Mission Areas

Overview

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

Critical Zone

CSS leads USGS’s mission as the civilian mapping agency for the Nation. We conduct detailed surveys and develop high quality, highly accurate topographic, geologic, hydrographic, and biogeographic maps and data. Our maps allow precise planning for critical mineral assessments; energy development; infrastructure projects; urban planning; flood prediction; emergency response; and hazard mitigation.

A grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem forages on greens in a meadow.

The USGS Ecosystems Mission Area provides science to help America achieve sustainable management and conservation of biological resources in wild and urban spaces, and places in between. Ecosystems scientists examine consequences of climate and environmental change; effects of management actions on communities, lands, and species; and risks and solutions to harmful invasive species, wildlife diseases, and contaminants in the environment.

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.

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.

USGS streamgage located on Little Back Creek, Bath, Virginia

Water information is fundamental to 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, conduct targeted research, and deliver information on a wide range of water resources and conditions including streamflow, groundwater, water quality, and water use and availability.