Mission Areas

Natural Hazards

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

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
Filter Total Items: 273
Date published: July 23, 2018
Status: Active

Sikta (SIT)

Prior to the purchase of Alaska by the United States, the Russians operated a meteorological and magnetic observatory at Sitka from 1842 to 1867. The Geomagnetism Program established an observatory at Sitka, near the historic Russian cemetery, in 1901, when the Program was part of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and under the leadership of Drs Louis A. Bauer and John A. Fleming. The present...

Date published: July 23, 2018
Status: Active

Shumagin (SHU)

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Shumagin Magnetic Observatory is located near Sand Point, Alaska on the northwest coast of Popof Island, 575 air miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. The observatory was established in 2003 to provide increased geomagnetic data coverage in southern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The observatory is located on land owned by ...

Date published: July 23, 2018
Status: Active

Newport (NEW)

The Newport observatory was established in 1966. The site, located in the Colville National Forest outside of Newport, supports several geophysical operations and is operated by the USGS under a special use permit with the US Forest Service.

Date published: July 23, 2018
Status: Active

Honolulu (HON)

The Geomagnetism Program established an observatory at Honolulu in 1902, when the Program was part of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and under the leadership of Drs Louis A. Bauer and John A. Fleming. The present observatory site was established in 1960. The observatory is located at Ewa Beach at the former location of the Pacific Tsunami Warning...

Date published: July 21, 2018
Status: Active


View and download model results from magnetic studies.

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

Fresno (FRN)

The Geomagnetism Program established an observatory near Fresno in 1980. The observatory is on the Pacific Southwest Research Station of the US Forest Service under terms of an agreement with the USGS and the Geomagnetism Program.

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

Guam (GUA)

The Guam observatory was established in 1957. The observatory is situated on property owned by the U.S. Air Force according to terms of an agreement with the USGS and the Geomagnetism Program. The facility is shared with the USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) ...

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

Fredericksburg (FRD)

The Geomagnetism Program established its first observatory at Cheltenham Maryland in 1900, when the Program was part of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and under the leadership of Drs Louis A. Bauer and John A. Fleming. The observatory was moved to Fredericksburg in 1956, a site which for many years served as the Program’s headquarters. Today, because it has produced high-quality data for so...

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

Deadhorse (DED)

The Deadhorse magnetic observatory is the newest USGS observatory, with initial operational capability established in March 2010. This observatory is unique in that it is a public-private partnership between the USGS and Schlumberger. The observatory was constructed by Schlumberger in cooperation with the USGS under a technical assistance agreement. The...

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

College (CMO)

The Geomagnetic Program, then part of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, began work in Fairbanks during the Second International Polar Year, 1932-1934, as part of an effort with the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution. Collaborative work with the University of Alaska began in the 1940's, with the full-fledged College observatory commencing operation in 1948. Today,...

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

Stennis (BSL)

The Geomagnetism Program established an observatory on the Stennis Space Center in 1986. The site of the space center is large, including some forest land, which helps insulate the observatory from outside interference. The Stennis observatory, formerly known as the Bay St. Louis observatory, is operated as a partnership between the USGS and the Stennis...

Date published: July 20, 2018
Status: Active

Barrow (BRW)

The Barrow magnetic observatory was established in 1949, with major upgrades in 1957 associated with the International Geophysical Year. The current physical plant was put into place in 1975. The observatory is of particular importance to the Geomagnetism Program because it is the most northerly of all the USGS observatories, being located well within the auroral oval. The observatory is...

Filter Total Items: 119
Date published: February 12, 2018

Sea floor sediment samples, seabed imagery, and CTD data collected in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, MA in 2015, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2015-062-FA

This field activity is part of the effort to map geologic substrates of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary region off Boston, Massachusetts. The overall goal is to develop high-resolution (1:25,000) interpretive maps, based on multibeam sonar data and seabed sampling, showing surficial geology and seabed sediment dynamics.

Date published: February 12, 2018

Continuous Bathymetry and Elevation Models of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone and Continental Shelf

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 and then interpolated into a 32-bit GeoTiff....

Date published: February 12, 2018

Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Braddock Bay, New York, July 10 to 11, 2017

Low-altitude (80-100 meters above ground level) digital images were obtained from a camera mounted on a 3DR Solo quadcopter, a small unmanned aerial system (UAS), in three locations along the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York during July 2017. These data were collected to document and monitor effects of high lake levels, including shoreline erosion, inundation, and property damage.

