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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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.

Scientist collects samples from a temporary wooden platform in a New Jersey salt marsh
Date Published: August 19, 2014

The Estuarine Physical Response to Storms Project will assess the estuarine and adjacent wetland  responses of three Atlantic lagoonal estuaries to major storm events such as Hurricane Sandy. The estuarine systems include the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary, the Chincoteague Bay, and Jamaica Bay, NY. Evaluations of sediment transport, geomorphic change, circulation, wetland stability....

Tsunami Scenario
Date Published: September 4, 2013

The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario is a hypothetical but plausible tsunami created by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake offshore of the Alaskan peninsula. The scenario report was released September 2013 and provides an analysis of the potential impacts along the California coast, intended for those who need to make mitigation, preparedness, and outreach decisions before and after tsunami impacts.

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Elevated water levels during Hurricane Nate overtopped the low dunes on Petit Bois Island
October 10, 2017
Elevated water levels during Hurricane Nate overtopped the low dunes on Petit Bois Island. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 99%.
water levels during Hurricane Nate overtopped and eroded the rock barrier
October 10, 2017
Elevated water levels during Hurricane Nate overtopped and eroded the rock barrier that was constructed to close the breach that formed in Dauphin Island during Hurricane Katrina. The predicted probability of inundation in this location was 96%.
Pre-and Post Storm Photo for Hurricane Nate - Dauphin Island
October 10, 2017
Elevated water levels and high waves during Hurricane Nate overtopped low spots in the line of dunes near Fort Morgan, Alabama. The fan-like sand deposits behind the dunes indicate that sand was transported landward, while the sandbar offshore indicates that sand was also transported seaward during the storm. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 84%.
dunes were overtopped on West Ship Island
October 10, 2017
On the east end of West Ship Island, dunes were overtopped by elevated water levels during Hurricane Nate. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 100%.
low-elevation east end of Horn Island
October 10, 2017
The low-elevation east end of Horn Island was inundated by waves and storm surge during Hurricane Nate. The predicted probability of inundation for this location was 98%.
spit on the far western end of west Dauphin Island was breached during Hurricane Nate
October 10, 2017
The low elevation spit on the far western end of west Dauphin Island was breached during Hurricane Nate. The predicted probability of inundation was 54%, likely due to the inclusion of the higher elevation dunes to the east of the spit in the 1-km alongshore prediction area.
surge and waves from Hurricane Nate overtopped and cut through the line of dunes
October 10, 2017
The low-elevation west end of Dauphin Island is especially vulnerable to storms and has been impacted by multiple storm events over the last decade. Storm surge and waves from Hurricane Nate overtopped and cut through the line of dunes in front of the road, depositing sand across the road in overwash fans. The predicted probability of overwash in this location was 95%.
Potential coastal change impacts for Hurricane Nate - Oct. 7, 2017
October 7, 2017
Screen shot of the Coastal Change Hazards Portal showing potential coastal change impacts during a direct landfall of Hurricane Nate based on NHC Advisory 12, 0800 AM EDT SAT OCT 07 2017.
Erosion forecast map for Northern Gulf sandy shorelines
October 6, 2017
Tropical Storm Nate's predicted effect on Northern Gulf sandy shorelines, based on landfall as a Category 1 hurricane, is shown at three intensities. Outer band: Dune erosion. Middle band: Dune overwash. Inner band: Dune inundation, with potential flooding behind the dune. Credit: USGS Coastal Change Hazard Portal.
home on Little Gasparilla Island was swept away
2017 (approx.)
Location 8: A home on Little Gasparilla Island was swept away by Hurricane Irma’s waves and surge. The beach narrowed significantly and two more homes are now more vulnerable to future storm impacts. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 97%.
Marco Island before and after Hurricane Irma
2017 (approx.)
Location 1: Even though the predicted probability of overwash was 99%, elevated water levels during Hurricane Irma did not overtop the seawall on the southern end of Marco Island, but eroded much of the beach in front. Some overwash can be seen to the north of the seawall.
small breach formed at a low spot on Keewaydin Island
2017 (approx.)
Location 3: A small breach formed at a low spot on Keewaydin Island. The predicted probability of inundation in this location was 100%.
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Storm-tide sensor installed to a concrete post in Puerto Rico prio to Hurricane Irma.
September 5, 2017

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

A USGS crew measures flood waters off a bridge.
August 30, 2017

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

A USGS crew prepares to measure Hurricane Harvey floodwaters off of a bridge.
August 29, 2017

Reporters: Do you want to interview USGS scientists as they measure flooding? Please contact Jennifer LaVista or Lynne Fahlquist. 

U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring record flooding in parts of south-central Texas following intense rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey.

Satellite captured image of the rapidly intensifying storm, Harvey
August 25, 2017

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

This is a screenshot of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal, which shows current coastal impact projections for Hurricane Har
August 25, 2017

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

UPDATE: This story has been revised to reflect new NOAA-National Hurricane Center storm surge projections which were released August 25 at 7 a.m.

This is a screenshot of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal, which shows current coastal impact projections for Hurricane Har
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.

UPDATE: This story has been revised to reflect new NOAA-National Hurricane Center storm surge projections which were released August 25 at 7 a.m.

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 visual identity - 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.