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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
Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) is an ubiquitous coastal process that is driven by a composite of climatologic, hydrogeologic, and oceanographic processes. For example, terrestrial hydraulic gradients that reflect both short and long term climatic conditions almost always transport both surface and ground water toward the coast. In coastal waters, physical oceanographic processes such as...
The USGS Gas Hydrates Project focuses on the study of natural gas hydrates in deepwater marine systems and permafrost areas. The primary goals are:
- Evaluate methane hydrates as a potential energy source
- Investigate the interaction between methane hydrate destabilization and climate change at short and long time scales, particularly in the Arctic
- Study the spatial ...
The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center created posters about each of these completed research projects. Here, the posters are presented along with additional information.
Click the text to open a detailed page about the study.
Click the thumbnail image to open its full-size poster (PDF...
Basic research to develop the geologic record of paleotsunamis and improve the ability to interpret that record is needed to mitigate tsunami risk in the U.S.
Computer Software for Calculating Shoreline Change (or positional change of a boundary over time)
The Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) is an add-in to Esri ArcGIS desktop v.10.4 or 10.5 that enables a user to calculate shoreline rate-of-change statistics from multiple historical shoreline positions. It provides an automated method for establishing measurement...
The collections inventory database for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) Samples Repository is published as a USGS data release (Buczkowski and others, 2018), and is available to search online through the Samples Repository’s inventory search interface. Sample collections in the Repository can be searched and selected through a map...
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....
This project brings together scientists from the disciplines of geology, hydrology, geography, biology, and ecology to address the effects of Sea-Level Rise (SLR) on the Nation’s coasts. The project synthesizes information on coastal environments and uncertainties in knowledge of coastal processes into a Bayesian statistical analysis framework. The Bayesian approach allows researchers to...
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center shares a wide range of resources to help explain and illustrate scientific concepts, our scientific activities, expertise, technology, tools, and other educational resources. Through newsletters, multimedia resources, special events, and other products, you can learn more about the many ways our science supports the Nation.
The Sea Floor Mapping Group (SFMG) is a core capability at the Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) that provides support for coastal, lacustrine and marine geologic research. The staff has a wide-range of expertise and is responsible for geophysical and sampling data acquisition, processing,...
Large areas of Georges Bank (which lies in both the US and Canada) and the New England Shelf have been closed to fishing for 25 years in order to conserve and rebuild fishery stocks. These closures, along with an increased need to improve characterization of the seabed, have provided the opportunity to map the extent of gravel substrates that dominant parts of the region, study the effects of...
In response to the growing need for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning as a means to better manage seabed environments, it is necessary to compile high-resolution (1:25,000) interpretive maps and to formulate a geology-based seabed classification system that will allow users to recognize and correctly interpret seabed substrate types.
Seabed imagery from multibeam mapping surveys has...
Mean tidal range in marsh units of Plum Island Estuary and Parker River salt marsh complex, Massachusetts
This dataset displays the spatial variation of mean tidal range (i.e. Mean Range of Tides, MN) in the Plum Island Estuary and Parker River (PIEPR) salt marsh complex based on conceptual marsh units defined by Defne and Ganju (2018). MN was based on the calculated difference in height between mean high water (MHW) and mean low water (MLW) using the VDatum (v3.5) database.
Unvegetated to vegetated marsh ratio in Plum Island Estuary and Parker River salt marsh complex, Massachusetts
Through scientific efforts initiated with the Hurricane Sandy Science Plan, the USGS has been expanding national assessment of coastal change hazards and forecast products to coastal wetlands, including the Plum Island Estuary and Parker River salt marsh complex, with the intent of providing Federal, State, and local managers tools to estimate the vulnerability and ecosystem service potential...
This data release provides elevation distribution in the Plum Island Estuary and Parker River (PIEPR) salt marsh complex. Elevation distribution was calculated in terms of mean elevation of conceptual marsh units. The elevation data was based on the 1-meter gridded Digital Elevation Model and supplemented by 1-meter resampled 1/9 arc-second resolution National Elevation Data, where data gaps...
The salt marsh complex of Plum Island Estuary and Parker River was delineated to smaller, conceptual marsh units by geoprocessing of surface elevation data. Flow accumulation based on the relative elevation of each location was used to determine the ridge lines that separate each marsh unit while the surface slope was used to automatically assign each unit a drainage point, where water drains...
Sampling data collected in Ipswich Bay and Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts, in 2012, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2012-035-FA
This dataset, collected aboard the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold as part of the Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Sea Floor Program. During the survey, surficial sediment samples and bottom still and video imagery were collected in Ipswich Bay and Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts.
