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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.Read Our Science Strategy
The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center created posters about each of these completed research projects. Here, the posters are presented along with additional information.
Click the text to open a detailed page about the study.
Click the thumbnail image to open its full-size poster (PDF...
The December 26, 2004 magnitude (M) 9.1 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake occurred along a tectonic subduction zone in which the India Plate, an oceanic plate, is being subducted beneath the Burma micro-plate, part of the larger Sunda plate. The boundary between the downgoing and overriding plates of the subduction zone is marked by the Sunda Trench above.
This page provides a brief overview...
Basic research to develop the geologic record of paleotsunamis and improve the ability to interpret that record is needed to mitigate tsunami risk in the U.S.
Computer Software for Calculating Shoreline Change (or positional change of a boundary over time)
The Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) is an add-in to Esri ArcGIS desktop v.10.4 or 10.5 that enables a user to calculate shoreline rate-of-change statistics from multiple historical shoreline positions. It provides an automated method for establishing measurement...
The collections inventory database for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) Samples Repository is published as a USGS data release (Buczkowski and others, 2018), and is available to search online through the Samples Repository’s inventory search interface. Sample collections in the Repository can be searched and selected through a map...
Estuarine processes, hazards, and ecosystems describes several interdisciplinary projects that aim to quantify and understand estuarine processes through observations and numerical modeling. Both the spatial and temporal scales of these mechanisms are important, and therefore require modern instrumentation and state-of-the-art hydrodynamic models. These projects are led from the U.S....
This project brings together scientists from the disciplines of geology, hydrology, geography, biology, and ecology to address the effects of Sea-Level Rise (SLR) on the Nation’s coasts. The project synthesizes information on coastal environments and uncertainties in knowledge of coastal processes into a Bayesian statistical analysis framework. The Bayesian approach allows researchers to...
The Sea Floor Mapping Group (SFMG) is a core capability at the Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) that provides support for coastal, lacustrine and marine geologic research. The staff has a wide-range of expertise and is responsible for geophysical and sampling data acquisition, processing,...
Large areas of Georges Bank (which lies in both the US and Canada) and the New England Shelf have been closed to fishing for 25 years in order to conserve and rebuild fishery stocks. These closures, along with an increased need to improve characterization of the seabed, have provided the opportunity to map the extent of gravel substrates that dominant parts of the region, study the effects of...
In response to the growing need for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning as a means to better manage seabed environments, it is necessary to compile high-resolution (1:25,000) interpretive maps and to formulate a geology-based seabed classification system that will allow users to recognize and correctly interpret seabed substrate types.
Seabed imagery from multibeam mapping surveys has...
The Aerial Imaging and Mapping group (AIM), at the U.S. Geological Survey Woods (USGS) Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center provides UAS services to scientists to advance the science mission of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program. Scientists at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center have been using UASs to acquire imagery of coastal and wetland environments, which is then used...
The Stellwagen Bank region, located off Boston, Massachusetts, just east of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Cod and Cape Ann, is a glaciated terrain of shallow banks and deep basins with water depths ranging from 20 to 200 meters. The region is heavily utilized by humans and marine species. It serves as a National Marine Sanctuary; a rich commercial and recreational fishing ground; a disposal...
To better identify the significant processes affecting our coastlines and how those processes create coastal change we have developed a Coupled Ocean – Atmosphere – Wave – Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System, which is integrated by the Model Coupling Toolkit to exchange data fields between the ocean model ROMS, the atmosphere model WRF, the wave model SWAN, and the sediment...
Effect of pore fluid chemistry on the sedimentation and compression behavior of pure, endmember fines
The data in this release support the correlation effort by providing: 1) sedimentation results that provide insight into micro-scale sediment fabric and void ratio dependence on sediment/fluid interactions, and 2) consolidation results that quantify the macro-scale compressibility and recompressibility parameters for a suite of fine-grained sediments and differing pore fluids.
Movie-maps of low-latitude horizontal-intensity magnetic disturbance are derived from magnetic vector time series data collected at multiple ground-based observatories. Using a technique similar to that used in the calculation of Dst, a quiet time baseline is subtracted from the time series from each observatory. The remaining disturbance time series are shown in a polar coordinate system that...
