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Natural Hazards

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Costs and consequences of natural hazards can be enormous; each year more people and infrastructure are at risk. We develop and apply hazards science to help protect U.S. safety, security, and economic well being. These scientific observations, analyses, and research are crucial for the Nation to become more resilient to natural hazards.

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Filter Total Items: 273
Date published: July 10, 2018
Status: Active

Landslides Glossary

Definitions of landslide science terms.

Date published: July 8, 2018
Status: Active

Fact Sheets

Date published: July 6, 2018
Status: Active

Videos

Educational videos about the science of landslides and debris flows.

Date published: July 5, 2018
Status: Active

Coastal Change Processes

The primary objective of this project is to increase our understanding of the physical processes that cause coastal change, and ultimately improve our capability to predict the processes and their impacts. This will be approached by using geophysical surveys, oceanographic studies, and predictive models to investigate the interactions of shoreline, nearshore, and offshore sediment transport...

Date published: July 5, 2018
Status: Active

Monitoring Operations

Learn more about the USGS Geomagnetism operations.

Date published: July 4, 2018
Status: Active

State Geologists & Geological Surveys

Geological Surveys, city and county governments, and professional consultants may have specific landslide information for your area.

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview of Hazards and Risk Assessments

Landslide hazard and risk assessments help people understand the dangers from landslides to their towns and cities, homes, facilities, and businesses.  Landslide hazard assessments are estimates of the probability that landslides will affect a particular area or location, typically within a given timeframe.  

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview

Although they are relatively uncommon, large catastrophic landslides move rapidly destroying everything in their paths.  Such landslides are difficult to predict as shown by the following examples.

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview

The most frequent and widespread damaging landslides in the U.S. are induced (started) by prolonged or heavy rainfall.  The majority of rainfall-induced landslides are shallow (less than a few meters deep), small, and move rapidly.  Many rainfall-induced landslides transform into debris flows (fast-moving slurries of water, soil, and rock) as they travel down steep slopes, especially those...

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Climate impacts to Arctic coasts, recent activities

New instruments installed to measure Arctic coastal erosion; community outreach event held

Contacts: Li Erikson
Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Additional Landslide Information

More sites relating to landslides.

Filter Total Items: 119
Date published: March 15, 2016

California State Waters Map Series Data Catalog

GIS data files for map areas offshore of California are listed with a brief description, a small image, and links to the metadata files and the downloadable data files.

Date published: March 7, 2016

Drought Watch

Where in the Nation are droughts or very low flows occurring now? How can I see these sites on a map and get to the data?

Date published: March 7, 2016

Real-time Streamflow

Map and data of real-time streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year in the U.S.

Date published: March 7, 2016

ISIS – The Integrated System for Imagers and Spectrometers

ISIS has many standard image processing operations such as contrast stretch, image algebra, filters, and statistical analysis. Isis operates on both classical two-dimensional images as well as three-dimensional cubes collected from imaging spectrometers. It also has unique capabilities for processing data from NASA spacecraft missions.

Date published: March 7, 2016

PILOT – The Planetary Image LOcator Tool

PILOT is a web based search tool for the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC) database of the Planetary Data System. PILOT features SPICE-corrected image locations and searching capabilities using a navigable map, user selectable image constraints, and facilitates bulk downloads and/or image processing using POW.

Date published: March 7, 2016

Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS)

Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS) are based on Open Geospatial Consortium standards and allow capable mapping clients to view full-resolution planetary mosaicked Basemaps. Services are available for community use and are critical for our Planetary Nomenclature, Planetary Geologic Mapping and PILOT sites

Date published: March 7, 2016

Map-a-Planet 2

Allows existing map-projected (derived) image products to be re-projected, stretched, clipped, and converted into a variety of useful formats. Version 2 allows us to quickly add new mosaics and potentially many other derived science products for conversion and download.

Date published: March 7, 2016

GDAL – The Geospatial Data Abstraction Library

GDAL is a translator library for raster geospatial data formats that is released under an X/MIT style Open Source license by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. As a library, it presents a single abstract data model for all supported formats. It also comes with a variety of useful commandline utilities for data translation and processing.

Date published: March 7, 2016

Real-time Earthquake Information

Get real-time earthquake notifications sent to you using a number of popular mediums: Feeds, Email, Twitter, etc…

Date published: March 7, 2016

Flood Watch

Maps of flood and high flow conditions within the U.S.

Date published: March 4, 2016

Technology and Tools

Links to a variety of Coastal and Marine Geology mapping technologies, data modeling and visualization tools.

