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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
Prediction of the severity of ground failure in Quaternary deposits is a critical component of hazard studies. Model development in our project is focused on design and application of methods for quantitative assessment of ground deformation potential.
Ground Deformation and Failure
The Coastal and Marine Geology geotechnical group investigates the causes of ground deformation and ground failure as a result of earthquakes, storms, and wave action. The coastal urban regions of the Pacific margin of the United States are growing rapidly, putting increasing demands on coastal infrastructure and lifelines, such as...
Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is an ubiquitous coastal process that is driven by a composite of climatologic, hydrogeologic, and oceanographic processes. For example, terrestrial hydraulic gradients that reflect both short and long term climatic conditions almost always transport both surface and ground water toward the coast. In coastal waters, physical oceanographic processes such as...
The USGS Gas Hydrates Project focuses on the study of natural gas hydrates in deepwater marine systems and permafrost areas. The primary goals are:
- Evaluate methane hydrates as a potential energy source
- Investigate the interaction between methane hydrate destabilization and climate change at short and long time scales, particularly in the Arctic
- Study the spatial ...
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,...
Mean tidal range in marsh units of Plum Island Estuary and Parker River salt marsh complex, Massachusetts
This dataset displays the spatial variation of mean tidal range (i.e. Mean Range of Tides, MN) in the Plum Island Estuary and Parker River (PIEPR) salt marsh complex based on conceptual marsh units defined by Defne and Ganju (2018). MN was based on the calculated difference in height between mean high water (MHW) and mean low water (MLW) using the VDatum (v3.5) database.
Unvegetated to vegetated marsh ratio in Plum Island Estuary and Parker River salt marsh complex, Massachusetts
Through scientific efforts initiated with the Hurricane Sandy Science Plan, the USGS has been expanding national assessment of coastal change hazards and forecast products to coastal wetlands, including the Plum Island Estuary and Parker River salt marsh complex, with the intent of providing Federal, State, and local managers tools to estimate the vulnerability and ecosystem service potential...
This data release provides elevation distribution in the Plum Island Estuary and Parker River (PIEPR) salt marsh complex. Elevation distribution was calculated in terms of mean elevation of conceptual marsh units. The elevation data was based on the 1-meter gridded Digital Elevation Model and supplemented by 1-meter resampled 1/9 arc-second resolution National Elevation Data, where data gaps...
The salt marsh complex of Plum Island Estuary and Parker River was delineated to smaller, conceptual marsh units by geoprocessing of surface elevation data. Flow accumulation based on the relative elevation of each location was used to determine the ridge lines that separate each marsh unit while the surface slope was used to automatically assign each unit a drainage point, where water drains...
Sampling data collected in Ipswich Bay and Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts, in 2012, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2012-035-FA
This dataset, collected aboard the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold as part of the Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Sea Floor Program. During the survey, surficial sediment samples and bottom still and video imagery were collected in Ipswich Bay and Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts.
This dataset contains spatial projections of coastal cliff retreat (and associated uncertainty) for future scenarios of sea-level rise (SLR) in Central California. Present-day cliff-edge positions used as the baseline for projections are also included. Projections were made using numerical models and field observations as part of Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS). Read metadata carefully...
While some instrument teams provide science-ready versions of their data, many other archives must first be processed by the individual researcher. POW provides users with calibrated cartographic images that can be used for geologic mapping, analysis in a Geographic Image System (GIS), change detection, merging of dissimilar instrument images, and use in a host of other scientific applications...
Sea-level rise (SLR) impacts on the coastal landscape are presented here as: 1) level of landscape submergence (adjusted land elevation with respect to projected mean high water levels); and 2) coastal response type characterized as either static (for example, inundation) or dynamic (for example, landform or landscape change). Results are produced at a spatial scale of 30 meters.
Sidescan sonar, single beam bathymetry, and navigation collected offshore of Sandwich Beach in 2016, U.S. Geological Field Activity 2016-030-FA
The objectives of the survey were to provide bathymetric and sidescan sonar data for sediment transport studies and coastal change model development for ongoing studies of nearshore coastal dynamics along Sandwich Town Neck Beach, MA. Data collection equipment used for this investigation are mounted on an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) uniquely adapted from a commercially sold gas-powered...
Table and accompanying photographs for biogeomorphic classification of shorebird nesting sites on the U.S. Atlantic coast from March to September, 2016
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 and...
Grand Bay, a 30-square-kilometer embayment of the Gulf of Mexico bordered by 20 square kilometers of salt marsh, is experiencing rapid lateral shoreline erosion at up to 5 meters per year. Determining whether the eroded sediment is exported to the deep ocean or imported via tidal channels and deposited on the marsh platform is critical to understanding the long-term response of the marsh to...
We conduct post-fire debris-flow hazard assessments for select fires in the Western U.S. We use geospatial data related to basin morphometry, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall characteristics to estimate the probability and volume of debris flows that may occur in response to a design storm.
The Planetary Geologic Mapping Program serves the international science community through the production of high-quality and refereed geologic maps of planetary bodies. This program is in coordination between NASA science programs and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.