Date published: January 19, 2018

Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer

Total water level (TWL) at the shoreline is the combination of tides, surge, and wave runup. A forecast of TWL is an estimate of the elevation where the ocean will meet the coast and can provide guidance on potential coastal erosion and flooding hazards.

Date published: January 19, 2018

Oblique Aerial Photography Viewer

Obique photos offer a unique perspective of the coast. Features such as beach erosion or accretion, dune erosion and overwash can all be clearly characterized in this imagery. It also documents coastal infrastructure, as well as the damage that infrastructure may incur as the result of an impacting hurricane. 

Date published: December 29, 2017

Multibeam and multichannel sparker seismic-reflection data between Cross Sound and Dixon Entrance, offshore southeastern Alaska, collected from 2016-05-17 to 2016-06-12 during field activity 2016-625-FA

Multibeam bathymetry and multichannel sparker seismic relfection data collected along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault between Icy Point and Dixon Entrance, offshore southeastern Alaska from 2016-05-17 to 2016-06-12.

Date published: December 8, 2017


Help scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey annotate aerial photographs with keyword tags to identify changes to the coast after extreme storms.

Date published: October 19, 2017

Multichannel minisparker and chirp seismic-reflection data of field activity 2015-651-FA; Chatham Strait and Cross Sound, southeastern Alaska from 2015-08-03 to 2015-08-21

High-resolution multichannel minisparker and chirp seismic-reflection data were collected in August of 2015 to explore marine geologic hazards of inland waterways of southeastern Alaska. Sub-bottom profiles were acquired in the inland waters between Glacier Bay and Juneau, including Cross Sound and Chatham Strait.

Date published: September 20, 2017

Hurricane Jose 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Date published: September 19, 2017

Interpretive data release for Oregon Outer Continental Shelf Seafloor Mapping: Selected Lease Blocks Relevant to Renewable Energy

This data release includes the results of analysis of video data conducted by Oregon State University and the geo-habitat interpretation of multibeam echo sounder (MBES) data conducted by the USGS.

Date published: September 18, 2017

Hurricane Maria 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Date published: September 18, 2017

National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS compilation of updated vector shorelines and associated shoreline change data for the north coast of Alaska, U.S. Canadian border to Icy Cape

This data release is an update to the original North Coast of Alaska data and includes revised rate-of-change calculations based on two additional shoreline positions data and improved rate metrics. 

Filter Total Items: 4,465
Year Published: 2018

Integrating real-time subsurface hydrologic monitoring with empirical rainfall thresholds to improve landslide early warning

Early warning for rainfall-induced shallow landsliding can help reduce fatalities and economic losses. Although these commonly occurring landslides are typically triggered by subsurface hydrological processes, most early warning criteria rely exclusively on empirical rainfall thresholds and other indirect proxies for subsurface wetness. We explore...

Mirus, Benjamin B.; Becker, Rachel E.; Baum, Rex L.; Smith, Joel B.
Mirus, BB R Becker, RL Baum, JB Smith. 2018. Integrating real-time subsurface hydrologic monitoring with empirical rainfall thresholds to improve landslide early warning, Landslides, doi:10.1007/s10346-018-0995-z.

Year Published: 2018

Seismicity in the Challis, Idaho region, January 2014 - May 2017: Late aftershocks of the 1983 Ms 7.3 Borah Peak earthquake

In April 2014, after about 20 yrs of relatively low seismicity, an energetic earthquake sequence (maximum ML">ML 4.8) began 25–30 km northwest of the 1983 Ms">Ms 7.3 Borah Peak earthquake rupture area near the town of Challis, Idaho. This sequence ended in the fall of 2014, but in January 2015, a second energetic...

Pang, Guanning; Koper, Keith D.; Stickney, Michael C.; Pechmann, James C.; Burlacu, Relu; Pankow, Kristine L.; Payne, Suzette; Benz, Harley M.

Year Published: 2018

Application of microtremor horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (MHVSR) analysis for site characterization: State of the art

Nakamura (Q Rep Railway Tech Res Inst 30:25–33, 1989) popularized the application of the horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (HVSR) analysis of microtremor (seismic noise or ambient vibration) recordings to estimate the predominant frequency and amplification factor of earthquake shaking. During the following quarter century, popularity in the...

