Mission Areas

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: 274
Date published: July 12, 2018
Status: Active

U.S. West Coast and Alaska Marine Geohazards

Marine geohazards are sudden and extreme events beneath the ocean that threaten coastal populations. Such underwater hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis.

Devastating earthquakes in Japan (2011) and Chile (2010) that spawned pan-oceanic tsunamis sent a sobering reminder that U.S. coastlines are also vulnerable to natural disasters that originate in...

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


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


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


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
Filter Total Items: 123
Date published: April 12, 2016

Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Map

The Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Mapping Application showcases data and analytical products from Aerial reconnaissance imagery; Environmental Contaminants; and Reproductive success of piper plovers.

Date published: March 17, 2016

Volcano Monitoring Data

Many volcanoes in the U.S. are monitored by arrays of several instruments that detect subtle movements within the earth and changes in gas and water chemistry. The Volcano Hazards Program streams this data to its Volcano Observatories and makes it available on volcano-specific websites.

Date published: March 17, 2016

Coastal and Marine Geoscience Data System

Site provides access to Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) data via Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards services; serving data to GeoMapApp and Virtual Ocean 2-D and 3-D earth browsing tools, for data integration, visualization and analysis; and metadata catalogs for data discovery.

Date published: March 15, 2016

High-resolution geophysical data collected along the Delmarva Peninsula in 2015, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2015-001-FA

The Delmarva Peninsula is a 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex that was significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012. The U.S. Geological Survey conducted cruises during the summers of 2014 and 2015 to map the inner continental shelf of the Delmarva Peninsula using geophysical and sampling techniques to define the geologic framework

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.

Filter Total Items: 4,525
Year Published: 2018

Integrate urban‐scale seismic hazard analyses with the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model

For more than 20 yrs, damage patterns and instrumental recordings have highlighted the influence of the local 3D geologic structure on earthquake ground motions (e.g., M">M 6.7 Northridge, California, Gao et al., 1996; M">M 6.9 Kobe, Japan, Kawase, 1996; M">M 6.8 Nisqually, Washington, Frankel...

Moschetti, Morgan P.; Luco, Nicolas; Frankel, Arthur; Petersen, Mark D.; Aagaard, Brad T.; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Blanpied, Michael; Boyd, Oliver S.; Briggs, Richard; Gold, Ryan D.; Graves, Robert; Hartzell, Stephen; Rezaeian, Sanaz; Stephenson, William J.; Wald, David J.; Williams, Robert A.; Withers, Kyle

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

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Lava entering the ocean
July 6, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Bay

Ocean entry in Kapoho as viewed from morning helicopter overflight.

Satellite image over crater
July 6, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Satellite View of Kīlauea Summit

The WorldView-3 satellite acquired this view of Kīlauea's summit on July 3. Despite a few clouds, the area of heaviest fractures in the caldera is clear. Views into the expanding Halema‘uma‘u crater reveal a pit floored by rubble. HVO, on the northwest caldera rim, is labeled.

Dust rising from inside a crater after a rock collapse
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Dust from Summit Explosion

Rocks generate brown dust as they tumble down the western caldera wall during the collapse explosion event on July 5, 2018.

Dust rising from a crater after a rock collapse
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Collapse and Dust Rising at Halema`uma`u Crater

At 1:20 PM HST on July 5, a collapse explosion event occurred at Kīlauea's summit. The energy released by the event was equivalent to a M5.2 earthquake. The shaking

A small lavafall in the middle of a lava flow.
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lavafall Near Kapoho Crater

Near the Kapoho Crater, in the area called Four Corners, the lava channel makes a 90-degree bend. After lava exits the bend, it makes a short drop to form a lavafall. A side channel makes a short surface diversion before rejoining the existing channel.

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.

Filter Total Items: 404
Date published: March 8, 2018

Fulbright Scholar Joins Coral Reef Project at Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

The Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) in Santa Cruz, California, recently welcomed Andrew Pomeroy, a Fulbright scholar from Australia who will spend approximately 6 months here conducting research on sediment movement in coral reef systems.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Modern Perspective on Gas Hydrates

After lying hidden in sediments for thousands of years, delicate frozen gas structures are in the spotlight for both scientific research and the national interest. These structures, known as gas hydrate, are being investigated by scientists the world over for their possible contributions to the global energy mix, as well as their potential interaction with the environment.

Date published: March 1, 2018

Washington DC Stone and Brick Buildings Vulnerable to Distant Quakes

A new study shows that DC geologic conditions strongly affect earthquake shaking.

Date published: February 25, 2018

Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake, Papua New Guinea

The USGS has up-to-date details on the February 25, 2018 event.

Date published: February 23, 2018

USGS in South Korea

 For several years, KIGAM, the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, has hosted an international program for geoscience resources (IS-Geo).  The IS-Geo program draws together federal and private-sector professionals from the international community to discuss a range of specific geoscience and mineral topics.

Date published: February 21, 2018

Newspaper story on earthquake hazards in Santa Rosa, California, features information from USGS scientists

USGS scientists Janet Watt and Suzanne Hecker provided information to the article’s author.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Pacific Missile Tracking Site Could Be Unusable in 20 Years Due to Climate Change

Living and working on the Pacific islands hosting a key missile tracking site soon could be almost impossible due to the impacts of climate change.

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.

Filter Total Items: 177