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: 73
Photograph of damaged homes on Fire Island following Hurricane Sandy.
Date Published: December 5, 2016

As Hurricane Sandy moved northward along the U.S. Atlantic coast in October 2012, USGS scientists worked to determine where and how the storm’s waves and surge might dramatically reshape the beaches and dunes that stand between the storm and coastal developments.

Oblique aerial photograph of an estuarine wetland area.
Date Published: December 5, 2016

A quantitative understanding of long- and short-term physical changes along wetland coastlines is required to support assessments of ecological and societal vulnerabilities to environmental change. The Barrier Island and Estuarine Wetland Physical Change Assessment project will integrate a wetland assessment with existing coastal-change hazard assessments for the adjacent dunes and beaches,...

Contacts: Nathaniel Plant
Tsunami Messaging Image
Date Published: September 2, 2016

SAFRR brings together tsunami and communication experts to discuss potential changes to safety messages, based on improved scientific understanding of Hawaii's tsunami hazard.

Tsunami Awareness Image
Date Published: September 1, 2016

Students at Art Center College of Design learned about tsunamis from SAFRR partners in natural science, social science, and emergency management, then designed a fun, engaging, multi-faceted awareness campaign.

homes damaged by hurricane Sandy on Fire Island, New York
Date Published: April 13, 2016

Scientists perform a range of studies that document, assess, and model coastal change, risk, and vulnerability. Studies include historical shoreline change, the geologic structure and history of coastal regions, sediment supply and transport, sea-level rise, and how extreme storm events affect rates and impacts of coastal change.

Devastation of the coastal city of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Date Published: April 13, 2016

We study the distribution and hazard potential of coastal and submarine events such as earthquakes and submarine landslides and associated tsunami potential, hurricane induced coastal inundation, extreme storms, sea-level rise and oil and gas spills. We also model development to help evaluate and forecast coastal hazard probability and occurrence.

Methane hydrate
Date Published: April 13, 2016

Our scientists conduct research studies focused on geologic mapping, sampling and understanding of mineral and energy resources and studies of the geologic setting and processes to inform renewable energy development offshore.

crustose coralline algae
Date Published: April 13, 2016

We bring together multidisciplinary expertise focused on developing tools and models to improve understanding of how healthy ecosystems function as well as how they respond to environmental changes and human impacts including ecosystem restoration. Research studies address coral reef, coastal wetland, benthic habitat and groundwater resources.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy
Date Published: April 12, 2016

USGS scientists at the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and other offices received funding for studies related to habitat change, storm surge and ecological modeling, migratory bird impacts, and other topics of interest. The Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Mapping Application showcases the data and analytical products resulting from these studies.

Mount Rainier seen from Puyallup, Washington
Date Published: March 17, 2016

The Volcano Hazards Program develops long-range volcano hazards assessments. These includes a summary of the specific hazards, their impact areas, and a map showing ground-hazard zones. The assessments are also critical for planning long-term land-use and effective emergency-response measures, especially when a volcano begins to show signs of unrest.

HayWired Scenario ShakeMap
Date Published: March 15, 2016

The HayWired project is an earthquake scenario currently underway to model and study impacts on the San Francisco Bay area from a Mw 7.05 earthquake on the Hayward fault.

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

View recent events or search for past earthquakes. Optimized for mobile and desktop.

Filter Total Items: 67
iCoast allows citizen scientists to identify changes to the coast by comparing aerial photographs taken before and after storms.
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.

Location map shows lines where seismic reflection data was collected.
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.

Screen Magnetic Disturbance Summary
October 15, 2017

Magnetic Disturbance Events

View reports on magnetic disturbance events.

Hurricane Joaquin seen from space
September 20, 2017

Hurricane Jose 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Map showing Oregon coastal area and an outline of the area where data was collected offshore.
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.

screenshot of event support tool hurricane Maria
September 18, 2017

Hurricane Maria 2017 Event Support Map

Track hurricane data and USGS resources.

Coastal Change Hazards Portal Interactive Mapper screen grab
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.

Illustration of bathymetry hillshade offshore of Oregon shows the contours of the seafloor in shades of gray.
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.

