Mission Areas

Natural Hazards

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

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: 110
Date published: March 1, 2018

Estuarine Processes, Hazards, and Ecosystems

Estuarine processes, hazards, and ecosystems describes several interdisciplinary projects that aim to quantify and understand estuarine processes through observations and numerical modeling. Both the spatial and temporal scales of these mechanisms are important, and therefore require modern instrumentation and state-of-the-art hydrodynamic models. These projects are led from the U.S....

Date published: February 28, 2018
Status: Active

Coral Reef Seafloor Erosion and Coastal Hazards

Synchronized field work focused on geochemistry, geology, and metabolic processes overlaid on a habitat map of an entire reef to produce a synoptic overview of reef processes that contribute to carbonate precipitation and dissolution.

Contacts: Kimberly Yates
Date published: February 22, 2018
Status: Completed

Hawaii Tsunami Messaging

Recent scientific study reveals that certain large earthquakes in the Aleutian Islands can produce much greater tsunami inundation than Hawaii typically experiences. This higher level of tsunami inundation necessitates changes to current tsunami safety instructions - but only for this Aleutian event.

Date published: February 21, 2018
Status: Completed

SAFRR Newsletters

SAFRR Newsletters summarize the recent activities in the project.

Date published: February 1, 2018
Status: Active

Hurricane Matthew - Forecast and Documentation of Coastal Change

Hurricane Matthew coastal change forecast and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change.

Date published: February 1, 2018
Status: Completed

Hurricane Harvey - Forecast and Documentation of Coastal Change

Hurricane Harvey coastal change forecast and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change.

Date published: January 30, 2018
Status: Active

Hurricane Irma - Forecast and Documentation of Coastal Change

Hurricane Irma coastal change forecast and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change.

Date published: January 30, 2018
Status: Completed

Hurricane Sandy Response- Linking the Delmarva Peninsula's Geologic Framework to Coastal Vulnerability

The Delmarva Peninsula is a 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex that was significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy. In order to better constrain controls on coastal vulnerability and evolution, the region’s sediment sources, transport pathways and sinks must be identified. This project defines the geologic framework of the Delmarva coastal system through geophysical...

Date published: January 29, 2018
Status: Active

Probabilistic Forecasting of Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Earthquake Effects in the Coastal Zone

The nation's coastlines are vulnerable to the interrelated hazards posed by earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.

Date published: January 29, 2018
Status: Active

Beach-dependent Shorebirds

Policy-makers, individuals from government agencies, and natural resource managers are under increasing pressure to manage changing coastal areas to meet social, economic, and natural resource demands, particularly under a regime of sea-level rise. Scientific knowledge of coastal processes and habitat-use can support decision-makers as they balance these often-conflicting human and ecological...

Date published: January 25, 2018
Status: Completed

Hurricane Nate - Forecast and Documentation of Coastal Change

Hurricane Nate coastal change forecast and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change.

Date published: January 25, 2018
Status: Active

Real-Time Storm Response

The USGS National Assessment of Storm-Induced Coastal Change Hazards group releases coastal change forecasts and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change for landfalling storms.

Filter Total Items: 94
Date published: February 20, 2018

Continuous and optimized 3-arcsecond elevation model for United States east and west coasts

This data release contains the compilation of multiple elevation products into a continuous digital elevation model at a resolution of 3-arcseconds (approximately 90 meters) from the terrestrial landscape to the seafloor for the contiguous U.S. and portions of Mexico and Canada, focused on the coastal interface.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Bathymetry and Backscatter Intensity of the Sea Floor South of Long Island, New York

Surveys of the bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor south of Long Island, New York, were carried out in November 1998 using a Simrad EM1000 multibeam echosounder mounted on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Frederick G. Creed. 

The area was mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey with support from the Canadian Hydrographic Service and the University of New Brunswick.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor of the Historic Area Remediation Site in 1996, 1998, and 2000

Surveys of the bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor of the Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS), offshore of New York and New Jersey, were carried out in 1996, 1998, and 2000 using a Simrad EM1000 multibeam echosounder mounted on the Canadian Coast Guard ship Frederick G. Creed

Date published: February 20, 2018

Bathymetry, backscatter intensity, and geomorphology of the sea floor of the Hudson Canyon and adjacent slope and rise

The Hudson Canyon begins on the outer continental shelf off the eastern coast of the United States at about 100-meters (m) water depth and extends offshore southeastward across the continental slope and rise. A multibeam survey was carried out in 2002 to map the bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor of the Hudson Canyon and adjacent slope and rise.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor of the Atlantic Beach artificial reef, offshore of New York

The Atlantic Beach artificial reef, located on the sea floor 3 nautical miles south of Atlantic Beach, New York in about 20 meters water depth, was built to create habitat for marine life.  The data from this survey are bathymetry, backscatter intensity, and navigation trackline.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Bathymetry and backscatter intensity of the sea floor of the Sandy Hook artificial reef, offshore of New Jersey

The Sandy Hook artificial reef, located on the sea floor offshore of Sandy Hook, New Jersey was built to create habitat for marine lie. The collected data from this cruise are bathymetry, backscatter intensity, and navigation trackline. 

