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Geological surveys have long filled the role of providing Earth system science data and knowledge. These functions are increasingly complicated by accelerating environmental and societal change. Here we describe the US Geological Survey (USGS) response to these evolving conditions. Underpinning the USGS approach is the recognition that many of the issues facing the USA and the world involve interaction among geological, hydrological and biological processes, and how these interactions in turn affect society. Therefore, a goal of USGS planning is fostering interdisciplinary science. This focus is occurring in part through implementation of the recommendations of strategic planning teams. The USGS has also put in place groups building a broad information technology infrastructure as well as identifying and disseminating new Earth science research tools. In addition, the USGS has established an analysis and synthesis centre that brings together groups of scientists who address interdisciplinary Earth system science issues. The goal is for these building blocks to evolve towards a comprehensive USGS data and knowledge platform – EarthMAP (Earth Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection). We also recognize that the modern geological survey must be a member of a community of geological surveys contributing data to a global database of three-dimensional biogeophysical observations and interpretations.

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