Molnar, S.; Cassidy, J. F. ; Castellaro, S.; Cornou, C.; Crow, H.; Hunter, J. A.; Matsushima, S.; Sanchez-Sesma, F. J.; Yong, Alan
S. Molnar, J. F. Cassidy, S. Castellaro, C. Cornou, H. Crow, J. A. Hunter, S. Matsushima, & F. J. Sánchez-Sesma, and A. Yong (2018). Application of microtremor horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratio (MHVSR) analysis for site characterization: state of the art, Surveys in Geophysics, p 1-19, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10712-018-9464-4.

Year Published: 2018

Strong variation in weathering of layered rock maintains hillslope‐scale strength under high precipitation

The evolution of volcanic landscapes and their landslide potential are both dependent upon the weathering of layered volcanic rock sequences. We characterize critical zone structure using shallow seismic Vp and Vs profiles and vertical exposures of rock across a basaltic climosequence on Kohala peninsula, Hawai’i, and exploit...

Von Voigtlander, Jennifer; Clark, Marin K.; Zekkos, Dimitrios; Greenwood, William W.; Anderson, Suzanne P.; Anderson, Robert S.; Godt, Jonathan W.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Von Voigtlander, J., Clark, M.K., Zekkos, D., Greenwood, W.W., Anderson, S.P., Anderson, R.S., and Godt, J.W., 2018, Strong variation in weathering of layered rock maintains hillslope-scale strength under high precipitation: Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 43, p. 1183-1194.

Year Published: 2018

Interaction between hydraulic fracture and a preexisting fracture under triaxial stress conditions

Enhanced reservoir connectivity generally requires maximizing the intersection between hydraulic fracture (HF) and preexisting underground natural fractures (NF), while having the hydraulic fracture cross the natural fractures (and not arrest). We have studied the interaction between a hydraulic fracture and a polished saw-cut fault. The...

Mighani, Saied; Lockner, David A.; Kilgore, Brian D.; Sheibani, Farrokh; Evans, Brian
Mighani, S., Lockner, D.A., Kilgore, B.D., Sheibani, F., and Evans, B., 2018, Interaction between hydraulic fracture and a preexisting fracture under triaxial stress conditions: Society of Petroleum Engineers International Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference and Exhibition, 23-25 January, The Woodlands, Texas, USA, https://doi.org/10.2118/189901-MS.

Year Published: 2018

A suite of exercises for verifying dynamic earthquake rupture codes

We describe a set of benchmark exercises that are designed to test if computer codes that simulate dynamic earthquake rupture are working as intended. These types of computer codes are often used to understand how earthquakes operate, and they produce simulation results that include earthquake size, amounts of fault slip, and the patterns of...

Harris, Ruth A.; Barall, Michael; Aagaard, Brad T.; Ma, Shuo; Roten, Daniel; Olsen, Kim B.; Duan, Benchun; Liu, Dunyu; Luo, Bin; Bai, Kangchen; Ampuero, Jean-Paul; Kaneko, Yoshihiro; Gabriel, Alice-Agnes; Duru, Kenneth; Ulrich, Thomas; Wollherr, Stephanie; Shi, Zheqiang; Dunham, Eric; Bydlon, Sam; Zhang, Zhenguo; Chen, Xiaofei; Somala, Surendra N.; Pelties, Christian; Tago, Josue; Cruz-Atienza, Victor Manuel; Kozdon, Jeremy; Daub, Eric; Aslam, Khurram; Kase, Yuko; Withers, Kyle; Dalguer, Luis
Harris, R.A., M. Barall, B. Aagaard, S. Ma, D. Roten, K. Olsen, B. Duan, B. Luo, D. Liu, K. Bai, J.-P. Ampuero, Y. Kaneko, A.-A. Gabriel, K. Duru, T. Ulrich, S. Wollherr, Z. Shi, E. Dunham, S. Bydlon, Z. Zhang, X. Chen, S.N. Somala, C. Pelties, J. Tago, V.M. Cruz-Atienza, J. Kozdon, E. Daub, K. Aslam, Y. Kase, K. Withers, and L. Dalguer (2018), A suite of exercises for verifying dynamic earthquake rupture codes, Seism. Res. Lett., 89(3), 1146-1162, https://doi.org/10.1785/0220170222.

Year Published: 2018

The intensity signature of induced seismicity

We analyze a comprehensive database of ∼63,000">∼63,000 geocoded community intensity observations from >400">>400 earthquakes of moment magnitude M≥3.5">M≥3.5 in Oklahoma from 2010 to 2016 to define the intensity signature of induced events. We show that natural and induced...

