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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
Large areas of Georges Bank (which lies in both the US and Canada) and the New England Shelf have been closed to fishing for 25 years in order to conserve and rebuild fishery stocks. These closures, along with an increased need to improve characterization of the seabed, have provided the opportunity to map the extent of gravel substrates that dominant parts of the region, study the effects of...
In response to the growing need for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning as a means to better manage seabed environments, it is necessary to compile high-resolution (1:25,000) interpretive maps and to formulate a geology-based seabed classification system that will allow users to recognize and correctly interpret seabed substrate types.
Seabed imagery from multibeam mapping surveys has...
The Aerial Imaging and Mapping group (AIM), at the U.S. Geological Survey Woods (USGS) Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center provides UAS services to scientists to advance the science mission of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program. Scientists at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center have been using UASs to acquire imagery of coastal and wetland environments, which is then used...
The Stellwagen Bank region, located off Boston, Massachusetts, just east of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Cod and Cape Ann, is a glaciated terrain of shallow banks and deep basins with water depths ranging from 20 to 200 meters. The region is heavily utilized by humans and marine species. It serves as a National Marine Sanctuary; a rich commercial and recreational fishing ground; a disposal...
The Elwha River Restoration Project...
... has reconnected the water, salmon, and sediment of a pristine river and coast of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Coordinated by the National Park Service, restoration of the Elwha River included the removal of two large dams that had blocked salmon and sediment passage for almost 100 years. The largest dam removal in U.S. history began in...
Exchange of flows, sediment, and biological particles between the inner shelf and back-barrier estuaries are significant for determination of extreme water levels, maintenance and formation of inlets, barrier-island evolution, and pollutant and larval transport. These connections are controlled by cross-shore processes including wave-driven inner-shelf and near-shore processes, dune...
In late August 2018, scientists and technical staff from the USGS Coastal/Marine Hazards and Resources Program completed the acquisition of over 2000 km of multichannel seismic (MCS) data as part of the Mid-Atlantic Resource Imaging Experiment (MATRIX) conducted aboard the...
This page highlights images from the field, where we work, and USGS at work.
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...
Movie-maps of low-latitude horizontal-intensity magnetic disturbance are derived from magnetic vector time series data collected at multiple ground-based observatories. Using a technique similar to that used in the calculation of Dst, a quiet time baseline is subtracted from the time series from each observatory. The remaining disturbance time series are shown in a polar coordinate system that...
Estimates of the probability and volume of debris flows that may be produced by a storm in a recently burned area, using a model with characteristics related to basin shape, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall.
Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Sodus Bay, New York, July 12 to 14, 2017
This data release includes images tagged with locations determined from the UAS GPS; tables with updated estimates of camera positions and attitudes based on the photogrammetric reconstruction; tables listing locations of the base stations, ground control points, and transect points; geolocated, RGB-colored point clouds; orthomosaic images; and digital elevation models for each of the regions...
Our Coast, Our Future (OCOF) is a collaborative, user-driven project focused on providing California coastal resource managers and planners locally relevant, online maps and tools to help understand, visualize, and anticipate vulnerabilities to sea level rise and storms.
Sea-Floor Sediment Samples, Seabed Imagery, and CTD Instrument Data Collected on Stellwagen Bank in August 2017, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2017-043-FA
The data collected in this study will aid research on the ecology of fish and invertebrate species that inhabit the region. On August 22 and 23, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, conducted a research cruise aboard the Sanctuary’s Research Vessel Auk, visiting 39 locations within the sanctuary.
Seismic reflection and sample data collected offshore of Fire Island, New York in 2014, U.S. Geological Field Activity 2014-009-FA
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a geophysical and sampling survey in October 2014 that focused on a series of shoreface-attached ridges offshore of western Fire Island, NY. Seismic-reflection data, surficial grab samples and bottom photographs and video were collected along the lower shoreface and inner continental shelf to assess the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the coastal region...
The maps in this archive display estimated intensities and ground motions for the earthquake scenarios - events on faults that have ruptured in the past or have a likelihood of rupturing in the future. These maps are typically used for emergency response exercises and planning as well as for understanding the potential consequences of future large earthquakes.
How do we get ready for big earthquakes in populated areas? An important first step is to learn what a big earthquake could be like. These pages summarize the main patterns — the earthquake effects that show up again and again. Here, urban is shorthand for “cities, towns, and suburbs”.
The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) launched the Shoreline Change Project in 1989 to identify erosion-prone areas of the Massachusetts coast. This update included a marsh shoreline, which was defined to be the tonal difference between low- and high-marsh seen in ortho-photos. Further cooperation between CZM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has resulted in another...
