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.

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Filter Total Items: 229
Date published: July 14, 2018
Status: Active

Landslides 101

What is a landslide? Where do landslides occur? Why study landslides?

Date published: July 12, 2018
Status: Active

U.S. West Coast and Alaska Marine Geohazards

Marine geohazards are sudden and extreme events beneath the ocean that threaten coastal populations. Such underwater hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis.

Devastating earthquakes in Japan (2011) and Chile (2010) that spawned pan-oceanic tsunamis sent a sobering reminder that U.S. coastlines are also vulnerable to natural disasters that originate in...

Date published: July 10, 2018
Status: Active

Landslides Glossary

Definitions of landslide science terms.

Date published: July 8, 2018
Status: Active

Fact Sheets

Date published: July 6, 2018
Status: Active

Videos

Educational videos about the science of landslides and debris flows.

Date published: July 5, 2018
Status: Active

Coastal Change Processes

The primary objective of this project is to increase our understanding of the physical processes that cause coastal change, and ultimately improve our capability to predict the processes and their impacts. This will be approached by using geophysical surveys, oceanographic studies, and predictive models to investigate the interactions of shoreline, nearshore, and offshore sediment transport...

Date published: July 4, 2018
Status: Active

State Geologists & Geological Surveys

Geological Surveys, city and county governments, and professional consultants may have specific landslide information for your area.

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
Filter Total Items: 105
Date published: January 19, 2018

Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer

Total water level (TWL) at the shoreline is the combination of tides, surge, and wave runup. A forecast of TWL is an estimate of the elevation where the ocean will meet the coast and can provide guidance on potential coastal erosion and flooding hazards.

Date published: January 19, 2018

Oblique Aerial Photography Viewer

Obique photos offer a unique perspective of the coast. Features such as beach erosion or accretion, dune erosion and overwash can all be clearly characterized in this imagery. It also documents coastal infrastructure, as well as the damage that infrastructure may incur as the result of an impacting hurricane. 

Date published: December 29, 2017

Multibeam and multichannel sparker seismic-reflection data between Cross Sound and Dixon Entrance, offshore southeastern Alaska, collected from 2016-05-17 to 2016-06-12 during field activity 2016-625-FA

Multibeam bathymetry and multichannel sparker seismic relfection data collected along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault between Icy Point and Dixon Entrance, offshore southeastern Alaska from 2016-05-17 to 2016-06-12.

Date published: December 8, 2017

iCoast

Help scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey annotate aerial photographs with keyword tags to identify changes to the coast after extreme storms.

Date published: October 19, 2017

Multichannel minisparker and chirp seismic-reflection data of field activity 2015-651-FA; Chatham Strait and Cross Sound, southeastern Alaska from 2015-08-03 to 2015-08-21

High-resolution multichannel minisparker and chirp seismic-reflection data were collected in August of 2015 to explore marine geologic hazards of inland waterways of southeastern Alaska. Sub-bottom profiles were acquired in the inland waters between Glacier Bay and Juneau, including Cross Sound and Chatham Strait.

Date published: September 20, 2017

Hurricane Jose 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Date published: September 19, 2017

Interpretive data release for Oregon Outer Continental Shelf Seafloor Mapping: Selected Lease Blocks Relevant to Renewable Energy

This data release includes the results of analysis of video data conducted by Oregon State University and the geo-habitat interpretation of multibeam echo sounder (MBES) data conducted by the USGS.

Date published: September 18, 2017

Hurricane Maria 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Date published: September 18, 2017

National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS compilation of updated vector shorelines and associated shoreline change data for the north coast of Alaska, U.S. Canadian border to Icy Cape

This data release is an update to the original North Coast of Alaska data and includes revised rate-of-change calculations based on two additional shoreline positions data and improved rate metrics. 

Date published: September 6, 2017

Hurricane Harvey 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Date published: August 24, 2017

Coastal Change Hazards Portal

Interactive access to coastal change science and data for our Nation’s coasts. Information and products are organized within three coastal change hazard themes: 1) extreme storms, 2) shoreline change, and 3) sea-level rise. Each data item represents an individual research product, with some items grouped together as aggregates to show the breadth of the topic and make it easy to explore.