Date published: February 20, 2018

Sediment Texture and Geomorphology of the Sea Floor from Fenwick Island, Maryland to Fisherman's Island, Virginia

These data are a qualitatively derived interpretive polygon shapefile defining surficial sediment type and distribution, and geomorphology, for nearly 1,400 square kilometers of sea floor on the inner-continental shelf from Fenwick Island, Maryland to Fisherman’s Island, Virginia, USA.

Date published: February 15, 2018

Coastal Groundwater Chemical Data from the North and South Shores of Long Island, New York

Groundwater data were collected in the spring and fall of 2008 from three sites representing different geological settings and biogeochemical conditions within the surficial glacial aquifer of Long Island, NY. 

Date published: February 15, 2018

National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS compilation of Updated Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for the Southeast Atlantic Coast

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting a national assessment of coastal change hazards.  One component of this research effort, the National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project documents changes in shoreline position as a proxy for coastal change. 

Date published: February 15, 2018

National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS compilation of Updated Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for the Gulf of Mexico Coast

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting a national assessment of coastal change hazards.  One component of this research effort, the National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project, documents changes in shoreline position as a proxy for coastal change. Shoreline position is an easily understood feature representing the historical location of a beach position through time. 

Date published: February 15, 2018

Topographic, imagery, and raw data associated with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over Black Beach, Falmouth, Massachusetts on 18 March 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey worked in collaboration with members of the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Analytics at Black Beach, in Falmouth, Massachusetts to explore scientific research demands on UAS technology for topographic and habitat mapping applications. 

Date published: February 15, 2018

Data and calculations to support the study of the sea-air flux of methane and carbon dioxide on the West Spitsbergen margin in June 2014

This dataset collected on the West Spitsbergen margin during U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program Field Activity 2014-013-FA, which was carried out in conjunction with the University of Tromso and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel on the R/V Helmer Hanssen.

Filter Total Items: 406
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

Global volcanic hazards and risk

Loughlin, S. C.; Vye-Brown, C.; Sparks, R.S.J.; Brown, S. K.; Barclay, J.; Calder, E.; Cottrell, E.; Jolly, G.; Komorowski, J.C.; Mandeville, C.; Newhall, C.; Palma, J.; Potter, S.; Valentine, G.; Baptie, B.; Biggs, J.; Crosweller, H. S.; Ilyinskaya, E.; Kilburn, C.; Mee, K.; Pritchard, M.; Jenkins, S. F.; Wilson, T. M.; Magill, C.; Miller, V.; Stewart, C.; Blong, R.; Marzocchi, W.; Boulton, M.; Bonadonna, C.; Costa, A.; Auker, Melanie Rose; Deligne, N. I.; Lindsay, J.M.; Smid, E.; Selva, J.; Sandri, L.; Tonini, R.; Macedonio, G.; Solidum, R.; Hincks, T.; Aspinall, W.; Pallister, J.; Surono; Andreastuti, Supriyati; Subandriyo, J.; Sumarti, Sri; Sayudi, D.; Karume, K.; Horwell, C.; Baxter, P.; Kamanyire, R.; Webley, P.W.; Leonard, G.; Poland, M.; Gottsmann, J.; Ortiz Guerrero, N.; Delgado Granados, H.; Lombana Criollo, C.; Wagner, K.; Ogburn, S.E; Wadge, G.; Stone, J.; Marti, J.; Ramon, P.; Mothes, P.; Mandeville, Charles W.; Brown, S. K.; Loughlin, S. C.; Sparks, R.S.J.; Vye-Brown, C.; Barclay, J.; Calder, E.; Cottrell, E.; Jolly, G.; Komorowski, J.C.; Mandeville, C.; Newhall, C.; Palma, J.; Potter, S.; Valentine, G.

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.
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

An analysis of three new infrasound arrays around Kīlauea Volcano

A network of three new infrasound station arrays was installed around Kīlauea Volcano between July 2012 and September 2012, and a preliminary analysis of open-vent monitoring has been completed by Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Infrasound is an emerging monitoring method in volcanology that detects perturbations in atmospheric pressure at...

