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British Geological Survey
175th Anniversary Symposium
28 September 2010
Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges with Integrated Science
Dr. Marcia McNutt, Director
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
A Look Ahead
The need for trusted, authoritative science information
The fundamental role of government-sponsored science
The nature of USGS science
Integrated science promotes synergy
in knowledge and in practice
A recent example of integrated science
New frontiers for geological surveys
Night light produced largely from fossil fuels
An index of population and human power in the environment
Night light produced largely from fossil fuels
Human-induced changes on a global scale
Rising demand for resources
Climate change
Approaching thresholds of ecosystems
Increased demand
Global issues concerning
society and the environment
Competition for, natural threats to, natural resources
Natural hazards – floods, earthquakes, landslides
Effects of wildlife disease on human health
Availability of water for people and ecosystems
Effects of climate change on resources, ecosystems, human health
An urgent need for authoritative, trusted science information
The role of government-sponsored science
The Nature of USGS Science
The Nation’s natural science agency.
Conducts independent research.
Our reputation is our most important asset.
Science resources leveraged in partnership with
more than 2,000 agencies in the U.S. and abroad:
. State, local, tribal governments
. Academic community
. Other Federal allies
. Non-governmental organizations
. Private sector
USGS Science Information
Usually held in large archives
Provides historical record for improved baselines
Beyond the capabilities of states or universities
Helps forestall duplicative efforts
Free access, in public domain
The National Map
USGS Science Strategy: A Systems Approach
When we try to pick out anything by
itself, we find it hitched to everything
else in the universe.
John Muir
The Earth behaves as a system in
which oceans, atmosphere and land,
and the living and non-living parts
therein, are all connected.
Global Change and the Earth System
Steffen et al, 2005
USGS Realignment follows USGS Science Strategy
Energy, Minerals, and Human Health
Natural Hazards
Science Quality and Integrity
Climate and Land-Use Change
Informatics and Data Integration
USGS Science in the Gulf:
the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Effects
April 20 explosion, 11 fatalities
Over 1.8 M gallons of dispersant (as of 8/23)
642 mi. of coastline impacted,
343 mi. currently oiled (8/25)
Total oil released: Apr. 22 – July 15 (when flow suspended)
4.9 million barrels, +/- 10% (FRTG)
Over 80,000 square miles
of Gulf closed to fishing (8/10)
Three Day Projected Oil Spill
Movement Forecast – June 3
Pre-Impact Assessment
Water, sediment and benthic samples taken at ~70 locations
Conducted coastal vegetation photo surveys and ground truthing
Remote sensing and production of maps and GIS layers
showed historical and current locations of trust resources,
coastal ecosystems, and shoreline conditions
Flow Rate Technical Group
Mass Balance Team
Methodology peer reviewed and published, May 14
Well Integrity Team
Director McNutt with Well Integrity Team members (l to r):
Paul Hsieh, Water Mooney, Marcia McNutt, Steve Hickman,
Cathy Enomoto, Phil Nelson
The Relevance of National Surveys
Authoritative, unbiased
Extensive national and global observation networks and
databases require a national commitment
Historical perspective essential for information continuity
and archival
Decision support tools
Partnerships optimize science resources, build consensus
Toward future geological surveys
New frontiers for Geological Surveys
Move beyond traditional categories of natural resources
Assess effects of societal actions on the environment
Consider societal resilience to hazards
Create decision support systems using all available scientific data
Geological surveys can expand
as vital sources for science information

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