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: 71
Wave runup and storm surge cover reach the dune toe on St. Pete Beach during Tropical Storm Debby.
Date Published: January 19, 2018
Status: Active

Process studies examine the physical processes at work prior to, during, and following coastal storm events. Understanding the processes involved in coastal landform evolution will improve the accuracy of the assessments of storm-induced coastal change hazards. Research is part of the ...

Oblique aerial photograph near Rodanthe, NC, looking south along the coast on August 30, 2011, three days after landfall of Hurr
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

The overall objective is to improve real-time and scenario-based predictions of coastal change to support management of coastal infrastructure, resources, and safety. Research is part of the  National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project.

coastal vulnerability of sea-level rise map
Date Published: January 18, 2018

This research seeks to objectively determine the relative risks due to future sea-level rise for the U.S. Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico coasts. Research is part of National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project. 

Oblique aerial photograph looking to the southwest along the southern end of Cedar Island, Virginia
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

Goals of this project include developing and improving coastal-change assessments and supporting long-term planning and decision making to ensure sustainable coastal economies, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Research is part of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards...

Cliff erosion is a common storm-induced hazard along the West Coast.
Date Published: January 17, 2018
Status: Active

Research to identify areas that are most vulnerable to coastal change hazards including beach and dune erosion, long-term shoreline change, and sea-level rise.

Breton Island, USGS oblique aerial photography (08/2013) looking south.
Date Published: January 10, 2018
Status: Active

In response to storms, reduced sediment supply, and sea-level rise, Breton Island is rapidly deteriorating, impacting the available nesting habitat of endangered seabirds. This study provides critical information regarding the physical environment of the island system. Research is part of the ...

Detailed map of bathymetric data collected around Cat Island.
Date Published: January 10, 2018
Status: Active

The geologic evolution of Cat Island has been influenced by deltaic, lagoonal/estuarine, tidal, and oceanographic processes, resulting in a complex stratigraphic record. Research is part of the Geologic and Morphologic Evolution of Coastal Margins project.

Video camera atop a hotel in Madeira Beach, Florida.
Date Published: December 13, 2017
Status: Active

Video observations of the coast are used to monitor a range of coastal processes, for example changes in the shoreline position, both seasonally and due to long-term effects such as sea-level rise, and instances of beach and dune erosion during extreme storm events. Research is part of the ...

A perspective model of the morphology and geologic framework near Petit Bois Island showing the relationships between seafloor f
Date Published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

A combination of geophysics, sediment sampling, and chronology techniques are used to characterize the regional geomorphologic response of coastal systems to environmental changes.

A slideshow of images that show a breach being formed on a beach on Fire Island, New York.
Date Published: November 7, 2017
Status: Active

Fire Island Coastal Change research is primarily focused on understanding the long- and short-term behavior of the Fire Island barrier island system.

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
Filter Total Items: 59
Screen Shot aerial imagery of Lake Ontario shoreline at Braddock Bay, New York
February 12, 2018

Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Braddock Bay, New York, July 10 to 11, 2017

Low-altitude (80-100 meters above ground level) digital images were obtained from a camera mounted on a 3DR Solo quadcopter, a small unmanned aerial system (UAS), in three locations along the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York during July 2017. These data were collected to document and monitor effects of high lake levels, including shoreline erosion, inundation, and property damage.

Left: Map of Tampa Bay area and Gulf of Mexico. Colored balloons along shore. Right: total-water-level graph (top) and diagram.
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.

Oblique Aerial Photography Viewer
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. 

Bathymetric terrain model of Queen Charlotte Fault area, with multichannel sparker lines in black
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.

iCoast allows citizen scientists to identify changes to the coast by comparing aerial photographs taken before and after storms.
December 8, 2017


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.

Filter Total Items: 59
Year Published: 2016

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
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Formetta, G., Simoni, S., Godt, J.W., Lu, N., and Rigon, R., 2016, Geomophological control on variably saturated hillslope hydrology and slope instability: Water Resources Research, v. 52, no. 6, p. 4590-4607

Year Published: 2016

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.
Nelson, T.R., Miselis, J.L., Hapke, C.J., Wilson, K.E., Henderson, R.E., Brenner, O.T., Reynolds, B.J., and Hansen, M.E., 2016, Coastal bathymetry data collected in June 2014 from Fire Island, New York—The wilderness breach and shoreface: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1007, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ds1007.