Date published: March 4, 2016

Latest Earthquakes Map and List

View recent events or search for past earthquakes. Optimized for mobile and desktop.

Filter Total Items: 4,465
Year Published: 2018

THRESH—Software for tracking rainfall thresholds for landslide and debris-flow occurrence, user manual

Precipitation thresholds are used in many areas to provide early warning of precipitation-induced landslides and debris flows, and the software distribution THRESH is designed for automated tracking of precipitation, including precipitation forecasts, relative to thresholds for landslide occurrence. This software is also useful for analyzing...

Baum, Rex L.; Fischer, Sarah J.; Vigil, Jacob C.
Baum, R.L., Fischer, S.J., and Vigil, J.C., 2018, THRESH—Software for tracking rainfall thresholds for landslide and debris-flow occurrence, user manual: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 14, chap. A2, 33 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm14A2.

Year Published: 2018

Spatial and spectral interpolation of ground-motion intensity measure observations

Following a significant earthquake, ground‐motion observations are available for a limited set of locations and intensity measures (IMs). Typically, however, it is desirable to know the ground motions for additional IMs and at locations where observations are unavailable. Various interpolation methods are available, but because IMs or their...

Worden, Charles; Thompson, Eric M.; Baker, Jack W.; Bradley, Brendon A.; Luco, Nicolas; Wald, David J.
C. Bruce Worden, Eric M. Thompson, Jack W. Baker, Brendon A. Bradley, Nicolas Luco, David J. Wald; Spatial and Spectral Interpolation of Ground‐Motion Intensity Measure Observations. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America doi: https://doi.org/10.1785/0120170201

Year Published: 2018

The evolution of a colluvial hollow to a fluvial channel with periodic steps following two transformational disturbances: A wildfire and a historic flood

The transition of a colluvial hollow to a fluvial channel with discrete steps was observed after two landscape-scale disturbances. The first disturbance, a high-severity wildfire, changed the catchment hydrology to favor overland flow, which incised a colluvial hollow, creating a channel in the same location. This incised channel became armored...

Rengers, Francis K.; McGuire, Luke; Ebel, Brian A.; Tucker, G. E.

Year Published: 2018

A flatfile of ground motion intensity measurements from induced earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas

We have produced a uniformly processed database of orientation-independent (RotD50, RotD100) ground motion intensity measurements containing peak horizontal ground motions (accelerations and velocities) and 5-percent-damped pseudospectral accelerations (0.1–10 s) from more than 3,800 M ≥ 3 earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas that occurred...

Rennolet, Steven B.; Moschetti, Morgan P.; Thompson, Eric M.; Yeck, William L.

Year Published: 2018

Calculation of voltages in electric power transmission lines during historic geomagnetic storms: An investigation using realistic earth impedances

Commonly, one-dimensional (1-D) Earth impedances have been used to calculate the voltages induced across electric power transmission lines during geomagnetic storms under the assumption that much of the three-dimensional structure of the Earth gets smoothed when integrating along power transmission lines. We calculate the voltage across power...

Lucas, Greg M.; Love, Jeffrey J.; Kelbert, Anna
Lucas, G. M., Love, J. J., & Kelbert, A. (2018). Calculation of voltages in electric power transmission lines during historic geomagnetic storms: An investigation using realistic earth impedances. Space Weather, 16. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017SW001779

Year Published: 2018

The 2013–2016 induced earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, southern Kansas

We examine the first four years (2013–2016) of the ongoing seismicity in southern Kansas using high‐precision locations derived from a local seismometer network. The earthquakes occur almost exclusively in the shallow crystalline basement, below the wastewater injection horizon of the Arbuckle Group at the base of the sedimentary section. Multiple...

Rubinstein, Justin L.; Ellsworth, William L.; Dougherty, Sara L.
Rubinstein, Justin L; William L. Ellsworth, and Sara L. Dougherty (2018), The 2013–2016 Induced Earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, Southern Kansas, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, doi: 10.1785/0120170209.

Year Published: 2018

Rayleigh and S wave tomography constraints on subduction termination and lithospheric foundering in central California

The crust and upper mantle structure of central California have been modified by subduction termination, growth of the San Andreas plate boundary fault system, and small-scale upper mantle convection since the early Miocene. Here we investigate the contributions of these processes to the creation of the Isabella Anomaly, which is a high seismic...

Jiang, Chengxin; Schmandt, Brandon; Hansen, Steven M.; Dougherty, Sara L.; Clayton, Robert W.; Farrell, Jamie; Lin, Fan-Chi
Jiang, C., B. Schmandt, S. M. Hansen, S. L. Dougherty, R. W. Clayton, J. Farrell, and F.-C. Lin (2018), Rayleigh and S wave tomography constraints on subduction termination and lithospheric foundering in central California, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 488, 14-26, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.02.009.