Estimates of the probability and volume of debris flows that may be produced by a storm in a recently burned area, using a model with characteristics related to basin shape, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall.
Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Sodus Bay, New York, July 12 to 14, 2017
This data release includes images tagged with locations determined from the UAS GPS; tables with updated estimates of camera positions and attitudes based on the photogrammetric reconstruction; tables listing locations of the base stations, ground control points, and transect points; geolocated, RGB-colored point clouds; orthomosaic images; and digital elevation models for each of the regions...
Our Coast, Our Future (OCOF) is a collaborative, user-driven project focused on providing California coastal resource managers and planners locally relevant, online maps and tools to help understand, visualize, and anticipate vulnerabilities to sea level rise and storms.
Sea-Floor Sediment Samples, Seabed Imagery, and CTD Instrument Data Collected on Stellwagen Bank in August 2017, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2017-043-FA
The data collected in this study will aid research on the ecology of fish and invertebrate species that inhabit the region. On August 22 and 23, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, conducted a research cruise aboard the Sanctuary’s Research Vessel Auk, visiting 39 locations within the sanctuary.
Seismic reflection and sample data collected offshore of Fire Island, New York in 2014, U.S. Geological Field Activity 2014-009-FA
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a geophysical and sampling survey in October 2014 that focused on a series of shoreface-attached ridges offshore of western Fire Island, NY. Seismic-reflection data, surficial grab samples and bottom photographs and video were collected along the lower shoreface and inner continental shelf to assess the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the coastal region...
2018 report on incorporating sedimentary basin response into the design of tall buildings in Seattle, Washington
On March 22, 2018, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) convened a workshop of engineers and seismologists to provide guidance on incorporating sedimentary basin response into the design of tall buildings in Seattle. This workshop provided recommendations that build on those from a...Wirth, Erin A.; Chang, Susan W.; Frankel, Arthur
Using tectonic tremor to constrain seismic‐wave attenuation in Cascadia
Tectonic tremor can be used to constrain seismic‐wave attenuation for use in ground‐motion prediction equations (GMPEs) in regions where moderately sized earthquakes occur infrequently. Here we quantify seismic‐wave attenuation by inverting tremor ground motion amplitudes in different frequency bands of interest, to determine frequency dependence...Littel, Geena F.; Thomas, Amanda M.; Baltay, Annemarie S.
Developing hydro-meteorological thresholds for shallow landslide initiation and early warning
Consistent relations between shallow landslide initiation and associated rainfall characteristics remain difficult to identify, due largely to the complex hydrological and geological processes causing slopes to be predisposed to failure and those processes that subsequently trigger failures. Considering the importance of hillslope hydrology for...Mirus, Benjamin B.; Morphew, Michael D.; Smith, Joel B.
Holocene fault reactivation in the eastern Cascades, Washington
Significant uncertainty remains concerning how and where crustal shortening occurs throughout the eastern Cascade Range in Washington State. Using light detection and ranging (lidar) imagery, we identified an ∼5‐km‐long">∼5‐km‐long lineament in Swakane canyon near Wenatchee, roughly coincident with a...Carlson, Benjamin L.; Schermer, Elizabeth R.; Amos, Colin B.; Stephenson, William J.; Sherrod, Brian; Mahan, Shannon A.
Lessons from Mexico’s earthquake early warning system
The devastating 2017 Puebla quake provides an opportunity to assess how citizens perceive and use the Mexico City earthquake early warning system.Allen, Richard M.; Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Huggins, Thomas J.; Miles, Scott; Otegui, Diego
Identifying physics‐based thresholds for rainfall‐induced landsliding
Most regional landslide warning systems utilize empirically derived rainfall thresholds that are difficult to improve without recalibration to additional landslide events. To address this limitation, we explored the use of synthetic rainfall to generate thousands of possible storm patterns and coupled them with a physics‐based hydrology and slope...Thomas, Matthew A.; Mirus, Benjamin B.; Collins, Brian D.