Atkinson, Gail M.; Wald, David J.; Worden, Charles; Quitoriano, Vince
Gail M. Atkinson, David Wald, C. Bruce Worden, Vince Quitoriano; The Intensity Signature of Induced Seismicity. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America ; 108 (3A): 1080–1086. doi: https://doi.org/10.1785/0120170316

Year Published: 2018

The widespread influence of Great Lakes microseisms across the United States revealed by the 2014 polar vortex

During the winter of 2014, a weak polar vortex brought record cold temperatures to the north‐central (“Midwest”) United States, and the Great Lakes reached the highest extent of ice coverage (92.5%) since 1979. This event shut down the generation of seismic signals caused by wind‐driven wave action within the lakes (termed “lake microseisms”),...

Anthony, Robert E.; Ringler, Adam T.; Wilson, David C.
Anthony, R.E., A.T. Ringler, D.C. Wilson (2018), The Widespread Influence of Great Lakes Microseisms Across the United States Revealed by the 2014 Polar Vortex, Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 3436-3444. doi:10.1002/2017GL076690

Year Published: 2018

Leveraging geodetic data to reduce losses from earthquakes

Seismic hazard assessments that are based on a variety of data and the best available science, coupled with rapid synthesis of real-time information from continuous monitoring networks to guide post-earthquake response, form a solid foundation for effective earthquake loss reduction. With this in mind, the Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP) of the U...

Murray, Jessica R.; Roeloffs, Evelyn A.; Brooks, Benjamin A.; Langbein, John O.; Leith, William S.; Minson, Sarah E.; Svarc, Jerry L.; Thatcher, Wayne R.
Murray, J.R., Roeloffs, E.A., Brooks, B.A., Langbein, J., Leith, W., Minson, S.E., Svarc, J., and Thatcher, W., 2018, Leveraging geodetic data to reduce losses from earthquakes: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1037, 34 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181037.

Year Published: 2018

Numerical models of pore pressure and stress changes along basement faults due to wastewater injection: Applications to the 2014 Milan, Kansas Earthquake

We have developed groundwater flow models to explore the possible relationship between wastewater injection and the 12 November 2014 Mw 4.8 Milan, Kansas earthquake. We calculate pore pressure increases in the uppermost crust using a suite of models in which hydraulic properties of the Arbuckle Formation and the Milan earthquake fault zone,...

Hearn, Elizabeth H.; Koltermann, Christine; Rubinstein, Justin R.
Hearn, E. H., C. Koltermann, and J. Rubinstein (2018), Numerical Models of Pore Pressure and Stress Changes Along Basement Faults Due to Wastewater Injection: Applications to the 2014 Milan, Kansas Earthquake, Geochemistry, Geophys. Geosystems, doi:10.1002/2017GC007194.

Year Published: 2018

Proximity of Precambrian basement affects the likelihood of induced seismicity in the Appalachian, Illinois, and Williston Basins, central and eastern United States

A dramatic seismicity rate increase in the central and eastern United States (CEUS) over the past decade has been largely associated with the increase in enhanced oil and gas recovery operations and change in industry practices. However, certain areas of the CEUS that have experienced large increases in oil and gas operations, such as the Bakken...

Skoumal, Robert; Brudzinski, Michael R.; Currie, Brian S.

Year Published: 2018

The HayWired earthquake scenario—Engineering implications

The HayWired Earthquake Scenario—Engineering Implications is the second volume of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5013, which describes the HayWired scenario, developed by USGS and its partners. The scenario is a hypothetical yet scientifically realistic earthquake sequence that is being used to better...

Detweiler, Shane T.; Wein, Anne M.
Detweiler, S.T., and Wein, A.M., eds., 2018, The HayWired earthquake scenario—Engineering implications: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5013–I–Q, 429 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175013v2.

Filter Total Items: 2,695
Dr. Meagan Gonneea (Cape Cod, MA) retrieves a core from an infilling salt marsh pond in the Great Barnstable Marsh
July 9, 2018

Core retrieval

Dr. Meagan Gonneea (Cape Cod, MA) retrieves a core from an infilling salt marsh pond in the Great Barnstable Marsh.

Laze plume from ocean entry
July 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Warm Ponds Ocean Entry

Southern end of the active fissure 8 flow margin north of the Analannui Park, known as the warm ponds. The flow margin is estimated to be about 500 m (0.3 mi) from the park.

Lava entering the ocean through steam
July 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Entering Ocean

Lava entering the ocean as seen through steam and rain early this morning.

