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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: 282
Date published: September 1, 2015
Status: Active

Rainfall and Landslides in Northern and Central California

A summary of recent and past landslides and debris flows caused by rainfall in Northern and Central California.

Date published: September 1, 2015
Status: Active

Rainfall and Landslides in Southern California

A summary of recent and past landslides and debris flows caused by rainfall in Southern California.

Date published: August 19, 2014

Estuarine Physical Response to Storms

The Estuarine Physical Response to Storms Project will assess the estuarine and adjacent wetland  responses of three Atlantic lagoonal estuaries to major storm events such as Hurricane Sandy. The estuarine systems include the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary, the Chincoteague Bay, and Jamaica Bay, NY. Evaluations of sediment transport, geomorphic change, circulation, wetland stability....

Date published: April 25, 2014
Status: Completed

Tsunami Scenario

A hypothetical but likely tsunami scenario affecting California's coastline, representing studies and models of damage, restoration, and social and economic impacts of a tsunami generated by a magnitude 9.1 megathrust Alaskan earthquake.

Date published: September 4, 2013

Tsunami Scenario

The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario is a hypothetical but plausible tsunami created by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake offshore of the Alaskan peninsula. The scenario report was released September 2013 and provides an analysis of the potential impacts along the California coast, intended for those who need to make mitigation, preparedness, and outreach decisions before and after tsunami impacts.

Date published: June 21, 2013
Status: Active

Earthquake Risk Communication Design Storm

Bringing together seismologists, emergency managers, risk communication researchers, and design professionals to develop a framework for earthquake probability messages for both emergency managers and the general public.

Date published: April 1, 2011
Status: Completed

Preliminary simulations of the 2011 tsunami in Japan

Preliminary simulations of the tsunami from the March 11, 2011 M=9.0 subduction zone earthquake offshore of Honshu, Japan

Contacts: Eric Geist
Date published: September 15, 2010
Status: Archived

Marine Nuisance Species

This project is complete and the website is archived and no longer updated.

This archived website assembles and communicates information on the...

Date published: January 1, 2008
Status: Active

Research Vessel Parke D. Snavely

Information about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's research vessel Parke D. Snavely, acquired in November 2007.

Contacts: Timothy Elfers
Date published: January 1, 2008
Status: Completed

Does Pleasure Point Need A Seawall?

Information about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's study of Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz, California, from 2005-2007.

Contacts: Curt Storlazzi
Date published: January 1, 2005
Status: Completed

Should Englebright Dam Be Removed?

Information about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's study from 2001-2004, on Englebright Dam and the science behind its removal.

Date published: January 1, 2005
Status: Completed

Mud Damages Hawaiian Coral Reefs

Information about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's research from 2000-2004, on how mud damages hawaiian coral reefs.

Filter Total Items: 4,536
Year Published: 2017

Influence of lithostatic stress on earthquake stress drops in North America

We estimate stress drops for earthquakes in and near the continental United States using the method of spectral ratios. The ratio of acceleration spectra between collocated earthquakes recorded at a given station removes the effects of path and recording site and yields source parameters including corner frequency for, and the ratio of seismic...

Boyd, Oliver S.; McNamara, Daniel E.; Hartzell, Stephen; Choy, George
Boyd, O. S., D. E. McNamara, S. Hartzell, and G. Choy (2017), Influence of Lithostatic Stress on Earthquake Stress Drops in North America, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107(2), doi:10.1785/0120160219.

Year Published: 2017

Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide—U.S. Geological Survey subduction zone science plan

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information and tools to build resilience in communities exposed to subduction zone earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. Improving the application of USGS science to successfully reduce risk from these events relies on whole community efforts...

