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
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USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

This website brings together information about current and past flooding and USGS flood-focused resources. The USGS provides practical, unbiased information about the Nation's rivers and streams that is crucial in mitigating hazards associated with floods.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Explore critical pre- and post-disaster images and datasets online for immediate viewing and downloading. These images are used in disaster preparations, rescue and relief operations, damage assessments, and reconstruction efforts. We supply satellite and aerial images for analysis of disaster areas before, during, and after a disaster.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Research projects within the USGS Geomagnetism Program are targeted for societal relevance, especially for space-weather hazard science.

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.

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USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Wildfires: GEOMAC

Maps of current fire locations and perimeters in the conterminous 48 States and Alaska.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 4, 2016

Landfire Data Distribution

Map interface to view and download landfire data sets, receive alerts and notifications.

Ash-rich plume rises out of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, Kilauea Volcano Hawaiʻi
March 4, 2016

Current Alerts for U.S. Volcanoes

Volcano-alert notifications are produced by Volcano Observatory scientists based on analysis of data from monitoring networks, direct observations, and satellite sensors. They are issued for both increasing and decreasing volcanic activity and include text about the nature of the unrest or eruption and about potential or current hazards and likely outcomes.

March 4, 2016

/data-tools/volcano-notification-service-vns" target="">Volcano Notification Service (VNS)

The Volcano Notification Service (VNS) is a free service that sends you notification emails about volcanic activity happening at U.S. monitored volcanoes. You can customize the VNS to deliver notifications for certain volcanoes or a range of volcanoes, and you can also choose the notification types you want to receive.

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Year Published: 2011

Geoinformatics in the public service: building a cyberinfrastructure across the geological surveys

Advanced information technology infrastructure is increasingly being employed in the Earth sciences to provide researchers with efficient access to massive central databases and to integrate diversely formatted information from a variety of sources. These geoinformatics initiatives enable manipulation, modeling and visualization of data in a...

Keller, G. Randy; Baru, Chaitanya; Allison, M. Lee; Gundersen, Linda C.; Richard, Stephen M.
Attribution: Natural Hazards

Year Published: 2010

Temporal variations in Global Seismic Stations ambient noise power levels

Recent concerns about time-dependent response changes in broadband seismometers have motivated the need for methods to monitor sensor health at Global Seismographic Network (GSN) stations. We present two new methods for monitoring temporal changes in data quality and instrument response transfer functions that are independent of Earth seismic...

Ringler, A.T.; Gee, L.S.; Hutt, C.R.; McNamara, D.E.
Temporal variations in Global Seismic Stations ambient noise power levels; 2010; Article; Journal; Seismological Research Letters; Ringler, A.T.; Gee, L.S.; Hutt, C.R.; McNamara, D.E.

Year Published: 2010

OMG earthquake! can twitter improve earthquake response?

[No abstract available]

Earle, P.; Guy, M.; Buckmaster, R.; Ostrum, C.; Horvath, S.; Vaughan, A.
OMG earthquake! can twitter improve earthquake response?; 2010; Article; Journal; Seismological Research Letters; Earle, P.; Guy, M.; Buckmaster, R.; Ostrum, C.; Horvath, S.; Vaughan, A.

Year Published: 2007

Natural Hazards - A National Threat

The USGS Role in Reducing Disaster Losses -- In the United States each year, natural hazards cause hundreds of deaths and cost billions of dollars in disaster aid, disruption of commerce, and destruction of homes and critical infrastructure. Although the number of lives lost to natural hazards each year generally has declined, the economic cost...

Geological Survey, U.S.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Natural Hazards - A National Threat; 2007; FS; 2007-3009; Geological Survey, U.S.

Year Published: 2007

A deep reef in deep trouble

The well-documented degradation of shallower reefs which are often closer to land and more vulnerable to pollution, sewage and other human-related stressors has led to the suggestion that deeper, more remote offshore reefs could possibly serve as sources of coral and fish larvae to replenish the shallower reefs. Yet, the distribution, status, and...

Menza, Charles; Kendall, M.; Rogers, C.; Miller, J.
A deep reef in deep trouble; 2007; Article; Journal; Continental Shelf Research; Menza, C.; Kendall, M.; Rogers, C.; Miller, J.

Year Published: 2006

Hurricanes 2004: An overview of their characteristics and coastal change

Four hurricanes battered the state of Florida during 2004, the most affecting any state since Texas endured four in 1884. Each of the storms changed the coast differently. Average shoreline change within the right front quadrant of hurricane force winds varied from 1 m of shoreline advance to 20 m of retreat, whereas average sand volume change...

Sallenger, Asbury H.; Stockdon, Hilary; Fauver, Laura A.; Hansen, Mark; Thompson, David; Wright, C. Wayne; Lillycrop, Jeff

Year Published: 1998

Experimental Investigations Regarding the Use of Sand as an Inhibitor of Air Convection in Deep Seismic Boreholes

INTRODUCTION Tilt has been the nemesis of horizontal long period seismology since its inception. Modern horizontal long period seismometers with their long natural periods are incredibly sensitive to tilt. They can sense tilts smaller than 10 -11 radians. To most readers, this is just a very very small number, so we will begin with an example...

Holcomb, L. Gary; Sandoval, Leo; Hutt, Bob
Experimental Investigations Regarding the Use of Sand as an Inhibitor of Air Convection in Deep Seismic Boreholes; 1998; OFR; 98-362; Holcomb, L. Gary; Sandoval, Leo; Hutt, Bob

Year Published: 1997

Taking the Earth's pulse

During the past 35 years, scientists have developed a vast network of seismometers that record earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and nuclear explosions throughout the world. Seismographic data support disaster response, scientific research, and global security. With this network, the United States maintains world leadership in monitoring the...