Map showing recent (1997-98 El Niño) and historical landslides, Crow Creek and vicinity, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, California
By Jeffrey A. Coe,1 Jonathan W. Godt,1 and Pierre Tachker2
1 U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Federal Center, MS 966, Denver, CO 80225
2 Institut Des Sciences Et Techniques De Grenoble, Département Géotechnique, Grenoble, France
Debris-Flow and Flooding Deposits in Coastal Venezuela Associated with the Storm of December 14–16, 1999
By Gerald F. Wieczorek, Matthew C. Larsen, L. Scott Eaton, Benjamin A. Morgan, and J. Luke Blair
Heavy rainfall from the storm of December 14–16, 1999, triggered thousands of shallow landslides on steep slopes of the Sierra de Avila north of Caracas, Venezuela, and caused flooding and massive debris flows in the channels of major drainages that severely damaged coastal communities.
Debris Flows Triggered by the El Niño Rainstorm of February 2-3, 1998, Walpert Ridge and Vicinity, Alameda County, California
By Jeffrey A. Coe and Jonathan W. Godt
Map Showing Inventory and Regional Susceptibility for Holocene Debris Flows, and Related Fast-Moving Landslides in the Conterminous United States
By Earl E. Brabb, Joseph P. Colgan, and Timothy C. Best1999
Maps showing locations of damaging landslides caused by El Niño rainstorms, winter season 1997-98, San Francisco Bay region, California
Jonathan W. Godt, Editor.
Pamphlet to accompany Miscellaneous Field Studies Maps MF-2325-A-J
By Robert W. Fleming and Rex L. Baum, U.S. Geological Survey, and Marco Giardino, Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Italy
This map and the original delineate areas where large numbers of landslides have occurred and areas which are susceptible to landsliding in the conterminous United States.
VS30 at three strong-motion recording stations in Napa and Napa County, California—Main Street in downtown Napa, Napa fire station number 3, and Kreuzer Lane—Calculations determined from s-wave refraction tomography and multichannel analysis of surface waves (Rayleigh and Love)
The August 24, 2014, moment magnitude (Mw) 6.0 South Napa earthquake caused an estimated $400 million in structural damage to the City of Napa, California. In 2015, we acquired high-resolution P- and S-wave seismic data near three strong-motion recording stations in Napa County where high peak ground accelerations (PGAs) were recorded during the...Chan, Joanne H.; Catchings, Rufus D.; Goldman, Mark R.; Criley, Coyn J.
Revised technical implementation plan for the ShakeAlert system—An earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), along with partner organizations, has developed an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the highest risk areas of the United States: namely, California, Oregon, and Washington. The purpose of the system is to reduce the impact of earthquakes and save lives and property by providing alerts...Given, Douglas D.; Allen, Richard M.; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Bodin, Paul; Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Creager, Kenneth; de Groot, Robert M.; Gee, Lind S.; Hauksson, Egill; Heaton, Thomas H.; Hellweg, Margaret; Murray, Jessica R.; Thomas, Valerie I.; Toomey, Douglas; Yelin, Thomas S.
Observations of rotational motions from local earthquakes using two temporary portable sensors in Waynoka, Oklahoma
Characterizing rotational motions from earthquakes at local distances has the potential to improve earthquake engineering and seismic gradiometry by better characterizing the complete seismic wavefield. Applied Technology Associates (ATA) has developed a proto‐seismic magnetohydrodynamic (SMHD) three‐component rotational rate sensor. We deploy two...Ringler, Adam T.; Anthony, Robert E.; Holland, A.A.; Wilson, David C.; Lin, C.-J.
Wetland stratigraphic evidence for variable megathrust earthquake rupture modes at the Cascadia subduction zone
Although widespread agreement that the Cascadia subduction zone produces great earthquakes of magnitude 8 to 9 was reached decades ago, debate continues about the rupture lengths, magnitudes, and frequency of megathrust earthquakes recorded by wetland stratigraphy fringing Cascadia’s estuaries. Correlation of such coastal earthquake evidence along...Nelson, Alan R.; Witter, Robert C.; Englehart, Simon; Hawkers, Andrea; Horton, Benjamin P.
Development of a domestic earthquake alert protocol combining the USGS pager and FEMA Hazus systems
The U.S. Geological Survey’s PAGER automated alert system provides rapid (10-20 min) loss estimates in terms of ranges of fatalities and economic impact for all significant earthquakes around the globe. In contrast, FEMA’s Hazus software, which is currently operated manually by FEMA personnel internally within several hours of any large domestic...Wald, David J.; Seligson, H.A.; Rozelle, Jesse; Burns, J.; Marano, Kristin; Jaiswal, Kishor; Hearne, Mike; Bausch, D
Increasing earthquake insurance coverage in California via parametric hedges
California has the highest earthquake risk of any state in the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported in 2017 that 73% of the nation’s annual losses to earthquakes were expected to be concentrated in California and the Pacific Northwest. California alone constitutes 61% ($3.7 billion out of an estimated $6.1 billion...Franco, Guillermo; Tirabassi, G; Lopeman, M; Wald, David J.; Siembieda, W.J.