While some instrument teams provide science-ready versions of their data, many other archives must first be processed by the individual researcher. POW provides users with calibrated cartographic images that can be used for geologic mapping, analysis in a Geographic Image System (GIS), change detection, merging of dissimilar instrument images, and use in a host of other scientific applications...
Sea-level rise (SLR) impacts on the coastal landscape are presented here as: 1) level of landscape submergence (adjusted land elevation with respect to projected mean high water levels); and 2) coastal response type characterized as either static (for example, inundation) or dynamic (for example, landform or landscape change). Results are produced at a spatial scale of 30 meters.
Sidescan sonar, single beam bathymetry, and navigation collected offshore of Sandwich Beach in 2016, U.S. Geological Field Activity 2016-030-FA
The objectives of the survey were to provide bathymetric and sidescan sonar data for sediment transport studies and coastal change model development for ongoing studies of nearshore coastal dynamics along Sandwich Town Neck Beach, MA. Data collection equipment used for this investigation are mounted on an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) uniquely adapted from a commercially sold gas-powered...
Table and accompanying photographs for biogeomorphic classification of shorebird nesting sites on the U.S. Atlantic coast from March to September, 2016
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 piping plover habitat distribution and...
Grand Bay, a 30-square-kilometer embayment of the Gulf of Mexico bordered by 20 square kilometers of salt marsh, is experiencing rapid lateral shoreline erosion at up to 5 meters per year. Determining whether the eroded sediment is exported to the deep ocean or imported via tidal channels and deposited on the marsh platform is critical to understanding the long-term response of the marsh to...
To better identify the significant processes affecting our coastlines and how those processes create coastal change we have developed a Coupled Ocean – Atmosphere – Wave – Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System, which is integrated by the Model Coupling Toolkit to exchange data fields between the ocean model ROMS, the atmosphere model WRF, the wave model SWAN, and the sediment...
Seabed maps showing topography, ruggedness, backscatter intensity, sediment mobility, and the distribution of geologic substrates in Quadrangle 6 of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Region offshore of Boston, Massachusetts
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Sanctuary Program, has conducted seabed mapping and related research in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) region since 1993.
Using information from recent earthquakes, improved mapping of active faults, and a new model for estimating earthquake probabilities, the 2014 Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities updated the 30-year earthquake forecast for California. They concluded that there is a 72 percent probability (or likelihood) of at least one earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or greater striking somewhere in
This map shows the location of and evidence for recent movement on active fault traces within the Hayward Fault Zone, California.
The maps in this archive display estimated intensities and ground motions for the largest earthquakes in the HayWired aftershock sequence. The aftershock sequence follows the HayWired M7.0 mainshock that is imagined to occur on April 18, 2018 along the Hayward Fault.These maps have been used in analyses of the HayWired scenario.
The HayWired scenario depicts a hypothetical M7.0 earthquake on California’s Hayward Fault. This site includes an interactive map showing fault traces and ShakeMap contours, information on the tectonic setting of the Hayward Fault and fault rupture history; and a USGS ShakeMap, which provides ground motion information for the HayWired scenario mainshock.
The seismic-landslide probability map covers the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma. The slope failures are triggered by a hypothetical earthquake with a moment magnitude of 7.0 occurring on April 18, 2018, at 4:18 p.m. on the Hayward Fault in the east bay part of California’s San Francisco Bay region.
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.
Erratum to The 2013–2016 induced earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, southern Kansas
The authors identified two sets of minor errors in the paper by Rubinstein et al. (2018), which are corrected here.Rubinstein, Justin L.; Ellsworth, William L.; Dougherty, Sara L.
Interseismic ground deformation and fault slip rates in the greater San Francisco Bay Area from two decades of space geodetic data
The detailed spatial variations of strain accumulation and creep on major faults in the northern San Francisco Bay Area (North Bay), which are important for seismic potential and evaluation of natural hazards, remain poorly understood. Here we combine interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from the ERS‐1/2 and Envisat satellites between...Wu, Songbo; Nadeau, Robert; Ding, Xiaoling; Xu, Wenbin; Wu, Songbo; Materna, Kathryn; Nadeau, Robert; Floyd, Michael; Funning, Gareth J.; Chaussard, Estelle; Johnson, Christopher W.; Murray, Jessica R.; Ding, Xiaoling; Burgmann, Roland
Improving earthquake rupture forecasts using California as a guide
This article discusses ways in which earthquake rupture forecast models might be improved. Because changes are most easily described in the context of specific models, the third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3) and its presumed successor, UCERF4, is used as a basis for discussion. Virtually all of the issues and possible...Field, Edward H.
