of-the-art methods to understand the Earth. Our science is used by Federal, Tribal, State, and local agencies to solve increasingly complex problems facing resource managers. This site explores real-life examples of USGS science applied to societal challenges
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Outcomes of USGS science can be used by fire and land managers to respond to fire-related issues when they arise.