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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find...

  1. Aerial photos of the United States?
  2. Digital map data?
  3. Field record materials (original notes made by USGS geologists) and mapping notes?
  4. Flood maps?
  5. How can I find and get historic USGS topographic maps?
  6. Natural hazards information (earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.)?
  7. Photographs by the USGS for reproduction?
  8. Publications of the USGS (online, lists, prices, & ordering)?
  9. Out-of-print USGS publications?
  10. Survey benchmark information?
  11. U.S. Bureau of Mines publications?
  12. Wetlands maps?

(1) Q: How can I find aerial photos of the United States?
To Questions

A: Information about USGS aerial photographs is on the USGS Web site at: USGS TerraServer / Digital Backyard / Aerial Photographs

Contact:

U.S. Geological Survey
EROS Data Center
Customer Services
Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001
 
Telephone: 1-800-252-4547 or 605-594-6151
FAX: 605-594-6589
TDD: 605-594-6933
E-mail: custserv@edcmail.cr.usgs.gov
URL: http://edc.usgs.gov

Or, contact any USGS Earth Science Information Center (ESIC) for information about aerial photography at:

U.S. Geological Survey
Earth Science Information Center
507 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
 
Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747) or 703-648-5953
FAX: 703-648-5548
TDD: 703-648-4119
E-mail: ask@usgs.gov

(2) Q: How can I find digital map data?
To Questions

A: Digital raster graphics (DRG) and digital orthophoto quadrangles (DOQ) information can be found on the USGS Web site at: USGS TerraServer / Digital Backyard

Digital elevation model (DEM) and digital line graphs (DLG) data available for downloading, from USGS Geographic Data Download

Other thematic data sites are listed at: Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (FGDC)

Additional links to information can be found at http://geography.usgs.gov/
or
By using the Library's Selected Map Web Links page under Data & Imagery Products

For further information, contact the USGS Earth Science Information Center (ESIC) in Reston:
U.S. Geological Survey
Earth Science Information Center
507 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
 
Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747) or 703-648-5953
FAX: 703-648-5548
TDD: 703-648-4119
E-mail: ask@usgs.gov

(3) Q: How can I find field record materials (original field notes and related material made by USGS geologists) and mapping notes?
To Questions

A: The USGS Field Records Library in Denver, Colorado, has an extensive collection of materials. You may contact them at:
USGS Field Records Library
Box 25046, MS 914
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046
 
Telephone: 303-236-1005 (Reference Desk)
FAX: 303-236-0015
TDD: 303-236-0998
E-mail: den_lib@usgs.gov
To find field record materials related to Alaska, contact:
Jill Schneider
USGS Mineral Resources Surveys
Alaska Section
4200 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508-4667
 
Telephone: 907-786-7457 (Office) and 907-786-7007 (Library)
FAX: 907-786-7401
E-mail: jschnidr@usgs.gov

Two other sources of field records are:

1. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland, which keeps field record materials in their Archives II facility. Refer to the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States (Washington, D.C.: NARA, 1995).

Inventory of the Records of the United States Geological Survey, Record Group 57, in the National Archives, part of USGS Circular 1179 (2000, CD-ROM): Records and History of the United States Geological Survey, contains information on USGS and related records accessioned by NARA through 1997 and held at NARA-II. Appendices in this inventory list field records held at NARA-II and by the USGS Field Records Library at Denver.