State transportation agencies partner to deploy and enhance ShakeCast
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is organizing and leading a three-year Transportation Pooled Fund (TPF) project, Connecting the Dots: Implementing ShakeCast Across Multiple State Departments of Transportation for Rapid Post-Earthquake Response. Ten state Departments of Transportation (DOT)—CA, ID, MO, MS, OK, OR, SC, TX, UT...Turner, L.; Wald, David J.; Lin, Kuo-wan; Chiou, Brian; Slosky, Daniel
Tidal response of groundwater in a leaky aquifer—Application to Oklahoma
Quantitative interpretation of the tidal response of water levels measured in wells has long been made either with a model for perfectly confined aquifers or with a model for purely unconfined aquifers. However, many aquifers may be neither totally confined nor purely unconfined at the frequencies of tidal loading but behave somewhere between the...Wang, Chi-Yuen; Doan, Mai-Linh; Xue, Lian; Barbour, Andrew J.
Induced earthquake and liquefaction hazards in Oklahoma, USA: Constraints from InSAR
Oklahoma experienced three earthquakes of Mw5.0 or greater in 2016: the 13-Feb. Fairview earthquake (Mw5.1), the 03-Sep. Pawnee earthquake (Mw5.8), and the 07-Nov. Cushing earthquake (Mw5.0). These events are the first earthquakes in the state exceeding Mw5.0 since the 2011 Mw5.7 Prague earthquake and likely result from wide-scale deep...Barnhart, William D.; Yeck, William L.; McNamara, Daniel E.
Sensor suite: The Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory Instrumentation Testing Suite
To standardize parameters used in seismometer testing and calibration and to make these algorithms accessible to the seismological community, we have developed a new seismometer testing software package called Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory (ASL) Sensor Test Suite. This software is written in Java and makes use of Seismological Exchange for...Kearns, A.; Ringler, Adam T.; Holland, James; Storm, Tyler; Wilson, David C.; Anthony, Robert E.
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.
SEABed Observation and Sampling System (SEABOSS) (center image) and the MiniSEABOSS (right) designed for rapid, inexpensive, and effective collection of seabed imagery (photographs and video) as well sediment samples from the coastal/inner-continental shelf regions. Images from coastal Massachusetts show purple algae-encrusted cobbles and boulders covered with sea-stars (...
Meagan Gonneea checks on instruments at a tidal creek in Great Pond, Falmouth, MA. Daily tides drive exchange between coastal wetlands and adjacent estuaries. Here we have instrumented a tidal channel to measure those fluxes over a tidal cycle. When the marsh floods, material is imported from the estuary. Biogeochemical cycles within the wetland, driven by plants and...
Image from video camera along Sunset State Beach in Watsonville, CA, looking northwest. Every half hour during daylight hours, the camera shoots video for 10 minutes. This variance image shows the standard deviation of pixel intensity throughout the video frames, useful for determining how much variation or movement is occurring at a given location. Brighter tones indicate...
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.
One-fourth of beachfront could be inundated by large storm waves, experts predict
To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Michael, visit the USGS Hurricane Michael page at usgs.gov/hurricane-michael.
One-fourth of Florida Panhandle beachfront could be inundated by large storm waves, experts predict
To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Michael, visit the USGS Hurricane Michael page at https://usgs.gov/hurricane-michael
Large underwater experiment in California’s Monterey Canyon shows that “turbidity currents” are not just currents, but involve movement of the seafloor itself.
Data acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey on the U.S. Atlantic Margin in August 2018 reveal new information about the distribution of gas hydrates in the sector stretching from the upper continental slope to deep water areas offshore New Jersey to North Carolina.
Science for a Risky World: A USGS Plan for Risk Research and Applications – USGS publishes strategic plan for examining risk
USGS explores opportunities to advance its capabilities in risk assessment, mitigation, and communication in new strategic plan.
Learn About USGS Hazards Science and More About National Preparedness Month: The very nature of natural hazards means that they have the potential to impact a majority of Americans every year. USGS science provides part of the foundation for emergency preparedness whenever and wherever disaster strikes.
"In Yosemite Valley, rockfalls can happen every four to five days, where boulders that can be larger than your average car or apartment building thunder down steep mountainsides." - Seeker
As Hurricane Lane approached Hawaiʻi, personnel in the Honolulu Emergency Operations Center on Oahu contacted Curt Storlazzi of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center to ask for information on potential coastal flooding that could help them direct emergency-management services to areas of higher risk.
Field work completed for powerful Hurricane Florence, while experts watch Isaac and Olivia
Editor's note: This story was originally published on Tuesday, Sept. 11 and was updated at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Florence, visit the USGS Hurricane Florence page at https://www.usgs.gov/florence.
Initial effect will probably be erosion on 75 percent of North Carolina beaches, experts say.
To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Florence, visit the USGS Hurricane Florence page at https://www.usgs.gov/florence.