USGS - science for a changing world

GMEG - Geology and Geophysics


Surficial Geologic Mapping and Geomorphologic Analysis

Surficial materials include "young" sedimentary material of various origin and ages, typically Quaternary age and younger (less than about 2 million years). Surficial materials include such materials as stream-deposited alluvium, wind-blown sand and dust (including dunes), glacial deposits, landslide deposits, and soil and colluvium where where such units exist on a mapable scale. Surficial geologic maps are extremely valuable for many scientific and engineering applications. Surficial maps are important for many ecological applications, aggregate, hydrogeology, and natural hazard evaluation. Surficial material maps are often combined with bedrock geology and structural features, such as faults and folds.   Example of a surficial map
Example of a surficial materials map. Click on map for larger view.
The science of high-resolution geomorphology involves use of Lidar and multispectral imaging technologies. Advances in ground-based and airborne imaging technologies have helped to advance the understanding of earth surface processes and their impact on earth materials. These technologies have be used to discover and resolve information about recent fault motion studies, post fire erosion and landsliding hazard studies, and detailed mapping in areas covered by forests and vegetation (Lidar can see through tree canopies to resolve features on the ground below!). The combination of mapping and imaging technologies are helping to measure and resolve information about the effects of climate change. Applications include the studies of dust and dune sand formation and migration, the role temperature and precipitation changes will have on both natural ecosystems and agriculture.   Lidar image of Mount St. Helens
Lidar image of Mount St. Helens
(Source: USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory)
See examples of surficial mapping, Quaternary stratigraphy studies, Quaternary fault mapping

See selected references for recent G & G research on geologic mapping, geomorphology, ecosystem science, fire science, landslide hazards, sedimentology, and surficial processes.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: GMEG Webmaster
Page Last Modified: 13-Dec-2016@16:36