Mission Areas

Natural Hazards

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two men standing in a boat tied up to a dock
2017 (approx.)
USGS scientists readying a sonar-equipped boat to map the ocean bottom near Santa Cruz, Calif.
man walking along wet sand on beach wearing a backpack with an antenna sticking pout of it
2017 (approx.)
USGS scientist Daniel Hoover mapping the beach at Santa Cruz with a GPS-equipped backpack unit.
January 26, 2017
A presentation on "Unusual Sources of Tsunamis From Krakatoa to Monterey Bay" by Eric Geist, USGS Research Geophysicist - Not all tsunamis are generated by earthquakes. - Tsunamis can be caused by volcanoes, landslides, and even atmospheric disturbances - Data from tide gauges can help unravel the complex physics of these sources Videographers: Mitch Adelson, William Seelig, USGS
Satellite image of small crescent-shaped ocean island.
January 24, 2017
Analysis of shoreline changes at Bogoslof volcano due to eruptive activity between January 11 and 24, 2017. The base image is a Worldview-2 satellite image collected on January 24, 2017. The approximate location of the shoreline on January 11, 2017 is shown by the dashed orange line.
January 20, 2017
The June 2016 Fish Fire burned over 12 km^2 in Los Angeles County, California. After the fire, the USGS installed an automated rain-triggered camera to monitor post-wildfire flooding and debris flow in a small canyon above the Las Lomas debris basin in Duarte. This video shows the peak flow triggered by an intense rainstorm on January 20, 2017.
Annotated aerial photo of crescent shaped island surrounded by open ocean.
January 10, 2017
Annotated photograph of Bogoslof Island showing the cumulative effects of 2016-17 eruptive activity. A layer of fine muddy appearing ash drapes most of the landscape and covers pre-existing vegetation. The dashed line indicates the area excavated by explosive eruptive activity so far. A prominent zone of upwelling is probably the surface expression of a shallow submarine vent. Photograph taken by...
Girls points to a location on a map laying on the ground.
2016 (approx.)
GeoGirls learn about how the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens impacted the ecology of the area.
Three girls sit on rocks and look at a computer screen.
2016 (approx.)
Geogirls use computers in the field to track locations and annotate field photos.
Participants in the 2016 Argus Workshop at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility in Duck, North Carolina
2016 (approx.)
Participants in the 2016 Argus Workshop at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility in Duck, North Carolina, including many of the scientists named in this article (labeled). Rob Holman (Oregon State University) took the photo with a drone.
Core Lab Manager, Brian Buczkowski, giving a tour of the Core Lab
2016 (approx.)
Woods Hole Core Lab Manager, Brian Buczkowski, giving a tour of the lab to local teachers participating in a professional development workshop
Group of students and scientists stand in semi circle with mountain in the background.
2016 (approx.)
GeoGirls hike onto the Pumice Plain to learn more about Mount St. Helens’ historical eruptions.
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Giant Sunspot Erupts on October 24, 2014
May 1, 2017

While major geomagnetic storms are rare, with only a few recorded per century, there is significant potential for large-scale impacts when they do occur. Extreme space weather can be viewed as hazards for the economy and national security.

A gas plume arising from Augustine Volcano during it's eruptive phase 2005-06.
April 28, 2017

Which U.S. State or territory has more large earthquakes than the rest of the United States combined?

April 6, 2017

Although no one can reliably predict earthquakes, today’s technology is advanced enough to rapidly detect seismic waves as an earthquake begins, calculate the maximum expected shaking, and send alerts to surrounding areas before damage can occur. This technology is known as “earthquake early warning” (EEW).

Earthquake Early Warning: Vital for City Transit
April 6, 2017

The U.S. Geological Survey along with university, state and private-sector partners will highlight the rollout of Version 1.2 of the USGS ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system on April 10, 2017.

house perched at the top of cliff edge above beach.
March 27, 2017

Using a newly-developed computer model called “CoSMoS-COAST” (Coastal Storm Modeling System – Coastal One-line Assimilated Simulation Tool) scientists predict that with limited human intervention, 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may become completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs) by the year 2100 under scenarios of sea-level rise of one to two meters.

March 20, 2017

Seal Beach, Calif.— A new collaborative study shows evidence of prior abrupt sinking of the wetlands near Seal Beach, caused by ancient earthquakes that shook the area at least three times in the past 2,000 years, according to researchers.

person standing next to large boulder
March 20, 2017

Geologists have discovered evidence that unusual seas detached living corals from a Caribbean reef and scattered them far inland, as boulders, during the last centuries before Columbus arrived. The new findings will reinforce precautions against coastal hazards, Caribbean tsunami specialists said.

bue and white street sign, circle with wave -shaped drawing indicating a tsunami evacuation route
March 20, 2017

Hours before Japan was struck by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and the ensuing catastrophic tsunami, John Schelling spoke at a public meeting in the coastal community of Oceans Shores, Washington, about preparing for tsunami hazards. The few dozen people attending the meeting went home that evening and watched in horror as the events in Japan unfolded.

Annotated aerial photo of crescent shaped island surrounded by open ocean.
March 3, 2017

Bogoslof volcano, located in the Aleutian Islands about 98 km (61 mi) northwest of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska, is in an active eruption sequence that began in mid-December 2016 and continues today.

March 2, 2017

Pasadena, Calif. – A new U.S. Geological Survey study offers a view into the past behavior of large earthquakes along the southern San Andreas Fault. 


Large waves crashing on rocks at beach.
February 22, 2017

Atmospheric rivers are a global weather phenomenon that can bring large amounts of rain or snow to the U.S. West Coast each year. These rivers of wet air form over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaiʻi and pick up large amounts of moisture from the tropics and on their way to the West Coast. This moisture is carried in narrow bands across the Pacific Ocean to California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

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