Lava running past a residential area
July 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 and Leilani Estates

Fissure 8 and Leilani Estates viewed from the south. Houses in the foreground are located in the southern portion of Leilani Estates. Fissure 8 and surrounding 

Crusted over lava flow
July 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lower Section of Fissure 8 Flow

The lower section of the fissure 8 lava channel appears to be almost completely crusted over, and the lava level in the channel was lower during this morning's

Rain over a lava flow area
July 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Rain at Leilani Estates

This photograph taken during this morning's overflight shows heavy, localized rain at 

Laze plumes
July 8, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Multiple Laze Plumes

Multiple ocean entries were active this early morning, each contributing to the prominent "laze" 

Aerial view over residential area
July 8, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Near Cape Kumukahi

Lava still oozes from the northern edge of the ‘a‘ā flow near the lighthouse at Cape Kumukahi (upper right). Smoke from burning vegetation marks location of lava oozeouts. View is toward the northeast. 

Aerial of braided lava channel
July 8, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Braided Lava Channel

Braided section of the lava channel located "downstream" between about 3.5 to 6 km (2.2 to 3.7 mi) from fissure 8 (upper right). The width of the two channels in the middle center is about 325 m (1,065 ft). View is toward the southwest.

Aerial of lava flow
July 8, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Crater

View of the partially filled Kapoho Crater (center) and the open lava channel where it makes a 90-degree turn around the crater. The open channel no longer directly enters the ocean. Lava flows freely through the channel only to the southern edge of Kapoho Crater (left side of image). Clearly, lava moves into and through the molten core of the thick ‘a‘ā flow across a

Lava channel
July 8, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Open-Ended Lava Channel

Close view of the "end" of the open lava channel where lava moves beneath the crusted ‘a‘ā flow.

Filter Total Items: 391
Date published: April 24, 2018

East vs West Coast Earthquakes

Why was an earthquake in Virginia felt at more than twice the distance than a similar-sized earthquake in California? The answer is one that many people may not realize. Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains can cause noticeable ground shaking at much farther distances than comparably-sized earthquakes in the West.

Date published: April 18, 2018

USGS Rolls Out Groundbreaking Earthquake Study: The HayWired Earthquake Scenario

USGS collaborates with key academic, state, local, and industry partners to provide a new look at what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Date published: April 16, 2018

USGS 2017 Excellence in Leadership Award honors scientists who assess coastal flooding threats

Research geologist Patrick Barnard and research oceanographer Li Erikson have been recognized for leading efforts to better assess coastal vulnerability to flooding.

Date published: April 13, 2018

Documentary about sea-level rise threatening the Republic of the Marshall Islands features USGS findings

USGS research in the Republic of the Marshall Islands forms part of the scientific foundation of an interactive documentary released April 6 by PBS Frontline.

Date published: April 12, 2018

USGS beach and nearshore surveys in the media

USGS oceanographer Dan Hoover explained how USGS coastal surveys are conducted and why they are important in a radio interview with NPR affiliate KCLU. KCLU was one of several outlets that reported on ...

Date published: April 9, 2018

The Electric Storm of November 1882

Strange things started happening on November 17, 1882, and no one knew quite what to make of it.

Date published: April 4, 2018

USGS Seeks Earthquake Hazards Research Proposals

Applications due May 22, 2018

Date published: March 29, 2018

International Mapping Standards Updated for Planets throughout Solar System

Clarifying Latitude and Longitude for Planets besides Earth

Date published: March 28, 2018

Tracking the movement of sediment and contaminants from northern California wildfire areas to San Francisco Bay

USGS research geologist Renee Takesue of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center collected 20 sediment samples from Sonoma Creek and Napa River north of San Francisco Bay on March 17.

Date published: March 27, 2018

Earthquake Early Warning! New Study Examines Safety Potentials and Limits

In a newly published study, U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their partners calculate possible alert times that earthquake early warning systems can provide people at different levels of ground motion from light to very strong shaking.

Date published: March 26, 2018

Mapping Beach Changes After Devastating Montecito Debris Flows


During the week of March 26, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will begin four days of mapping selected beaches and the adjacent seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Results will be compared to surveys from last fall to highlight changes due to winter waves, and to sediment inputs from area streams. 

Date published: March 23, 2018

Collecting clues to the geologic history and mineral resources of the Rio Grande Rise, southwest Atlantic Ocean

USGS scientists James Hein and Kira Mizell participated in a University of São Paulo research cruise to the western Rio Grande Rise, an underwater plateau in international waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil.

Filter Total Items: 177