Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2011-1119

Aggregate Resource Availability in the Conterminous United States, Including Suggestions for Addressing Shortages, Quality, and Environmental Concerns

By William H. Langer

Thumbnail of cover and link to download report PDF (27.8 MB)

One-third of America's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and over one-quarter of the bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A 70-percent increase in annual aggregate production may be required to upgrade the transportation infrastructure. Natural aggregate is widespread throughout the conterminous United States, but the location of aggregate is determined by geology and is non-negotiable. Natural aggregate is in short supply in the Coastal Plain and Mississippi embayment, Colorado Plateau and Wyoming Basin, glaciated Midwest, High Plains, and the non-glaciated Northern Plains. A variety of techniques have been used to overcome local shortages, such as the use of substitute materials, recycling, and importing high-quality aggregates from more distant locations.

Although potential sources of aggregate are widespread throughout the United States, many sources may not meet certain physical property requirements, such as soundness, hardness, strength, porosity, and specific gravity, or they may contain contaminants or deleterious materials that render them unusable. Encroachment by conflicting land uses, permitting considerations, environmental issues, and societal pressures can prevent or limit development of otherwise suitable aggregate. The use of sustainable aggregate resource management can help ensure an economically viable supply of aggregate. Sustainable aggregate resource management techniques that have successfully been used include (1) protecting potential resources from encroachment; (2) using marginal-quality local aggregate for applications that do not demand a high-quality resource; (3) using substitute materials such as clinker, scoria, and recycled asphalt and concrete; and (4) using rail and water to transport aggregates from remote sources.

First posted June 23, 2011

For additional information contact:

USGS Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
Box 25046, Mail Stop 973
Denver, CO 80225

This report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Langer, W.H., 2011, Aggregate resource availability in the conterminous United States, including suggestions for addressing shortages, quality, and environmental concerns: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1119, 87 p.



Purpose and Scope


Presentation Outline

Where Aggregate Occurs

Where Aggregate is in Limited Occurrence

Quality, Societal, and Environmental Issues Limiting Aggregate Availability


References Cited

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, December 07, 2016, 11:43:23 PM