Date published: July 25, 2017

Data Release for USGS Field Activity 2014-607-FA--Oregon OCS Seafloor Mapping: Selected Lease Blocks Relevant to Renewable Energy

Data collected during 12-hour day operations in 2014, out of Charleston Harbor near Coos Bay, Oregon. The cruise plan consisted of 23 days on site split between sonar mapping and video ground truth surveying.

Filter Total Items: 4,147
Year Published: 2018

Geologic map of the Nepenthes Planum Region, Mars

This map product contains a map sheet at 1:1,506,000 scale that shows the geology of the Nepenthes Planum region of Mars, which is located between the cratered highlands that dominate the southern hemisphere and the less-cratered sedimentary plains that dominate the northern hemisphere.  The map region contains cone- and mound-shaped...

Skinner, James A.; Tanaka, Kenneth L.
Skinner, J.A., Jr., and Tanaka, K.L., 2018, Geologic map of the Nepenthes Planum Region, Mars: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3389, pamphlet 11 p., scale 1:1,506,000, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3389.

Year Published: 2018

Geoelectric hazard assessment: the differences of geoelectric responses during magnetic storms within common physiographic zones

Geomagnetic field data obtained through the INTERMAGNET program are convolved with with magnetotelluric surface impedance from four EarthScope USArray sites to estimate the geoelectric variations throughout the duration of a magnetic storm. A duration of time from June 22, 2016, to June 25, 2016, is considered which encompasses a...

Cuttler, Stephen W.; Love, Jeffrey J.; Swidinsky, Andrei
Cuttler, S. W., Love, J. J. & Swidinsky, A., 2018. Geoelectric hazard assessment: the differences of geoelectric responses during magnetic storms within common physiographic zones, Earth Planets Space, 70, 35, doi:10.1186/s40623-018-0807-7.

Year Published: 2018

Integrate urban‐scale seismic hazard analyses with the U.S. National Seismic Hazard Model

For more than 20 yrs, damage patterns and instrumental recordings have highlighted the influence of the local 3D geologic structure on earthquake ground motions (e.g., M">M 6.7 Northridge, California, Gao et al., 1996; M">M 6.9 Kobe, Japan, Kawase, 1996; M">M 6.8 Nisqually, Washington, Frankel...

Moschetti, Morgan P.; Luco, Nicolas; Frankel, Arthur; Petersen, Mark D.; Aagaard, Brad T.; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Blanpied, Michael; Boyd, Oliver; Briggs, Richard; Gold, Ryan D.; Graves, Robert; Hartzell, Stephen; Rezaeian, Sanaz; Stephenson, William J.; Wald, David J.; Williams, Robert A.; Withers, Kyle

Year Published: 2018

THRESH—Software for tracking rainfall thresholds for landslide and debris-flow occurrence, user manual

Precipitation thresholds are used in many areas to provide early warning of precipitation-induced landslides and debris flows, and the software distribution THRESH is designed for automated tracking of precipitation, including precipitation forecasts, relative to thresholds for landslide occurrence. This software is also useful for analyzing...

Baum, Rex L.; Fischer, Sarah J.; Vigil, Jacob C.
Baum, R.L., Fischer, S.J., and Vigil, J.C., 2018, THRESH—Software for tracking rainfall thresholds for landslide and debris-flow occurrence, user manual: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 14, chap. A2, 33 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm14A2.

Year Published: 2018

Spatial and spectral interpolation of ground-motion intensity measure observations

Following a significant earthquake, ground‐motion observations are available for a limited set of locations and intensity measures (IMs). Typically, however, it is desirable to know the ground motions for additional IMs and at locations where observations are unavailable. Various interpolation methods are available, but because IMs or their...

