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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: 266
Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview of Hazards and Risk Assessments

Landslide hazard and risk assessments help people understand the dangers from landslides to their towns and cities, homes, facilities, and businesses.  Landslide hazard assessments are estimates of the probability that landslides will affect a particular area or location, typically within a given timeframe.  

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview

Although they are relatively uncommon, large catastrophic landslides move rapidly destroying everything in their paths.  Such landslides are difficult to predict as shown by the following examples.

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview

The most frequent and widespread damaging landslides in the U.S. are induced (started) by prolonged or heavy rainfall.  The majority of rainfall-induced landslides are shallow (less than a few meters deep), small, and move rapidly.  Many rainfall-induced landslides transform into debris flows (fast-moving slurries of water, soil, and rock) as they travel down steep slopes, especially those...

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Climate impacts to Arctic coasts, recent activities

New instruments installed to measure Arctic coastal erosion; community outreach event held

Contacts: Li Erikson
Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Additional Landslide Information

More sites relating to landslides.

Date published: July 1, 2018
Status: Active

Further Reading

More readings on Aurora, Geomagnetic Storms, Geomagnetism and Magnetic Fields, Magnetosphere and Ionosphere and Space Weather Impacts on Earth. 

Date published: July 1, 2018
Status: Active

International Observatory Programs

Links to our international observatory partners' programs.

Date published: June 30, 2018
Status: Archived

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you have a question? The answer is probably right here! Go to the FAQ tab.

Date published: June 28, 2018
Status: Active

Preliminary Analysis of Satellite Imagery and Seismic Observations of the Nuugaatsiaq Landslide and Tsunami, Greenland

Disclaimer

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely science to assess ongoing hazards. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages...

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Active

Model Updates

Updates to the models for post-fire debris-flows.

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Active

Scientific Background

The scientific background information for Emergency Assessment of Post-Fire Debris-Flow Hazards.

Date published: June 25, 2018
Status: Active

Sea-Level Rise Hazards and Decision Support- Coastal Wetlands

Coastal wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. These wetlands at the land-ocean margin provide many direct benefits to humans, including habitat for commercially important fisheries and wildlife; storm protection; improved water quality through sediment, nutrient, and pollution removal; recreation; and aesthetic values. These valuable ecosystems will be highly...

Filter Total Items: 126
Date published: February 23, 2017

Data Viewer—Post-Hurricane Sandy Lidar Elevations and Features

This viewer provides visualization for and accessibility to USGS lidar data obtained following Hurricane Sandy (October 2012). Access and download data and publications that include the source lidar data and the coastal dune and shoreline data needed to examine coastal change and erosion hazards.

Date published: February 22, 2017

Sandy API

Testing for sandy

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Date published: April 18, 2016

Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photography Portal

This portal contains U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) video and photography of the seafloor off of coastal California and Massachusetts, and aerial imagery of the coastline along segments of the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic coasts. These data were collected as part of several USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program Seafloor Mapping projects and Hurricane and Extreme Storm research.

Date published: April 12, 2016

Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Map

The Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Mapping Application showcases data and analytical products from Aerial reconnaissance imagery; Environmental Contaminants; and Reproductive success of piper plovers.

Date published: March 17, 2016

Volcano Monitoring Data

Many volcanoes in the U.S. are monitored by arrays of several instruments that detect subtle movements within the earth and changes in gas and water chemistry. The Volcano Hazards Program streams this data to its Volcano Observatories and makes it available on volcano-specific websites.

Date published: March 17, 2016

Coastal and Marine Geoscience Data System

Site provides access to Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) data via Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards services; serving data to GeoMapApp and Virtual Ocean 2-D and 3-D earth browsing tools, for data integration, visualization and analysis; and metadata catalogs for data discovery.

Date published: March 15, 2016

High-resolution geophysical data collected along the Delmarva Peninsula in 2015, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2015-001-FA

The Delmarva Peninsula is a 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex that was significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012. The U.S. Geological Survey conducted cruises during the summers of 2014 and 2015 to map the inner continental shelf of the Delmarva Peninsula using geophysical and sampling techniques to define the geologic framework

Date published: March 15, 2016

California State Waters Map Series Data Catalog

GIS data files for map areas offshore of California are listed with a brief description, a small image, and links to the metadata files and the downloadable data files.

Date published: March 7, 2016

Drought Watch

Where in the Nation are droughts or very low flows occurring now? How can I see these sites on a map and get to the data?

Date published: March 7, 2016

Real-time Streamflow

Map and data of real-time streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year in the U.S.

Date published: March 7, 2016

ISIS – The Integrated System for Imagers and Spectrometers

ISIS has many standard image processing operations such as contrast stretch, image algebra, filters, and statistical analysis. Isis operates on both classical two-dimensional images as well as three-dimensional cubes collected from imaging spectrometers. It also has unique capabilities for processing data from NASA spacecraft missions.

