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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
A summary of recent and past landslides and debris flows caused by rainfall in Northern and Central California.
A summary of recent and past landslides and debris flows caused by rainfall in Southern California.
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....
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.
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.
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.
Preliminary simulations of the tsunami from the March 11, 2011 M=9.0 subduction zone earthquake offshore of Honshu, Japan
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
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.
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  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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
A large shallow earthquake moves Mt. Everest 3 cm southwest.
Are rates of sea level rise increasing faster along the West or the East Coast of the United States?
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.
New strides have been made toward quantifying how geomagnetic storms can interfere with the nation’s electric-power grid systems.
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).
A team of USGS scientists spent 10 days in the wilderness, exploring one of the fastest-moving faults in America
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.
USGS teams install storm-tide sensors in Florida before Hurricane Hermine makes landfall