It is not very often that a single event is so overwhelming that it changes public perceptions of natural hazards for generations. Perhaps for the U.S. Geological Survey, the explosive volcanic activity of Mount St. Helens began such a change. After 101 years of careful science of the Earth's past and meticulous observations and assessments of the present, predictive earth science was in full public view. However vague and faint the glimpse of the future made possible by earth science, it was enough. Warnings were issued, thousands of lives were saved, and the age of real-time geology began. The Survey's basic mission has not changed, but the power of our analytical tools has increased by several orders of magnitude. The Survey's efforts to understand Earth processes and hydrologic principles continued with the collection, during fiscal year 1980, of valuable new data on the geologic origin and framework, seismicity, and mineral and energy resources of the United States. The Survey is also responsible for classification of the leasable minerals on Federal lands and the regulation of mineral exploration and development activities on Federal and Indian lands. As the principal earth science fact-gathering agency, the Survey provides information for sound decisionmaking by government and private industry. Industry uses the Survey's information in exploring for energy and minerals and improving their efforts to make development of energy and minerals compatible with environmental protection standards. Government uses the Survey's information in conducting leasing operations on public lands, in regulating the safe design and siting of nuclear plants, and in establishing guidelines for determining and locating areas that are subject to geologic hazards such as landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The Yearbook reports a broad range of the Survey's accomplishments during the past fiscal year and provides an overview of future directions. Many of the topics covered will continue to be important natural resource and earth science issues of the 1980's.
Additional publication details
USGS Unnumbered Series
United States Geological Survey Yearbook, fiscal year 1980