Developing hydro-meteorological thresholds for shallow landslide initiation and early warning
Consistent relations between shallow landslide initiation and associated rainfall characteristics remain difficult to identify, due largely to the complex hydrological and geological processes causing slopes to be predisposed to failure and those processes that subsequently trigger failures. Considering the importance of hillslope hydrology for...Mirus, Benjamin B.; Morphew, Michael D.; Smith, Joel B.
Holocene fault reactivation in the eastern Cascades, Washington
Significant uncertainty remains concerning how and where crustal shortening occurs throughout the eastern Cascade Range in Washington State. Using light detection and ranging (lidar) imagery, we identified an ∼5‐km‐long">∼5‐km‐long lineament in Swakane canyon near Wenatchee, roughly coincident with a...Carlson, Benjamin L.; Schermer, Elizabeth R.; Amos, Colin B.; Stephenson, William J.; Sherrod, Brian; Mahan, Shannon A.
Lessons from Mexico’s earthquake early warning system
The devastating 2017 Puebla quake provides an opportunity to assess how citizens perceive and use the Mexico City earthquake early warning system.Allen, Richard M.; Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Huggins, Thomas J.; Miles, Scott; Otegui, Diego
Identifying physics‐based thresholds for rainfall‐induced landsliding
Most regional landslide warning systems utilize empirically derived rainfall thresholds that are difficult to improve without recalibration to additional landslide events. To address this limitation, we explored the use of synthetic rainfall to generate thousands of possible storm patterns and coupled them with a physics‐based hydrology and slope...Thomas, Matthew A.; Mirus, Benjamin B.; Collins, Brian D.
Science for a risky world—A U.S. Geological Survey plan for risk research and applications
Executive SummaryNatural hazards—including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, hurricanes, droughts, floods, wildfires, geomagnetic storms, and pandemics—can wreak havoc on human communities, the economy, and natural resources for years following an initial event. Hazards can claim lives and cause billions of dollars in damage...Ludwig, K.A.; Ramsey, David W.; Wood, Nathan J.; Pennaz, A.B.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Luco, Nicolas; Koenig, Todd A.; Hudnut, Kenneth W.; Davis, Donyelle K.; Bright, Patricia R.
Incorporating teleseismic tomography data into models of upper mantle slab geometry
Earthquake-based models of slab geometry are limited by the distribution of earthquakes within a subducting slab, which is often heterogeneous. The fast seismic velocity signature of slabs in tomography studies is independent of the distribution of earthquakes within the slab, providing a critical constraint on slab geometry when earthquakes are...Portner, Daniel E.; Hayes, Gavin
Additional period and site class maps for the 2014 National Seismic Hazard Model for the conterminous United States
The 2014 update of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) for the conterminous United States (2014 NSHM; Petersen and others, 2014, 2015) included probabilistic ground motion maps for 2 percent and 10 percent probabilities of exceedance in 50 years, derived from seismic hazard curves for peak ground...Shumway, Allison; Petersen, Mark D.; Powers, Peter; Rezaeian, Sanaz
KG²B, a collaborative benchmarking exercise for estimating the permeability of the Grimsel granodiorite - Part 1: measurements, pressure dependence and pore-fluid effects
Measuring the permeability of tight rocks remains a challenging task. In addition to the traditional sources of errors that affect more permeable formations (e.g. sample selection, non-representative specimens, disturbance introduced during sample acquisition and preparation), tight rocks can be particularly prone to solid–fluid interactions and...David, Christian; Wasserman, J.; Amann, F.; Lockner, David A.; Rutter, E.H.; Vanorio, T; Amann Hildenbrand, A.; Billiotte, J.; Reuschle, T.; Lasseux, D.; Fortin, J.; Lenormand, R.; Selvadurai, A.P.S.; Meredith, P.G.; Browning, J.; Mitchell, T.M.; Loggia, D.; Nono, F.; Sarout, J.; Esteban, L.; Davy, C.; Louis, L.; Boitnott, G.; Madonna, C.; Jahns, E.; Fleury. M.; Berthe, G.; Delage, P.; Braun, P.; Grégoire, D.; Perrier, L.; Polito, P.; Jannot, Y.; Sommier, A.; Krooss, B.; Fink, R.; Hu, Q.; Klaver, J.; Clark, A.
Induced earthquake families reveal distinctive evolutionary patterns near disposal wells
The timing of events in seismic sequences can provide insights into the physical processes controlling fault slip. In southern Kansas, the rate of earthquakes rose rapidly starting in 2013 following expansion of energy production into the area, demanding the disposal of large volumes of wastewater into deep wells. Seismicity catalogs that are...Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Ross, Zachary E.; Harrington, Rebecca M.; Dougherty, Sara L.; Rubinstein, Justin L.
