John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis

Natural Hazards

Powell Center working groups rarely are just one USGS Mission Area and are sorted into these areas by the groups themselves. Projects may be relevant to additional areas.

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Filter Total Items: 11
Date published: October 1, 2020
Status: Active

Developing and Implementing an International Macroseismic Scale (IMS) for Earthquake Engineering, Earthquake Science, and Rapid Damage Assessment

The USGS “Did You Feel It” (DYFI) is an extremely popular way for members of the public to contribute to earthquake science and earthquake response. DYFI has been in operation for nearly two decades (1999-2019) in the U.S., and for nearly 15 years globally. During that period the amount of data collected is astounding: Over 5 million individual DYFI intensity reports—spanning all magnitude and...

Contacts: David J Wald
Date published: June 5, 2018
Status: Active

Margin-wide geological and geophysical synthesis to understand the recurrence and hazards of great subduction zone earthquakes in Cascadia

The Cascadia Subduction Zone, located in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and southwestern British Columbia, has hosted magnitude ≥8.0 megathrust earthquakes in the geologic past, a future earthquake is imminent, and the potential impacts could cripple the region. Subduction zone earthquakes represent some of the most devastating natural hazards on Earth. Despite substantial knowledge gained from...

Date published: June 5, 2018
Status: Active

Future Opportunities in Regional and Global Seismic Network Monitoring and Science

The past decade has seen improvements in computational efficiency, seismic data coverage, and communication technology - driven by societal expectation for timely, accurate information. While aspects of earthquake research have taken advantage of this evolution, the adoption of improvements in earthquake monitoring has not been fully leveraged. In real-time monitoring, earthquakes are...

Date published: August 25, 2017
Status: Active

Tsunami Source Standardization for Hazards Mitigation in the United States

The goal of this Powell Center Working Group is to produce a collection of vetted and standardized earthquake and landslide tsunami sources that can be used to produce the meaningful hazard assessment products required for effective tsunami hazard mitigation and risk reduction. The need for a set of realistic and consistent tsunami sources was identified as a high priority at a 2016 workshop...

Contacts: Stephanie Ross
Date published: June 29, 2016
Status: Active

Optimizing satellite resources for the global assessment and mitigation of volcanic hazards

A vast number of the world’s volcanoes are unmonitored by ground-based sensors, yet constitute an important hazard to nearby residents and infrastructure, as well as air travel and the global economy. Satellite data provide a cost-effective means of tracking activity at such volcanoes. Unfortunately, satellite acquisitions are not optimized for application to volcano hazards, in part because...

Contacts: Michael Poland
Date published: August 19, 2015
Status: Active

Predicting the next high-impact insect invasion: Elucidating traits and factors determining the risk of introduced herbivorous insects on North American native plants

Non-native insect invasions increasingly cause widespread ecological and economic damage in natural and agricultural ecosystems. Non-native insects specialized for feeding on specific plant groups are particularly problematic as they can potentially eliminate an entire genus of native plant species across a wide area. For example, emerald ash borer has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees...

Date published: October 6, 2014
Status: Active

Operational Earthquake Forecasting – Implementing a Real-Time System for California

It is well know that every earthquake can spawn others (e.g., as aftershocks), and that such triggered events can be large and damaging, as recently demonstrated by L’Aquila, Italy and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes. In spite of being an explicit USGS strategic-action priority (; page 32), the USGS...

Date published: October 28, 2013
Status: Active

Exploiting high-resolution topography for advancing the understanding of mass and energy transfer across landscapes: Opportunities, challenges, and needs

One of the grand challenges of Earth Surface Science and Natural Resource Management lies in the prediction of mass and energy transfer for large watersheds and landscapes. High resolution topography (lidar) datasets show potential to significantly advance our understanding of hydrologic and geomorphic processes controlling mass and energy transfer because they represent features at the...

Date published: October 21, 2013
Status: Active

Joint USGS - GEM Group on Global Probabilistic Modeling of Earthquake Recurrence Rates and Maximum Magnitudes

Despite the best monitoring networks, the highest rate of earthquakes and the longest continuous recorded history in the world, this year’s M=9.0 Tohoku, Japan, earthquake was completely unforeseen. The Japanese had expected no larger than a M=8 quake in the Japan trench, 1/30 th the size of the Tohoku temblor. This year also saw the devastating M=6.3 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake and...

Date published: October 21, 2013
Status: Active

Mercury cycling, bioaccumulation, and risk across western North America: a landscape scale synthesis linking long-term datasets

Mercury (Hg) is a serious environmental problem that is impacting ecological and human health on a global scale. However, local and regional processes are largely responsible for producing methylmercury, which drives ecological risk. This is particularly true in western North America where the combination of diverse landscapes, habitat types, climates, and Hg sources may disproportionally...

Date published: February 4, 2013
Status: Active

Understanding Fluid Injection Induced Seismicity

Fluid injection induced seismicity has been reported since the 1960s. There are currently more than 150,000 injection wells associated with oil and gas production in 34 states in the conterminous US. Pore pressure disturbance caused by injection is generally considered the culprit for injection induced seismicity, but, not all injection causes seismicity. It is not well understood what...