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Government Information Sources in Science & Technology

Covers major government science/technology websites as well as highlighting the Library's collection in these areas.

Interior Department

Mt. St. HelensThe Interior Department is responsible for protecting and providing access to our Nation's natural and cultural heritage and discharging the government's trust responsibilities to tribes. In addition to links to topics (under "What We Do"), there are links off the main page to the Department's eight subsidiary bureaus (under "Bureaus & Offices"). Here are direct links to some major bureaus (see Geological Survey below)

The National Park Service is one of the Department's major sub-offices. Here are some of its geology-related resources:

U.S. Geological Survey

This agency has a voluminous web presence. The major subject areas of the agency's focus are organized around "Start with Science" strategies, linked on the left of the USGS main page. Here are direct links to some of USGS' major topic sections:

Here are links to useful USGS tools and resource portals:

(Photo of Mt. St. Helens (1970) is from the USGS Photographic Library.)

Earth Sciences Databases

Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Here are the most important government websites dealing with the most exciting topics in geology:

National Climatic Data Center

NCDCThe NCDC is a major sub-agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, and providing public access to climate and historical weather data.

Here are some of NCDC's major portals and websites:

In the Library

NOTE that the Library ceased receiving new tangible government documents in Spring, 2016, and withdrew large numbers of tangible documents during the previous year.

geological mapBibliography of North American Geology. I 19.3:834 ... 1269. 1929-69 (some  years are missing). This index to the geological literature is no longer available as part of the "USGS Bulletins" series, but provides a valuable record of work for the years covered.

Census of Mineral Industries. C 3.216:. 1963-. Part of the 5- year Economic Census cycle. Reports statistics on all mining establishments regarding labor, materials, capital and input/output of projects and services. Statistics are available by geographic area, type of material mined; general information includes financial aspects, energy and water use, etc. Recent information is available online from the Census Bureau.

Climate Action Report. S 1.2:C 61/2/ . 1994, 1997. Submissions of the U.S. under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. There is a summary chapter and other sections which cover: National Circumstances, Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Mitigating Climate Change, Vulnerability and Adaptation, Research and Systematic Observation, Education, Training and Outreach, and International Activities. There is also a review of governmental actions, reporting tables, and a brief bibliography. A recent report is available online from the EPA.

Historical Unrest at Large Calderas of the World. I 19.3:1855/v.1,2. 1988. Summaries of historical "unrest" (defined as seismicity, ground deformation, thermal activity and eruptions) at 138 calderas greater than 5 kilometers in diameter. (A caldera is a roughly circular depression surrounding a usually long-extinct volcanic vent structure.) There is a quick reference chart as well as more detailed descriptions. The level of explanation is fairly technical but not beyond the reach of an informed layperson.

booksLexicon of Geological Names of the U.S. I 19.3: These references, which appear in the "USGS Bulletins" series, provide the official names of geological features. Additional information usually includes location, type, age and/or thickness of sediments, etc. Be aware that names for formations may change over time; check in a more recent edition for a name found in an earlier one. The Library retains the older editions because they contain more descriptive material and are easier to read than the cumulative list of features in the more recent editions. The numbers below are Bulletin numbers, followed by the years covered:

  • 896: 1905-37
  • 1200: 1936-60
  • 1350: 1961-67
  • 1520: 1968-75
  • 1535: summary information through 1975
  • 1564: 1976-80
  • 1565: 1981-85

Geological map graphic is from the USGS's image gallery.


Printed topographic quadrangle maps for selected states are kept in the Environmental Sciences Department in Garni Hall but are available to the general public in addition to St. Mary's students. Call 210/436-3235 for more information. Note that for the past few years maps have no longer been received in paper format. Use the USGS link below for viewing maps online or for ordering paper copies of current and historical maps.