Energy

All energy comes from the Earth, its atmosphere, or its Sun. Some resources are mined or extracted, like coal, uranium, oil, and gas. Others, like wind, solar, tidal, and hydropower resources, are harnessed at the Earth’s surface. Geoscientists play an essential role in developing energy resources and evaluating their environmental impacts.

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
U.S. Geological Survey

Latest News

U.S. Capitol
(2017-02-07)
January 19, 2017 Secretary of Energy nominee, Rick Perry, was questioned in a hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on January 19. The Department of Energy (DOE) operates 17 national laboratories, manages the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and has 14,000 employees. Senators questioned...
An earthquake-safe pipeline crossing the San Andreas Fault at Cholame, California. Image Copyright © Michael Collier http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images
(2016-12-05)
On Thursday and Friday, December 1-2, the National Academies' Roundtable on Unconventional Hydrocarbons held a workshop on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development: Legacy Issues, Induced Seismicity, and Innovations in Managing Risk. The meeting brought together experts from industry, academia, state...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2016-11-30)
November 18, 2016 The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its 2016 World Energy Outlook on November 18. This report outlines current world energy usage trends and projections through 2040. In addition to the publication, Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director for the IEA, gave a presentation on...
Screenshot of video update on seismic activity in Kansas.
(2016-11-17)
We have a brand new update on last year's webinar, Induced Seismicity in the Midcontinent. One of our speakers, Rex Buchanan, former State Geologist of Kansas, has returned to provide us with an update on seismic activity in Kansas. You can watch the short video on YouTube here: http://bit.ly/...
Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine, California. This mine dominated global rare earth element production from the 1960s to the 1980s. Although it still contains significant reserves, it closed in 2015 due to competition from China. Credit: Dan Cordier, USGS
(2016-11-17)
On Monday November 14, the National Academies' Committee on Earth Resources held a meeting on Mineral and Energy Resource Issues for the Coming Decade. The meeting covered a wide range of issues and focused on the scientific and technical advances and challenges that will affect mineral and energy...
#MapOfTheDay! Interactive map of #energy infrastructure and resources from @EIAgov http://bit.ly/1LSoCl9  #election2016
(2016-11-08)
#MapOfTheDay! Today the Critical Issues Program (@AGI_GeoIssues) shared an interactive map of energy infrastructure and resources across the United States from the Energy Information Administration (@EIAgov), which you can find at http://bit.ly/1LSoCl9. For information about energy, check out the...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
(2016-10-27)
October 12, 2016 The World Energy Council, a United Nations-accredited global energy consortium, released its 2016 World Energy Resources Report on October 12. Since its inception in 2010, the report has shown a global trend toward a more diversified global energy portfolio. The report provides a...
Atlean Lake in British Columbia
(2016-10-20)
October 4, 2016 Five federal agencies are working to increase consumers’ awareness of the benefits of switching to water- and energy-efficient fixtures and building codes. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have released statements...
IES Energy glyph
(2016-10-11)
September 14, 2016 Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell approved Phase I of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) this September. DRECP is a coordinated effort between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and...
U.S. Supreme Court building
(2016-10-11)
September 16, 2016 On September 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered a complete freeze on construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near Lake Oahe, North Dakota. The decision in the case, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (16-cv-1534),...

Case Studies

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the North Slope Borough case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on oil production in Alaska's North Slope Borough can be found here...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Kern County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on oil production in Kern County, California can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Tarrant and Johnson counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on natural gas production in Tarrant and Johnson Counties, Texas can...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the DeSoto Parish case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on natural gas production in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana can be found...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Campbell County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on coal mining in Campbell County, Wyoming can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Boone, Logan and Mingo counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on coal mining in West Virginia's Boone, Logan, and Mingo counties...

Fig. 1. Exposure of sandstone capping an economic coal bed. Credit: J. Shaulis, Pennsylvania Geological Survey

Defining the Problem Despite Pennsylvania’s long history as a major coal producer, information on the coal geology (Fig. 1), remaining resources, and extent of past mining is not available for many areas of the state. Such information is critical for present and future coal exploration and...

Research Database Publications

Cover of Peat Deposits of North Carolina; Image credit: North Carolina Geological Survey
1987, North Carolina Geological Survey (NCGS)
The petroleum crisis of the early 1970's led to a national reevaluation of alternative energy resources within the United States. One neglected energy resource that is in abundant supply in many parts of the country, including North Carolina, is peat. In addition to its common use as a soil...
Cover of GeologyEconomy2.pdf; Source: American Institute of Professional Geologists
2006, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
The United States depends on many mineral commodities which it once exported. High costs of mining and production, and in certain instances, a lack of local supply, make it more economically sound to import many resources from countries where production is not so expensive. According to the United...
Cover of PP1698; Source: USGS
2005, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The infrastructure of a populated area, including roads, airports, water and energy transmission and distribution facilities, and sewage treatment plants, is critical to the vitality and sustainability of the area. Construction of new and ongoing maintenance of existing infrastructure both require...
Cover of fs2016-3030 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed a geology-based assessment of the continuous (unconventional) oil and gas resources in the Late Cretaceous Mancos Shale within the Piceance Basin of the Uinta-Piceance Province (fig. 1). The previous USGS assessment of the Mancos Shale in the Piceance...
Cover of fs2016-3039; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey assessed mean resources of 5 trillion cubic feet of gas and 187 million barrels of natural gas liquids in tight-gas assessment units in the Canyon sandstones of the Val Verde Basin, Texas.
Cover of ofr-15-06; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
Hookers Hot Springs is located approximately 70 km (40 miles) east of Tucson, Arizona, and is within the Hookers Hot Springs 7.5’ Quadrangle in the southern Galiuro Mountains. The hot spring itself is on the southwest flank of the wide wash in Hot Springs Canyon, east of the San Pedro River. Water...
A wind turbine.
2010, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
Humans have harnessed wind energy throughout history for milling, pumping and transportation — in a way you could say it’s the “original” form of industrial energy. But only recently have we built massive, powerful turbines to convert that wind into electricity. As concerns about pollution, carbon...
Cover of fs2015-3078; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean volumes of 53 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, 172 million barrels of shale oil, and 176 million barrels of natural gas liquids in the Barnett Shale of the Bend Arch–Fort Worth Basin Province of Texas.
Cover of Energy factsheet; Image credit: The Geological Society
2016, The Geological Society of London (GSL)
Every country faces the same energy challenge: to supply enough power for homes, transport and businesses as cheaply as possible, whilst safeguarding the environment by reducing emissions. Where does the UK’s energy come from, and how has this changed over time? What is carbon capture and storage...
Cover of fs2016-3036; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey assessed technically recoverable mean resources of 13 million barrels of oil, 22 billion cubic feet of gas, and 1 million barrels of natural gas liquids in the Monterey Formation of the Los Angeles Basin Province, California.