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

This website brings together information about current and past flooding and USGS flood-focused resources. The USGS provides practical, unbiased information about the Nation's rivers and streams that is crucial in mitigating hazards associated with floods.

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

Explore critical pre- and post-disaster images and datasets online for immediate viewing and downloading. These images are used in disaster preparations, rescue and relief operations, damage assessments, and reconstruction efforts. We supply satellite and aerial images for analysis of disaster areas before, during, and after a disaster.

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

Research projects within the USGS Geomagnetism Program are targeted for societal relevance, especially for space-weather hazard science.

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

The IGEMS provides the public with both an overview and more specific information on current natural hazard events. The Department of the Interior’s Office of Emergency Management provides it as an internet-accessible service.

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

The USGS Geomagnetism Program currently operates 14 magnetic observatories. Magnetometer data are collected at these facilities, and the data are then transmitted to Program headquarters in Golden, Colorado.

Alaska Volcano Observatory logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

The AVO is a partnership among the USGS, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. To mitigate volcanic hazards, AVO monitors and studies Alaska's hazardous volcanoes to forecast and record eruptive activity. AVO also monitors volcanic activity in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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

Our Program researches activities to make accurate landslide hazard maps and forecasts of landslide occurrences.

California Volcano Observatory emblem
Date Published: March 2, 2016

CalVO operates real-time volcano monitoring networks, disseminates forecasts and notifications of significant activity, assesses volcano hazards, researches volcano processes, and works with communities to prepare for volcanic eruptions in California and Nevada. The Observatory is located at USGS offices in Menlo Park, California.

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

Landslide sites and data for learning more about the physical processes that trigger landslides or control their movement.

Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier, northern aerial view
Date Published: March 2, 2016

The CVO staff conduct research on many aspects of active volcanism, respond to dangerous volcanic activity in many parts of the world, and maintain a close watch over volcanoes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The USGS established CVO in Vancouver, Washington, after the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens.

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

Tsunami awareness public service announcements come from collaboration among the USGS SAFRR team, outside partners, and Pasadena's Art Center College of Design.

Scientist shields face while scooping lava with a hammer for chemical analysis
Date Published: March 2, 2016

HVO operates monitoring networks, assesses hazards, and issues notifications of volcanic activity and earthquakes in the State of Hawai‘i. HVO scientists conduct fundamental research on volcanic processes and work to educate the communities at risk. HVO is located in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park on the Island of Hawaii.

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Ash-rich plume rises out of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Kilauea Volcano Hawaiʻi
March 4, 2016

Current Alerts for U.S. Volcanoes

Volcano-alert notifications are produced by Volcano Observatory scientists based on analysis of data from monitoring networks, direct observations, and satellite sensors. They are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity and include text about the nature of the unrest or eruption and about potential or current hazards and likely outcomes.

March 4, 2016

/data-tools/volcano-notification-service-vns" target="">Volcano Notification Service (VNS)

The Volcano Notification Service (VNS) is a free service that sends you notification emails about volcanic activity happening at U.S. monitored volcanoes. You can customize the VNS to deliver notifications for certain volcanoes or a range of volcanoes, and you can also choose the notification types you want to receive.

