The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is an American government Congress decreed department that brings together a group of scientists dedicated to providing accurate scientific information about the earth, to minimize deaths and economic loses from natural disasters, and to manage natural resources. USGS carries out studies in these areas biology, geography, geology, space and water in an impartial and timely manner.
USGS maintains a data base of various records from its studies. These include simple photographs, maps, publications that include books, reports, digital satellite data, real time data monitoring, graphics and video collections. You can link to most of these products from its official page at www.usgs.gov. USGS has offices all over America, in every state that coordinates all the studies to bring together quality environmental information to the nation. USGS carries out studies overseas too in more than 100 countries.
USGS aerial and topographic maps are in use on terraserver (www.terraserver.com) a website where you can search and view aerial maps and imagery of lots of interesting places of America. For example you can search and view the Niagara Falls, Daytona Speed way in Florida, the Grand Canyon, or even the Los Angeles International Airport.
USGS also has in its database Digital Orthophoto Quadrangle (DOQS) maps. DOQS are aerial photos that are also geographically referenced. This means that it is a photograph with the geometric qualities of a map; camera tilt effect and distortion caused by topography having been removed through a process called rectification. USGS provides 3.75 and 7.5 minute DOQs as well as seamless DOQS. For each category you will have to download special software to download and read the map. DOQs can be incorporated into any Geographical Information System (GIS) system. This allows for its use in resource management in forestry, Environmental Impact Assessments, soil erosion analysis, evacuation planning and execution, and ground water and water shed analysis. The DOQS are available for sale on the USGS website and smaller portions can be viewed on the Terraserver site through a joint Microsoft and USGS effort.
USGS maps have been useful in preparing disaster response plans in case of need. Some of these plans are; El Nino response on the Southern California coast, on the San Francisco Bay area and the Mojave dessert. The USGS mapped debris flow slides, earth flows and rainfall patterns to come and predicted the likely outcome of El Nino on the Southern California area in 1998.Using information from past El Nino effects it was able to produce maps of places that were more prone to damage from debris and landslides.
USGS aerial maps can also show the global interconnectivity of human activities in various continents can affect the whole world. USGS has a map showing how dust from the Sahara dessert affects the quality of air as far as in America.