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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
Our research goals are to provide the scientific information, knowledge, and tools required to ensure that decisions about land and resource use, management practices, and future development in the coastal zone and adjacent watersheds can be evaluated with a complete understanding of the probable effects on coastal ecosystems and communities, and a full assessment of their vulnerability to...
Explore the fascinating undersea world of coral reefs. Learn how we map, monitor, and model coral reefs so we can better understand, protect, and preserve our Nation's reefs.
The USGS Law of the Sea project helps identify the submerged extent of the U.S. land territory beyond 200 nautical miles. This land area, called the extended continental shelf (ECS), is an important maritime zone with resources and marine habitats. Its size may exceed one million square kilometers, encompassing areas in the Arctic, Atlantic, Bering Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific west coast....
Significant Earthquakes on a major fault system in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Lesser Antilles, 1500–2010: Implications for Seismic Hazard
Earthquakes have been documented in the northeastern Caribbean since the arrival of Columbus to the Americas; written accounts of these felt earthquakes exist in various parts of the world. To better understand the earthquake cycle in the Caribbean, the records of earthquakes in earlier catalogs and historical documents from various archives, which are now available online, were critically...
The Core Laboratories Project is a research support service of the WHCMSC which provides analytical and technical infrastructure, and supports of a range of projects associated with Coastal Biogeochemical Processes, Coastal Groundwater, Climate-Hydrates, and Sedimentology.
The Core Laboratories Project is a research support service of the WHCMSC which provides analytical and technical...
Ocean models provide critical information for coastal and marine spatial planning, emergency responders and for understanding implications of climate change and human activities. Models are run by numerous academic institutions and government agencies, typically with different access protocols that stifle use, comparison with data, and innovation.
Several components of this project are applications to evaluate the model against critical field measurements or to test new model components. Data from field measurements is described in our publications and available in our databases.
Ongoing acquisition of new instruments and development of analytical methods provides us with the means to make better observations of coastal ocean processes. The measurements provide us with insight and data for critical evaluation of model performance. Advances in a range of measurement capabilities, including bottom stress, sediment erodibility, water properties and nutrient concentrations...
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) led a project funded by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), to develop a community sediment-transport modeling system (CSTMS).
Policy-makers, individuals from government agencies, and natural resource managers are under increasing pressure to manage changing coastal areas to meet social, economic, and natural resource demands, particularly under a regime of sea-level rise. Scientific knowledge of coastal processes and habitat-use can support decision-makers as they balance these often-conflicting human and ecological...
Numerical models are used by scientists, engineers, coastal managers, and the public to understand and predict processes in the coastal ocean. This project supports the development and application of open-source coastal models and has several objectives: 1) improve the code of numerical sediment-transport models by implementing new or improved algorithms; 2) obtain measurements of coastal...
Geophysical imaging relies on specialized tools to detect anomalies in the water column or to map features on or beneath the seafloor. Equipment may be towed, mounted on the side of a ship, or attached to the ship’s hull. Many geophysical techniques rely on transmitting an acoustic signal of a particular frequency and analyzing the information in the returning signal to infer the properties...
The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) Internet Map Server is an interactive mapping service which allows the user to explore and download GIS data sets published by CMGP.
Sampling data collected in Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Vineyard Sound; south of Martha's Vineyard; and south and east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 2011, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2011-015-FA
These survey data are used to explore the nature of the sea floor and, in conjunction with high-resolution geophysical data, to make interpretive maps of sedimentary environments and validate acoustic remote sensing data.
Integrated terrain models covering 16,357 square kilometers of the Massachusetts coastal zone and offshore waters were built to provide a continuous elevation and bathymetry terrain model for ocean planning purposes. A Triangulated Irregular Network was created from public-domain bathymetric and LiDAR data using the ArcGIS terrain-model framework.
Conceptual salt marsh units for wetland synthesis: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
The salt marsh complex of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay (New Jersey, USA), was delineated to smaller, conceptual marsh units by geoprocessing of surface elevation data. Flow accumulation based on the relative elevation of each location is used to determine the ridge lines that separate each marsh unit....
Geophysical data collected along the Atlantic continental slope and rise 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2014-011-FA, cruise MGL1407
In summer 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 21-day geophysical program in deep water along the Atlantic continental margin by using R/V Marcus G. Langseth (Field Activity Number 2014-011-FA). The purpose of the seismic program was to collect multichannel seismic reflection and refraction data to determine sediment thickness
Swath bathymetry collected offshore of Fire Island and western Long Island, New York in 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2014-072-FA
Hurricane Sandy, the largest storm of historical record in the Atlantic basin, severely impacted southern Long Island, New York in October 2012. In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), conducted a high-resolution multibeam echosounder survey with Alpine Ocean Seismic Survey, Inc., offshore of Fire Island and western Long Island...
