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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
Scientists evaluated and improved the accuracy of pre-landfall forecasts of storm-induced coastal erosion hazards for Northeast beaches using data from post-Sandy lidar sruveys, beach morphology, and storm hydrodamics.
This project integrated a wetland assessment with existing coastal-change hazard assessments for the adjacent dunes and beaches of Assateague Island, Maryland, to create a more comprehensive coastal vulnerability assessment.
We use remote-sensing technologies—such as aerial photography, satellite imagery, and lidar (laser-based surveying)—to measure coastal change along U.S. shorelines.
The USGS Gas Hydrates Project focuses on the study of natural gas hydrates in deepwater marine systems and permafrost areas. The primary goals are:
- Evaluate methane hydrates as a potential energy source
- Investigate the interaction between methane hydrate destabilization and climate change at short and long time scales, particularly in the Arctic
- Study the spatial ...
Tidal wetlands are an important geomorphic and ecological feature of the coastal zone. Our projects deal with the physical forcings that affect wetland stability over event-to-annual timescales, including wave attack, sediment supply, and sea-level rise.
Extreme tides and coastal storms transfer high water levels to estuaries through natural and managed entrances. The size of the transfer depends on the duration of the event and the geomorphology of the estuary. We use observational data and modeling scenarios to understand and spatially map this transfer at our study sites.
Changes to the geomorphic structure of estuaries impact hydrodynamics, ecosystem function, and navigation. We are implementing new methods of observing and modeling these changes using innovative field and computational approaches.
Swath bathymetry collected offshore of Fire Island and western Long Island, New York in 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2014-072-FA
Hurricane Sandy, the largest storm of historical record in the Atlantic basin, severely impacted southern Long Island, New York in October 2012. In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), conducted a high-resolution multibeam echosounder survey with Alpine Ocean Seismic Survey, Inc., offshore of Fire Island and western Long Island...
This dataset displays the spatial variation mean tidal range (i.e. Mean Range of Tides, MN) in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA. MN was based on the calculated difference in height between mean high water (MHW) and mean low water (MLW) using the VDatum (v3.5) software (...
Exposure potential of salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge to environmental health stressors
This dataset displays the exposure potential to environmental health stressors in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA. Exposure potential is calculated with the Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response (SCoRR) ranking system (Reilly and others, 2015)
Water quality in the Barnegat Bay estuary along the New Jersey coast is the focus of a multidisciplinary research project begun in 2011 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. A continuous elevation surface (terrain model) integrating all available elevation data in the area was produced for water circulation modeling...
Point cloud from low-altitude aerial imagery from unmanned aerial system (UAS) flights over Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Spit, Nauset Inlet, and Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore, Eastham, Massachusetts on 1 March 2016 (LAZ file)
This point cloud was derived from low-altitude aerial images collected from an unmanned aerial system (UAS) flown in the Cape Cod National Seashore on 1 March, 2016. The objective of the project was to evaluate the quality and cost of mapping from UAS images. The point cloud contains 434,096,824 unclassifed and unedited geolocated points.
Atlantic coast piping plover (Charadrius melodus) nest sites are typically found on low-lying beach and dune systems, which respond rapidly to coastal processes like sediment overwash, inlet formation, and island migration that are sensitive to climate-related changes in storminess and the rate of sea-level rise. Data were obtained to understand piping plover habitat distribution.
Conceptual salt marsh units for wetland synthesis: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
Recent research shows that sediment budgets of microtidal marsh complexes on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States consistently scale with areal unvegetated/vegetated marsh ratio (UVVR) despite differences in sea-level rise, tidal range, elevation, vegetation, and stressors. This highlights UVVR as a broadly applicable indicator of microtidal marsh stability.
As part of this data synthesis effort, hydrodynamic and sediment transport modeling of Barnegat Bay Little Egg Harbor (BBLEH) has been used to create the following wetland data layers in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), New Jersey: 1) Hydrodynamic residence time , 2) salinity change and 3) salinity exposure change in wetlands, and 4) sediment supply to wetlands
The purpose of the multibeam echosounder surveys was to map the bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor of the valley, providing a framework for geologic, oceanographic, and geochemical studies. The data from the three surveys are combined to produce grids of bathymetry and backscatter intensity at 12-m resolution that cover the entire valley and the head of the Hudson Canyon...
High-resolution geophysical data collected along the Mississippi River Delta front offshore of southeastern Louisiana, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2017-003-FA
High resolution bathymetric, sea-floor backscatter, and seismic-reflection data were collected offshore of southeastern Louisiana aboard the research vessel Point Sur on May 19-26, 2017, in an effort to characterize mudflow hazards on the Mississippi River Delta front. The primary objective of this cruise was to assess the suitability of sea-floor mapping and shallow subsurface imaging tools...