Gomberg, Joan S.; Ludwig, K.A.; Bekins, Barbara; Brocher, Thomas M.; Brock, John C.; Brothers, Daniel; Chaytor, Jason D.; Frankel, Arthur; Geist, Eric L.; Haney, Matt; Hickman, Stephen H.; Leith, William S.; Roeloffs, Evelyn A.; Schulz, William H.; Sisson, Thomas W.; Wallace, Kristi; Watt, Janet; Wein, Anne M.
Gomberg, J.S., Ludwig, K.A., Bekins, B.A., Brocher, T.M., Brock, J.C., Brothers, Daniel, Chaytor, J.D., Frankel, A.D., Geist, E.L., Haney, Matthew, Hickman, S.H., Leith, W.S., Roeloffs, E.A., Schulz, W.H., Sisson, T.W., Wallace, Kristi, Watt, J.T., Wein, Anne, 2017, Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide—U.S. Geological Survey subduction zone science plan: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1428, 45 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1428.

Year Published: 2017

Earthquake source properties from instrumented laboratory stick-slip

Stick-slip experiments were performed to determine the influence of the testing apparatus on source properties, develop methods to relate stick-slip to natural earthquakes and examine the hypothesis of McGarr [2012] that the product of stiffness, k, and slip duration, Δt, is scale-independent and the same order as for earthquakes. The experiments...

Thomas, Marion Y.; Mitchell, Thomas M.; Bhat, Harsha S.; Kilgore, Brian D.; McGarr, Arthur F.; Beeler, Nicholas M.; Lockner, David A.
Kilgore, B. D., McGarr, A., Beeler, N. M. and Lockner, D. A. (2017) Earthquake Source Properties From Instrumented Laboratory Stick-Slip, in Fault Zone Dynamic Processes: Evolution of Fault Properties During Seismic Rupture (eds M. Y. Thomas, T. M. Mitchell and H. S. Bhat), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. doi: 10.1002/9781119156895.ch8

Year Published: 2017

Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide

Most of the world’s earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions are caused by the continuous motions of the many tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s outer shell. The most powerful of these natural hazards occur in subduction zones, where two plates collide and one is thrust beneath another. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) “...

Gomberg, Joan S.; Ludwig, K.A.
Gomberg, J.S., and Ludwig, K.A., 2017, Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3024, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173024.

Year Published: 2017

The finite, kinematic rupture properties of great-sized earthquakes since 1990

Here, I present a database of >160 finite fault models for all earthquakes of M 7.5 and above since 1990, created using a consistent modeling approach. The use of a common approach facilitates easier comparisons between models, and reduces uncertainties that arise when comparing models generated by different authors, data sets and modeling...

Hayes, Gavin
Hayes G.P. The finite, kinematic rupture properties of great-sized earthquakes since 1990 Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 468, p. 94-100.

Year Published: 2017

Continuity of the Reelfoot fault across the Cottonwood Grove and Ridgely faults of the New Madrid Seismic Zone

Previous investigators have argued that the northwest-striking Reelfoot fault of northwest Tennessee and southeastern Missouri is segmented. One segment boundary is at the intersection of the northeast-striking Cottonwood Grove and Ridgely strike-slip faults with the Reelfoot fault. We use seismic reflection and geologic mapping to locate and...

Greenwood, M.L.; Woolery, Edward W; Van Arsdale, R. B.; Stephenson, William J.; Patterson, Gary L.
Greenwood, M.L., Woolery, E.W., Van Arsdale, R.B., Stephenson, W.J., and Patterson, G.L., 2016, Continuity of the Reelfoot Fault Across the Cottonwood Grove and Ridgely Faults of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, Bulletin Seismological Society of America, v. 106, n. 6, p. 2674–2685, doi: 10.1785/0120150290.

Year Published: 2017

The spatial distribution of earthquake stress rotations following large subduction zone earthquakes

Rotations of the principal stress axes due to great subduction zone earthquakes have been used to infer low differential stress and near-complete stress drop. The spatial distribution of coseismic and postseismic stress rotation as a function of depth and along-strike distance is explored for three recent M ≥ 8.8 subduction megathrust...

Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Hardebeck, J.L. (2017). The Spatial Distribution of Earthquake Stress Rotations Following Large Subduction Zone Earthquakes, Earth, Planets and Space 69: 69. doi:10.1186/s40623-017-0654-y.