Date published: March 7, 2016

PILOT – The Planetary Image LOcator Tool

PILOT is a web based search tool for the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC) database of the Planetary Data System. PILOT features SPICE-corrected image locations and searching capabilities using a navigable map, user selectable image constraints, and facilitates bulk downloads and/or image processing using POW.

Filter Total Items: 4,327
Year Published: 2018

Temporal stress changes caused by earthquakes: A review

Earthquakes can change the stress field in the Earth’s lithosphere as they relieve and redistribute stress. Earthquake-induced stress changes have been observed as temporal rotations of the principal stress axes following major earthquakes in a variety of tectonic settings. The stress changes due to the 2011 Mw9.0 Tohoku-Oki, Japan, earthquake...

Hardebeck, Jeanne L.; Okada, Tomomi
Hardebeck, J. L., & Okada, T. (2018). Temporal stress changes caused by earthquakes: A review. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JB014617.

Year Published: 2018

Testing for the ‘predictability’ of dynamically triggered earthquakes in Geysers Geothermal Field

The Geysers geothermal field is well known for being susceptible to dynamic triggering of earthquakes by large distant earthquakes, owing to the introduction of fluids for energy production. Yet, it is unknown if dynamic triggering of earthquakes is ‘predictable’ or whether dynamic triggering could lead to a potential hazard for energy production...

Aiken, Chastity; Meng, Xiaofeng; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Aiken, C., Meng, X., & Hardebeck, J. (2018). Testing for the ‘predictability’ of dynamically triggered earthquakes in The Geysers geothermal field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 486, 129-140.

Year Published: 2018

Clayey landslide initiation and acceleration strongly modulated by soil swelling

Largely unknown mechanisms restrain motion of clay-rich, slow-moving landslides that are widespread worldwide and rarely accelerate catastrophically. We studied a clayey, slow-moving landslide typical of thousands in northern California, USA, to decipher hydrologic-mechanical interactions that modulate landslide dynamics. Similar to some other...

Schulz, William; Smith, Joel B.; Wang, Gonghui; Jiang, Yao; Roering, Joshua J.

Year Published: 2018

Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria

Rainfall-induced shallow landsliding is a persistent hazard to human life and property. Despite the observed connection between infiltration through the unsaturated zone and shallow landslide initiation, there is considerable uncertainty in how estimates of unsaturated soil-water retention properties affect slope stability assessment. This source...

Thomas, Matthew A.; Mirus, Benjamin B.; Collins, Brian D.; Lu, Ning; Godt, Jonathan W.
Thomas MA, Mirus BB, Collins BD, Lu N, and Godt JW (2018) Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria, Landslides. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-0950-z

Year Published: 2018

Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide

The combined application of continuous Global Positioning System data (high temporal resolution) with spaceborne interferometric synthetic aperture radar data (high spatial resolution) can reveal much more about the complexity of large landslide movement than is possible with geodetic measurements tied to only a few specific measurement sites....

Hu, Xie; Lu, Zhong; Pierson, Thomas C.; Kramer, Rebecca; George, David L.
Hu, X., Lu, Z., Pierson, T. C., Kramer, R., & George, D. L. (2018). Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide. Geophysical Research Letters, 45. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL076623

Year Published: 2018

Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths

The Mendocino Triple Junction region is the most seismically active part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The northward moving Pacific plate collides with the subducting Gorda plate causing intense internal deformation within it. Here we show that the stress field rotates rapidly with depth across the thrust interface from a strike-slip regime...

Li, Duo; McGuire, Jeffrey J.; Liu, Yajing; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Li, D., McGuire, J. J., Liu, Y., & Hardebeck, J. L. (2018). Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 485, 55-64.

Year Published: 2018

Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes

Thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle; erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.We investigated eight of these locations and found that they expose deposits of water ice that can be >100 meters thick, extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to...

Dundas, Colin M.; Bramson, Ali M; Ojha, Lujendra; Wray, James J.; Mellon, Michael T.; Byrne, Shane; McEwen, Alfred S.; Putzig, N. E.; Viola, Donna; Sutton, Sarah; Clark, E.; Holt, J.W.
Dundas, C. M., et al. (2018). Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes. Science, 359, 199-201, doi:10.1126/science.aao1619.

Year Published: 2018

Poroelastic stress changes associated with primary oil production in the Los Angeles Basin, California

While recent investigations of induced earthquakes have focused on earthquakes associated with wastewater injection and unconventional recovery methods, the potential for earthquakes to be induced by primary production has long been recognized. We use boundary element methods to quantify the predicted geometry and amplitude of stress and strain...