VS30 at three strong-motion recording stations in Napa and Solano Counties, California—Lovall Valley Road, Broadway Street and Sereno Drive in Vallejo, and Vallejo Fire Station—Calculations determined from S-wave refraction tomography and multichannel analysis of surface waves (Rayleigh and Love)
The August 24, 2014, moment magnitude (Mw) 6.0 South Napa earthquake caused an estimated $400 million in structural damage to the City of Napa, California. In 2015, we acquired high-resolution P- and S-wave seismic data near three strong-motion recording stations in Napa and Solano Counties where high peak ground accelerations (PGAs) were recorded...Chan, Joanne H.; Catchings, Rufus D.; Goldman, Mark R.; Criley, Coyn J.
VS30 at three strong-motion recording stations in Napa and Napa County, California—Main Street in downtown Napa, Napa fire station number 3, and Kreuzer Lane—Calculations determined from s-wave refraction tomography and multichannel analysis of surface waves (Rayleigh and Love)
The August 24, 2014, moment magnitude (Mw) 6.0 South Napa earthquake caused an estimated $400 million in structural damage to the City of Napa, California. In 2015, we acquired high-resolution P- and S-wave seismic data near three strong-motion recording stations in Napa County where high peak ground accelerations (PGAs) were recorded during the...Chan, Joanne H.; Catchings, Rufus D.; Goldman, Mark R.; Criley, Coyn J.
Revised technical implementation plan for the ShakeAlert system—An earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), along with partner organizations, has developed an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the highest risk areas of the United States: namely, California, Oregon, and Washington. The purpose of the system is to reduce the impact of earthquakes and save lives and property by providing alerts...Given, Douglas D.; Allen, Richard M.; Baltay, Annemarie S.; Bodin, Paul; Cochran, Elizabeth S.; Creager, Kenneth; Gee, Lind S.; Hauksson, Egill; Heaton, Thomas H.; Hellweg, Margaret; Murray, Jessica R.; Thomas, Valerie I.; Toomey, Douglas; Yelin, Thomas S.
Induced earthquake and liquefaction hazards in Oklahoma, USA: Constraints from InSAR
Oklahoma experienced three earthquakes of Mw5.0 or greater in 2016: the 13-Feb. Fairview earthquake (Mw5.1), the 03-Sep. Pawnee earthquake (Mw5.8), and the 07-Nov. Cushing earthquake (Mw5.0). These events are the first earthquakes in the state exceeding Mw5.0 since the 2011 Mw5.7 Prague earthquake and likely result from wide-scale deep...Barnhart, William D.; Yeck, William L.; McNamara, Daniel E.
Sensor suite: The Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory Instrumentation Testing Suite
To standardize parameters used in seismometer testing and calibration and to make these algorithms accessible to the seismological community, we have developed a new seismometer testing software package called Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory (ASL) Sensor Test Suite. This software is written in Java and makes use of Seismological Exchange for...Kearns, A.; Ringler, Adam; Holland, James; Storm, Tyler; Wilson, David; Anthony, Robert E.
2018 report on incorporating sedimentary basin response into the design of tall buildings in Seattle, Washington
On March 22, 2018, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) convened a workshop of engineers and seismologists to provide guidance on incorporating sedimentary basin response into the design of tall buildings in Seattle. This workshop provided recommendations that build on those from a...Wirth, Erin A.; Chang, Susan W.; Frankel, Arthur
Using tectonic tremor to constrain seismic‐wave attenuation in Cascadia
Tectonic tremor can be used to constrain seismic‐wave attenuation for use in ground‐motion prediction equations (GMPEs) in regions where moderately sized earthquakes occur infrequently. Here we quantify seismic‐wave attenuation by inverting tremor ground motion amplitudes in different frequency bands of interest, to determine frequency dependence...Littel, Geena F.; Thomas, Amanda M.; Baltay, Annemarie S.
Developing hydro-meteorological thresholds for shallow landslide initiation and early warning
Consistent relations between shallow landslide initiation and associated rainfall characteristics remain difficult to identify, due largely to the complex hydrological and geological processes causing slopes to be predisposed to failure and those processes that subsequently trigger failures. Considering the importance of hillslope hydrology for...Mirus, Benjamin B.; Morphew, Michael D.; Smith, Joel B.