Thelen, Weston A.; Cooper, Jennifer
Thelen, W.A., and Cooper, Jennifer, 2014, An analysis of three new infrasound arrays around Kīlauea Volcano: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1253, 29 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141253.

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.

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.

Filter Total Items: 1,844
Aerial view of lava entering ocean
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Ocean Entry Aerial View

View of ocean entry point from helicopter overflight on May 20, 2018, at 6:45 AM HST. 

Laze from the ocean entry of lava
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Laze Plume

Lava from the fissure complex erupting in Kīlauea's lower East Rift Zone entered the ocean in late evening on May 19, 2018. The active ocean entry is producing a white "laze" plume. Laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean, forming a plume of hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles. The laze plume travels with the wind and can be a hazard for people downwind, but is most...

Lava entering ocean
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Entering Ocean

Lava from the Fissure 20 complex is entering the ocean in two locations, separated by an area tens of yards wide. At the time of this early morning photo, lava flowing into the ocean entry on the eastern (left-most) lobe was diminishing while lava flowing into the ocean on the western (right-most) lobe was vigorous.

Laze plume
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Laze Plume

Lava from the Fissure 20 complex enters the ocean generating a white laze plume. Helicopter overflight on May 20, 2018, at 6:45 AM HST.

Lava entering ocean
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava Entering Ocean

Lava flows from the Fissure 20 complex move downslope and enter the ocean. Lava can be seen in the middle of the channel. A laze plume hides the point of ocean entry.

Laze plume rising in the distance
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Plume Rising

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.

plume rising from ocean entry
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Plume Rising

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.

May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Slow Moving Lava Flow

Video of a slow moving lava flow in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, taken May 20, 2018, at around 2:31 AM HST. The flow is ~3 m (9 ft) high. The HVO scientist mapping the flow...

Lava flowing into a crack
May 20, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava from Fissure 20 Enters a Crack

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.

May 19, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — May 19 Fissure and Flow (LERZ)

Helicopter overflight of a fast-moving lava flow emerging from ...

Aerial view of lava
May 19, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Aerial of Lava Flow

Channelized lava flows originate from a merged elongated fountaining source between fissures 16 and 20 in Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone.

Filter Total Items: 328
Date published: March 20, 2018

USGS scientists lead investigation of tropical subterranean estuaries in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico!

USGS scientists lead investigation of tropical subterranean estuaries in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico!

Date published: March 16, 2018

Visiting scientist from Japan assisting shoreline-change studies in California

Masayuki Banno is spending a year-long sabbatical with the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, collaborating with Patrick Barnard’s coastal-change group.

Date published: March 14, 2018

USGS Authors New Report on Seismic Hazard, Risk, and Design for South America

New seismic hazard and risk assessments can help at-risk communities prepare for future earthquake disasters

Date published: March 8, 2018

New 3D Measurements Improve Understanding of Geomagnetic Storm Hazards

Measurements of the three-dimensional structure of the earth, as opposed to the one-dimensional models typically used, can help scientists more accurately determine which areas of the United States are most vulnerable to blackouts during hazardous geomagnetic storms.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Fulbright Scholar Joins Coral Reef Project at Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

The Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) in Santa Cruz, California, recently welcomed Andrew Pomeroy, a Fulbright scholar from Australia who will spend approximately 6 months here conducting research on sediment movement in coral reef systems.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Modern Perspective on Gas Hydrates

After lying hidden in sediments for thousands of years, delicate frozen gas structures are in the spotlight for both scientific research and the national interest. These structures, known as gas hydrate, are being investigated by scientists the world over for their possible contributions to the global energy mix, as well as their potential interaction with the environment.

Date published: February 25, 2018

Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake, Papua New Guinea

The USGS has up-to-date details on the February 25, 2018 event.

Date published: February 23, 2018

USGS in South Korea

 For several years, KIGAM, the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, has hosted an international program for geoscience resources (IS-Geo).  The IS-Geo program draws together federal and private-sector professionals from the international community to discuss a range of specific geoscience and mineral topics.

Date published: February 21, 2018

Newspaper story on earthquake hazards in Santa Rosa, California, features information from USGS scientists

USGS scientists Janet Watt and Suzanne Hecker provided information to the article’s author.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Pacific Missile Tracking Site Could Be Unusable in 20 Years Due to Climate Change

Living and working on the Pacific islands hosting a key missile tracking site soon could be almost impossible due to the impacts of climate change.

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.