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Science

The USGS provides science about natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. Our scientists develop new methods and tools to supply timely, relevant, and useful information about the Earth and its processes. Learn more below.

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Types of Water

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How We Use Water

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Measuring and Monitoring Water

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Aquatic Biology and Ecosystems

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Common Water Issues

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Essential Tools and Products

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Advanced Capabilities and Research

FAQs

Can you predict earthquakes?

No. Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. USGS scientists can only calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur (shown on our hazard mapping) in a specific area within a certain number of years. An earthquake prediction must define 3 elements: 1...

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Can you predict earthquakes?

No. Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. USGS scientists can only calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur (shown on our hazard mapping) in a specific area within a certain number of years. An earthquake prediction must define 3 elements: 1...

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Can animals predict earthquakes?

The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behavior prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC. Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days before a destructive earthquake. Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an...

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Can animals predict earthquakes?

The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behavior prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC. Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days before a destructive earthquake. Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an...

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Why are we having so many earthquakes? Has naturally occurring earthquake activity been increasing? Does this mean a big one is going to hit? OR We haven't had any earthquakes in a long time; does this mean that the pressure is building up for a big one?

A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase nor decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent. The ComCat earthquake catalog contains an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years--not because there are more earthquakes, but because there are more seismic instruments and they are...

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Why are we having so many earthquakes? Has naturally occurring earthquake activity been increasing? Does this mean a big one is going to hit? OR We haven't had any earthquakes in a long time; does this mean that the pressure is building up for a big one?

A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase nor decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent. The ComCat earthquake catalog contains an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years--not because there are more earthquakes, but because there are more seismic instruments and they are...

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Education

USGS On The Road

Watch all episodes of USGS On The Road, a web-series about USGS scientists and water science from all corners of Maryland, Delaware, and DC.

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USGS On The Road

Watch all episodes of USGS On The Road, a web-series about USGS scientists and water science from all corners of Maryland, Delaware, and DC.

Learn More

Karst Interest Group (KIG) Workshop

The Karst Interest Group’s (KIG) mission is to encourage and support inter-disciplinary collaboration and technology transfer among scientists working in karst areas.

The 9th USGS Karst Interest Group is planned for October 22-24, 2024 in Nashville, TN.   

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Karst Interest Group (KIG) Workshop

The Karst Interest Group’s (KIG) mission is to encourage and support inter-disciplinary collaboration and technology transfer among scientists working in karst areas.

The 9th USGS Karst Interest Group is planned for October 22-24, 2024 in Nashville, TN.   

Learn More

Water Science School

Welcome to the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Water Science School. We offer information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where you can give opinions and test your water knowledge.

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Water Science School

Welcome to the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Water Science School. We offer information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where you can give opinions and test your water knowledge.

Learn More