Mpa shows areas along the California coast where coastal storm modeling system implementations are completed
June 1, 2017

Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS)

The Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) makes detailed predictions (meter-scale) over large geographic scales (100s of kilometers) of storm-induced coastal flooding and erosion for both current and future SLR scenarios, as well as long-term shoreline change and cliff retreat. Several versions of CoSMoS have been implemented for areas of the California coast.

Hurricane Sandy Data Viewer - Olga
February 23, 2017

Data Viewer—Post-Hurricane Sandy Lidar Elevations and Features

This viewer provides visualization for and accessibility to USGS lidar data obtained following Hurricane Sandy (October 2012). Access and download data and publications that include the source lidar data and the coastal dune and shoreline data needed to examine coastal change and erosion hazards.

Filter Total Items: 59
Year Published: 2014

Using science to strengthen our Nation's resilience to tomorrow's challenges: understanding and preparing for coastal impacts

Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented damage across some of the most densely populated coastal areas of the northeastern United States. The costly, landscape-altering destruction left in the wake of this storm is a stark reminder of our Nation’s need to become more resilient as we inevitably face future coastal hazards. As our Nation recovers from...

Simmons, Dale L.; Andersen, Matthew E.; Dean, Teresa A.; Focazio, Michael J.; Fulton, John W.; Haines, John W.; Mason, Jr., Robert R.; Tihansky, Ann B.; Young, John A.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Using science to strengthen our Nation's resilience to tomorrow's challenges: understanding and preparing for coastal impacts; 2014; FS; 2014-3062; Simmons, Dale L.; Andersen, Matthew E.; Dean, Teresa A.; Focazio, Michael J.; Fulton, John W.; Haines, John W.; Mason, Robert R., Jr.; Tihansky, Ann B.; Young, John A.

Year Published: 2014

Modification of the Quaternary stratigraphic framework of the inner-continental shelf by Holocene marine transgression: An example offshore of Fire Island, New York

The inner-continental shelf off Fire Island, New York was mapped in 2011 using interferometric sonar and high-resolution chirp seismic-reflection systems. The area mapped is approximately 50 km long by 8 km wide, extending from Moriches Inlet to Fire Island Inlet in water depths ranging from 8 to 32 m. The morphology of this inner-...

Schwab, William C.; Baldwin, Wayne E.; Denny, Jane F.; Hapke, Cheryl J.; Gayes, Paul T.; List, Jeffrey; Warner, John C.
William C. Schwab, Wayne E. Baldwin, Jane F. Denny, Cheryl J. Hapke, Paul T. Gayes, Jeffrey H. List, John C. Warner, Modification of the Quaternary stratigraphic framework of the inner-continental shelf by Holocene marine transgression: An example offshore of Fire Island, New York, Marine Geology, Volume 355, 1 September 2014, Pages 346-360, ISSN 0025-3227, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2014.06.011.

Year Published: 2014

ShakeAlert—An earthquake early warning system for the United States west coast

Earthquake early warning systems use earthquake science and the technology of monitoring systems to alert devices and people when shaking waves generated by an earthquake are expected to arrive at their location. The seconds to minutes of advance warning can allow people and systems to take actions to protect life and property from destructive...

Burkett, Erin R.; Given, Douglas D.; Jones, Lucile M.
Burkett, E.R., Given, D.G., and Jones, L.M., 2014, ShakeAlert—An earthquake early warning system for the United States West Coast (ver. 1.2, February 2017): U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2014–3083, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20143083.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal topographic and bathymetric data to support hurricane impact assessment and response

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Stronko, Jakob M.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal topographic and bathymetric data to support hurricane impact assessment and response; 2013; FS; 2013-3099; Stronko, Jakob M.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of environmental quality and persisting contaminant exposure

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Caskie, Sarah A.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of environmental quality and persisting contaminant exposure; 2013; FS; 2013-3091; Caskie, Sarah A.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts to coastal ecosystems, habitats, and fish and wildlife

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Campbell, Warren H.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts to coastal ecosystems, habitats, and fish and wildlife; 2013; FS; 2013-3096; Campbell, Warren H.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal impact assessments

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Stronko, Jakob M.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: coastal impact assessments; 2013; FS; 2013-3090; Stronko, Jakob M.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of storm surge, including disturbed estuarine and bay hydrology

Hurricane Sandy devastated some of the most heavily populated eastern coastal areas of the Nation. With a storm surge peaking at more than 19 feet, the powerful landscape-altering destruction of Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. In response to this natural disaster, the U.S....