Year Published: 2016

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
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Perry, S.C., Blanpied, M.L., Burkett, E.R., Campbell, N.M., Carlson, A., Cox, D.A., Driedger, C.L., Eisenman, D.P., Fox-Glassman, K.T., Hoffman, S., Hoffman, S.M., Jaiswal, K.S., Jones, L.M., Luco, N., Marx, S.M., McGowan, S.M., Mileti, D.S., Moschetti, M.P., Ozman, D., Pastor, E., Petersen, M.D., Porter, K.A., Ramsey, D.W., Ritchie, L.A., Fitzpatrick, J.K., Rukstales, K.S., Sellnow, T.S., Vaughon, W.L., Wald, D.J., Wald, L.A., Wein, A., and Zarcadoolas, C., 2016, Get your science used—Six guidelines to improve your products: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1419, 37 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/cir1419.

Year Published: 2016

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

Year Published: 2015

Kelp, cobbles, and currents: Biologic reduction of coarse grain entrainment stress

Models quantifying the onset of sediment motion do not typically account for the effect of biotic processes because they are difficult to isolate and quantify in relation to physical processes. Here we investigate an example of the interaction of kelp (Order Laminariales) and coarse sediment transport in the coastal zone, where it is possible to...

Masteller, Claire C; Finnegan, Noah J; Warrick, Jonathan; Miller, Ian M.
66. Masteller, C.C., N.J. Finnegan, J.A. Warrick, and I.M. Miller, 2015, Kelp, cobbles, and currents: Biologic reduction of coarse grain entrainment stress. Geology, v. 43, no. 6, p. 543-546.

Year Published: 2015

Rapid water quality change in the Elwha River estuary complex during dam removal

Dam removal in the United States is increasing as a result of structural concerns, sedimentation of reservoirs, and declining riverine ecosystem conditions. The removal of the 32 m Elwha and 64 m Glines Canyon dams from the Elwha River in Washington, U.S.A., was the largest dam removal project in North American history. During the 3 yr of dam...

Foley, Melissa M.; Duda, Jeffrey J.; Beirne, Matthew M.; Paradis, Rebecca; Ritchie, Andrew; Warrick, Jonathan A.
Foley, M.M., J.J. Duda, M.M. Beirne, R. Paradis, A. Ritchie, J.A. Warrick (2015). Rapid water quality change in the Elwha River estuary complex during dam removal. Limnology and Oceanography. doi: 10.1002/lno.10129

Year Published: 2015

High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity

An unprecedented increase in earthquakes in the U.S. mid-continent began in 2009. Many of these earthquakes have been documented as induced by wastewater injection. We examine the relationship between wastewater injection and U.S. mid-continent seismicity using a newly assembled injection well database for the central and eastern United States. We...

Weingarten, Matthew; Ge, Shemin; Godt, Jonathan W.; Bekins, Barbara A.; Rubinstein, Justin L.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Weingarten, M., Ge, S., Godt, J.W., Bekins, B.A., and Rubinstein, J.L., 2015, High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity: Science, v. 348, no. 6241, p. 1336-1340.

Year Published: 2015

Strategic science: new frameworks to bring scientific expertise to environmental disaster response

Science is critical to society’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from environmental crises. Natural and technological disasters such as disease outbreaks, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, oil spills, and tsunamis require coordinated scientific expertise across a range of disciplines to shape effective policies and protocols....

Stoepler, Teresa Michelle; Ludwig, Kristin A.
Attribution: Natural Hazards

Year Published: 2015

Resilience by Design: Bringing Science to Policy Makers

No one questions that Los Angeles has an earthquake problem. The “Big Bend” of the San Andreas fault in southern California complicates the plate boundary between the North American and Pacific plates, creating a convergent component to the primarily transform boundary. The Southern California Earthquake Center Community Fault Model...