Woodward, Robert L.; Benz, Harly M.; Brown, William M.
Taking the Earth's pulse; 1997; FS; 103-97; Woodward, Robert L.; Benz, Harly M.; Brown, William M., III

Year Published: 1993

Observations and Modeling of Seismic Background Noise

INTRODUCTION The preparation of this report had two purposes. One was to present a catalog of seismic background noise spectra obtained from a worldwide network of seismograph stations. The other purpose was to refine and document models of seismic background noise that have been in use for several years. The second objective was, in...

Peterson, Jon R.
Observations and Modeling of Seismic Background Noise; 1993; OFR; 93-322; Peterson, Jon R.

Year Published: 1992

An Evaluation of Installation Methods for STS-1 Seismometers

INTRODUCTION This report documents the results of a series of experiments conducted by the authors at the Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory (ASl) during the spring and summer of 1991; the object of these experiments was to obtain and document quantitative performance comparisons of three methods of installing STS-1 seismometers....

Holcomb, L. Gary; Hutt, Charles R.
An Evaluation of Installation Methods for STS-1 Seismometers; 1992; OFR; 92-302; Holcomb, L. Gary; Hutt, Charles R.

Year Published: 1991

A C Language Implementation of the SRO (Murdock) Detector/Analyzer

A signal detector and analyzer algorithm was described by Murdock and Hutt in 1983. The algorithm emulates the performance of a human interpreter of seismograms. It estimates the signal onset, the direction of onset (positive or negative), the quality of these determinations, the period and amplitude of the signal, and the background noise at the...

Murdock, James N.; Halbert, Scott E.
A C Language Implementation of the SRO (Murdock) Detector/Analyzer; 1991; OFR; 87-158; Murdock, James N.; Halbert, Scott E.

Year Published: 1990

A Numerical Study of Some Potential Sources of Error in Side-by-Side Seismometer Evaluations

INTRODUCTION This report presents the results of a series of computer simulations of potential errors in test data, which might be obtained when conducting side-by-side comparisons of seismometers. These results can be used as guides in estimating potential sources and magnitudes of errors one might expect when analyzing real test data....

Holcomb, L. Gary
A Numerical Study of Some Potential Sources of Error in Side-by-Side Seismometer Evaluations; 1990; OFR; 90-406; Holcomb, L. Gary

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Pre- and post-Harvey photos for Sargent, Texas
September 5, 2017
Location 4. Sand dunes along this stretch of coast in Sargent, Texas, were overwashed by large waves during the storm. Sand from the beach and dunes is covering the roadway behind the dunes and which may be impassable. The predicted probability of overwash in this area was 94%.
Preparing to measure Irma's storm surge in Puerto Rico
September 4, 2017
Along the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, USGS hydrologic technician Francisco Almanzar surveys reference elevation points to ensure the accuracy of water level data. Almanzar and other USGS employees installed nine storm surge sensors along the coast on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached.
2017 (approx.)
SEABed Observation and Sampling System (SeaBOSS) operations were conducted near Stellwagen Bank offshore of Massachusetts in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary aboard the sanctuary's research vessel, the R/V Auk.
USGS scientist Lisa Ashmore services a water-quality monitor on Lake Houston. These instruments stayed afloat throughout Harvey.
August 31, 2017
USGS scientist Lisa Ashmore services a water-quality monitor on Lake Houston. These instruments stayed afloat and collected data throughout Harvey.
USGS scientists Lisa Ashmore and Lee Bodkin collect water-quality samples on Lake Houston in response to Harvey.
August 31, 2017
USGS scientists Lisa Ashmore and Lee Bodkin collect water-quality samples on Lake Houston in response to the high flow conditions that resulted from Harvey.
August 31, 2017
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25th. Over the next few days, record rain totals had devastated the area. 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/ )
Aerial image of Woods Hole, MA
August 12, 2017
Aeiral image of Woods Hole, MA taken during the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll. The green USGS tent generated a lot of interest and participation from Science Stroll attendees
Image of USGS scientist, Meagan Gonneea, at the Woods Hole Science Stroll outreach event
August 12, 2017
USGS Research Scientist, Meagan Gonneea, talking about the differences between coastal salt marshes and invasive phragmites at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll outreach event
Image of a done landing on a target at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
August 12, 2017
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center drone pilot, Emily Sturdivant, lands a drone on target at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
Image of a family taking a selfie with the SEABoss at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
August 12, 2017
SEABoss Selfies were a big hit at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll.
Image of Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Science Stroll participants
August 12, 2017
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Science Stroll participants; Dann Blackwood, Andrea Toran, Emily Sturdivant, Ellyn Montgomery, Sara Zeigler, Neil Ganju, Seth Ackerman, Laura Brothers, Meagan Gonneea
Image of children surrounding USGS drone pilot, Emily Sturdivant, at the Woods Hole Science Stroll
August 12, 2017
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center drone pilot, Emily Sturdivant, provides a demonstration of drone capabilities at the 2017 Woods Hole Science Stroll
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Coastal erosion
September 8, 2017

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

Map showing epicenter of 2017-09-08 earthquake offshore Mexico
September 8, 2017

A magnitude 8.1earthquake struck offshore Chiapas, Mexico on September 7, 2017 at 11:49 local time (September 8 at 04:49UTC).

 

USGS scientists installs storm-tide sensor in preparation for Hurricane Harvey
September 7, 2017

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

Preparing to measure Irma's storm surge in Puerto Rico
September 6, 2017

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

Sensor deployment
September 6, 2017

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

Natural Hazard image WGSC
September 6, 2017

With hurricanes in the east and wildfires in the west, natural hazards have the potential to impact a majority of Americans every year. USGS science provides part of the foundation for emergency preparedness whenever and wherever disaster strikes.

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.