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Every year in the United States, natural hazards threaten lives and livelihoods and result in billions of dollars in damage. We work with many partners to monitor, assess, and conduct targeted research on a wide range of natural hazards so that policymakers and the public have the understanding they need to enhance preparedness, response, and resilience.
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
The Storm Impacts and Vulnerability of Coastal Beaches project used post-Sandy lidar elevation data to update assessments of storm-induced coastal erosion hazards for Northeast beaches.
This project integrated a wetland assessment with existing coastal-change hazard assessments for the adjacent dunes and beaches of Assateague Island, Maryland, to create a more comprehensive coastal vulnerability assessment.
We use remote-sensing technologies—such as aerial photography, satellite imagery, and lidar (laser-based surveying)—to measure coastal change along U.S. shorelines.
In 2002, when USGS geologist Patrick Barnard was living in San Francisco, California, he saw an opportunity to provide more science to assist the city’s management decisions to protect a multimillion-dollar sewage treatment plant built along the coast in 1993. Inspired to conduct research on chronic erosion in this region, he carried out surveys along the southern end of Ocean Beach for well...
In March 2014, USGS instruments recorded an unexpected combination of unusually high tides and large 5-meter swells that flooded many areas within the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands president issued a state of emergency and press release: “This week’s king tides were the worst that the Marshall Islands has experienced in over 30 years, and the third time the capital...
Above, photograph of Pingok Island, Alaska, reveals physical features of a changing Arctic: collapsing bluffs, salt-killed tundra (lighter brown near the bluff edge), and drained thermokarst lakes (rust-colored depressions). Photo courtesy of Bruce Richmond and Ann Gibbs, USGS, taken August 9, 2006
The impacts of climate change and sea-level rise around the Pacific and Arctic Oceans can vary tremendously. Thus far the vast majority of national and international impact assessments and models of coastal climate change have focused on low-relief coastlines that are not near seismically active zones. Furthermore, the degree to which extreme waves and wind will add further stress to coastal...
Tidal wetlands are an important geomorphic and ecological feature of the coastal zone. Our projects deal with the physical forcings that affect wetland stability over event-to-annual timescales, including wave attack, sediment supply, and sea-level rise.
Extreme tides and coastal storms transfer high water levels to estuaries through natural and managed entrances. The size of the transfer depends on the duration of the event and the geomorphology of the estuary. We use observational data and modeling scenarios to understand and spatially map this transfer at our study sites.
Changes to the geomorphic structure of estuaries impact hydrodynamics, ecosystem function, and navigation. We are implementing new methods of observing and modeling these changes using innovative field and computational approaches.
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....
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.
Data compilation of soil respiration, moisture, and temperature measurements from global warming experiments from 1994-2014
This dataset is the largest global dataset to date of soil respiration, moisture, and temperature measurements, totaling >3800 observations representing 27 temperature manipulation studies, spanning nine biomes and nearly two decades of warming experiments. Data for this study were obtained from a combination of unpublished data and published literature values.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location of 1D Earth Resistivity Models with respect to Physiographic Regions of the USA
CSMP is a cooperative program to create a comprehensive coastal and marine geologic and habitat base map series for all of California's State waters. Data collected during this project reveal the seafloor offshore of the California coast in unprecedented detail and provide an ecosystem context for the effective management of this precious marine resource.
This portal is a “go to” source for maps related to ocean and coastal mapping. Information is organized by geography or region, by theme, and by the year data was published.
Maps of flood and high flow conditions within the U.S.
Map of USGS Magnetic observatory locations.
We conduct post-fire debris-flow hazard assessments for select fires in the Western U.S. We use geospatial data related to basin morphometry, burn severity, soil properties, and rainfall characteristics to estimate the probability and volume of debris flows that may occur in response to a design storm.
This map and the original delineate areas where large numbers of landslides have occurred and areas which are susceptible to landsliding in the conterminous United States.
The purpose of the Inventory Project is to provide a framework and tools for displaying and analyzing landslide inventory data collected in a spatially aware digital format from individual states.
The Planetary Geologic Mapping Program serves the international science community through the production of high-quality and refereed geologic maps of planetary bodies. This program is in coordination between NASA science programs and the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.