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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 children surrounding USGS drone pilot, Emily Sturdivant, at the Woods Hole Science Stroll
August 12, 2017
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center drone pilot, Emily Sturdivant, provides a demonstration of drone capabilities at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
Image of USGS Scientific Programmer, Tarandeep Kalra sharing science at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
August 12, 2017
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Scientific Programmer, Tarandeep Kalra, talking to children about oceanographic modeling at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
July 25, 2017
An Instagram Story posted to the @USGS Instagram account about Matt Patrick, Research Geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO).
Two same-size items: Pack of playing cards (top) and circuit board with fan and electronic components (bottom).
July 18, 2017
The small computer, or “micro-controller,” at the bottom of this photo controls the operation of two video cameras mounted on the 10-story Dream Inn hotel in Santa Cruz, California. The cameras take 10-minute videos of Santa Cruz Main Beach and Cowells Beach every half hour during daylight hours ( view the most recent images ). The micro-controller, mounted near the cameras in a weatherproof box...
July 14, 2017
The USGS and its cooperators have installed debris-flow monitoring equipment in the largest drainage basin at Chalk Cliffs, CO. Data collection at this site supports research on the hydrologic factors that control debris-flow initiation, entrainment, and flow dynamics. This debris flow took place July 19, 2017. The video includes a single view of an instrumented reach of the channel. A larger...
Photograph of California coastal Highway 1 looking north toward Big Sur.
July 12, 2017
Near San Simeon, view looks north up Highway 1 along the California coast toward Big Sur.
Aerial photograph looking from an airplane down on the Big Sur Landslide in California.
July 7, 2017
USGS scientists continue to monitor the slide by collecting imagery every couple of weeks, weather permitting. Pilot Bob Van Wagenen, contracted through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Aviation Services, takes air photos for Jon Warrick’s Big Sur Landslide team, flying out of the Watsonville Municipal Airport in a Cessna 182R. He uses a camera-plus-GPS system designed by USGS ocean...
Image in mostly black and gray tones showing distant view of beach stretching from bottom left to upper right of photo.
June 20, 2017
“Variance” image produced from video shot at Madeira Beach, Florida, on June 20, 2017. The more the light intensity changes at a given spot, or “pixel,” during the video, the brighter the value assigned to that pixel. Motion tends to produce changes in light intensity. Note bright bands parallel to shore where waves were breaking. Researchers are using these and other video images to improve...
Distant view of sandy beach stretching from bottom left to upper right of photo
June 20, 2017
Snapshot, or first frame of from a 17-minute video shot on June 20, 2017, in Madeira Beach, Florida. Researchers at the USGS are using these and other video images to improve understanding and computer modeling of beach processes, especially those that change the coast. See also, a time-averaged image derived from the same video .
Distant view of sandy beach stretching from bottom left to upper right of photo.
June 20, 2017
Time-averaged image, or “timex,” created by averaging the intensity of light recorded at each spot, or “pixel,” during a 17-minute video taken at Madeira Beach, Florida, on June 20, 2017. Blurred white bands show where waves are breaking. Offshore band shows location of a sand bar. Line between wet and dry sand shows the maximum height on the beach reached by the waves (“runup”). Researchers at...
Piles of seaweed fragments on sand beach. Low sand cliff on left with broken walkway. Multistory buildings, clouds in distance.
June 7, 2017
Photograph taken June 7, 2016, one day after Tropical Storm Colin, on Sunset Beach in the town of St. Pete Beach, Florida. Storm waves eroded the beach and dune, producing a cliff-like feature called a beach scarp.
Sandy beach with white foamy water on right, low grassy dunes on left. Multistory building in distance. Dark-gray cloudy sky.
June 6, 2017
Photograph taken during Tropical Storm Colin, June 6, 2016, on Sunset Beach in the town of St. Pete Beach, Florida.
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Satellite image of Hurricane Harvey
August 24, 2017

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Harvey, visit the USGS Hurricane Harvey page.

Storm-tide sensors are being installed at key locations along the Texas Gulf Coast by the U.S. Geological Survey in advance of Hurricane Harvey.

USGS logo green
August 14, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey awarded approximately $4.9 million this week to six universities and a university-governed non-profit, to support transitioning the west coast “ShakeAlert” earthquake early warning system into a production system.

House damage in central Oklahoma from a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in 2011
August 11, 2017

Editor:  In the public interest and in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project.  Your assistance in informing the local communities is appreciated.

snow-capped volcano, Mount Hood on the horizon, with city of Portland, Oregon in foreground
August 8, 2017

Join volcano scientists from around the world during scientific meeting and associated public event in Portland.

Earthquake Catalog Map Results Example
August 8, 2017

After the next significant earthquake, many sources will be disseminating information from a variety of accounts, tools and services.

A gas plume arising from Augustine Volcano during it's eruptive phase 2005-06.
August 7, 2017

True or False:  Lightning that takes place during a volcanic eruption is the same as lightning that occurs during a thunderstorm?

Image: USGS Logo
July 31, 2017

A new U.S. Geological Survey-led study suggests that earthquake-related deformation just below the Earth's surface can be quite different from how it is expressed at the surface.

Girls points to a location on a map laying on the ground.
July 27, 2017

MEDIA ADVISORY

Twenty-five middle-school girls from 11 cities in Washington and Oregon are participating in the third annual “GeoGirls” outdoor volcano science program at Mount St. Helens, jointly organized by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Mount St. Helens Institute.

Photo of the Mud Creed landslide near Big Sur, California
July 14, 2017

Scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center mapped the offshore extent of the Mud Creek landslide on California’s Big Sur coast on July 11, 2017.

3D flyover view of Mud Creek slide
July 11, 2017

The Mud Creek landslide on California’s Big Sur coast keeps eroding.

USGS: Science for a changing world
July 7, 2017

Media Alert: Reporters wishing to accompany USGS scientists in the field the week of July 10 should contact Bill Coon, 607-220-6280 or wcoon@usgs.gov by 5 pm EDT Friday, July 7.