Year Published: 2017

Prediction of spatially explicit rainfall intensity–duration thresholds for post-fire debris-flow generation in the western United States

Early warning of post-fire debris-flow occurrence during intense rainfall has traditionally relied upon a library of regionally specific empirical rainfall intensity–duration thresholds. Development of this library and the calculation of rainfall intensity-duration thresholds often require several years of monitoring local rainfall and hydrologic...

Staley, Dennis M.; Negri, Jacquelyn; Kean, Jason W.; Laber, Jayme L.; Tillery, Anne C.; Youberg, Ann M.

Year Published: 2017

Pulsed strain release on the Altyn Tagh fault, northwest China

Earthquake recurrence models assume that major surface-rupturing earthquakes are followed by periods of reduced rupture probability as stress rebuilds. Although purely periodic, time- or slip-predictable rupture models are known to be oversimplifications, a paucity of long records of fault slip clouds understanding of fault behavior and earthquake...

Gold, Ryan D.; Cowgill, Eric; Arrowsmith, J. Ramón; Friedrich, Anke M.
Gold, R.D., Cowgill, E., Arrowsmith, J.R., Friedrich, A.M., 2017. Pulsed strain release on the Altyn Tagh fault, northwest China. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 459, 291-300.

Year Published: 2017

An updated geospatial liquefaction model for global application

We present an updated geospatial approach to estimation of earthquake-induced liquefaction from globally available geospatial proxies. Our previous iteration of the geospatial liquefaction model was based on mapped liquefaction surface effects from four earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Kobe, Japan, paired with geospatial explanatory...

Zhu, Jing; Baise, Laurie G.; Thompson, Eric M.

Year Published: 2017

Frictional strength of wet and dry montmorillonite

Montmorillonite is a common mineral in fault zones, and its low strength relative to other common gouge minerals is important in many models of fault rheology. However, the coefficient of friction, μ, varies with degree of saturation and is not well constrained in the literature due to the difficulty of establishing fully drained or fully dried...

Morrow, Carolyn A.; Moore, Diane E.; Lockner, David A.
Morrow, C. A., D. E. Moore, and D. A. Lockner (2017), Frictional strength of wet and dry montmorillonite, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 122, doi:10.1002/2016JB013658.

Year Published: 2017

Repeatability of testing a small broadband sensor in the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory Underground Vault

Variability in seismic instrumentation performance plays a fundamental role in our ability to carry out experiments in observational seismology. Many such experiments rely on the assumed performance of various seismic sensors as well as on methods to isolate the sensors from nonseismic noise sources. We look at the repeatability of estimating the...

Ringler, Adam T.; Holland, Austin; Wilson, David C.
Ringler, A. T., A. A. Holland, And D. C. Wilson (2017). Repeatability of testing a small broadband sensor in the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory Underground Vault, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 107, 3, doi: 10.1785/0120170006

Filter Total Items: 2,693
Aerial of ocean entry plume
June 10, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Bay Ocean Entry Plume

The fissure 8 lava flow reaches the ocean at Kapoho Bay, where a lava delta has formed and continues to grow as lava enters the sea. The largest white laze 

Aerial of lava overflows
June 10, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Overflows from Fissure 8

Overflows of the upper fissure 8 lava channel this morning sent small flows of lava down the levee walls. These overflows did not extend far from the channel, so they posed no immediate threat to nearby areas. Channel overflows, like the ones shown here, add layers of lava to the channel levees, increasing their height and thickness.

Topographic photo of summit
June 10, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Topography of Halema`uma`u

A photogrammetry survey of Kīlauea's summit by the U.S. Department of Interior Unmanned Aircraft Systems' (UAS) Kīlauea response team show the topography of Halema‘uma‘u as of June 8. Cracks through the former overlook parking lot (bottom of image) wrap around the east margin of Halema‘uma‘u; the once-popular overlook viewing area (closed since 2008 due to volcanic hazards

Scientist setting up an instrument
June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — GPS Measurements at Summit

USGS-HVO geophysicists installed additional continuous GPS stations around Halema‘uma‘u this morning. These stations will allow scientists to better monitor and measure the ongoing subsidence of Halema‘uma‘u and the adjacent 

A lava channel formed from a fissure eruption
June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 Lava Channel

Fissure 8 and lava channel in the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano during this afternoon's overflight, with no apparent slowing in the eruption rate. The lava channel remained incandescent all the way around Kapoho Crater before entering the ocean.