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The size, distribution, and mobility of landslides caused by the 2015 Mw7.8 Gorkha earthquake, Nepal
Coseismic landslides pose immediate and prolonged hazards to mountainous communities, and provide a rare opportunity to study the effect of large earthquakes on erosion and sediment budgets. By mapping landslides using high-resolution satellite imagery, we find that the 25 April 2015 Mw7.8 Gorkha earthquake and aftershock sequence produced at...Roback, Kevin; Clark, Marin K.; West, A. Joshua; Zekkos, Dimitrios; Li, Gen; Gallen, Sean F.; Chamlagain, Deepak; Godt, Jonathan W.
Application and evaluation of a rapid response earthquake-triggered landslide model to the 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake, Nepal
The 25 April 2015 Mw 7.8 Gorkha earthquake produced strong ground motions across an approximately 250 km by 100 km swath in central Nepal. To assist disaster response activities, we modified an existing earthquake-triggered landslide model based on a Newmark sliding block analysis to estimate the extent and intensity of landsliding...Gallen, Sean F.; Clark, Marin K.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Roback, Kevin; Niemi, Nathan A
Evolution of strain localization in variable-width three-dimensional unsaturated laboratory-scale cut slopes
To experimentally validate a recently developed theory for predicting the stability of cut slopes under unsaturated conditions, the authors measured increasing strain localization in unsaturated slope cuts prior to abrupt failure. Cut slope width and moisture content were controlled and varied in a laboratory, and a sliding door that extended the...Morse, Michael S.; Lu, Ning; Wayllace, Alexandra; Godt, Jonathan W.
Designing a solution to enable agency-academic scientific collaboration for disasters
As large-scale environmental disasters become increasingly frequent and more severe globally, people and organizations that prepare for and respond to these crises need efficient and effective ways to integrate sound science into their decision making. Experience has shown that integrating nongovernmental scientific expertise into disaster...Mease, Lindley A.; Gibbs-Plessl, Theodora; Erickson, Ashley; Ludwig, Kristin A.; Reddy, Christopher M.; Lubchenco, Jane
Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide—U.S. Geological Survey subduction zone science plan
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information and tools to build resilience in communities exposed to subduction zone earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. Improving the application of USGS science to successfully reduce risk from these events relies on whole community efforts...Gomberg, Joan S.; Ludwig, Kristin A.; Bekins, Barbara; Brocher, Thomas M.; Brock, John C.; Brothers, Daniel; Chaytor, Jason D.; Frankel, Arthur; Geist, Eric L.; Haney, Matt; Hickman, Stephen H.; Leith, William S.; Roeloffs, Evelyn A.; Schulz, William H.; Sisson, Thomas W.; Wallace, Kristi; Watt, Janet; Wein, Anne
Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide
Most of the world’s earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions are caused by the continuous motions of the many tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s outer shell. The most powerful of these natural hazards occur in subduction zones, where two plates collide and one is thrust beneath another. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) “...Gomberg, Joan S.; Ludwig, Kristin A.
Observations and a linear model of water level in an interconnected inlet-bay system
A system of barrier islands and back-barrier bays occurs along southern Long Island, New York, and in many coastal areas worldwide. Characterizing the bay physical response to water level fluctuations is needed to understand flooding during extreme events and evaluate their relation to geomorphological changes. Offshore sea level is one of the...Aretxabaleta, Alfredo; Ganju, Neil K.; Butman, Bradford; Signell, Richard
Inner-shelf ocean dynamics and seafloor morphologic changes during Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy was one of the most destructive hurricanes in US history, making landfall on the New Jersey coast on Oct 30, 2012. Storm impacts included several barrier island breaches, massive coastal erosion, and flooding. While changes to the subaerial landscape are relatively easily observed, storm-induced changes to the adjacent shoreface...Warner, John C.; Schwab, William C.; List, Jeffrey; Safak, Ilgar; Liste, Maria; Baldwin, Wayne E.