Research to improve ShakeAlert earthquake early warning products and their utility
Earthquake early warning (EEW) is the rapid detection of an earthquake and issuance of an alert or notification to people and vulnerable systems likely to experience potentially damaging ground shaking. The level of ground shaking that is considered damaging is defined by the specific application; for example, manufacturing equipment may...Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Aagaard, Brad T.; Allen, Richard M.; Andrews, Jennifer; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Barbour, Andrew J.; Bodin, Paul; Brooks, Benjamin A.; Chung, Angela; Crowell, Brendan W.; Given, Douglas D.; Hanks, Thomas C.; Hartog, J. Renate; Hauksson, Egill; Heaton, Thomas H.; McBride, Sara; Meier, Men-Andrin; Melgar, Diego; Minson, Sarah E.; Murray, Jessica R.; Strauss, Jennifer A.; Toomey, Douglas
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
Screenshot of a point cloud containing more than 50 million points from a photogrammetry project of the Quissett Campus. This point cloud was created from 633 photographs taken from a unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in July 2018
Upper Left: Dann Blackwood operating the SEABOSS winch during a sampling cruise; Lower left: Bill Schwab, Laura Brothers and Emile Bergeron on the deck of a research vessel; Center Left: Tom O'Brien carrying equipment during a research cruise; Center: USGS staff deploying a seismic system from a research vessel; left: Chuck Worley ready to deploy a multibeam echosounder...
USGS Research Geologist Dr. Erika Lentz is conducting real-time kinematic GPS surveys on barrier island dunes, part of her research looking at how coastal landscapes respond to sea-level rise.
Screen shot of the Coastal Change Hazards Portal showing potential coastal change impacts during a direct landfall of Hurricane Florence based on NHC Advisory 48, 500 AM AST TUE SEP 11 2018.
The USGS Coastal Change Hazards Storm Team has forecast coast-wide levels of beach erosion, inundation and overwash due to Hurricane Florence's expected path and landgfall.
The Coastal Change Hazards Storm Team has forecast changing water levels at specific locations over time.
USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison stands on the coastal bluff of Barter Island, Alaska at sunset. Shawn and his fellow researchers are studying how the highly erosive bluff changes under the varied conditions experienced by this stretch of coastline. The knowledge gained will be used to improve computer-derived simulations of shoreline change, that in turn communities can...
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
From July 31 to August 23, a joint USGS-NOAA cruise mapped seafloor depths, texture, and gas seeps in the Cascadia subduction zone offshore of Washington, Oregon, and northern California.
USGS and NASA researchers meet to discuss Synthetic Aperture Radar for assessing USGS coastal-flooding projections
USGS and NASA researchers met July 16 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to discuss Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery of the Southern California coast collected during higher-than-normal tides (“king tides”) in fall 2016.
Moving Mountains: Elwha River Still Changing Five Years After World’s Largest Dam-Removal Project: More than 20 million tons of sediment flushed to the sea
Starting in 2011, the National Park Service removed two obsolete dams from the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, Washington. It was the world’s largest dam-removal project. Over the next five years, water carrying newly freed rocks, sand, silt and old tree trunks reshaped more than 13 miles of river and built a larger delta into the Pacific Ocean.
The atypical location of Mount St. Helens may be due to geologic structures that control where deep magmas can rise through the crust, as suggested by new findings published today in Nature Geoscience.
USGS SPCMSC personnel Jennifer Miselis (Research Geologist), Julie Bernier (Geologist), Nancy DeWitt (Geologist), Andy Farmer (CNT), Jake Fredericks (Hydrographic Technician), Kyle Kelso (Marine Operations Manager), BJ Reynolds (Engineering Technician), Chelsea Stalk (CNT), and Hunter Wilcox (CNT) will travel to southern New Jersey to conduct a nearshore geophysical survey.
USGS and Army Corps of Engineers conduct simultaneous measurements at Sandy Neck beach, Cape Cod, MA
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Aerial Imaging and Mapping (AIM) group conducted drone flights from atop a dune at Sandy Neck (Cape Cod) while the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) aircraft collected data overhead.
The U.S Geological Survey announces that the agency has awarded more than $20 million in 2018 for earthquake monitoring and applied research.
Meagan Gonneea, Neil Ganju, and Matt Arsenaualt, Woods Hole Costal and Marine Science Center staff offered presentations and handouts on Natural Hazards: Coastal Hazards in Wetlands and Estuaries to participants at the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATs. )