On March 3, 1879, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) was created. The main purpose of the USGS was to classify public lands into categories based on the land’s mineral content. The USGS was important not only for mining, but also for farming. By mapping out the location of natural resources, the USGS encouraged both explorers and settlers to move to new areas. In fact, the first director of the USGS, Clarence King, quit his job in search of his own mining fortune.

Today, the USGS provides scientific information on a variety of topics, including earthquakes, rivers, water quality, and wildlife. Its website features maps, aerial photographs, and help on figuring out the geographic coordinates of where you live.

classify
Verb

to identify or arrange by specific type or characteristic.

coordinates
Noun

a set of numbers giving the precise location of a point, often its latitude and longitude.

farming
Noun

the art, science, and business of cultivating the land for growing crops.

mineral
Noun

inorganic material that has a characteristic chemical composition and specific crystal structure.

mining
Noun

process of extracting ore from the Earth.

natural resource
Noun

a material that humans take from the natural environment to survive, to satisfy their needs, or to trade with others.

public
Noun

people of a community.

settler
Noun

person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

Noun

(United States Geological Survey) primary source for science about the Earth, its natural and living resources, natural hazards, and the environment.

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