Data compilation of soil respiration, moisture, and temperature measurements from global warming experiments from 1994-2014
This dataset is the largest global dataset to date of soil respiration, moisture, and temperature measurements, totaling >3800 observations representing 27 temperature manipulation studies, spanning nine biomes and nearly two decades of warming experiments. Data for this study were obtained from a combination of unpublished data and published literature values.
This map and the original delineate areas where large numbers of landslides have occurred and areas which are susceptible to landsliding in the conterminous United States.
The purpose of the Inventory Project is to provide a framework and tools for displaying and analyzing landslide inventory data collected in a spatially aware digital format from individual states.
The Planetary Geologic Mapping Program serves the international science community through the production of high-quality and refereed geologic maps of planetary bodies. This program is in coordination between NASA science programs and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.
Evidence for coseismic subsidence events in a southern California coastal saltmarsh
Paleoenvironmental records from a southern California coastal saltmarsh reveal evidence for repeated late Holocene coseismic subsidence events. Field analysis of sediment gouge cores established discrete lithostratigraphic units extend across the wetland. Detailed sediment analyses reveal abrupt changes in lithology, percent total organic matter,...Leeper, Robert; Rhodes, Brady P.; Kirby, Matthew E.; Scharer, Katherine M.; Carlin, Joseph A.; Hemphill-Haley, Eileen; Avnaim-Katav, Simona; MacDonald, Glen M.; Starratt, Scott W.; Aranda, Angela
Electrical resistivity investigation of fluvial geomorphology to evaluate potential seepage conduits to agricultural lands along the San Joaquin River, Merced County, California, 2012–13
Increased flows in the San Joaquin River, part of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, are designed to help restore fish populations. However, increased seepage losses could result from these higher restoration flows, which could exacerbate existing drainage problems in neighboring agricultural lands and potentially damage crops. Channel...Groover, Krishangi D.; Burgess, Matthew K.; Howle, James F.; Phillips, Steven P.
Development of a coupled wave-flow-vegetation interaction model
Emergent and submerged vegetation can significantly affect coastal hydrodynamics. However, most deterministic numerical models do not take into account their influence on currents, waves, and turbulence. In this paper, we describe the implementation of a wave-flow-vegetation module into a Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST)...Beudin, Alexis; Kalra, Tarandeep S.; Ganju, Neil K.; Warner, John C.
Barrier island breach evolution: Alongshore transport and bay-ocean pressure gradient interactions
Physical processes controlling repeated openings and closures of a barrier island breach between a bay and the open ocean are studied using aerial photographs and atmospheric and hydrodynamic observations. The breach site is located on Pea Island along the Outer Banks, separating Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean. Wind direction was a major...Safak, Ilgar; Warner, John C.; List, Jeffrey
Biogeomorphic classification and images of shorebird nesting sites on the U.S. Atlantic coast
Atlantic coast piping plover (Charadrius melodus) nest sites are typically found on low-lying beach and dune systems, which respond rapidly to coastal processes like sediment overwash, inlet formation, and island migration that are sensitive to climate-related changes in storminess and the rate of sea-level rise. Data were obtained to understand...Sturdivant, Emily; Thieler, E. Robert; Zeigler, Sara; Winslow, Luke; Hines, Megan K.; Read, Jordan S.; Walker, Jordan I.
High-resolution geophysical data collected along the Delmarva Peninsula, 2014, USGS Field Activity 2014-002-FA
The Delmarva Peninsula is a 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex that was significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy. A U.S. Geological Survey cruise was conducted in the summer of 2014 to map the inner continental shelf of the Delmarva Peninsula using geophysical and sampling techniques to define the geologic framework...Pendleton, Elizabeth; Ackerman, Seth D.; Baldwin, Wayne E.; Danforth, William W.; Foster, David S.; Thieler, E. Robert; Brothers, Laura L.
Oceanographic and water-quality measurements collected south of Martha’s Vineyard, MA, 2014–2015
This web page provides access to oceanographic and water-quality observations made at seven sites near the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) as part of National Science Foundation “Bottom Stress and the Generation of Vertical Vorticity Over the Inner Shelf” project. The objective was to measure bottom stress at several locations with...Montgomery, Ellyn T.; Sherwood, Christopher R.; Martini, Marinna A.; Trowbridge, Jannelle; Scully, M.; Brosnahan, Sandra M.
Low-altitude aerial imagery and related field observations associated with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Spit, Nauset Inlet, and Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore, Eastham, Massachusetts on 1 March 2016
Low-altitude (approximately 120 meters above ground level) digital images were obtained from cameras mounted in a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flown from the lawn adjacent to the Coast Guard Beach parking lot on 1 March, 2016. The UAV was a Skywalker X8 operated by Raptor Maps, Inc., contractors to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)....Sherwood, Christopher R.