This dataset displays the spatial variation mean tidal range (i.e. Mean Range of Tides, MN) in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA. MN was based on the calculated difference in height between mean high water (MHW) and mean low water (MLW) using the VDatum (v3.5) software (...
Exposure potential of salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge to environmental health stressors
This dataset displays the exposure potential to environmental health stressors in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA. Exposure potential is calculated with the Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response (SCoRR) ranking system (Reilly and others, 2015)
Water quality in the Barnegat Bay estuary along the New Jersey coast is the focus of a multidisciplinary research project begun in 2011 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. A continuous elevation surface (terrain model) integrating all available elevation data in the area was produced for water circulation modeling...
Point cloud from low-altitude aerial imagery from unmanned aerial system (UAS) flights over Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Spit, Nauset Inlet, and Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore, Eastham, Massachusetts on 1 March 2016 (LAZ file)
This point cloud was derived from low-altitude aerial images collected from an unmanned aerial system (UAS) flown in the Cape Cod National Seashore on 1 March, 2016. The objective of the project was to evaluate the quality and cost of mapping from UAS images. The point cloud contains 434,096,824 unclassifed and unedited geolocated points.
Atlantic coast piping plover (Charadrius melodus) nest sites are typically found on low-lying beach and dune systems, which respond rapidly to coastal processes like sediment overwash, inlet formation, and island migration that are sensitive to climate-related changes in storminess and the rate of sea-level rise. Data were obtained to understand piping plover habitat distribution.
Conceptual salt marsh units for wetland synthesis: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
Recent research shows that sediment budgets of microtidal marsh complexes on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States consistently scale with areal unvegetated/vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR) despite differences in sea-level rise, tidal range, elevation, vegetation, and stressors. This highlights UVVR as a broadly applicable indicator of microtidal marsh stability.
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
Back to full interseismic plate locking decades after the giant 1960 Chile earthquake
Great megathrust earthquakes arise from the sudden release of energy accumulated during centuries of interseismic plate convergence. The moment deficit (energy available for future earthquakes) is commonly inferred by integrating the rate of interseismic plate locking over the time since the previous great earthquake. But accurate integration...Melnick, Daniel; Li, Shaoyang; Moreno, Marcos; Cisternas, Macro; Jara-Muñoz, Julius; Wesson, Robert L.; Nelson, Alan R.; Báez, Juan Carlos; Deng, Zhiguo
The Hayward Fault—Is it due for a repeat of the powerful 1868 earthquake?
On October 21, 1868, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area. Although the region was sparsely populated, the quake on the Hayward Fault was one of the most destructive in California’s history. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) studies show that similar Hayward Fault quakes have repeatedly jolted the region in the past and that...Brocher, Thomas M.; Boatwright, Jack; Lienkaemper, James J.; Prentice, Carol S.; Schwartz, David P.; Bundock, Howard
Intensities, aftershock sequences, and the location of the 1936 Milton‐Freewater earthquake near the Oregon–Washington border, U.S.A.
The epicenter of the 16 July 1936 M">MM 6 Milton‐Freewater earthquake, also known as the State Line earthquake and the largest historical earthquake in northeastern Oregon or southeastern Washington, is uncertain. Various studies place the epicenter of the earthquake, which was widely felt in eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon,...Brocher, Thomas M.; Sherrod, Brian
A physics-based earthquake simulator replicates seismic hazard statistics across California
Seismic hazard models are important for society, feeding into building codes and hazard mitigation efforts. These models, however, rest on many uncertain assumptions and are difficult to test observationally because of the long recurrence times of large earthquakes. Physics-based earthquake simulators offer a potentially helpful tool, but they...Shaw, Bruce E.; Milner, Kevin R.; Field, Edward H.; Richards-Dinger, Keith B.; Gilchrist, Jacquelyn J.; Dieterich, James H.; Jordan, Thomas H.
Bedrock mapping and seismic hazard assessment at Gold Basin landslide, Washington
The Gold Basin landslide is located along the South Fork Stillaguamish River, within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in western Washington State. Recent concerns related to slope stability after the 2014 State Route 530 Landslide near Oso, Washington, forced the closure of the U.S. Forest Service Gold Basin Campground in May of 2014. In...Staisch, Lydia M.
Modeling the Holocene slip history of the Wasatch fault (Utah): Coseismic and postseismic Coulomb stress changes and implications for paleoseismicity and seismic hazard
The Wasatch fault zone defines the eastern boundary of the actively extending Basin and Range Province (Utah, western United States) and poses a significant seismic hazard to the metropolitan areas along the Wasatch Range. A wealth of paleoseismological data documents ∼24 surface-rupturing Mw ≥ 7 earthquakes along the Wasatch fault during the past...Bagge, Meike; Hampel andrea; Gold, Ryan D.