Science for a risky world—A U.S. Geological Survey plan for risk research and applications
Executive SummaryNatural hazards—including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires, geomagnetic storms, and pandemics—can wreak havoc on human communities, the economy, and natural resources for years following an initial event. Hazards can claim lives and cause billions of dollars in damage...Ludwig, K.A.; Ramsey, David W.; Wood, Nathan J.; Pennaz, A.B.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Luco, Nicolas; Koenig, Todd A.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Davis, Donyelle K.; Bright, Patricia R.
Incorporating teleseismic tomography data into models of upper mantle slab geometry
Earthquake-based models of slab geometry are limited by the distribution of earthquakes within a subducting slab, which is often heterogeneous. The fast seismic velocity signature of slabs in tomography studies is independent of the distribution of earthquakes within the slab, providing a critical constraint on slab geometry when earthquakes are...Portner, Daniel E.; Hayes, Gavin
Additional period and site class maps for the 2014 National Seismic Hazard Model for the conterminous United States
The 2014 update of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) for the conterminous United States (2014 NSHM; Petersen and others, 2014, 2015) included probabilistic ground motion maps for 2 percent and 10 percent probabilities of exceedance in 50 years, derived from seismic hazard curves for peak ground...Shumway, Allison; Petersen, Mark D.; Powers, Peter; Rezaeian, Sanaz
KG²B, a collaborative benchmarking exercise for estimating the permeability of the Grimsel granodiorite - Part 1: measurements, pressure dependence and pore-fluid effects
Measuring the permeability of tight rocks remains a challenging task. In addition to the traditional sources of errors that affect more permeable formations (e.g. sample selection, non-representative specimens, disturbance introduced during sample acquisition and preparation), tight rocks can be particularly prone to solid–fluid interactions and...David, Christian; Wasserman, J.; Amann, F.; Lockner, David A.; Rutter, E.H.; Vanorio, T; Amann Hildenbrand, A.; Billiotte, J.; Reuschle, T.; Lasseux, D.; Fortin, J.; Lenormand, R.; Selvadurai, A.P.S.; Meredith, P.G.; Browning, J.; Mitchell, T.M.; Loggia, D.; Nono, F.; Sarout, J.; Esteban, L.; Davy, C.; Louis, L.; Boitnott, G.; Madonna, C.; Jahns, E.; Fleury. M.; Berthe, G.; Delage, P.; Braun, P.; Grégoire, D.; Perrier, L.; Polito, P.; Jannot, Y.; Sommier, A.; Krooss, B.; Fink, R.; Hu, Q.; Klaver, J.; Clark, A.
Induced earthquake families reveal distinctive evolutionary patterns near disposal wells
The timing of events in seismic sequences can provide insights into the physical processes controlling fault slip. In southern Kansas, the rate of earthquakes rose rapidly starting in 2013 following expansion of energy production into the area, demanding the disposal of large volumes of wastewater into deep wells. Seismicity catalogs that are...Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Ross, Zachary E.; Harrington, Rebecca M.; Dougherty, Sara L.; Rubinstein, Justin L.
Research to improve ShakeAlert earthquake early warning products and their utility
Earthquake early warning (EEW) is the rapid detection of an earthquake and issuance of an alert or notification to people and vulnerable systems likely to experience potentially damaging ground shaking. The level of ground shaking that is considered damaging is defined by the specific application; for example, manufacturing equipment may...Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Aagaard, Brad T.; Allen, Richard M.; Andrews, Jennifer; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Barbour, Andrew J.; Bodin, Paul; Brooks, Benjamin A.; Chung, Angela; Crowell, Brendan W.; Given, Douglas D.; Hanks, Thomas C.; Hartog, J. Renate; Hauksson, Egill; Heaton, Thomas H.; McBride, Sara; Meier, Men-Andrin; Melgar, Diego; Minson, Sarah E.; Murray, Jessica R.; Strauss, Jennifer A.; Toomey, Douglas
The urban reef at Isla Verde supports various species of protected corals, sea turtles, and crustaceans, as well as many Caribbean fish. It also protects the International Airport and numerous homes and resorts on the coast.