Geomorphological control on variably saturated hillslope hydrology and slope instability
In steep topography, the processes governing variably saturated subsurface hydrologic response and the interparticle stresses leading to shallow landslide initiation are physically linked. However, these processes are usually analyzed separately. Here, we take a combined approach, simultaneously analyzing the influence of topography on both...Giuseppe, Formetta; Simoni, Silvia; Godt, Jonathan W.; Lu, Ning; Rigon, Riccardo
Coastal bathymetry data collected in June 2014 from Fire Island, New York—The wilderness breach and shoreface
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, collected bathymetric data along the upper shoreface and within the wilderness breach at Fire Island, New York, in June 2014. The U.S. Geological Survey is involved in a post-Hurricane Sandy effort to map and monitor the...Nelson, Timothy R.; Miselis, Jennifer L.; Hapke, Cheryl J.; Wilson, Kathleen E.; Henderson, Rachel E.; Brenner, Owen T.; Reynolds, Billy J.; Hansen, Mark E.
Get your science used—Six guidelines to improve your products
Introduction Natural scientists, like many other experts, face challenges when communicating to people outside their fields of expertise. This is especially true when they try to communicate to those whose background, knowledge, and experience are far distant from that field of expertise. At a recent workshop, experts in risk communication offered...Perry, Suzanne C.; Blanpied, Michael L.; Burkett, Erin R.; Campbell, Nnenia M.; Carlson, Anders; Cox, Dale A.; Driedger, Carolyn L.; Eisenman, David P.; Fox-Glassman, Katherine T.; Hoffman, Sherry; Hoffman, Susanna M.; Jaiswal, Kishor S.; Jones, Lucile M.; Luco, Nicolas; Marx, Sabine M.; McGowan, Sean M.; Mileti, Dennis S.; Moschetti, Morgan P.; Ozman, David; Pastor, Elizabeth; Petersen, Mark D.; Porter, Keith A.; Ramsey, David W.; Ritchie, Liesel A.; Fitzpatrick, Jessica K.; Rukstales, Kenneth S.; Sellnow, Timothy L.; Vaughon, Wendy L.; Wald, David J.; Wald, Lisa A.; Wein, Anne; Zarcadoolas, Christina
Estimating time-dependent connectivity in marine systems
Hydrodynamic connectivity describes the sources and destinations of water parcels within a domain over a given time. When combined with biological models, it can be a powerful concept to explain the patterns of constituent dispersal within marine ecosystems. However, providing connectivity metrics for a given domain is a three-dimensional problem...Defne, Zafer; Ganju, Neil K.; Aretxabaleta, Alfredo
A plume rises from the site of the lava ocean entry, viewed on approach by HVO scientists during an overflight of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone on May 20, 2018, around 6:45 AM HST.
Ocean entry photograph from Civil Air Patrol (CAP) overflight taken at about 12:50PM. CAP operates to support the mission of both the USGS HVO and the Hawaii County Civil Defense. Hard to discern here, but there are two entries. The coastal area spanning the entry is about 1 km (0.6 mi) wide with an about 250 m (0.15 mi) Kīpuka separating the two.
Lava from the eastern channel of the Fissure 20 complex is flowing into a crack in the ground that opened on the morning of May 20, 2018. The crack is "robbing" the easternmost channel of lava and the eastern ocean entry is therefore less vigorous than the western entry point.
Helicopter overflight of the southeast coast of the Puna district during the early morning hours of May 19, 2018. Flows are moving downslope toward the ocean. Photograph courtesy of the Hawai`i County Fire Department.
USGS collaborates with key academic, state, local, and industry partners to provide a new look at what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Documentary about sea-level rise threatening the Republic of the Marshall Islands features USGS findings
USGS research in the Republic of the Marshall Islands forms part of the scientific foundation of an interactive documentary released April 6 by PBS Frontline.
USGS oceanographer Dan Hoover explained how USGS coastal surveys are conducted and why they are important in a radio interview with NPR affiliate KCLU. KCLU was one of several outlets that reported on ...
Clarifying Latitude and Longitude for Planets besides Earth
Tracking the movement of sediment and contaminants from northern California wildfire areas to San Francisco Bay
USGS research geologist Renee Takesue of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center collected 20 sediment samples from Sonoma Creek and Napa River north of San Francisco Bay on March 17.
In a newly published study, U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their partners calculate possible alert times that earthquake early warning systems can provide people at different levels of ground motion from light to very strong shaking.
During the week of March 26, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will begin four days of mapping selected beaches and the adjacent seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Results will be compared to surveys from last fall to highlight changes due to winter waves, and to sediment inputs from area streams.
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.
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.
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.