Developing integrated methods to address complex resource and environmental issues

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This circular provides an overview of selected activities that were conducted within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Integrated Methods Development Project, an interdisciplinary project designed to develop new tools and conduct innovative research requiring integration of geologic, geophysical, geochemical, and remote-sensing expertise. The project was supported by the USGS Mineral Resources Program, and its products and acquired capabilities have broad applications to missions throughout the USGS and beyond.

In addressing challenges associated with understanding the location, quantity, and quality of mineral resources, and in investigating the potential environmental consequences of resource development, a number of field and laboratory capabilities and interpretative methodologies evolved from the project that have applications to traditional resource studies as well as to studies related to ecosystem health, human health, disaster and hazard assessment, and planetary science. New or improved tools and research findings developed within the project have been applied to other projects and activities. Specifically, geophysical equipment and techniques have been applied to a variety of traditional and nontraditional mineral- and energy-resource studies, military applications, environmental investigations, and applied research activities that involve climate change, mapping techniques, and monitoring capabilities. Diverse applied geochemistry activities provide a process-level understanding of the mobility, chemical speciation, and bioavailability of elements, particularly metals and metalloids, in a variety of environmental settings. Imaging spectroscopy capabilities maintained and developed within the project have been applied to traditional resource studies as well as to studies related to ecosystem health, human health, disaster assessment, and planetary science. Brief descriptions of capabilities and laboratory facilities and summaries of some applications of project products and research findings are included in this circular. The work helped support the USGS mission to “provide reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.”

Document Type: 

  • Report


  • critical issues, database publication, mineral resources, water, hazards