Evidence for coseismic subsidence events in a southern California coastal saltmarsh
Paleoenvironmental records from a southern California coastal saltmarsh reveal evidence for repeated late Holocene coseismic subsidence events. Field analysis of sediment gouge cores established discrete lithostratigraphic units extend across the wetland. Detailed sediment analyses reveal abrupt changes in lithology, percent total organic matter,...Leeper, Robert; Rhodes, Brady P.; Kirby, Matthew E.; Scharer, Katherine M.; Carlin, Joseph A.; Hemphill-Haley, Eileen; Avnaim-Katav, Simona; MacDonald, Glen M.; Starratt, Scott W.; Aranda, Angela
Development of a coupled wave-flow-vegetation interaction model
Emergent and submerged vegetation can significantly affect coastal hydrodynamics. However, most deterministic numerical models do not take into account their influence on currents, waves, and turbulence. In this paper, we describe the implementation of a wave-flow-vegetation module into a Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST)...Beudin, Alexis; Kalra, Tarandeep S.; Ganju, Neil K.; Warner, John C.
Barrier island breach evolution: Alongshore transport and bay-ocean pressure gradient interactions
Physical processes controlling repeated openings and closures of a barrier island breach between a bay and the open ocean are studied using aerial photographs and atmospheric and hydrodynamic observations. The breach site is located on Pea Island along the Outer Banks, separating Pamlico Sound from the Atlantic Ocean. Wind direction was a major...Safak, Ilgar; Warner, John C.; List, Jeffrey
Biogeomorphic classification and images of shorebird nesting sites on the U.S. Atlantic coast
Atlantic coast piping plover (Charadrius melodus) nest sites are typically found on low-lying beach and dune systems, which respond rapidly to coastal processes like sediment overwash, inlet formation, and island migration that are sensitive to climate-related changes in storminess and the rate of sea-level rise. Data were obtained to understand...Sturdivant, Emily; Thieler, E. Robert; Zeigler, Sara; Winslow, Luke; Hines, Megan K.; Read, Jordan S.; Walker, Jordan I.
Tim Collett, research geologist in gas hydrates, is chief for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program gas hydrate research efforts offering a presentation on unconventional oil and gas resources at KIGAM, the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources in Daejeon, South Korea
Seth Haines, USGS research geophysicist, on a Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources laboratory tour, which included stops at their gas hydrate and sediment pressure chamber - it's a whopping 320 gallons, dwarfing even Seth, a 6-footer. The chamber is the silvery ring and the black cylinder beneath it. It's so big and heavy that it gets wheeled out of that cold room on a set...
International participants from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, and the U.S. attended a workshop on “Understanding Flooding on Reef-lined Island Coastlines”, February 5-7, 2018.
Tim Collett, USGS research geologist, presenting at the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources' (KIGAM) international program for geoscience resources.
USGS scientists, Bill Waite, Tim Collett, and Seth Haines in front of a archway in Daejeon, South Korea
Core storage facility at the the Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources in Daejeon, South Korea
Location 1: High waves during Hurricane Irma eroded the wide stretch of sand at Daytona Beach, but did not overtop the seawall. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 30%.
Location 2: Elevated water levels during Hurricane Irma overtopped low dunes and transported sand across the roadway in Palm Coast. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 76%.
Location 3: In the Matanzas area, elevated water levels during Hurricane Irma overtopped low dunes and transported sand landward, covering vegetation and filling in a small pond. The predicted probability of overwash for this location was 87%.
Location 4: Three homes were destroyed in South Ponte Vedra when waves and surge from Hurricane Irma eroded the dune face and scoured areas behind the seawall, undermining their foundations. Erosion is often more severe on sections of beach behind and adjacent to the end of a section of seawall. The predicted probability of dune erosion for this location was 99%.
Location 5: Waves from Hurricane Irma reached the toe of the dunes in Ponte Vedra, causing the dune face to erode and leaving a steep scarp. The predicted probability of dune erosion for this location was 58%.
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.
New seismic hazard and risk assessments can help at-risk communities prepare for future earthquake disasters
Studying the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault
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.
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.
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.
The USGS has up-to-date details on the February 25, 2018 event.
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.
USGS scientists Janet Watt and Suzanne Hecker provided information to the article’s author.
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.
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.
Early in his college career, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Rufus Catchings became drawn to the mysteries that lie beneath the earth’s surface — and was determined to understand them.