Photograph of Taughannock Falls in Tompkins County, New York.

Here on Earth: Regional Guides to Earth Science

The place where you are right now has a rich geological history that is recorded by the rocks beneath you and the fossils that they may contain. The rocks and fossils reveal the movements of continents and the evolution of new forms of life. This history helps to explain why the Earth looks like it does today. It also explains things like the distributions of natural resources, from rare minerals to rich soils for agriculture. Studying Earth's ancient climate also helps us to make sense of how the climate is changing today and how it will affect us where we live.

The goal of this part of the [email protected] project is to explain the Earth science of every region of the United States and provide necessary background information. Each region is divided into physiographic provinces: regions that are naturally defined by their modern topography and geologic history. The map below shows the major physiographic regions of the contiguous United States that we are recognizing in [email protected]


Map showing the major physiographic regions of the contiguous United States.

Major physiographic provinces of the contiguous United States. Note that the provinces each span multiple states and, in some cases, multiple regions. Map by Jonathan R. Hendricks.


Regions of Here on Earth that are currently in development include:

  • North-Central United States
  • Midwestern United States
  • Northeastern United States

Development of the Here on Earth part of [email protected] is supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (ARPML-250637-OMLS-22). The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Graphical logo for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Introductions to Earth Science Topics

Quick introductions to Earth science topics, including minerals, rocks, fossils, climate, energy, Earth hazards, and more.


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Image showing a variety of different kinds of minerals.

Southeastern United States

The southeastern United States includes West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Major regions include the Inland Basin, Blue Ridge and Piedmont, and Coastal Plain.

Topics covered include generalized overviews of the geologic history of the Southeast, as well as its climate and Earth hazards. Detailed information about the rocks, fossils, topography, energy resources, and mineral resources of each subregion is also included.


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Simple map of the southeastern United States showing the boundaries of the Inland Basin, Coastal Plain, and Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions.

South-Central United States

The South-Central United States includes Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. Major regions include the Coastal Plain, Interior Highlands, Central Lowland, Great Plains, and Basin and Range.

Topics covered include generalized overviews of the geologic history of the South-Central U.S., as well as its climate and Earth hazards. Detailed information about the rocks, fossils, topography, energy resources, and mineral resources of each subregion is also included.


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Simple map showing the five different regions of the South Central United States.

Southwestern United States

The southwestern United States includes Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Major regions include the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau, and Basin and Range.

Topics covered include generalized overviews of the geologic history of the Southwest U.S., as well as its climate and Earth hazards. Detailed information about the rocks, fossils, topography, energy resources, and mineral resources of each subregion is also included.


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Simple map showing the four main physiographic regions of the southwestern United States.

Western United States

The southwestern United States includes Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Major regions include the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau, and Basin and Range.

Topics covered include generalized overviews of the geologic history of the Southwest U.S., as well as its climate and Earth hazards. Detailed information about the rocks, fossils, topography, energy resources, and mineral resources of each subregion is also included.


Main page
Simple map showing the physiographic regions of the western United States.

Hawaiʻi

Topics covered include the geologic history, climate, Earth hazards, rocks, fossils, topography, energy, and mineral resources of Hawaiʻi.


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Simple map of Hawaii.

Northeastern United States

The northeastern United States include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.

Pages online now describe the geologic history of the northeastern United States, as well as the rocks of the Inland Basin region.


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Map showing the states of the northeastern U.S.

Fossils of the United States

From trilobites to dinosaurs, the United States has an incredibly rich fossil record that tells the story of how ancient animals and plants evolved, lived, and went extinct.

Find out more about the ancient life that once lived near your home.


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Map showing the states of the northeastern U.S.