Jones, Lucile M.
Attribution: Natural Hazards

Year Published: 2015

Closing the loop of the soil water retention curve

The authors, to their knowledge for the first time, produced two complete principal soil water retention curves (SWRCs) under both positive and negative matric suction regimes. An innovative testing technique combining the transient water release and imbibition method (TRIM) and constant flow method (CFM) was used to identify the principal paths...

Lu, Ning; Alsherif, N; Wayllace, Alexandra; Godt, Jonathan W.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Lu, N., Alsherif, N, Wayllace, A., and Godt, J.W., 2015, Closing the loop of the soil water retention curve: Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, v. 141, no. 1, p. 02814001.

Year Published: 2014

Science during crisis: the application of social science during major environmental crises

Historical and contemporary experience suggests that science plays an increasingly critical role in governmental and institutional responses to major environmental crises. Recent examples include major western wildfires (2009), the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010), the Fukushima nuclear accident (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012). The...

Manfredo, Michael J.; Vaske, Jerry J.; Rechkemmer, Andreas; Duke, Esther; Machlis, Gary; Ludwig, Kris
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Science during crisis: the application of social science during major environmental crises; 2014; Book chapter; Book; Understanding society and natural resources: forging new strands in integration across the social sciences; Machlis, Gary; Ludwig, Kris

Year Published: 2014

Coseismic landslides reveal near-surface rock strength in a high-relief tectonically active setting

We present quantitative estimates of near-surface rock strength relevant to landscape evolution and landslide hazard assessment for 15 geologic map units of the Longmen Shan, China. Strength estimates are derived from a novel method that inverts earthquake peak ground acceleration models and coseismic landslide inventories to obtain material...

Gallen, Sean F; Clark, Marin K.; Godt, Jonathan W.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Gallen, S. F., Clark, M. K., and Godt, J. W., 2015, Coseismic landslides reveal near-surface rock strength in a high-relief, tectonically active setting: Geology, v. 43, no. 1, p. 11-14.

Filter Total Items: 1,452
 An instrumented bottom lander platform is lowered off the stern of the research vessel
2018 (approx.)
An instrumented bottom lander platform is lowered off the stern of the R/V Savannah during deploment
USGS personnel working with chains on the deck of the R/V Savannah
2018 (approx.)
Sediment transport team members assemble chain, shackles and pear links that are are attached to the anchor and floats as part of deploying a mooring.
Yellow buoy in the water
2018 (approx.)
The buoy that measures meteorological conditions at the site after deployment.
USGS personnel on the fantail of the R/V Savannah
2018 (approx.)
Sediment transport team members attach a quick-release to the top of a bottom lander prior to deployment
January 29, 2018
A team of USGS geologists provide science support following Montecito post-fire debris-flow event.
January 25, 2018
Title: ShakeAlert: The Path to West Coast Earthquake Early Warning ... how a few seconds can save lives and property The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system will begin limited operations this year. Alerts could save lives and properties but several challenges remain. With millions at risk, why isn't full public alerting happening yet?
Pool warning sign
January 14, 2018
Swimming pool sign spray-painted to warn first responders and others to be careful around the potentially dangerous area.
Boulder in debris flow
January 14, 2018
Geologists assess boulders displaced during the Montecito debris flow event on Jan. 9, 2018.
Geologists assess debris flow
January 14, 2018
USGS geologists deployed to Santa Barbara County to support a geohazard assessment of the Montecito area
Montecito after debris flow
January 14, 2018
The Dec. 4, 2017 Thomas fire, Southern California's largest wildfire on record, burned more than 280,000 acres across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for nearly a month.
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
Filter Total Items: 281
Detailed subsection of an icy scarp on Mars
January 12, 2018

For the first time, high-resolution images show the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars. According to an in-depth analysis led by the USGS, the images reveal never-before-observed details about the ice sheets, including that some begin just a few feet below the Martian surface and extend to depths greater than 300 feet.  

Erika Lentz interview on Trunk River Beach, Falmouth. MA
January 11, 2018

Interview on future impacts of sea-level rise on Cape Cod with meteorologist Danielle Niles on Trunk River Beach, Falmouth, MA

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.