Mission Areas

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.

Read Our Science Strategy
Filter Total Items: 72
Redoubt Volcano viewed from the northwest following the April 4, 2009 eruption (Event 19). Steam rises from the summit crater, p
Date Published: March 7, 2016

There are 169 potentially active volcanoes in the U.S., and the USGS Volcano Hazards Program provides warnings of unrest and eruption for these volcanoes. We offer volcano monitoring data, provide maps and geologic information, conduct research how volcanoes work, and engage with community education and outreach.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 7, 2016

The USGS provides practical, unbiased information about the Nation's rivers and streams that is crucial in mitigating hazards associated with floods. This site provides information about the USGS activities, data, and services provided during regional high-flow events, such as hurricanes or multi-state flooding events.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Our scientists work with NASA and other space agencies to lead investigations, select rover landing sites, create geologic maps and cartographic products for numerous spacecraft missions throughout our solar system. Our Astrogeology Science Center continues to provide support for numerous past, present and future space missions.

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Monitors and studies the active geologic processes and hazards of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field and its caldera. Yellowstone National Park contains the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world. YVO also monitors volcanic activity in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

The USGS Astrogeology Science Center is a hub for planetary research. The center provides guest facilities, labs, and numerous cartographic resources for both the scientific community and the general public. Geologists, archivists, data specialists, and cartographers are employed at the center to assist the planetary science community.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Our satellite remote sensing research and applications are essential for providing required data for mapping fire fuels, assessing fire effects, monitoring fire danger, and measuring progress in implementing the National Fire Plan. Land management agencies, scientific communities, and citizenry affected by wildland fires can benefit from our work.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

The Astrogeology Science Center's mission includes producing planetary maps and cartographic products which reveal topography, geology, topology, image mosaics and more, all made available to the international scientific community and the general public as a national resource.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

ShakeOut, an scenario model was developed to understand the impacts and implications of a hypothetical but realistic 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. Pairing robust science with state-of-the-art modeling and visualization tools, ShakeOut is an accessible and effective message to enhance community preparedness and resilience to earthquakes.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

MTBS is a multi-year project designed to map the burn severity and perimeters of fire across all lands of the United States for the period spanning 1984 through 2010. The data generated by MTBS will be used to identify national trends in burn severity and evaluate the effectiveness of the National Fire Plan and Healthy Forest Restoration Act.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

An existing technological capability (not yet implemented in CA) for providing a few seconds of advance notification before arrival of earthquake-generated seismic waves causing ground shaking, with current efforts underway to move forward with providing users with the means to utilize the system for warning and preparedness action plans.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Post-fire landslides are particularly hazardous because they can occur with little warning, can exert great force on objects in their paths, can strip vegetation, block drainage ways, damage structures, and endanger human life. Our focus is to develop tools and methods for the prediction of post-wildfire landslide activity and hazard delineation.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

What persuades someone to heed a debris flow or wildfire evacuation warning? SAFRR partners in emergency management are especially interested in the results of this study, now underway with Columbia's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.

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USGS science for a changing world logo
April 27, 2016

Download Real-Time Data

Download real-time and definitive data and indices from USGS geomagnetic observatories.

Screenshot of Real-Time Geomagnetism Plots
April 27, 2016

Real-Time Display of Geomagnetism Plots

Real-time HEZF data from USGS geomagnetic observatories with satellite data used to fill gaps.

Screenshot of  Real-Time Dst Display website
April 27, 2016

Real-Time Disturbance Storm Time (Dst) Display

Real-time Dst data from USGS observatories as well as other world partners.

Fish on seafloor, Offshore Northern California
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.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy
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.

Tephra and gas eruption from Mount St. Helens crater with dome
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.

Lidar data of the Gulf Islands, Florida
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.

Colored, shaded multibeam data, offshore of Monterey, CA.
March 15, 2016

California State Waters Map Series GIS Data and Metadata

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.

