Mission Areas


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 female grizzly with a cub.  Adult females are considered the most important segment of the grizzly population and consequently

The USGS Ecosystems Mission?Area, the biological research arm of?the Department of the Interior (DOI),?provides science to help America achieve?sustainable management and conservation?of its biological resources. This work?is done within the broader mission of?the USGS to serve the Nation with?science that advances understanding?of our natural resources and inform?land and water stewardship.

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.

Environmental Health Venn Diagram

The Toxic Substances Hydrology and Contaminant Biology Programs work collaboratively to assess and differentiate the environmental contaminant and pathogen exposures that cause actual health risks versus those that are only perceived. Specialized teams of hydrologists, geologists, chemists, biologists, and geographers work together in the field and laboratories across the United States.


Understanding a changing world and how it?affects?our natural resources, livelihoods, and communities. Science plays an essential role in helping communities and resource managers?understand the local to global implications of change, anticipate the effects of change, prepare for change, and reduce?the risks associated with?decisionmaking?in a changing environment.

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.