Geoscience in Colorado

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By the numbers: Colorado

  • 16,763 geoscience employees (excludes self-employed)1
  • 1.53 billion gallons/day: total groundwater withdrawal3
  • $1.68 billion: value of nonfuel mineral production in 20174
  • 80 total disaster declarations, including 57 fire, 13 flood, and 3 snow disasters (1953-2017)⁶
  • $178 million: NSF GEO grants awarded in 201714

What is Geoscience?

Geoscience is the study of the Earth and the complex geologic, marine, atmospheric, and hydrologic processes that sustain life and the economy. Understanding the Earth’s surface and subsurface, its resources, history, and hazards allows us to develop solutions to critical economic, environmental, health, and safety challenges.

Your State Source for Geoscience Information

Colorado Geological Survey
1801 19th Street
Golden, CO 80401

Workforce in Colorado

  • 16,763 geoscience employees (excludes self-employed) in 20171
  • $89,986: average median geoscience employee salary1
  • 18 academic geoscience departments2

Water Use in Colorado

  • 1.53 billion gallons/day: total groundwater withdrawal3
  • 8.8 billion gallons/day: total surface water withdrawal3
  • 844 million gallons/day: public supply water withdrawal3
  • 9 billion gallons/day: water withdrawal for irrigation3
  • 84 million gallons/day: self-supplied industrial fresh water withdrawal3
  • 95% of the population is served by public water supplies3

Energy and Minerals in Colorado

  • $1.68 billion: value of nonfuel mineral production in 20174
  • Gold, cement (portland), sand and gravel (construction): top three nonfuel minerals in order of value produced in 20174
  • 12.6 million short tons: coal produced in 20165
  • 1.69 trillion cubic feet: natural gas produced in 20175
  • 128 million barrels: crude oil produced in 20175
  • 9.57 million megawatt hours: wind produced in 20175

Natural Hazards in Colorado

  • 80 total disaster declarations, including 57 fire, 13 flood, and 3 snow disasters (1953-2017)6
  • $62 million: individual assistance grants (2005-2017)6 • $195 million: mitigation grants (2005-2017)6
  • $260 million: preparedness grants (2005-2017)6 • $408 million: public assistance grants (2005-2017)⁶
  • 41 weather and/or climate events, each with costs exceeding $1 billion (inflation adjusted) (1980-2017)7

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

  • $1.15 billion: total USGS budget in FY 2018 (5.8% increase from FY 2017)8
  • The National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program funds geologic mapping projects with federal (FEDMAP), state (STATEMAP), and university (EDMAP) partners
  • $3.63 million: Colorado STATEMAP funding (1993-2016)9
  • 4 Colorado universities, including Colorado School of Mines and Colorado State University, have participated in EDMAP9
  • USGS streamgages collect real-time or recent streamflow, groundwater, and water-quality data throughout Colorado

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • $20.7 billion: total NASA budget in FY 2018 (5.5% increase from FY 2017)10
  • $1.9 billion: total NASA Earth Science budget in FY 2018 (0% change from FY 2017)10
  • Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites measure groundwater changes in Colorado
  • Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite measures soil moisture in Colorado

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • $5.9 billion: total NOAA budget in FY 2018 (4.1% increase from FY 2017)11
  • Next-generation geostationary (GOES) and polar orbiting (JPSS) satellites provide weather forecasting over Colorado
  • Deep Space Climate Observatory (DISCOVR) satellite monitors radiation and air quality over Colorado
  • 22 National Weather Service Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) stations in Colorado12
  • 278 National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) sites in Colorado12

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • $7.8 billion: total NSF budget in FY 2018 (4% increase from FY 2017)13
  • $1.4 billion: total NSF Geosciences Directorate (GEO) awards in FY 2017 (7.2% increase from FY 2016)14
  • 188 NSF GEO awards in Colorado totaling $178 million in 201714
  • $20.8 million: NSF GEO grants awarded to University of Colorado at Boulder in 201714

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • $8.1 billion: total EPA budget in FY 2018 (0% change from FY 2017)15
  • 20 active Superfund sites in Colorado in 201816
  • $14.3 million: Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) grants in Colorado in 201717
  • $280,500: Brownfield cleanup grants awarded to Colorado in 201818

Federal Facilities in Colorado

  • USGS Denver Library
  • USGS Central Energy Resources Science Center, Denver
  • NSF National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder
  • NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder
  • DOE National Renewable Energy Lab, Golden


1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2017
2. American Geosciences Institute, Directory of Geoscience Departments, 53rd Edition (2018)
3. U.S. Geological Survey, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2015
4. U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018
5. U.S. Energy Information Administration
6. FEMA Data Visualization: Summary of Disaster Declarations and Grants (accessed May 2, 2018)
7. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters from 1980 to 2018 (accessed April 6, 2018)
8. U.S. Department of the Interior, FY 2019 Budet in Brief
9. U.S. Geological Survey, National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program
10. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, FY 2019 Budget Estimates
11. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FY 2019 Bluebook
12. NOAA In Your State and Territory
13. U.S. House of Representatives, FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill (Division B) – Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
14. National Science Foundation, Budget Information System
15. U.S. House of Representatives, FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill (Division G) – Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
16. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Superfund Sites
17. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Drinking Water State Revolving Fund National Information Management System Reports
18. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Brownfields Grant Fact Sheet Search

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