Worden, Charles; Thompson, Eric M.; Baker, Jack W.; Bradley, Brendon A.; Luco, Nicolas; Wald, David J.
C. Bruce Worden, Eric M. Thompson, Jack W. Baker, Brendon A. Bradley, Nicolas Luco, David J. Wald; Spatial and Spectral Interpolation of Ground‐Motion Intensity Measure Observations. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America doi: https://doi.org/10.1785/0120170201

Year Published: 2018

The evolution of a colluvial hollow to a fluvial channel with periodic steps following two transformational disturbances: A wildfire and a historic flood

The transition of a colluvial hollow to a fluvial channel with discrete steps was observed after two landscape-scale disturbances. The first disturbance, a high-severity wildfire, changed the catchment hydrology to favor overland flow, which incised a colluvial hollow, creating a channel in the same location. This incised channel became armored...

Rengers, Francis K.; McGuire, Luke; Ebel, Brian A.; Tucker, G. E.

Year Published: 2018

A flatfile of ground motion intensity measurements from induced earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas

We have produced a uniformly processed database of orientation-independent (RotD50, RotD100) ground motion intensity measurements containing peak horizontal ground motions (accelerations and velocities) and 5-percent-damped pseudospectral accelerations (0.1–10 s) from more than 3,800 M ≥ 3 earthquakes in Oklahoma and Kansas that occurred...

Rennolet, Steven B.; Moschetti, Morgan P.; Thompson, Eric M.; Yeck, William

Year Published: 2018

Calculation of voltages in electric power transmission lines during historic geomagnetic storms: An investigation using realistic earth impedances

Commonly, one-dimensional (1-D) Earth impedances have been used to calculate the voltages induced across electric power transmission lines during geomagnetic storms under the assumption that much of the three-dimensional structure of the Earth gets smoothed when integrating along power transmission lines. We calculate the voltage across power...

Lucas, Greg M.; Love, Jeffrey J.; Kelbert, Anna
Lucas, G. M., Love, J. J., & Kelbert, A. (2018). Calculation of voltages in electric power transmission lines during historic geomagnetic storms: An investigation using realistic earth impedances. Space Weather, 16. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017SW001779

Year Published: 2018

The 2013–2016 induced earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, southern Kansas

We examine the first four years (2013–2016) of the ongoing seismicity in southern Kansas using high‐precision locations derived from a local seismometer network. The earthquakes occur almost exclusively in the shallow crystalline basement, below the wastewater injection horizon of the Arbuckle Group at the base of the sedimentary section. Multiple...

Rubinstein, Justin L.; Ellsworth, William L.; Dougherty, Sara L.
Rubinstein, Justin L; William L. Ellsworth, and Sara L. Dougherty (2018), The 2013–2016 Induced Earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, Southern Kansas, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, doi: 10.1785/0120170209.

Year Published: 2018

Rayleigh and S wave tomography constraints on subduction termination and lithospheric foundering in central California

The crust and upper mantle structure of central California have been modified by subduction termination, growth of the San Andreas plate boundary fault system, and small-scale upper mantle convection since the early Miocene. Here we investigate the contributions of these processes to the creation of the Isabella Anomaly, which is a high seismic...

Jiang, Chengxin; Schmandt, Brandon; Hansen, Steven M.; Dougherty, Sara L.; Clayton, Robert W.; Farrell, Jamie; Lin, Fan-Chi
Jiang, C., B. Schmandt, S. M. Hansen, S. L. Dougherty, R. W. Clayton, J. Farrell, and F.-C. Lin (2018), Rayleigh and S wave tomography constraints on subduction termination and lithospheric foundering in central California, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 488, 14-26, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.02.009.

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.

Filter Total Items: 2,370
Dust rising from inside a crater after a rock collapse
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Dust from Summit Explosion

Rocks generate brown dust as they tumble down the western caldera wall during the collapse explosion event on July 5, 2018.

Dust rising from a crater after a rock collapse
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Collapse and Dust Rising at Halema`uma`u Crater

At 1:20 PM HST on July 5, a collapse explosion event occurred at Kīlauea's summit. The energy released by the event was equivalent to a M5.2 earthquake. The shaking

...
A small lavafall in the middle of a lava flow.
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lavafall Near Kapoho Crater

Near the Kapoho Crater, in the area called Four Corners, the lava channel makes a 90-degree bend. After lava exits the bend, it makes a short drop to form a lavafall. A side channel makes a short surface diversion before rejoining the existing channel.

Levees created from cooled lava
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Levees

Lava, from small overflows, cools and congeals along the banks of the lava channel to build lava levees. The levees also build up as moving lava pushes cooled 

...
Lava entering the ocean with laze plumes rising
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Coastline Delta

Lava enters the sea along the Kapoho coastline, building a delta that is now over 555 acres in size.

Aerial photo over Kapoho area showing lava entering ocean and passing residential areas
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Aerial of Kapoho Area

Aerial view of the lava channel and active margins between Kapoho Crater (upper right) and the coast (lower left). The northern margin of the flow field is advancing at several points in the area of Kapoho Ag and Beach Lots (vegetated areas in center of image). Image courtesy of Hawaii County Fire Department.

Lave entering the ocean with laze plumes rising
July 5, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Ocean Entry at Kapoho

Having crusted over about 0.8 km (0.5 mi) upchannel from the ocean entry, lava oozes from the flow's

...
A man wearing cold-weather gear and standing on a high coastal bluff points to an instrument that is mounted on short a pole.
July 5, 2018

Installing ground-shaking detection instrument

USGS scientist Cordell Johnson points to the Raspberry Shake, a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. Johnson mounted the Raspberry Shake to an aluminum pole which he will then drive into the ground to bury the instrument beneath the tundra. This process will help isolate it from the wind.

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 

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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 

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Filter Total Items: 367
Date published: March 23, 2018

Collecting clues to the geologic history and mineral resources of the Rio Grande Rise, southwest Atlantic Ocean

USGS scientists James Hein and Kira Mizell participated in a University of São Paulo research cruise to the western Rio Grande Rise, an underwater plateau in international waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil.

Date published: March 23, 2018

Beach surveys planned near deadly California debris flows

Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center researchers plan to survey selected beaches and parts of the shallow seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from March 27-30.

Date published: March 22, 2018

USGS and NASA hold collaborative methane workshop

USGS and NASA held a joint workshop titled “From Cells to Satellites: Methane Biogeochemistry at Multiple Scales” on March 16 at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

Date published: March 20, 2018

USGS scientists lead investigation of tropical subterranean estuaries in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico!

USGS scientists lead investigation of tropical subterranean estuaries in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico!

Date published: March 16, 2018

Visiting scientist from Japan assisting shoreline-change studies in California

Masayuki Banno is spending a year-long sabbatical with the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, collaborating with Patrick Barnard’s coastal-change group.

Date published: March 14, 2018

USGS Authors New Report on Seismic Hazard, Risk, and Design for South America

New seismic hazard and risk assessments can help at-risk communities prepare for future earthquake disasters

Date published: March 8, 2018

New 3D Measurements Improve Understanding of Geomagnetic Storm Hazards

Measurements of the three-dimensional structure of the earth, as opposed to the one-dimensional models typically used, can help scientists more accurately determine which areas of the United States are most vulnerable to blackouts during hazardous geomagnetic storms.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Fulbright Scholar Joins Coral Reef Project at Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

The Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) in Santa Cruz, California, recently welcomed Andrew Pomeroy, a Fulbright scholar from Australia who will spend approximately 6 months here conducting research on sediment movement in coral reef systems.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Modern Perspective on Gas Hydrates

After lying hidden in sediments for thousands of years, delicate frozen gas structures are in the spotlight for both scientific research and the national interest. These structures, known as gas hydrate, are being investigated by scientists the world over for their possible contributions to the global energy mix, as well as their potential interaction with the environment.

Date published: February 25, 2018

Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake, Papua New Guinea

The USGS has up-to-date details on the February 25, 2018 event.

Date published: February 23, 2018

USGS in South Korea

 For several years, KIGAM, the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, has hosted an international program for geoscience resources (IS-Geo).  The IS-Geo program draws together federal and private-sector professionals from the international community to discuss a range of specific geoscience and mineral topics.