Hough, Susan E.; Bilham, Roger
Hough, S.E. and R. Bilham (2018). Poroelastic stress changes associated with primary oil production in the Los Angeles Basin, California

Year Published: 2018

Image simulation and assessment of the colour and spatial capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

This study aims to assess the spatial and visible/near-infrared (VNIR) colour/spectral capabilities of the 4-band Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) aboard the ExoMars 2016 Trace Grace Orbiter (TGO). The instrument response functions for the CaSSIS imager was used to resample spectral libraries, modelled spectra and to construct...

Tornabene, Livio L.; Seelos, Frank P.; Pommerol, Antoine; Thomas, Nicolas; Caudill, Christy M.; Becerra, Patricio; Bridges, John C.; Byrne, Shane; Cardinale, Marco; Chojnacki, Matthew; Conway, Susan J.; Cremonese, Gabriele; Dundas, Colin M.; El-Maarry, M. R.; Fernando, Jennifer; Hansen, Candice J.; Hansen, Kayle; Harrison, Tanya N.; Henson, Rachel; Marinangeli, Lucia; McEwen, Alfred S.; Pajola, Maurizio; Sutton, Sarah S.; Wray, James J.
Tornabene, L. L., et al., 2018. Image Simulation and Assessment of the Colour and Spatial Capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Space Science Reviews, 214, doi:10.1007/s11214-017-0436-7.

Year Published: 2018

Irregular focal mechanisms observed at Salton Sea Geothermal Field: Possible influences of anthropogenic stress perturbations

At the Salton Sea Geothermal Field (SSGF), strain accumulation is released through seismic slip and aseismic deformation. Earthquake activity at the SSGF often occurs in swarm-like clusters, some with clear migration patterns. We have identified an earthquake sequence composed entirely of focal mechanisms representing an ambiguous style of...

Schoenball, Martin; Crandall-Bear, Aren; Barbour, Andrew J.; Schoenball, Martin

Year Published: 2018

Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres' largest crater, Kerwan

Gravity data of Ceres returned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dawn spacecraft is consistent with a lower density crust of variable thickness overlying a higher density mantle. Crustal thickness variations can affect the long‐term, postimpact modification of impact craters on Ceres. Here we show that the unusual morphology...

Bland, Michael T.; Ermakov, Anton; Raymond, Carol A.; Williams, David A.; Bowling, Tim J.; Preusker, F.; Park, Ryan S.; Marchi, Simone; Castillo-Rogez, Julie C.; Fu, R.R.; Russell, Christopher T.
Bland, M. T., Ermakov, A. I., Raymond, C. A., Williams, D. A., Bowling, T. J., Preusker, F., … Russell, C. T. (2018). Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres’s largest crater, Kerwan. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 1297–1304. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL075526

Year Published: 2018

Planetary dune workshop expands to include subaqueous processes

Dune-like structures appear in the depths of Earth’s oceans, across its landscapes, and in the extremities of the solar system beyond. Dunes rise up under the thick dense atmosphere of Venus, and they have been found under the almost unimaginably ephemeral atmosphere of a comet.

Titus, Timothy N.; Bryant, Gerald; Rubin, David M.
Titus, T., D. M. Rubin, and G. Bryant (2018), Planetary dune workshop expands to include subaqueous processes, Eos, 99, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO092783. Published on 15 February 2018.

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View of a crater with clouds in the background
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Sunrise at Haleam`uma`u Crater

Sunrise view of Halema‘uma‘u crater as seen from the USGS observation point from Volcano House in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Flowing from Fissure 8

Lava within the fissure 8 cone roils and churns where it eupts from the vent and flows rapidly down the well-established channel. This image was captured via a Mavic Pro drone courtesy of the DOI/USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems team.

Lava flowing at night time seen as bright red and orange
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 at Night

USGS Unmanned Aircraft Systems image of fissure 8 looking east. Below the prominent fissure 8 cone, smaller vents above the original fissure emit volcanic gas. Lava has a brighter glow near the vent exit where it is more turbulent than in the downstream channel, which has portions of darker, cooled crust on its surface.

Scientist looks at an active fissure eruption
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Scientist Observing Fissure 8

USGS scientist observes the glow of fissure 8 fountain and channel within Leilani Estates. Steam rises from cracks and hot spots within the 

...
Animated GIF showing changes in size of the crater over a two month period
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Animation of Summit Subsidence

This animated GIF shows a sequence of radar amplitude images that were acquired by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana CosmoSkyMed satellite system. The images illustrate changes to the 

...
Lava flowing
July 4, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Channel Bend

The lava channel from fissure 8 jumped its banks near Kapoho Crater where the channel makes a 90 degree bend. The flow within the channel was diverted around a constricted area and joined the channel again "downstream" to the south (left).

