From 2007 to 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a low-density (1 site per 1,600 km2), soil geochemical and mineralogical survey of the conterminous United States (US) (approximately 8 million km2 ). This project was initiated to address the lack of a national soil geochemical database that was a critical need for state and Federal environmental agencies, public health specialists, and those engaged in risk assessment of contaminated land. Sampling and analytical protocols were developed in consultation with stakeholders at a 2003 workshop and pilot studies were carried out from 2004 to 2007. Sampling began in 2007 and concluded in 2010. Chemical and mineralogical analyses were completed in 2013, and the data sets were released to the public that same year. Geochemical and mineralogical maps were published in 2014, and an interactive website was released in 2019. The author was Project Chief for this effort throughout the lifetime of the study. The evolution of the project is discussed from its inception through the publication of results and its impact. The lessons learned during the project are reviewed in the hope that applied geochemists who undertake such broad-scale geochemical mapping projects in the future will find them useful.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Continental-scale geochemical mapping collection available at:

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