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Science

USGS scientists in the Environments Program conduct research to inform the management and conservation of ecosystems across the US. This research includes modeling and predicting how ecosystems respond to natural and human-induced change, developing and evaluating ecosystem restoration, and identifying the relationships between ecosystem change and biodiversity. 

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Coastal Ecosystems

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Science for Ecosystem Management

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Wildland Fire

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...

Learn More