Caskie, Sarah A.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: impacts of storm surge, including disturbed estuarine and bay hydrology; 2013; FS; 2013-3092; Caskie, Sarah A.

Year Published: 2013

Hurricane Sandy science plan: New York

Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of why the Nation must become more resilient to coastal hazards. More than one-half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, and this number is increasing. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is one of the largest providers of geologic and hydrologic information in the world. Federal, State, and...

Ransom, Clarice N.
Hurricane Sandy science plan: New York; 2013; FS; 2013-3089; Ransom, Clarice N.

Year Published: 2013

U.S. Geological Survey natural hazards science strategy: promoting the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation

The mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in natural hazards is to develop and apply hazard science to help protect the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation. The costs and consequences of natural hazards can be enormous, and each year more people and infrastructure are at risk. USGS scientific research—founded on...

Holmes, Robert R.; Jones, Lucile M.; Eidenshink, Jeffery C.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Kirby, Stephen H.; Love, Jeffrey J.; Neal, Christina A.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Plunkett, Michael L.; Weaver, Craig S.; Wein, Anne; Perry, Suzanne C.
U.S. Geological Survey natural hazards science strategy: promoting the safety, security, and economic well-being of the Nation; 2013; CIR; 1383-F; Holmes, Robert R., Jr.; Jones, Lucile M.; Eidenshink, Jeffery C.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Kirby, Stephen H.; Love, Jeffrey.J.; Neal, Christina A.; Plant, Nathaniel G.; Plunkett, Michael L.; Weaver, Craig S.; Wein, Anne; Perry, Suzanne C.

Year Published: 2013

Operational Group Sandy technical progress report

Hurricane Sandy made US landfall near Atlantic City, NJ on 29 October 2012, causing 72 direct deaths, displacing thousands of individuals from damaged or destroyed dwellings, and leaving over 8.5 million homes without power across the northeast and mid-Atlantic. To coordinate federal rebuilding activities in the affected region, the President...

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Operational Group Sandy technical progress report; 2013; Federal Government Series; Department of the Interior Strategic Science Group

Year Published: 2012

Relative azimuth inversion by way of damped maximum correlation estimates

Horizontal seismic data are utilized in a large number of Earth studies. Such work depends on the published orientations of the sensitive axes of seismic sensors relative to true North. These orientations can be estimated using a number of different techniques: SensOrLoc (Sensitivity, Orientation and Location), comparison to synthetics (Ekstrom...

Ringler, A.T.; Edwards, J.D.; Hutt, C.R.; Shelly, F.
Relative azimuth inversion by way of damped maximum correlation estimates; 2012; Article; Journal; Computers & Geosciences; Ringler, A.T.; Edwards, J.D.; Hutt, C.R.; Shelly, F.

