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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
The instruments were installed in the spring of 2009 and are used to monitor and detect changes in local conditions. Soil water content and ground water pressure are monitored at two nests on the same hillslope. Data for the site include:
- Rainfall ...
The interface between groundwater and the coastal or intertidal landscape determines the location and migration path of fresh and saline wetlands. These ecosystems interact with the coastal ocean in many ways, much of which is driven by tidal exchange and groundwater discharge, both common coastal processes that deliver water, nutrients, and other materials to nearshore ecosystems, including...
Tidal wetlands are key ecosystems because they are unique ecological systems that provide essential habitat for fish, shellfish, birds and other fauna and flora, many of which have great economic importance. At the same time, tidal wetlands provide critical services to society by serving as a physical barrier between our cities, roads and homes and the rising sea. If healthy and properly...
The challenge of wetland persistence is complicated by widespread management and alteration of wetland hydrology, and built infrastructure within migration corridors. Human development and utilization of coastal landscapes in the U.S. during the past several centuries has resulted in loss of approximately half of tidal wetland area, largely due to 1) restriction of tidal flows, through...
Coastal Environmental Geochemistry research at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center spans multiple ecosystems and topics, including coastal wetlands, aquifers, and estuaries, with the goal of providing data and guidance to federal, state, local, and private land owners and managers on these vital ecosystems.
Here we describe the data collection methods and techniques of the California Seaflor Mapping Program: mapping, video and photography ground-truthing, and seismic profiling data collection.
USGS and the California Ocean Protection Council (COPC) are supporting development of peer-reviewed map sets for California’s mainland State Waters.
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 ...
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.
Near-bottom Temperature, Conductivity, and Light Transmission Observations in the Western Gulf of Maine, 2013-2017
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...
To better identify the significant processes affecting our coastlines and how those processes create coastal change we have developed a Coupled Ocean – Atmosphere – Wave – Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System, which is integrated by the Model Coupling Toolkit to exchange data fields between the ocean model ROMS, the atmosphere model WRF, the wave model SWAN, and the sediment...
Effect of pore fluid chemistry on the sedimentation and compression behavior of pure, endmember fines
The data in this release support the correlation effort by providing: 1) sedimentation results that provide insight into micro-scale sediment fabric and void ratio dependence on sediment/fluid interactions, and 2) consolidation results that quantify the macro-scale compressibility and recompressibility parameters for a suite of fine-grained sediments and differing pore fluids.
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...
Erratum to The 2013–2016 induced earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, southern Kansas
The authors identified two sets of minor errors in the paper by Rubinstein et al. (2018), which are corrected here.Rubinstein, Justin L.; Ellsworth, William L.; Dougherty, Sara L.
Interseismic ground deformation and fault slip rates in the greater San Francisco Bay Area from two decades of space geodetic data
The detailed spatial variations of strain accumulation and creep on major faults in the northern San Francisco Bay Area (North Bay), which are important for seismic potential and evaluation of natural hazards, remain poorly understood. Here we combine interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from the ERS‐1/2 and Envisat satellites between...Wu, Songbo; Nadeau, Robert; Ding, Xiaoling; Xu, Wenbin; Wu, Songbo; Materna, Kathryn; Nadeau, Robert; Floyd, Michael; Funning, Gareth J.; Chaussard, Estelle; Johnson, Christopher W.; Murray, Jessica R.; Ding, Xiaoling; Burgmann, Roland
Improving earthquake rupture forecasts using California as a guide
This article discusses ways in which earthquake rupture forecast models might be improved. Because changes are most easily described in the context of specific models, the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) and its presumed successor, UCERF4, is used as a basis for discussion. Virtually all of the issues and possible...Field, Edward H.
VS30 at three strong-motion recording stations in Napa and Solano Counties, California—Lovall Valley Road, Broadway Street and Sereno Drive in Vallejo, and Vallejo Fire Station—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 and Solano Counties where high peak ground accelerations (PGAs) were recorded...Chan, Joanne H.; Catchings, Rufus D.; Goldman, Mark R.; Criley, Coyn J.
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.
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.
Two video cameras overlook the coast from atop a windmill tower in Unalakleet, Alaska where they look westward over Norton Sound. This is a snapshot taken from one of the cameras. The camera system was installed by the USGS in collaboration with Alaska DNR DGGS (Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys), the Native Village of...
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.
Title: The 150th Anniversary of the Damaging 1868 Hayward Earthquake: Why It Matters and How We Can Prepare for Its Repeat
- The Hayward Fault in the heart of the Bay Area is one of the most urbanized faults in the US.
- Studies of the fault reveal that it has produced 12 large earthquakes in the past 2000 years spaced 100-220 years apart.
On September 25, 2018, a team of three scientists based at the USGS–Cascades Volcano Observatory conducted the first-ever USGS-led Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) campaign at Mount St. Helens. The UAS survey was conducted with the permission and coordination of the U.S. Forest Service Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The team used a multi-rotor UAS (“...
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.
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.
Complex geologic sites, like those between the fault segments along the Wasatch fault zone in Utah, make the dating and ordering past earthquakes a difficult task. Two new methods were used to make this task easier and to get better results.
A new picture of the geometry of subducting slabs around the world, the locations of the world’s largest earthquakes.
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.