Aerial view of ocean entry
June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Ocean Entry

An aerial view of the Kapoho ocean entry, as of 6:30 a.m. HST today, shows the extent of the lava delta, now about 200 acres in size, that has formed over the past six days (lava first entered the ocean on the night of June 3). Across the front of the delta, plumes of laze—created by molten lava interacting with seawater—appeared diminished this morning, but was probably

Fissure 8 lava fountain
June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 Lava Fountain

As of 6:30 a.m. HST today, fissure 8 continued to

Aerial of summit showing cracking and slumping
June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Halema`uma`u Cracking and Slumping

Cracking and slumping of the Halema‘uma‘u crater walls are clearly evident in this aerial view captured during HVO's overflight of Kīlauea's summit this morning. Steam plumes have been rising from within the crater, as well as from cracks adjacent to the crater.

June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Ocean Entry and Laze

Video of the lava ocean entry during today's late afternoon overflight of the lower East Rift Zone. The

Aerial photo of cracking
June 9, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Halema‘uma‘u Cracking

Another aerial view showing prominent cracking around Halema‘uma‘u from the ongoing subsidence at Kīlauea's summit. The steaming cracks in the background have been observed for several days.

Filter Total Items: 405
Date published: October 1, 2016

M7.8 Nepal Earthquake, 2015 – A Small Push to Mt. Everest

A large shallow earthquake moves Mt. Everest 3 cm southwest.

Date published: September 20, 2016

Hazard a Guess? The riskiest science quiz you will ever take!

Are rates of sea level rise increasing faster along the West or the East Coast of the United States?

Date published: September 12, 2016


It’s not flirting for submarines, but this week’s EarthWord does feature the ocean...

Date published: September 12, 2016

Tsunami Evacuation Plans – One Size Does Not Fit All: A Case Study in Alameda, California

Tsunami evacuation planning in coastal communities is typically based on maximum evacuation zones that reflect a combination of all potential extreme tsunamis. However, in the case of a smaller tsunami, this approach may result in more people being evacuated than need to be, and in doing so, may overly disrupt the local economy, and strain resources needed during emergency response.

Date published: September 12, 2016

Mapping a Space-Weather Menace to Electric-Power Grids

New strides have been made toward quantifying how geomagnetic storms can interfere with the nation’s electric-power grid systems.  

Date published: September 8, 2016

Possible Explosion of Magnitude 5.3 in North Korea

A possible explosion of magnitude 5.3 occurred in North Korea on September 9, 2016 at 00:30:01 UTC (9:00 am local time).

Date published: September 7, 2016

Uncharted: Exploring one of America’s fastest faults

A team of USGS scientists spent 10 days in the wilderness, exploring one of the fastest-moving faults in America

Date published: September 7, 2016

Photo Opportunity: Scientists Prepare for Seismic Study in East Bay

MEDIA ADVISORY: Faculty and students from California State University, East Bay, U.S. Geological Survey scientists, and community volunteers are conducting an experiment to visualize the subsurface in and around the Hayward Fault and measure how the ground in different neighborhoods responds to earthquake shaking.

Date published: September 7, 2016

Magnitudes for Oklahoma Earthquakes Shift Upward

Revisions follow standard USGS re-analysis

Date published: September 3, 2016

Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake in Oklahoma

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck in Oklahoma on September 3, 2016 at 12:02:44 UTC (7:02 am local time). 

Date published: September 1, 2016

USGS Installs Storm-Tide Sensors in Preparation for Hermine’s Arrival

USGS teams install storm-tide sensors in Florida before Hurricane Hermine makes landfall

Attribution: Natural Hazards