U.S. Geological Survey FOIA – “No Responsive Records Found”

Got back a response today from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). They found no records responsive to my request. Click here to view the USGS response.

However… the response included this curious statement:

“The National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC) reports that the geodetic marks were set by the Army Corps of Engineers. These were not shown on USGS published maps over the requested time period because they weren’t either horizontal or vertical control points. The geodetic marks are also not related to the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) corners. Arizona was one of the last states where USGS produced 1:24,000 scale maps; during the time period of the request, only 1:62,500 scale maps were produced.”

What did I learn?

  • There is some organization called the “National Geospatial Technical Operations Center.” Sounds kinda cool. Will have to FOIA more about NGTOC later.
  • Geodetic marks were set by the Army Corps of Engineers (nothing new here, but “research affirmation”… aka a second reliable source)
  • The (crosses) points were not horizontal or vertical control points. (aka not used for mapping… at least on the civilian/”white world” side. More to follow on classified mapping efforts.)
  • The USGS really hated Arizona, since they were one of the last states to have crappy maps. (Conjecture and supposition to force a smile from readers… 🙂

Follow up:

  1. FOIA request to the US Army Corps of Engineers. While the bronze markers state “US Army Mapping Service,” they apparently didn’t lay the concrete.
  2. More research about horizontal and vertical control points. From previous research, control points are only “good” if they are in every frame (or strip) of the photograph film, so they can be measured, compared, and matched up to overlap with other known control points.
  3. Appeal this request. If the USGS NGTOC knew the markers were placed by USACE, then they would have had *some* documentation about it… right? (Or someone was lazy and did a Wikipedia search. And we all know where that leads, right?)

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