Slab2, a comprehensive subduction zone geometry model
Subduction zones are home to the most seismically active faults on the planet. The shallow megathrust interfaces of subduction zones host our largest earthquakes and are likely the only faults capable of magnitude 9+ ruptures. Despite these facts, our knowledge of subduction zone geometry—which likely plays a key role in determining the spatial...Hayes, Gavin; Moore, Ginevra; Portner, Daniel E.; Hearne, Mike; Flamme, Hanna E.; Furtney, Maria; Smoczyk, Gregory M.
The case for mean rupture distance in ground‐motion estimation
This article advocates for the use of mean rupture distances that we contend are more physically representative of the distance to an earthquake and are simpler than minimum distances. Many current ground‐motion models (GMMs) rely on numerous modifications of minimum rupture distances to accurately model near‐source ground motions. These...Thompson, Eric M.; Baltay, Annemarie S.
Broadband synthetic seismograms for magnitude 9 earthquakes on the Cascadia Megathrust based on 3D simulations and stochastic synthetics, Part 2: Rupture parameters and variability
We used a combination of 3D finite‐difference simulations (<1  Hz"><1 Hz) and 1D stochastic synthetics (>1  Hz">>1 Hz) to generate broadband (0–10 Hz) synthetic seismograms for numerous Mw">Mw 9 earthquake rupture scenarios on the Cascadia megathrust. Slip...Wirth, Erin A.; Frankel, Arthur; Marafi, Nasser A.; Vidale, John E.; Stephenson, William J.
Granite IP network default route disappearance—Diagnosis and solution
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Strong Motion Project (NSMP) operates numerous strong-motion seismographs to monitor ground shaking and structural response caused by large, nearby earthquakes. This report describes a problem NSMP scientists encountered communicating over the Internet with several Kinemetrics, Inc., Granite strong-motion...Baker, Lawrence M.
Seismic sensors record a hurricane’s roar
The instruments installed at Global Seismographic Network (GSN) stations were designed to record Earth’s vibrations, but they sometimes pick up sound waves from unexpected sources. For example, newly installed infrasound sensors at a station on Puerto Rico recorded the passage of Hurricane Maria on 20 September 2017.Wilson, David C.; Davis, Peter; Ebeling, Carl; Hutt, Charles R.; Hafner, Katrin
Title: What on Earth is going on at Kilauea Volcano?
- First significant summit explosions in nearly a century
- Largest summit collapse volume since at least 1800
- Voluminous fissure eruptions feeding channelized lava flow
- Unparalleled new opportunities for understanding the volcanic system
Cover of the 2018 publication, "California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: Statewide Summary Report."
Two views from the Rainbow Falls overlook, downstream of the Wailuku River streamgage near Hilo, Hawaii. The image on the left shows a typical base flow of about 35 cubic feet per second (cfs). The image on the right shows the early impact of Hurricane Lane with a flow of about 26,000 cfs taken at 8:35 a.m. HST, August 23, 2018. This U.S. Geological Survey streamgage has...
Jenny White McKee and Pete Dal Ferro of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center retrieve two airguns during the 2018 MATRIX cruise aboard the R/V Hugh R. Sharp. The seismic streamer is visible on the winch in the foreground.
Landsat 8 captured satellite views of California’s largest wildfire on record in the summer of 2018. The Mendocino Complex Fire in northern California is a combination of two fires: the Ranch Fire and the River Fire.
Both fires started July 27, and hot, dry, windy conditions caused them to spread rapidly. Landsat 8 imaged the area the day before the fires broke out...
Sandy Brosnahan, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, discusses Kilauea Volcano drone footage with Science Stroll participants
A new more detailed and higher resolution map of the Rodgers Creek Fault in Sonoma County, California, has been produced using aerial photography and hillshade imagery derived from LiDAR data.
Southern California coastal cliffs could retreat 135 feet in 80 years as erosion rates potentially double
USGS scientists combined a series of computer models to forecast cliff erosion along the Southern California coast.
Coastal cliffs from Santa Barbara to San Diego might crumble at more than twice the historical rate by the year 2100 as sea levels rise.
USGS scientists have been developing a system to quickly identify areas where landslides may have been triggered by a significant earthquake.
Today's update for June 21st, 2018 will be the last of the daily updates on this USGS feature story. We encourage you to keep checking the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) Kīlauea status website for daily activity updates. You can also visit the USGS Facebook page and the USGS Twitter feed as updates become available. For press inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We usually hear about landslides and avalanches that are caused by large amounts of rainfall, the shaking from earthquakes, or a volcanic eruption, but we may be hearing more about avalanches caused by the (seemingly innocuous) melting of ice in the coming years.
John Warner, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, was cited by Robert Hetland, editor of Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.
The Geological Society of America (GSA) elected USGS research geologist Amy East to be a GSA Fellow, “an honor bestowed on the best of our profession,” at the spring GSA Council meeting.
The outcomes of past aftershock sequences can be used to describe the range of possibilities for a current sequence.