Title: Post-Fire Debris-Flow Early Warning: The case for forecast-based warning systems
- Post-fire debris flows can initiate after only a few minutes of intense rain, and during the first storm following wildfire.
- Early warning systems must provide sufficient time to make informed decisions and take reasonable preventative action.
- If you're
The sun rises at Mount St. Helens (pictured in the distance), with low-level clouds covering Coldwater Lake. The view is from the Coldwater Science and Learning Center, the site of the 2018 GeoGirls field camp program.
Coastal Change Storm Hazard Team map created Tuesday, 10/89/18 showing current forecasted beach erosion, overwash and inundation effects of Hurricane Michael's predicted landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Forecast will change with subsequent National Hurricane Center forecasts.
Title: The 150th Anniversary of the Damaging 1868 Hayward Earthquake: Why It Matters and How We Can Prepare for Its Repeat
- The Hayward Fault in the heart of the Bay Area is one of the most urbanized faults in the US.
- Studies of the fault reveal that it has produced 12 large earthquakes in the past 2000 years spaced 100-220 years apart.
Screenshot of a point cloud containing more than 50 million points from a photogrammetry project of the Quissett Campus. This point cloud was created from 633 photographs taken from a unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in July 2018
Upper Left: Dann Blackwood operating the SEABOSS winch during a sampling cruise; Lower left: Bill Schwab, Laura Brothers and Emile Bergeron on the deck of a research vessel; Center Left: Tom O'Brien carrying equipment during a research cruise; Center: USGS staff deploying a seismic system from a research vessel; left: Chuck Worley ready to deploy a multibeam echosounder...
USGS Research Geologist Dr. Erika Lentz is conducting real-time kinematic GPS surveys on barrier island dunes, part of her research looking at how coastal landscapes respond to sea-level rise.
Screen shot of the Coastal Change Hazards Portal showing potential coastal change impacts during a direct landfall of Hurricane Florence based on NHC Advisory 48, 500 AM AST TUE SEP 11 2018.
USGS and NASA researchers meet to discuss Synthetic Aperture Radar for assessing USGS coastal-flooding projections
USGS and NASA researchers met July 16 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to discuss Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery of the Southern California coast collected during higher-than-normal tides (“king tides”) in fall 2016.
Moving Mountains: Elwha River Still Changing Five Years After World’s Largest Dam-Removal Project: More than 20 million tons of sediment flushed to the sea
Starting in 2011, the National Park Service removed two obsolete dams from the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, Washington. It was the world’s largest dam-removal project. Over the next five years, water carrying newly freed rocks, sand, silt and old tree trunks reshaped more than 13 miles of river and built a larger delta into the Pacific Ocean.
The atypical location of Mount St. Helens may be due to geologic structures that control where deep magmas can rise through the crust, as suggested by new findings published today in Nature Geoscience.
Complex geologic sites, like those between the fault segments along the Wasatch fault zone in Utah, make the dating and ordering past earthquakes a difficult task. Two new methods were used to make this task easier and to get better results.
A new picture of the geometry of subducting slabs around the world, the locations of the world’s largest earthquakes.
USGS SPCMSC personnel Jennifer Miselis (Research Geologist), Julie Bernier (Geologist), Nancy DeWitt (Geologist), Andy Farmer (CNT), Jake Fredericks (Hydrographic Technician), Kyle Kelso (Marine Operations Manager), BJ Reynolds (Engineering Technician), Chelsea Stalk (CNT), and Hunter Wilcox (CNT) will travel to southern New Jersey to conduct a nearshore geophysical survey.
USGS and Army Corps of Engineers conduct simultaneous measurements at Sandy Neck beach, Cape Cod, MA
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Aerial Imaging and Mapping (AIM) group conducted drone flights from atop a dune at Sandy Neck (Cape Cod) while the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) aircraft collected data overhead.
The U.S Geological Survey announces that the agency has awarded more than $20 million in 2018 for earthquake monitoring and applied research.
Meagan Gonneea, Neil Ganju, and Matt Arsenaualt, Woods Hole Costal and Marine Science Center staff offered presentations and handouts on Natural Hazards: Coastal Hazards in Wetlands and Estuaries to participants at the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATs. )