USGS - science for a changing world
U.S. Geological Survey Science Data Catalog

Got USGS Data?

USGS personnel are highly encouraged to publicly expose their data by registering metadata assets in the USGS Science Data Catalog. Please visit the suggested workflow to register data.

About the USGS Science Data Catalog

The USGS Science Data Catalog displays USGS open data assets in a searchable public data listing, while offering a single point of entry for USGS records to display in Department of the Interior and indexes, among others.

The USGS Science Data Catalog:

  • Meets White House Open Data reporting requirements for USGS
  • Provides a Search & Discovery Tool that allows for metadata retrieval, visualization, download, & linking back to original data providers
  • Offers a single source for USGS to serve its metadata to,, OMB, etc.
  • Gives the data provider and metadata stewards control of public release of their metadata through the Data Provider Dashboard.
  • Helps ensure that USGS metadata meet minimum requirements
  • Supports data managers in applying the Publish/Share element of the USGS Science Data Lifecycle Model

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Science Data Catalog

  • Why was the Science Data Catalog created?

  • On May 9, 2013, the White House released the Executive Order, "Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government." This Order, built upon an earlier interagency memorandum released by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), was accompanied by an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Policy and a site hosted on GitHub called Project Open Data, to guide implementation.

    To meet the requirements outlined in these initiatives, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has undertaken a variety of tasks in concert with the Department of the Interior (DOI) to display USGS open data assets in a searchable public data listing. This listing serves as an official inventory for meeting Office of Management and Budget requirements, and the SDC serves as a single point of entry for USGS records to display in Department of the Interior and indexes, among others.

  • What is in the Science Data Catalog?

  • The Science Data Catalog describes USGS-produced, authoritative data that have undergone the data release process outlined in USGS Fundamental Science Practices. The Catalog includes metadata describing individual datasets, data collections, and observational or remotely-sensed data contained in national systems (rather than records about individual observations). All items in the Science Data Catalog must contain an actionable link to the data or a data service. Links must lead to downloadable datasets, which may take the form of a zip file, an individual spreadsheet, a topographic map, or a USGS Data Series Report. Additionally, links may lead to an online data system containing hundreds or even thousands of individual datasets, where users are prompted to execute a more specific search. Finally, the metadata may include links to access the data via APIs and services, including map services.

  • How does my USGS Center/Program contribute metadata records?

  • Data Providers (USGS Science Centers and other data-producing/managing organizations) can contribute their metadata to the Science Data Catalog through the Data Provider Dashboard. The Dashboard allows users to point to metadata records from various sources, highlight featured records, and describe USGS entities sharing responsibility for the data. Data Providers are encouraged to designate a metadata steward to coordinate the contribution of metadata records and ensure that metadata meet the minimum requirements for release.

  • Which metadata standards should be used to format metadata contributed to the Science Data Catalog?

  • Metadata must be in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format and follow the Federal Geographic Data Committee's (FGDC) endorsed Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM). In the future, the Science Data Catalog will accept metadata adhering to formats prescribed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) suite (e.g., 19115-1, 19115-2, 19119, 19111, etc.) Visit the USGS Data Management Web site for more information about metadata creation.

  • How can I create metadata?

  • The USGS Data Management Website provides non-prescriptive data management guidance, best practices, tools, and resources in one convenient location. Learn to create metadata resources to contribute to the USGS Science Data Catalog.

  • How can I submit my metadata using the Data Provider Dashboard?

  • For inclusion in the Science Data Catalog, metadata stewards register metadata collections using the Dashboard from three possible sources:

    • Web Accessible Folder (WAF) points to a web address that provides harvesting access to metadata records.
    • Site Map points to a web address for a sitemap XML with a list of URLs to harvestable metadata records.
    • ScienceBase points to metadata records cataloged in ScienceBase, a collaborative data management platform, designed to help science teams organize, store and share information.

    For more information about using the Dashboard, visit Help.

  • I update my metadata sources frequently. Can I establish a regularly-scheduled harvest of my WAF or Sitemap?

  • Yes, you can. To establish a regularly-scheduled harvest to run daily, weekly, or monthly, please e-mail

  • How do I update the metadata I submitted? What if I have additional metadata to contribute?

  • Updates or changes to metadata must be performed on the source XML metadata record that is harvested by the Science Data Catalog; these records are managed by the program or science center at the point of harvest (WAF, SiteMap or ScienceBase). If you have previously registered a WAF or SiteMap URL as a data source in the Dashboard and have subsequently added records to these sources, please contact to request a reharvest to update records reported to the Science Data Catalog. A reharvest will replicate what is provided in the WAF or SiteMap, deleting and updating items, reflecting the records provided in the data source. If you have added additional records to the ScienceBase data source, these records will be automatically transferred to the Science Data Catalog, requiring no additional action from the data provider. Records deleted from ScienceBase will also be deleted from the Science Data Catalog.

  • Whom do I contact if I need help using the Science Data Catalog or Dashboard?

  • Questions about the USGS Science Data Catalog and Data Provider Dashboard can be directed to

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: ASK CSAS&L
Page Last Modified: Thursday, February 05, 2015