Screenshot of Waterwatch website drought page
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?

USGS science for a changing world logo
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.

USGS science for a changing world logo
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.

USGS science for a changing world logo
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: 59
Year Published: 2011

Geoinformatics in the public service: building a cyberinfrastructure across the geological surveys

Advanced information technology infrastructure is increasingly being employed in the Earth sciences to provide researchers with efficient access to massive central databases and to integrate diversely formatted information from a variety of sources. These geoinformatics initiatives enable manipulation, modeling and visualization of data in a...

Keller, G. Randy; Baru, Chaitanya; Allison, M. Lee; Gundersen, Linda C.; Richard, Stephen M.
Attribution: Natural Hazards

Year Published: 2010

Temporal variations in Global Seismic Stations ambient noise power levels

Recent concerns about time-dependent response changes in broadband seismometers have motivated the need for methods to monitor sensor health at Global Seismographic Network (GSN) stations. We present two new methods for monitoring temporal changes in data quality and instrument response transfer functions that are independent of Earth seismic...

Ringler, A.T.; Gee, L.S.; Hutt, C.R.; McNamara, D.E.
Temporal variations in Global Seismic Stations ambient noise power levels; 2010; Article; Journal; Seismological Research Letters; Ringler, A.T.; Gee, L.S.; Hutt, C.R.; McNamara, D.E.

Year Published: 2010

OMG earthquake! can twitter improve earthquake response?

[No abstract available]

Earle, P.; Guy, M.; Buckmaster, R.; Ostrum, C.; Horvath, S.; Vaughan, A.
OMG earthquake! can twitter improve earthquake response?; 2010; Article; Journal; Seismological Research Letters; Earle, P.; Guy, M.; Buckmaster, R.; Ostrum, C.; Horvath, S.; Vaughan, A.

Year Published: 2007

Natural Hazards - A National Threat

The USGS Role in Reducing Disaster Losses -- In the United States each year, natural hazards cause hundreds of deaths and cost billions of dollars in disaster aid, disruption of commerce, and destruction of homes and critical infrastructure. Although the number of lives lost to natural hazards each year generally has declined, the economic cost...

Geological Survey, U.S.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Natural Hazards - A National Threat; 2007; FS; 2007-3009; Geological Survey, U.S.

Year Published: 2007

A deep reef in deep trouble

The well-documented degradation of shallower reefs which are often closer to land and more vulnerable to pollution, sewage and other human-related stressors has led to the suggestion that deeper, more remote offshore reefs could possibly serve as sources of coral and fish larvae to replenish the shallower reefs. Yet, the distribution, status, and...

Menza, Charles; Kendall, M.; Rogers, C.; Miller, J.
A deep reef in deep trouble; 2007; Article; Journal; Continental Shelf Research; Menza, C.; Kendall, M.; Rogers, C.; Miller, J.

Year Published: 2006

Hurricanes 2004: An overview of their characteristics and coastal change

Four hurricanes battered the state of Florida during 2004, the most affecting any state since Texas endured four in 1884. Each of the storms changed the coast differently. Average shoreline change within the right front quadrant of hurricane force winds varied from 1 m of shoreline advance to 20 m of retreat, whereas average sand volume change...

Sallenger, Asbury H.; Stockdon, Hilary; Fauver, Laura A.; Hansen, Mark; Thompson, David; Wright, C. Wayne; Lillycrop, Jeff

Year Published: 1998

Experimental Investigations Regarding the Use of Sand as an Inhibitor of Air Convection in Deep Seismic Boreholes

INTRODUCTION Tilt has been the nemesis of horizontal long period seismology since its inception. Modern horizontal long period seismometers with their long natural periods are incredibly sensitive to tilt. They can sense tilts smaller than 10 -11 radians. To most readers, this is just a very very small number, so we will begin with an example...