National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
 
Telephone: 301-713-6800 (General Reference Information)
E-mail: inquire@nara.gov
URL: http://www.archives.gov/index.html
2. Smithsonian Institution Archives includes papers of individuals with close ties to both the USGS and the Smithsonian. Other materials related with the activities of the Smithsonian Institution and the USGS are available there as well. Refer to the Guide to the Smithsonian Archives (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996) or contact them at the following address:
The Smithsonian Institution Archives
Arts and Industries Building, Room 2135
900 Jefferson Drive, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20560
 
Telephone: 202-357-1420
E-mail: OSIAREF@OSIA.SI.EDU
 The notes made by USGS map surveyors are available in two locations. For topographic mapping notes pertaining to areas of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and states west, including Alaska, contact:
Rocky Mountain Mapping Center
USGS National Mapping Division
Box 25046, MS 506, Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225-0046
 
Telephone: 303-202-4394
For topographic mapping notes pertaining to other geographic areas in the United States, contact:
Mid-Continent Mapping Center
USGS National Mapping Division
MS 309
1400 Independence Road
Rolla, MO 65401
 
Telephone: 573-308-3663

(4) Q: How can I find flood maps?
To Questions

A: For flood insurance maps, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Flood Map Division.

Telephone: 1-800-358-9616
FAX: 1-800-333-1363
URL: http://store.msc.fema.gov

For prints of historical flood-prone area maps on microfilm, contact:

U.S. Geological Survey
Earth Science Information Center
507 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
 
Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747) or 703-648-5953
FAX: 703-648-5548
TDD: 703-648-4119
E-mail: ask@usgs.gov

(5) Q: How can I find and get historic USGS topographic maps?
To Questions

A: To find specific historic USGS topographic maps, an index is Map Index to Topographic Quadrangles of the United States, 1882-1940, by Riley Moore Moffat. 1985. Western Association of Map Libraries, Occasional Paper no.10. You can also contact the ESIC in Reston, VA.

U.S. Geological Survey
Earth Science Information Center
507 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
 
Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747) or 703-648-6045
FAX: 703-648-5548
TDD: 703-648-4119
E-mail: ask@usgs.gov

Give as much information as possible, including the State, county, and town or township; year of interest or range of years; as well as the type of information you are seeking on the map - for example, streams and rivers, railroad lines, roads, or cultural features. A researcher will then be able to determine if any maps in the USGS historical collections will suit your needs.

To view copies, check with USGS depository map libraries in the state covered. Also, some may be viewable on the Internet by checking http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/histopo/, or http://docs.unh.edu/nhtopos/nhtopos.htm.

General information about historical mapping, including non-USGS sources of information can be found at: USGS Fact Sheet 154-99 (November 1999)

Additional resources are available from the Library's Selected Map Web Links page under the Historical Maps listing.

(6) Q: How can I find USGS natural hazards information (earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.)?
To Questions

A:
Earthquakes
Landslides
Natural Hazard Areas
Seismic Zone Mapping
Volcano Hazards Program
For further and more detailed information, contact any USGS Library by telephone (toll-free) at: 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747). Select telephone menu option #6.

(7) Q: How can I find photographs by the USGS for reproduction?
To Questions

A: The Photographic Library, located in Denver, Colorado, is an archive of still photographs dating from the 1870's and taken by USGS scientists as part of their field studies. The works of pioneer photographers W.H. Jackson, T.H. O'Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, J.K. Hillers, Thomas Moran, A.J. Russell, E.O. Beaman, and William Bell are represented in the collection. Topics include USGS personnel, earthquakes, volcanoes, geologic hazards and other phenomena, historical mining operations, and earth science photographs.

Digital copies of photographs selected from the collection can be accessed online from the USGS Earth Science Photographic Archive.

Reproductions (prints, transparencies, and negatives) may be ordered from the library at cost. Because the collection consists of more than 500,000 photographs, researchers are welcome to visit in person to make selections. For more information, call 303-236-1010.

(8) Q: How can I find publications of the USGS (online, lists, prices & ordering)?
To Questions

A: Many online USGS publications are listed on this USGS web site.

Information about recent USGS publications is available at:
http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/index.shtml.

You can identify older publications by searching the USGS Library catalog online or by using the USGS publications database.

For further assistance and to order, contact the USGS Earth Science Information Center (ESIC) by telephone toll free at 1-888-ASK-USGS (1-888-275-8747).

