The Geomagnetism Program of the US Geological Survey has, for over a century now, monitored the Earth's magnetic field through a network of magnetic observatories and conducted scientific analysis on the data collected. The program traces its origins to the Reorganization Act of 1843, in which Congress authorized the creation of a coastal survey agency, as part of the Treasury Department, that was responsible for, among other things, geomagnetic surveys. The 19th century saw the establishment of relatively short‐lived magnetic stations, as well as the production of declination maps for the United States and territories. With the purchase of Alaska, coastal surveys became an increasingly higher priority, and in 1889 the Coast and Geodetic Survey, with a Division of Terrestrial Magnetism, was established. The first essentially permanent geomagnetic observatories were established under the Division's leadership of Dr. Louis A. Bauer and Dr. John A. Fleming: Cheltenham Maryland Observatory was established in 1900, subsequently moved to the Fredericksburg site in 1956; Sitka Alaska Observatory was established in 1901 and that of Honolulu Hawaii in 1902. Soon after these observatories became operational, it was found that the Sitka and Honolulu magnetometers were also sensitive to local earthquakes, and so seismometers were installed at the sites. In part, because of this colocation of instruments, the magnetic and seismological programs in the Coast and Geodetic Survey were united in 1925 under the Division of Geomagnetism and Seismology. Over the years, the Geomagnetism Program has evolved in response to the needs of the United States and in response to changes in the nation's various federal agencies. In 1903 the Coast and Geodetic Survey was transferred to the newly organized Department of Commerce, and in 1970 the survey became part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 1973, the US Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior assumed responsibility for the nation's Geomagnetism and Seismology programs.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Title||Observatories, program in USA|
|Contributing office(s)||Geologic Hazards Science Center|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Title||Encyclopedia of geomagnetism and paleomagnetism|