Holcomb, L. Gary; Sandoval, Leo; Hutt, Bob
Experimental Investigations Regarding the Use of Sand as an Inhibitor of Air Convection in Deep Seismic Boreholes; 1998; OFR; 98-362; Holcomb, L. Gary; Sandoval, Leo; Hutt, Bob

Year Published: 1997

Taking the Earth's pulse

During the past 35 years, scientists have developed a vast network of seismometers that record earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and nuclear explosions throughout the world. Seismographic data support disaster response, scientific research, and global security. With this network, the United States maintains world leadership in monitoring the...

Woodward, Robert L.; Benz, Harly M.; Brown, William M.
Taking the Earth's pulse; 1997; FS; 103-97; Woodward, Robert L.; Benz, Harly M.; Brown, William M., III

Year Published: 1993

Observations and Modeling of Seismic Background Noise

INTRODUCTION The preparation of this report had two purposes. One was to present a catalog of seismic background noise spectra obtained from a worldwide network of seismograph stations. The other purpose was to refine and document models of seismic background noise that have been in use for several years. The second objective was, in...

Peterson, Jon R.
Observations and Modeling of Seismic Background Noise; 1993; OFR; 93-322; Peterson, Jon R.

Year Published: 1992

An Evaluation of Installation Methods for STS-1 Seismometers

INTRODUCTION This report documents the results of a series of experiments conducted by the authors at the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory (ASl) during the spring and summer of 1991; the object of these experiments was to obtain and document quantitative performance comparisons of three methods of installing STS-1 seismometers....

Holcomb, L. Gary; Hutt, Charles R.
An Evaluation of Installation Methods for STS-1 Seismometers; 1992; OFR; 92-302; Holcomb, L. Gary; Hutt, Charles R.

Year Published: 1991

A C Language Implementation of the SRO (Murdock) Detector/Analyzer

A signal detector and analyzer algorithm was described by Murdock and Hutt in 1983. The algorithm emulates the performance of a human interpreter of seismograms. It estimates the signal onset, the direction of onset (positive or negative), the quality of these determinations, the period and amplitude of the signal, and the background noise at the...

Murdock, James N.; Halbert, Scott E.
A C Language Implementation of the SRO (Murdock) Detector/Analyzer; 1991; OFR; 87-158; Murdock, James N.; Halbert, Scott E.

Year Published: 1990

A Numerical Study of Some Potential Sources of Error in Side-by-Side Seismometer Evaluations

INTRODUCTION This report presents the results of a series of computer simulations of potential errors in test data, which might be obtained when conducting side-by-side comparisons of seismometers. These results can be used as guides in estimating potential sources and magnitudes of errors one might expect when analyzing real test data....

Holcomb, L. Gary
A Numerical Study of Some Potential Sources of Error in Side-by-Side Seismometer Evaluations; 1990; OFR; 90-406; Holcomb, L. Gary

