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1. Mission



The Geological Survey is charged, under direction of the Secretary of the Interior, with classification of the public lands and the examination of the geologic structure, mineral resources, and mineral products of the national domain.

2. History

The Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories and the Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, under the Interior Department, and the Geographical Surveys West of the 100th Meridian under the War Department, were discontinued, and the Geological Survey was established in their stead, in 1879.1 It was required to classify the public lands and direct an examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain. Congress authorized the issuance of reports upon the mineral resources of the United States. The Reclamation Service was organized under the Geological Survey in 1902,3 which connection was practically abolished July 1, 1906, except for the directorship and the disbursing, but actual separation did not take place until March, 1907.

The regular geologic and topographic surveys naturally gathered information about the forests from the first, and when the government began setting aside forest reserves the Survey was in a position to advise the Secretary of the Interior as to the localities of suitable forest lands. In 1897 Congress made an appropriation for surveying lands in reference to forest reserves, and the Survey began a systematic survey of the national forests, and the data collected.

*The President, acting under authority of Act Feb. 14, 1903 (32 Stat. 826), by executive order dated June 4, 1925, transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Commerce "the Division of Mineral Resources in the Geological Survey, the employees connected therewith, together with all appropriations for mineral resources under the Geological Survey, the records pertaining to said division, the records of all public property of said division in the District of Columbia or elsewhere as provided in the Act of February 14, 1903, supra." Such transfer was effective July 1, 1925, but the Division of Mineral Resources will remain indefinitely in its present quarters with the Geological Survey in the Department of the Interior Building, and the nominal transfer is of no practical significance, so far as ordinary business with the Division of Mineral Resources is concerned. It should be noted that there is a section of Mineral Resources for statistics under the Bureau of the Census (see Chart), and that, while the Division of Mineral Resources newly added to the Department of Commerce may ultimately be transferred to the Bureau of the Census, it is the present intention of the Secretary of Commerce to add Mineral Resources to the Bureau of Mines.

1 Act March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. 394).

2 Act March 2, 1895 (28 Stat. 960); Act March 3, 1901 (31 Stat. 1161); Act May 27, 1908 (35 Stat. 349).

3 Act June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388).

4 Act June 4, 1897 (30 Stat. 34 [Comp. St. §§ 5123-5125]).

during the succeeding eight years furnished the basis of forest reserve regulations administered by other bureaus.


The Survey has maintained, from the first, close touch with mining and mineral industries. Publication of its annual "Mineral Resources of the United States." and of its geologic maps showing areas of interest to the mining industry, appealed to the technologic element which sought representation in the executive organization of the government, and in time Congress authorized a systematic inquiry into the values of the several deposits of economic minerals. This tendency was strengthened by a further appropriation in 1908,7 to be expended by the Survey in investigating safety measures in mining. The Survey had also been authorized under the act of 1904, to make tests of fuels, and that line of work was extended by further appropriations, as well as for testing structural materials. Such technological activities were separated from the Survey in 1910 by creation of the Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Standards.9 The provision in the organic act, calling for a "classification of the public lands," originally was interpreted as referring to a classification based upon geologic and mineralogic characteristics, but in the case of the evolution of the land laws the materiality of geologic evidence to particular provision of the land laws to specific tracts came to be more and more recognized, and in 1906 the Survey began a systematic valuation of public lands supposed to contain coal, in order to fix the government's selling price.

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In 1916 the Survey, acting under a War Department appropriation, undertook the preparation of military topographic maps in conformity to the Army General Staff's program of national defense.

The Survey has rendered further service to the military establishment in making examinations of underground waters and soil drainage in several localities sought for cantonment purposes; in making special investigations to discover metals and non-metal minerals required in munition manufacture; and in training engineers whose services were of value as officers in the Army Engineer Officers' Reserve Corps.10

The Survey has made notable exploratory expeditions, of which the more recent are those made into Arctic Alaska, to determine the possibility of finding oil in quantities sufficient to augment the national supply, or at least to increase materially the naval fuel reserves.11 There was also the survey of the Colorado

1 Act March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. 394).

5 In accordance with Act March 2, 1895 (28 Stat. 960), these reports were made as part of the annual report of the Director, Geological Survey, from 1894-1899. By Act March 3, 1901 (31 Stat. 1161), and Act May 27, 1908 (35 Stat. 349), the reports of mineral resources were made in separate volume or volumes.

6 Act Feb. 18, 1904 (33 Stat. 15, 33). See, also, Act Jan. 5, 1905 (33 Stat. 602) and Act March 3, 1905 (33 Stat. 1156).

7 Act May 22, 1908 (35 Stat. 184, 226); Act March 4, 1909 (35 Stat. 945, 989).

8 Act June 30, 1906 (34 Stat. 607, 728); Act March 4, 1907 (34 Stat. 1295, 1335); Act May 27, 1908 (35 Stat. 317, 349); Act March 4, 1909 (35 Stat. 945, 989).

9 Act May 16, 1910 (36 Stat. 369).

10 For data under this heading, see Check List of U. S. Public Documents, 1789-1909. and Institute for Government Research, Service Monographs 1 and 3.

11 45th Annual Report of Director, Geological Survey, pp. 5, 6..

Canyon, in which 253 miles of canyons were mapped and 22 possible dam sites were examined during 1925.11

The Director's services with the United States Coal Commission, for the special investigation of the national coal resources, terminated September 22, 1923. In March, 1924, he was made a member of the Naval Oil Commission. Another aspect of the Survey's history in the scientific field finds expression in the publication in 1924 of "The Evolution and Disintegration of Matter" as a "shorter contribution" of Dr. F. W. Clarke's half century of study in evolution and the spectroscope.11

3. Activities and Organization

I. Administrative Branch.

(1) Office of the Director.—The Director exercises general supervision over the Geological Survey; spends part of his time in the field, exercising general oversight over field work, during which absence from Washington administrative directorship is performed by an Acting Director; is a member of the Naval Oil Commission; delivers addresses intended to create or maintain contact between the Survey's scientific and engineering investigations and the public.