Filter Total Items: 1,463
Boulder in debris flow
January 14, 2018
Geologists assess boulders displaced during the Montecito debris flow event on Jan. 9, 2018.
Image of Erika Lentz and Danille Niles at Trunk River Beach, Falmouth, MA
January 10, 2018
Erika Lentz, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Research Geologist interviewed by WBZ Boston Meterologist, Danielle Niles fora segment on sea-level rise
Erika Lentz interview on Trunk River Beach, Falmouth. MA
January 10, 2018
Research geologist, Erika Lentz, interviewed on Trunk River Beach, Falmouth, MA, by WBZ meterologist, Danielle Niles, about the future impacts of sea-level rise
January 4, 2018
After a month, the wildfires of Southern California are nearly contained. Landsat 8 imagery shows the dramatic burn scars left behind. At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface. USGS EROS Center ( https://eros.usgs.gov/ )
Video camera atop a hotel in Madeira Beach, Florida.
2017 (approx.)
Video camera atop a hotel in Madeira Beach, Florida.
Detailed subsection 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 high-resolution NASA HiRISE image shows a detailed subsection of an icy scarp on Mars in enhanced color.
2017 (approx.)
Seismometers record vibrations from a wide assortment of ground motion events. Each event type has a distinctive ground-motion signal with unique frequency and amplitude—its own seismic signature. Seismologists are trained to identify the source of seismic events seen on a webicorder based on its ‘seismic signature’. Although most ground vibrations have a frequency too low for human hearing, we...
Lake Powell
2017 (approx.)
The USGS Utah Water Science Center and the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center conducted a collaborative geophysical research effort within Lake Powell, UT-AZ to map the bathymetry of the lake and characterize shallow sediment deposition near the mouths of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers.
Three panels. Left: overhead view of ocean and breakers. Middle and right: Seafloor maps: dark blue deep, light blue shallow.
2017 (approx.)
Estimated and measured ocean depths (bathymetry) from Madeira Beach, Florida. Each panel shows same geographic area. m = meters. Left: Snapshot transformed from original oblique camera view to overhead “map” view. Middle: Bathymetry estimated by applying cBathy algorithm to July 2017 video imagery. Right: Bathymetry measured with sonar in February 2017. Despite being based on data collected 5...
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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Gerry Hatcher and Shawn Harrison work on their video-camera station atop a hotel in Santa Cruz, California.
December 13, 2017

USGS scientists have installed video cameras pointed at beaches on the coasts of western Florida and central California. They’re analyzing the videos to measure features of the beach and ocean so they can improve coastal-change forecasts.

Alongshore-varying forecasts of barrier island response to sea-level rise
December 12, 2017

A new article combines geomorphological and pre- and post-Hurricane Sandy observations from coastal New Jersey with a morphodynamic model to forecast the response of barrier islands to various rates of sea-level rise and explores the impact of human alterations on forecasted behavior.

Long Island Sound Survey team
December 12, 2017

Geological Sampling (videos, photos and sediment samples) in Long Island Sound on the newly stretched R/V Connecticut with scientist from USGS, UConn and Univ of New Haven

Lake Powell
December 12, 2017

Develop a new bathymetry map of Lake Powell, UT-AZ, and characterize shallow sediment deposition near the mouths of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers. Bathymetric data, acoustic backscatter imagery, and limited CHIRP sub-bottom data were collected by the USGS Utah Water Science Center (UTWSC) and Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) within Lake Powell, October - November, 2017.

Photograph shows an eroding coastline along the Arctic bluffs of Alaska, with a building falling into the sea.
December 11, 2017

USGS scientists at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center spoke by phone with Scientific American writer Andrea Thompson on November 15.

Photograph of a boiling black smoker emitting hydrothermal fluids into seawater at Niua vent field in the Lau basin, SE Pacific.
December 11, 2017

For the first time, scientists have found gold particles in boiling fluids from a hydrothermal vent.

Montage shows a selection of the exhibit subjects that were shown at the mini Open House.
December 9, 2017

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 9, USGS scientists treated visitors to displays about their research at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

Photograph of a flooded road in Olympic National Park, Washington, showing a person walking in the shallow water.
December 8, 2017

A team of federal scientists addressed comments from researchers who disagree with their conclusions that river channel evolution is driven primarily by physical factors rather than an overabundance of elk after wolf eradication.

Map showing the M4.1 earthquake epicenter near Dover, DE
November 30, 2017

The USGS has up-to-date details on the November 30, 2017 event.

Image: 2014 Landslide in Washington State
November 30, 2017

"Gravity Never Sleeps":  The USGS collaborates with community partners for a series of briefings on Capitol Hill to discuss national landslide hazards.  

Image: Coral reefs, Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands
November 29, 2017

At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), USGS geologist Curt Storlazzi chaired a session at a conference on issues affecting DoD installations.

Map of Alaska’s north coast showing color-coded rates of shoreline erosion, Inset: Polar bear on Barter Island.
November 28, 2017

The USGS updated its shoreline-change rates for Alaska’s north coast between the U.S.-Canadian Border and Icy Cape as part of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards.