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: 259
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


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


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


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
Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Additional Landslide Information

More sites relating to landslides.

Filter Total Items: 110
Date published: 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.

Date published: 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.

Date published: March 15, 2016

High-resolution geophysical data collected along the Delmarva Peninsula in 2015, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2015-001-FA

The Delmarva Peninsula is a 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex that was significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012. The U.S. Geological Survey conducted cruises during the summers of 2014 and 2015 to map the inner continental shelf of the Delmarva Peninsula using geophysical and sampling techniques to define the geologic framework

Date published: 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.

Date published: 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?

Date published: 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.

Date published: 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.

Date published: 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.

Date published: March 7, 2016

Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS)

Astro Web Maps – Our Web Mapping Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS) are based on Open Geospatial Consortium standards and allow capable mapping clients to view full-resolution planetary mosaicked Basemaps. Services are available for community use and are critical for our Planetary Nomenclature, Planetary Geologic Mapping and PILOT sites

Date published: March 7, 2016

Map-a-Planet 2

Allows existing map-projected (derived) image products to be re-projected, stretched, clipped, and converted into a variety of useful formats. Version 2 allows us to quickly add new mosaics and potentially many other derived science products for conversion and download.

Date published: March 7, 2016

GDAL – The Geospatial Data Abstraction Library

GDAL is a translator library for raster geospatial data formats that is released under an X/MIT style Open Source license by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation. As a library, it presents a single abstract data model for all supported formats. It also comes with a variety of useful commandline utilities for data translation and processing.

Date published: March 7, 2016

Real-time Earthquake Information

Get real-time earthquake notifications sent to you using a number of popular mediums: Feeds, Email, Twitter, etc…

Filter Total Items: 4,167
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.

Year Published: 2018

Clayey landslide initiation and acceleration strongly modulated by soil swelling

Largely unknown mechanisms restrain motion of clay-rich, slow-moving landslides that are widespread worldwide and rarely accelerate catastrophically. We studied a clayey, slow-moving landslide typical of thousands in northern California, USA, to decipher hydrologic-mechanical interactions that modulate landslide dynamics. Similar to some other...

Schulz, William; Smith, Joel B.; Wang, Gonghui; Jiang, Yao; Roering, Joshua J.

Year Published: 2018

Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria

Rainfall-induced shallow landsliding is a persistent hazard to human life and property. Despite the observed connection between infiltration through the unsaturated zone and shallow landslide initiation, there is considerable uncertainty in how estimates of unsaturated soil-water retention properties affect slope stability assessment. This source...

Thomas, Matthew A.; Mirus, Benjamin B.; Collins, Brian D.; Lu, Ning; Godt, Jonathan W.
Thomas MA, Mirus BB, Collins BD, Lu N, and Godt JW (2018) Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria, Landslides. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-0950-z

Year Published: 2018

Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide

The combined application of continuous Global Positioning System data (high temporal resolution) with spaceborne interferometric synthetic aperture radar data (high spatial resolution) can reveal much more about the complexity of large landslide movement than is possible with geodetic measurements tied to only a few specific measurement sites....

Hu, Xie; Lu, Zhong; Pierson, Thomas C.; Kramer, Rebecca; George, David L.
Hu, X., Lu, Z., Pierson, T. C., Kramer, R., & George, D. L. (2018). Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide. Geophysical Research Letters, 45. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL076623

Year Published: 2018

Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths

The Mendocino Triple Junction region is the most seismically active part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The northward moving Pacific plate collides with the subducting Gorda plate causing intense internal deformation within it. Here we show that the stress field rotates rapidly with depth across the thrust interface from a strike-slip regime...

Li, Duo; McGuire, Jeffrey J.; Liu, Yajing; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Li, D., McGuire, J. J., Liu, Y., & Hardebeck, J. L. (2018). Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 485, 55-64.

Year Published: 2018

Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes

Thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle; erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.We investigated eight of these locations and found that they expose deposits of water ice that can be >100 meters thick, extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to...

Dundas, Colin M.; Bramson, Ali M; Ojha, Lujendra; Wray, James J.; Mellon, Michael T.; Byrne, Shane; McEwen, Alfred S.; Putzig, N. E.; Viola, Donna; Sutton, Sarah; Clark, E.; Holt, J.W.
Dundas, C. M., et al. (2018). Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes. Science, 359, 199-201, doi:10.1126/science.aao1619.

Year Published: 2018

Poroelastic stress changes associated with primary oil production in the Los Angeles Basin, California

While recent investigations of induced earthquakes have focused on earthquakes associated with wastewater injection and unconventional recovery methods, the potential for earthquakes to be induced by primary production has long been recognized. We use boundary element methods to quantify the predicted geometry and amplitude of stress and strain...

Hough, Susan E.; Bilham, Roger
Hough, S.E. and R. Bilham (2018). Poroelastic stress changes associated with primary oil production in the Los Angeles Basin, California

Year Published: 2018

Image simulation and assessment of the colour and spatial capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

This study aims to assess the spatial and visible/near-infrared (VNIR) colour/spectral capabilities of the 4-band Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) aboard the ExoMars 2016 Trace Grace Orbiter (TGO). The instrument response functions for the CaSSIS imager was used to resample spectral libraries, modelled spectra and to construct...