(2) Office of Chief Clerk.-The Chief Clerk has direct charge of, and is responsible for, the conduct of administrative work.

(a) Office proper of Chief Clerk.

(b) Executive Division.

(b1) Office of Chief of Executive Division.

(b2) Mails, Records and Files.

(b3) Appointments.

(b4) Addressograph Section.

(c) Division of Scientific and Technical Equipment.

(d) Division of Accounts.

(e) Office of Disbursing Office.

(f) Library.

(g) Service Force.

II. Geologic Branch-Chief Geologist.

(1) Division of Geology.

(a) Administrative-Chief Geologist.

(b) Advisory Committee on Geologic Names.

(c) Advisory Physiographic Committee.

(d) Section of Metalliferous Deposits-Geologist.

(e) Section of Paleontology and Stratigraphy-Geologist.

(f) Section of Glacial Geology-Geologist.

(g) Section of Geology of Iron and Steel Metals-Geologist.
(h) Section of Coastal Plain Investigations-Geologist.

(i) Section of Areal Geology-Geologist.

7 Act May 22, 1908 (35 Stat. 184, 226); Act March 4, 1909 (35 Stat. 945, 989).

11 45th Annual Report of Director, Geological Survey, pp. 5, 6.

(j) Section of Nonmettiferous Deposits-Geologist.
(k) Section of Petrology-Geologist.

(1) Section of Geology of Oil and Gas Fields-Geologist.
(m) Section of Geology of Coal Fields-Geologist.

(2) Division of Mineral Resources.

(a) Administrative-Geologist.
(b) Metals Section-Geologist.

(c) Non-Metals Section-Geologist.
(d) Coal Section-Geologist.

(e) Section of Petroleum and Natural Gas-Geologist.
(f) Section of Foreign Reserves-Geologist.

(g) Field Offices.

(gl) San Francisco-Geologist.

(g2) Salt Lake City-Statistician.
(g3) Denver-Statistician.

(3) Division of Chemistry and Physics.
(a) Administrative-Chief Chemist.

(b) Section of Chemistry-Chief Chemist.
(c) Section of Physics-Physicist.

III. Alaskan Mineral Resources Branch.

(1) Administrative-Chief Alaskan Geologist.

(2) Field Exploration Parties.

IV. Topographic Branch.

Conducts topographical surveys and prepares originals of topographic maps; prepares manuscripts of several publications on leveling and other topographic subjects.

(1) Administrative-Chief Topographic Engineer.

(2) Computing Section-Topographic Engineers.

(3) Section of Inspecting and Editing-Topographic Engineer.

(4) Section of Cartography-Draftsman.

(5) Map Information Office-Topographic Engineer.

(6) Section of Relief Maps-Geographer.

(7) Section of Photographic Mapping-Topographic Engineer. (8) Atlantic Division.

(a) Topographic Engineer.
(b) Topographic Engineers.
(c) Assistant Topographers.
(d) Junior Topographers.

(9) Central Division.

(a) Topographic Engineer.
(b) Topographic Engineers.
(c) Topographers.
(d) Assistant Topographer.
(e) Junior Topographer.

(10) Rocky Mountain Division.
(a) Topographic Engineer.
(b) Topographers.

(c) Assistant Topographers.
(d) Junior Topographers.

V. Water Resources Branch.

(1) Administrative-Chief Hydraulic Engineer.

(2) Division of Surface Water-Hydraulic Engineer.-Measures flow of rivers; special investigations of conditions affecting stream flow

and utilization thereof. Measurements of discharge are made at 1673 gaging stations, supervised by 23 district offices as follows: New England-Customs House, Boston, Mass.

New York-Journal Building, Albany, N. Y.

New Jersey-Statehouse, Trenton, N. J.

Middle Atlantic and Ohio River-Washington, D. C.

South Atlantic and Eastern Gulf 6 Government St., Asheville, N.
C., Municipal Bldg.

Ohio-Brown Hall, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Upper Mississippi River-Capitol Building, Madison, Wis.
Illinois-Kimball Building, Chicago, Ill.

Iowa State Highway Commission Building, Ames, Iowa.
Kansas-Federal Building, Topeka, Kan.

Missouri-Rolla, Mo.

Upper Missouri River-Montana National Bank Building, Helena,

Rocky Mountain-Post Office Building, Denver, Colo.

Great Basin-Federal Building, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Idaho Idaho Building, Boise, Idaho.

Snake River Basin-Federal Building, Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Washington-Federal Building, Tacoma, Wash.

Oregon-Post Office Building, Portland, Or.

California-Custom House, San Francisco, Cal. Suboffice, Federal
Building, Los Angeles, Cal.

Arizona-University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

Texas Capitol Building, Austin, Tex.

Hawaii-Federal Building, Honolulu.

(3) Division of Ground Water:

Investigates subsurface waters; their occurrence, quantity, quality and head; their recovery through wells and springs; and their utilization for domestic, industrial, irrigation, and public supplies, and at watering places for live stock and desert travelers.

(4) Division of Quality of Water-Chemist makes analyses of samples of water and studies of methods of water analyses.

(5) Division of Power Resources-Hydraulic Engineer makes monthly reports of production of electricity, and consumption of fuel by public utility

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