Year Published: 2018

Temporal stress changes caused by earthquakes: A review

Earthquakes can change the stress field in the Earth’s lithosphere as they relieve and redistribute stress. Earthquake-induced stress changes have been observed as temporal rotations of the principal stress axes following major earthquakes in a variety of tectonic settings. The stress changes due to the 2011 Mw9.0 Tohoku-Oki, Japan, earthquake...

Hardebeck, Jeanne L.; Okada, Tomomi
Hardebeck, J. L., & Okada, T. (2018). Temporal stress changes caused by earthquakes: A review. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JB014617.

Year Published: 2018

Testing for the ‘predictability’ of dynamically triggered earthquakes in Geysers Geothermal Field

The Geysers geothermal field is well known for being susceptible to dynamic triggering of earthquakes by large distant earthquakes, owing to the introduction of fluids for energy production. Yet, it is unknown if dynamic triggering of earthquakes is ‘predictable’ or whether dynamic triggering could lead to a potential hazard for energy production...

Aiken, Chastity; Meng, Xiaofeng; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Aiken, C., Meng, X., & Hardebeck, J. (2018). Testing for the ‘predictability’ of dynamically triggered earthquakes in The Geysers geothermal field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 486, 129-140.

Year Published: 2018

Clayey landslide initiation and acceleration strongly modulated by soil swelling

Largely unknown mechanisms restrain motion of clay-rich, slow-moving landslides that are widespread worldwide and rarely accelerate catastrophically. We studied a clayey, slow-moving landslide typical of thousands in northern California, USA, to decipher hydrologic-mechanical interactions that modulate landslide dynamics. Similar to some other...

Schulz, William; Smith, Joel B.; Wang, Gonghui; Jiang, Yao; Roering, Joshua J.

Year Published: 2018

Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria

Rainfall-induced shallow landsliding is a persistent hazard to human life and property. Despite the observed connection between infiltration through the unsaturated zone and shallow landslide initiation, there is considerable uncertainty in how estimates of unsaturated soil-water retention properties affect slope stability assessment. This source...

Thomas, Matthew A.; Mirus, Benjamin B.; Collins, Brian D.; Lu, Ning; Godt, Jonathan W.
Thomas MA, Mirus BB, Collins BD, Lu N, and Godt JW (2018) Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria, Landslides. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-0950-z

Year Published: 2018

Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide

The combined application of continuous Global Positioning System data (high temporal resolution) with spaceborne interferometric synthetic aperture radar data (high spatial resolution) can reveal much more about the complexity of large landslide movement than is possible with geodetic measurements tied to only a few specific measurement sites....

Hu, Xie; Lu, Zhong; Pierson, Thomas C.; Kramer, Rebecca; George, David L.
Hu, X., Lu, Z., Pierson, T. C., Kramer, R., & George, D. L. (2018). Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide. Geophysical Research Letters, 45. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL076623

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Levees created from cooled lava
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Levees

Lava, from small overflows, cools and congeals along the banks of the lava channel to build lava levees. The levees also build up as moving lava pushes cooled 

...
Lava entering the ocean with laze plumes rising
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Coastline Delta

Lava enters the sea along the Kapoho coastline, building a delta that is now over 555 acres in size.

Aerial photo over Kapoho area showing lava entering ocean and passing residential areas
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Aerial of Kapoho Area

Aerial view of the lava channel and active margins between Kapoho Crater (upper right) and the coast (lower left). The northern margin of the flow field is advancing at several points in the area of Kapoho Ag and Beach Lots (vegetated areas in center of image). Image courtesy of Hawaii County Fire Department.

Lave entering the ocean with laze plumes rising
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Ocean Entry at Kapoho

Having crusted over about 0.8 km (0.5 mi) upchannel from the ocean entry, lava oozes from the flow's

...
A man wearing cold-weather gear and standing on a high coastal bluff points to an instrument that is mounted on short a pole.
July 5, 2018

Installing ground-shaking detection instrument

USGS scientist Cordell Johnson points to the Raspberry Shake, a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. Johnson mounted the Raspberry Shake to an aluminum pole which he will then drive into the ground to bury the instrument beneath the tundra. This process will help isolate it from the wind.

A small instrument with a USGS logo sticker with wires coming out of it is in a hole in the ground.
July 5, 2018

Sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking

This device, called a Raspberry Shake, is a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. It is being carefully buried in this shallow hole in the tundra, to isolate it from wind.