View of muddy, eroding coastal bluffs with a visible permafrost layer and tumbling tundra on top.
July 3, 2018

Actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island

Photograph of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, located on the northern coast of Alaska.

View of a crater
July 3, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Sunrise at Halema`uma`u Crater

Inward slumping of Halema‘uma‘u continues in response to ongoing subsidence at Kīlauea Volcano's summit. This image, taken from a temporary observation post located at Volcano House, shows steep walls on the western side of the crater and sloping piles of rubble from rockfall events.

Lava flowing out of a fissure at night
July 3, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 Flow at Night

During the overnight hours, the UAS (Unoccupied Aircraft Systems) team flew sections of the lower East Rift Zone, monitoring fissure 8 activity and reports of small overflows from the lava channel. This view of fissure 8 and the upper lava channel shows roiling 

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Lava flowing from an active fissure
July 3, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 Lava Flow

Fissure 8 and the upper lava channel, viewed from the early morning helicopter overflight of the lower East Rift Zone. Recent heavy rains have soaked into the still-warm tephra and the moisture rises as steam (right side of lava channel).

View of muddy, eroding coastal bluffs with a visible permafrost layer and a tumbling tundra layer on top.
July 3, 2018

Eroding bluffs in Kaktovik

View looking east of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, which is located on the northern coast of Alaska.

Lava flowing
July 3, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Evolution of a Blocked Channel (Part 2)

Evolution of a blocked channel, image 2: While observing this area of the fissure 8 lava channel near Kapoho cone during the morning overflight, geologists witnesed an "apartment-building-sized" blockage within the channel give way and be pushed down stream by the pressurized lava behind. The dark portion within the red channel is the freed blockage. Lavacontinues to

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Filter Total Items: 380
Date published: January 30, 2018

January 23, 2018 M7.9 Gulf of Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami

One week ago, on January 23rd at 12:31 a.m. local time, Alaskans were rocked by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake, with an epicenter in the Gulf of Alaska, about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, and about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak Island.

Date published: January 29, 2018

Elementary school students visit USGS office in Santa Cruz

On January 17, 4th and 5th graders from De Laveaga Elementary School visited the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

Date published: January 26, 2018

USGS Geologists Join Efforts in Montecito to Assess Debris-Flow Aftermath

Days after fatal debris flows devastated Southern California’s Montecito community,  a team of U.S. Geological Survey geologists joined county, state, and federal partners to survey and  evaluate the aftermath.

 

Date published: January 25, 2018

CMGP Lidar Coordinator participating in National Elevation Assessments and Coordination session at 2018 ASPRS Annual Conference

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, will moderate and participate in the National Elevation Assessments and Coordination session at the 2018 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Annual Conference.

Date published: January 24, 2018

TV interview with NBC Philadelphia about flooding threats to U.S. East Coast

USGS geologist Patrick Barnard gave a live interview to Philadelphia's NBC10 meteorologist Tammie Souza on January 23 during a national weather conference in Lake Tahoe, California.

Date published: January 24, 2018

Alaska Earthquake Rattles Florida’s Groundwater Plumbing

At 12:32 am Alaska time on January 23, 2018, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake shook Alaska residents out of their beds and set off fears of a tsunami all down the West Coast. Fortunately, the tsunami was only a few inches in height, but within an hour of the earthquake in Alaska, waves of a different sort were hitting far away in Florida. 

Date published: January 23, 2018

ShakeAlert: The Path to West Coast Earthquake Early Warning: How a Few Seconds Can Save Lives and Property — Public Lecture

News reporters are invited to attend an illustrated public lecture to learn how U.S. Geological Survey scientists and partners are developing ShakeAlert. The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system will begin limited operations this year. Alerts could save lives and properties but several challenges remain. With millions at risk, why isn't full public alerting happening yet?

Date published: January 23, 2018

Magnitude 7.9 Earthquake Gulf of Alaska

The USGS has up-to-date details on the January 23, 2018 event.

Date published: January 18, 2018

USGS Scientist Mobilizes with Recon Team to Learn from Mexico's Earthquake Early Warning System

USGS seismologist Elizabeth Cochran studied the performance of Mexico City’s earthquake early warning system,  during devastating Sept. 19, 2017 event

 

Date published: January 17, 2018

USGS scientist explains how king tides provide a glimpse of future sea levels

USGS geologist Patrick Barnard spoke to the public at a “Coffee and King Tides” gathering held in Half Moon Bay, California, on December 4.

Date published: January 17, 2018

USGS coastal-flooding projections inform national defense authorization act

Results of USGS research investigating sea-level rise impacts to Department of Defense (DoD) facilities in Pacific atolls are included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

Date published: January 16, 2018

Enthusiastic response to open house at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz

USGS scientists at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, spoke with an estimated 300 visitors during a December 9 open house.

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