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Image of USGS scientist, Neil Ganju, at the Woods Hole Science Stroll outreach event
2017 (approx.)
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Oceanographer, Neil Ganju, sharing science at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll outreach event
Overview of 4 terrain models
2017 (approx.)
Overview of the 4 Continuous Bathymetry and Elevation Models of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone and Continental Shelf
2017 (approx.)
In March 2008, a new volcanic vent opened within Halema‘uma‘u, a crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Island of Hawaiʻi. This new vent is one of two ongoing eruptions on the volcano. The other is on Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone, where vents have been erupting nearly nonstop since 1983. The duration of these simultaneous summit and rift zone eruptions on...
Gerry Hatcher and Shawn Harrison work on their video-camera station atop a hotel in Santa Cruz, California.
2017 (approx.)
Gerry Hatcher (left) and Shawn Harrison work on their video-camera station atop a hotel in Santa Cruz, California.
2017 (approx.)
USGS scientists, along with collaborators from the Marine Biological Laboratory, deployed a carbon flux tower on Great Marsh in 2017. Great Marsh is a 3800 acre salt marsh complex behind the Sandy Neck barrier beach in Barnstable, Cape Cod. This ecosystem is home to a variety of animals, including deer, fox, owls, and the rare Diamondback terrapin. The carbon flux tower monitors the exchange of...
Broad view of an icy scarp on Mars
2017 (approx.)
For the first time, high-resolution images show the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars. This NASA HiRISE image shows an icy scarp on Mars in the context of a broader area.
quadcopter (drone) and camera ready for launch
2017 (approx.)
The 3DR Solo with GoPro Hero4 camera and gimbal. Coming to a survey area near you soon. Photo credit: Shawn Harrison , USGS. This photo was taken during USGS unmanned aerial systems (drone) pilot training. Two training sessions were held - one in February-March 2017 in Santa Cruz, California and the second in April 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. This photo originally was published in a Soundwaves...
Image of Michael Casso giving a lab tour to the Woods Hole Children's School of Science
2017 (approx.)
Michael Casso, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center physical scientist, seeks volunteers from Children’s School of Science students to have their breath measured for carbon dioxide and methane, greenhouse gases USGS scientists measure in the oceans
Predicted probabilities of dune erosion for Hurricane Nate
2017 (approx.)
Predicted probabilities of dune erosion (inner strip), overwash (middle strip), and inundation (outer strip) for Hurricane Nate. Pictures are representative of coastal change observed during past storm events.
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CT scans and photographs of coral collected from reef near polluted groundwater seeps. One set shows more erosion than the other
November 27, 2017

Coral reefs already stressed by ocean acidification are particularly vulnerable to polluted groundwater, according to a recent study by USGS geologist Nancy Prouty and colleagues.

3D point cloud images looking at the Mud Creek slide, first image from airplane photo and second from drone.
November 15, 2017

USGS geologists Jon Warrick (Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center) and Kevin Schmidt (Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center) are quoted in a November 9 Los Angeles Times story titled “Highway 1 was buried under a massive landslide. Months later, engineers battle Mother Nature to fix it.”

Map showing the epicenter of the November 12, 2017 earthquake Iran/Iraq border
November 12, 2017

The USGS has up-to-date details on the November 12, 2017 event.

Distant view of sandy yellow beach stretching from bottom left to upper right of photo.
November 8, 2017

Coastal communities count on beaches for recreation and for protection from large waves, but beaches are vulnerable to threats such as erosion by storms and flooding. Whether beaches grow, shrink, or even disappear depends in part on what happens just offshore. How do features like shifting sandbars affect waves, currents, and the movement of sand from the beach to offshore and back?

3D map of Mud Creek slide derived from video footage collected by drone on October 12, 2017.
November 6, 2017

On October 12, USGS drones collected video footage of the Mud Creek landslide, which buried California State Highway 1 under a third-of-a-mile-wide mass of rock and dirt on May 20.

Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands
October 25, 2017

Coral reef expert Caroline Rogers was the only USGS employee in the Virgin Islands when the Category 5 storm hit.

Drill Rig at the Mt. Elbert Test Site
October 20, 2017

In the past decade, the development of the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and other shales has dominated the national consciousness regarding natural gas. But in Alaska, another form of natural gas has been the focus of research for decades—methane hydrate.

3 men leaning over big yellow metal grab bucket on the deck of a ship. Dark sediment is visible inside bucket
October 19, 2017

An international team of scientists just finished probing the depths of the Pacific Ocean offshore of Alaska and British Columbia, to better understand the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault. During the past century, the 700-mile-long fault has generated at least half a dozen major earthquakes, and future shocks threaten coastal communities in both the United States and Canada.

Drop and Cover Photo
October 18, 2017

Do you know what to do the moment the ground starts shaking? Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

USGS' Owen Brenner wading with GPS backpack
October 10, 2017

A study finds that although the “wilderness breach” created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 has reached a relatively stable size and location, the channel and shoals will keep changing in response to weather. Related research shows the breach isn’t likely to increase storm-tide flooding in Great South Bay.