Tornabene, Livio L.; Seelos, Frank P.; Pommerol, Antoine; Thomas, Nicolas; Caudill, Christy M.; Becerra, Patricio; Bridges, John C.; Byrne, Shane; Cardinale, Marco; Chojnacki, Matthew; Conway, Susan J.; Cremonese, Gabriele; Dundas, Colin M.; El-Maarry, M. R.; Fernando, Jennifer; Hansen, Candice J.; Hansen, Kayle; Harrison, Tanya N.; Henson, Rachel; Marinangeli, Lucia; McEwen, Alfred S.; Pajola, Maurizio; Sutton, Sarah S.; Wray, James J.
Tornabene, L. L., et al., 2018. Image Simulation and Assessment of the Colour and Spatial Capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Space Science Reviews, 214, doi:10.1007/s11214-017-0436-7.

Year Published: 2018

Irregular focal mechanisms observed at Salton Sea Geothermal Field: Possible influences of anthropogenic stress perturbations

At the Salton Sea Geothermal Field (SSGF), strain accumulation is released through seismic slip and aseismic deformation. Earthquake activity at the SSGF often occurs in swarm-like clusters, some with clear migration patterns. We have identified an earthquake sequence composed entirely of focal mechanisms representing an ambiguous style of...

Schoenball, Martin; Crandall-Bear, Aren; Barbour, Andrew J.; Schoenball, Martin

Year Published: 2018

Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres' largest crater, Kerwan

Gravity data of Ceres returned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dawn spacecraft is consistent with a lower density crust of variable thickness overlying a higher density mantle. Crustal thickness variations can affect the long‐term, postimpact modification of impact craters on Ceres. Here we show that the unusual morphology...

Bland, Michael T.; Ermakov, Anton; Raymond, Carol A.; Williams, David A.; Bowling, Tim J.; Preusker, F.; Park, Ryan S.; Marchi, Simone; Castillo-Rogez, Julie C.; Fu, R.R.; Russell, Christopher T.
Bland, M. T., Ermakov, A. I., Raymond, C. A., Williams, D. A., Bowling, T. J., Preusker, F., … Russell, C. T. (2018). Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres’s largest crater, Kerwan. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 1297–1304. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL075526

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Satellite image over crater
July 6, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Satellite View of Kīlauea Summit

The WorldView-3 satellite acquired this view of Kīlauea's summit on July 3. Despite a few clouds, the area of heaviest fractures in the caldera is clear. Views into the expanding Halema‘uma‘u crater reveal a pit floored by rubble. HVO, on the northwest caldera rim, is labeled.

Lava entering the ocean
July 6, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Kapoho Bay

Ocean entry in Kapoho as viewed from morning helicopter overflight.

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.

A small instrument with a USGS logo sticker with wires coming out of it is in a hole in the ground.
July 5, 2018

Sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking

This device, called a Raspberry Shake, is a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. It is being carefully buried in this shallow hole in the tundra, to isolate it from wind.

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

Filter Total Items: 378
Date published: February 19, 2018

USGS fields tsunami questions after earthquake off Kodiak, Alaska

USGS geophysicist Eric Geist fielded questions about tsunamis after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake off southern Alaska prompted a tsunami watch for the U.S. west coast.

Date published: February 16, 2018

One of the first Black USGS geophysicists, pioneers subsurface research

Early in his college career, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Rufus Catchings became drawn to the mysteries that lie beneath the earth’s surface — and was determined to understand them. 

Date published: February 16, 2018

Workshops on subduction-zone science to reduce risk for communities

The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center hosted two back-to-back subduction-zone workshops in Santa Cruz, California, from February 5–8, 2018.

Date published: February 15, 2018

False-alarm tsunami alerts across the U.S. East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean prompt calls to USGS

On February 6, USGS research geophysicist Eric Geist spoke to reporters Rachel Becker of The Verge and Grace Toohey of The Advocate about tsunami hazards on Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shores.

Date published: February 14, 2018

USGS research featured on the cover of Eos

USGS research on a big earthquake fault off Alaska and Canada is featured on the cover of Eos, a journal of Earth and space science news published by the American Geophysical Union.

Date published: February 13, 2018

International workshop on “Understanding Flooding on Reef-lined Island Coastlines”

USGS research geologist Curt Storlazzi led a workshop on “Understanding Flooding on Reef-lined Island Coastlines” (UFORIC) in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, from 5–7 February. 

Date published: February 12, 2018

Giant grooves discovered on an earthquake fault offshore Costa Rica

Imagine dragging your outstretched fingers through wet beach sand, leaving long grooves behind. Scientists recently discovered enormous grooves buried under the seafloor near Costa Rica. The detailed three-dimensional data they used to uncover these corrugations can help them better understand large subduction zone earthquakes and related tsunamis worldwide.

Date published: February 9, 2018

USGS Gas Hydrates Project Releases New Fact Sheets!

The USGS Gas Hydrates Project has published two new Fact Sheets. One describes the goals and scope of the Project and the other describes "Gas Hydrates in Nature," including where they form, how they are studied, and why researchers focus on gas hydrates for energy resource and environmental studies. 

Date published: February 7, 2018

USGS 360-degree videos of king tides show how rising seas will transform California beaches in the future

USGS oceanographer Juliette Finzi Hart shot 360-degree videos of king tides—the highest high tides of the year—throughout the Los Angeles region in 2016 and 2017.

Date published: February 5, 2018

USGS participates in workshop on restoring Monterey Bay sand-mining site

Acting deputy director of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Nadine Golden attended a workshop on restoring a sand-mining operation on California’s Monterey Bay.

Date published: January 30, 2018

January 23, 2018 M7.9 Gulf of Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami

One week ago, on January 23rd at 12:31 a.m. local time, Alaskans were rocked by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake, with an epicenter in the Gulf of Alaska, about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, and about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak Island.

Date published: January 29, 2018

Elementary school students visit USGS office in Santa Cruz

On January 17, 4th and 5th graders from De Laveaga Elementary School visited the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

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