(9) Q: How can I find out-of-print USGS publications?
To Questions

A: Out-of-print USGS publications and maps, depending on series and date, can usually also be obtained in either of two ways:

  1. Check with your local public, academic, or corporate librarian to request an interlibrary loan from either a regional government depository library, or from your nearest USGS Library.
  2. Purchase copies through the services of a document delivery company. Several of these are listed on the Web at:
    http://www.docdel.com/Geology_and_Earth_Sciences.html

Selected USGS publications, especially those that are old, popular, or rare, may also be available from used book dealers. Lists and searchable databases of used books are available at several sources on the Web.

(10) Q: How can I find survey benchmark information?
To Questions

A: USGS survey benchmark data is not yet available on the Internet.

For vertical and horizontal control information on all USGS survey benchmarks in the eastern U.S., contact the USGS in Rolla, Missouri, by telephone at 573-308-3500.

For control information on all USGS benchmarks in the western U.S., contact the USGS in Denver, Colorado, by telephone at 303-202-4400.

MOST survey benchmarks were NOT established by the USGS, but the National Coast and Geodetic Survey, Silver Spring, Maryland. National Geodetic Survey benchmark data is available on the Web at http://www.ngs.noaa.gov ["Data sheets"]. For further assistance, call 301-713-3242 or send e-mail to infocenter@ngs.noaa.gov

(11) Q: How can I find U.S. Bureau of Mines publications?
To Questions

A: When the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) was abolished in January 1996, most of the library collections for the Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado, offices were transferred to the USGS libraries in Reston, Virginia, and Denver, respectively. USBM publications are now available from these two libraries through interlibrary loan as well as from several repository sources.

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) has a "legacy" collection of USBM publications dating from 1910-1995. These publications are available for purchase from NTIS and represent most of the research work done by the USBM in the fields of mining technology, mine safety and health, and the mineral industry. A free searchable index of USBM publications received after 1990 is provided by NTIS. For summaries of the reports and access to publications issued prior to 1990, NTIS offers fee-per-day access to an online index. Paper indexes to the entire list of USBM pubs ("List of Bureau of Mines Publications and Articles" -- 11 volumes) are also available from NTIS.

The Bureau of Mines participated in the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) Depository Library Program. Many depository libraries received USBM publications and should have them available for use on site. They are listed on the Web at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/libraries.html#locate

The USBM video program no longer exists, although a few educational institutions may still have a loan program. Corporations which co-produced the films with the USBM may also have copies.

For information on former Bureau of Mines programs or publications, please contact the following sources:

  • Health and Safety Programs
    Transferred to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
    Locations: Pittsburgh, PA, and Spokane, WA
    Program contact: 412-892-6601
    Library contact: 412-892-4431 (Pittsburgh)
    Library contact: 509-484-1610 (Spokane)
    Library e-mail: kis2@niosh5.em.cdc.gov
    OCLC symbol: qpc
  • Materials Research Program
    Transferred to U.S. Department of Energy
    Location: Albany, OR
    Program contact: 541-967-5892
    Library contact: 541-967-5864
    Library e-mail: clark@alrc.doe.gov
  • Minerals Analysis Program
    Transferred to U.S. Bureau of Land Management
    Locations: Juneau, AK, and Anchorage, AK
    Program contact: 907-364-2111
    Library contact: 907-364-1553

(12) Q: How can I find wetland maps?
To Questions

A: Wetland mapping information is available from the National Wetlands Inventory Center of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, St. Petersburg, Florida.

Telephone: 727-570-5420
FAX: 727-570-5420
URL: http://www.nwi.fws.gov

* Note: The Internet address includes an interactive mapper and map status information. Paper copies of wetlands maps are available from various state sources.


U.S. Department of the Interior,
U.S. Geological Survey Library,
MS950 National Center, Reston, Virginia 20192 USA
URL http://library.usgs.gov/faq.html
Contact: Library Web Team
Last modification: 15 September 2004 epd
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