Science for a Changing World

Economic Development

USGS research supports an economically prosperous America. Research includes assessing the Nation’s energy and mineral resources, identifying communities at risk from natural hazards, investigating water and food availability and quality, and evaluating the health of economically valuable landscapes.

Filter Total Items: 29
Date published: February 2, 2017

Earthquake Early Warning: Vital for City Transit

Although no one can reliably predict earthquakes, today’s technology is advanced enough to rapidly detect seismic waves as an earthquake begins, calculate the maximum expected shaking, and send alerts to surrounding areas before damage can occur. This technology is known as “earthquake early warning” (EEW).

Date published: February 2, 2017

Forecasting the World’s Energy Resources

It is difficult to overstate the importance of energy to the American economy.  Managing this vital sector depends on knowing how many energy resources we have, how many we use and need, and how these resources are transported.

Date published: February 1, 2017

The Vital Nature of Streamgaging

Gary Moore spent the last three days of 2015 stacking hefty bags of sand in front of a fellow church member’s brick home. With only 1,000 feet between the house and the swelling Mississippi and Meramec Rivers, Moore and other volunteers worked quickly, in frigid temperatures, to assemble a 10-foot high, 1,000-foot-long sandbag wall to ward off floodwaters.

Date published: January 31, 2017

Tracking the Bad Guys: Toxic Algal Blooms

Every few days, a fleet of satellites orbiting 700 kilometers above the Earth scans the continental United States to help keep Americans safe. But these eyes in the sky aren’t seeking terrorists or enemy combatants: they scrutinize lakes to locate problems of the microbial variety, namely cyanobacteria.

Date published: January 24, 2017

Maps Made with Light Show the Way

The topic, officially, was water. But during a scientific conference in Butte, Montana, in 2013, earthquake expert Michael Stickney glimpsed something unexpected in a three-dimensional lidar image of the Bitterroot Valley in nearby Missoula.

Date published: January 23, 2017

Busy as Bees to Help Protect Pollinators

In late 2006, beekeepers across the United States reported sudden, dramatic losses in honey bee colonies. Similar losses were reported in 2007 and for several subsequent years. The reasons for these losses were unclear. 

Date published: January 18, 2017

Protecting California’s Bay-Delta with Innovative Science

California's Bay-Delta is facing ongoing drought and declining fish populations. The water in the Delta arrives primarily from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, supplying water for more than 22 million people. This water source supports California’s trillion-dollar economy—the sixth largest in the world—and its $27 billion agricultural industry.

Date published: January 16, 2017

Tracking Critical Minerals to Ensure National Preparedness

On an ordinary Tuesday in 2014, David Pineault, an economist at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), reviewed his specialized reports and came to a startling conclusion: the United States needed to increase its stockpile of a basic manufacturing material with military applications—yttrium oxide, a material used in laser rangefinders. 

Date published: January 12, 2017

Information Flows Freely, Even in a Drought

The Colorado River system provides about 35 million Americans with a portion of their water supply. It irrigates 5½ million acres of land in the West and provides water to tribes, parks, and wildlife. The system serves parts of seven States and Mexico—but reservoir levels have crept lower over the past several years, sparking questions about how much water remains and who will have access.

Date published: January 11, 2017

Preparing for the Storm: Predicting Where Our Coasts Are at Risk

Living in the Outer Banks means living with the power of the sea. Jutting out from North Carolina’s coast into the Atlantic Ocean, this series of sandy barrier islands is particularly vulnerable to damage from major storms. In April 2016, another nor’easter was set to strike, but this time, Dare County officials were approached by their local weather forecaster with a new kind of prediction....

Date published: January 11, 2017

A Breakthrough in Controlling Invasive Fish

On a windy July morning on Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay, fisherman Ralph Wilcox of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and his son, Dan, netted 300 pounds of wriggling whitefish. The mild-flavored salmon relative is served in restaurants, in smoked fish spreads, and as gefilte fish at Passover. However, two of the fish in the Michigan fishermen’s nets were badly wounded.

Date published: January 9, 2017

Preparing for Tsunami Hazards on Washington’s Pacific Coast

Hours before Japan was struck by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and the ensuing catastrophic tsunami, John Schelling spoke at a public meeting in the coastal community of Oceans Shores, Washington, about preparing for tsunami hazards. The few dozen people attending the meeting went home that evening and watched in horror as the events in Japan unfolded.