U.S. Geological Survey

The Survey at 75

For its 75th year, beginning July 1, 1954, the Survey had 7,000 employees, appropriated funds of $27,750,000, and total funds, including those from other Federal agencies and the States, of nearly $48.5 million. Its methods of work had changed markedly in the decade since the end of World War II. The Survey had been given responsibility by the Bureau of the Budget for the National Topographic Map Series of the United States and for exercising governmentwide leadership in coordinated planning and execution of mapping activities of the Federal Government. Although only 33 percent of the topographic mapping of the Nation met modern standards, the use of aerial photographs and photogrammetric methods for production of most topographic maps, the continuing development of more accurate instruments and methods, and the use of helicopters to transport topographic engineers to mountaintops and other remote spots to obtain survey control measurements resulted in a significant increase in the amount of mapping accomplished each year. Data on streamflow were being obtained at some 6,400 gaging stations, about 500 ground water investigations were in progress, and the chemical quality of more than 85,000 samples of water was being determined in Survey laboratories. In addition, studies of the water requirements of industry, of flood frequency and low flow, of sedimentation, and of flow in open channels and through constrictions were underway. Geologic mapping and mineral-resources investigations were still being carried on, but geologists were adapting photogrammetric methods to their mapping, making use of physics and chemistry in their studies, and applying modern statistical methods to problems of field geology. Geophysicists were keeping two aircraft busy making airborne magnetic and radioactivity surveys, chemists were devising faster and more accurate analytical methods, and the Survey acquired an electron microscope, a mass spectrometer, and an electronic computer. The Survey had responsibility for supervising more than 100,000 lessee operations on mining or oil-and-gas properties on public, acquired, or Indian lands and, since 1953, of oil-and-gas lease operations on the Outer Continental Shelf. Rent and royalty income from supervised operations was $73.5 million.

Figure 37. A helicopter landing topographic engineers and equipment for triangulation, 1953.


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U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior
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Last updated 04.10.00