July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Flowing from Fissure 8

Lava within the fissure 8 cone roils and churns where it eupts from the vent and flows rapidly down the well-established channel. This image was captured via a Mavic Pro drone courtesy of the DOI/USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems team.

Lava flowing at night time seen as bright red and orange
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 at Night

USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems image of fissure 8 looking east. Below the prominent fissure 8 cone, smaller vents above the original fissure emit volcanic gas. Lava has a brighter glow near the vent exit where it is more turbulent than in the downstream channel, which has portions of darker, cooled crust on its surface.

Scientist looks at an active fissure eruption
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Scientist Observing Fissure 8

USGS scientist observes the glow of fissure 8 fountain and channel within Leilani Estates. Steam rises from cracks and hot spots within the 

...
Animated GIF showing changes in size of the crater over a two month period
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Animation of Summit Subsidence

This animated GIF shows a sequence of radar amplitude images that were acquired by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana CosmoSkyMed satellite system. The images illustrate changes to the 

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Lava flowing
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Channel Bend

The lava channel from fissure 8 jumped its banks near Kapoho Crater where the channel makes a 90 degree bend. The flow within the channel was diverted around a constricted area and joined the channel again "downstream" to the south (left).

July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Flows Near Kapoho Ag. and Beach Lots

Near the coast, the northern margin of the flow field is still oozing pasty lava at several points in the area of Kapoho Agricultural and Beach Lots.

Filter Total Items: 391
Date published: February 19, 2018

USGS fields tsunami questions after earthquake off Kodiak, Alaska

USGS geophysicist Eric Geist fielded questions about tsunamis after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake off southern Alaska prompted a tsunami watch for the U.S. west coast.

Date published: February 16, 2018

One of the first Black USGS geophysicists, pioneers subsurface research

Early in his college career, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Rufus Catchings became drawn to the mysteries that lie beneath the earth’s surface — and was determined to understand them. 

Date published: February 16, 2018

Workshops on subduction-zone science to reduce risk for communities

The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center hosted two back-to-back subduction-zone workshops in Santa Cruz, California, from February 5–8, 2018.

Date published: February 15, 2018

False-alarm tsunami alerts across the U.S. East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean prompt calls to USGS

On February 6, USGS research geophysicist Eric Geist spoke to reporters Rachel Becker of The Verge and Grace Toohey of The Advocate about tsunami hazards on Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shores.

Date published: February 14, 2018

USGS research featured on the cover of Eos

USGS research on a big earthquake fault off Alaska and Canada is featured on the cover of Eos, a journal of Earth and space science news published by the American Geophysical Union.

Date published: February 13, 2018

International workshop on “Understanding Flooding on Reef-lined Island Coastlines”

USGS research geologist Curt Storlazzi led a workshop on “Understanding Flooding on Reef-lined Island Coastlines” (UFORIC) in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, from 5–7 February. 

Date published: February 12, 2018

Giant grooves discovered on an earthquake fault offshore Costa Rica

Imagine dragging your outstretched fingers through wet beach sand, leaving long grooves behind. Scientists recently discovered enormous grooves buried under the seafloor near Costa Rica. The detailed three-dimensional data they used to uncover these corrugations can help them better understand large subduction zone earthquakes and related tsunamis worldwide.

Date published: February 9, 2018

USGS Gas Hydrates Project Releases New Fact Sheets!

The USGS Gas Hydrates Project has published two new Fact Sheets. One describes the goals and scope of the Project and the other describes "Gas Hydrates in Nature," including where they form, how they are studied, and why researchers focus on gas hydrates for energy resource and environmental studies. 

Date published: February 7, 2018

USGS 360-degree videos of king tides show how rising seas will transform California beaches in the future

USGS oceanographer Juliette Finzi Hart shot 360-degree videos of king tides—the highest high tides of the year—throughout the Los Angeles region in 2016 and 2017.

Date published: February 5, 2018

USGS participates in workshop on restoring Monterey Bay sand-mining site

Acting deputy director of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Nadine Golden attended a workshop on restoring a sand-mining operation on California’s Monterey Bay.

Date published: January 30, 2018

January 23, 2018 M7.9 Gulf of Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami

One week ago, on January 23rd at 12:31 a.m. local time, Alaskans were rocked by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake, with an epicenter in the Gulf of Alaska, about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, and about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak Island.

Date published: January 29, 2018

Elementary school students visit USGS office in Santa Cruz

On January 17, 4th and 5th graders from De Laveaga Elementary School visited the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

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