Holocene fault reactivation in the eastern Cascades, Washington
Significant uncertainty remains concerning how and where crustal shortening occurs throughout the eastern Cascade Range in Washington State. Using light detection and ranging (lidar) imagery, we identified an ∼5‐km‐long">∼5‐km‐long lineament in Swakane canyon near Wenatchee, roughly coincident with a...Carlson, Benjamin L.; Schermer, Elizabeth R.; Amos, Colin B.; Stephenson, William J.; Sherrod, Brian; Mahan, Shannon A.
This package is used to calculate coastal geomorphology variables along shore-normal transects. The calculated variables are used as inputs for modeling geomorphology using a Bayesian Network (BN).
iPlover was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center and the USGS Center for Integrated Data Analytics. It is used by trained and vetted personnel to record information about habitats on coastal beaches and he environment surrounding them.
Image showing a collage of examples of multi-channel and single-channel seismic data collected by the USGS, seismic equipment deployed from a research vessel, and seismic equipment on a research vessel. These data are critical to the CMG Program as they define the geology in marine and coastal environments.
SEABed Observation and Sampling System (SEABOSS) (center image) and the MiniSEABOSS (right) designed for rapid, inexpensive, and effective collection of seabed imagery (photographs and video) as well sediment samples from the coastal/inner-continental shelf regions. Images from coastal Massachusetts show purple algae-encrusted cobbles and boulders covered with sea-stars (...
3D Image of a multi-channel seismic (MCS) line showing gas (blue/green) migrating up through fractures in the subsurface, culminating in a 600 meter tall plume of methane gas in the water column that was captured using a Simrad EK60 split beam echo sounder. Background bathymetry was downloaded from USGS Open-File Report 2012-1266 (...
Three-dimensional model of Chimney Bluffs, New York along Lake Ontario created from low-altitude digital images collected from an unmanned aerial system (UAS).
The beach-dependent shorebirds project at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center models current and future habitat availability for nesting shorebirds in an effort to map current and likely future habitat availability on a range of sites along the U.S. Atlantic coast. Sites include beaches with minimal human-presence, such Cedar Island shown here off of the...
Screenshot of Our Coast, Our Future (OCOF) interactive map view of Stinson Beach, California, showing extent of flooding predicted if subjected to a sea-level rise of 100 centimeters (about 40 inches) and elevated water levels caused by a 100-year storm.
Displaying fixed bin options (left) for rates of change for an example dataset (LRR, EPR, WLR), and scaled to data (right) (NSM).
Data visualization with (A) fixed and (B) scaled options applied. Examples of NSM and SCE are also displayed (C and D respectively). The data itself has not changed – only the scaling and statistic selected through the DSAS Data Visualization tool.
The sun rises at Mount St. Helens (pictured in the distance), with low-level clouds covering Coldwater Lake. The view is from the Coldwater Science and Learning Center, the site of the 2018 GeoGirls field camp program.
Coastal Change Storm Hazard Team map created Tuesday, 10/89/18 showing current forecasted beach erosion, overwash and inundation effects of Hurricane Michael's predicted landfall in the Florida Panhandle. Forecast will change with subsequent National Hurricane Center forecasts.
Screenshot of a point cloud containing more than 50 million points from a photogrammetry project of the Quissett Campus. This point cloud was created from 633 photographs taken from a unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in July 2018
Mount St. Helens volcano loomed in the distance as 25 middle-school “GeoGirls” signed in, received a name tag, dropped their overnight gear and gathered in a grassy open space to meet camp staff, women scientists and volunteers.
National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) Leads Meeting on the Future of Earthquake Research and Monitoring
What are the next goals for the NEIC?
USGS scientists provide input for workshop on scientific drilling targets in the north Pacific Ocean
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center research geologist Danny Brothers attended the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) workshop on the “Scientific Exploration of the Arctic and North Pacific” September 25–27 in Mt. Hood, Oregon.
One-fourth of beachfront could be inundated by large storm waves, experts predict
To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Michael, visit the USGS Hurricane Michael page at usgs.gov/hurricane-michael.
One-fourth of Florida Panhandle beachfront could be inundated by large storm waves, experts predict
To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Michael, visit the USGS Hurricane Michael page at https://usgs.gov/hurricane-michael
Large underwater experiment in California’s Monterey Canyon shows that “turbidity currents” are not just currents, but involve movement of the seafloor itself
Data acquired by the U.S. Geological Survey on the U.S. Atlantic Margin in August 2018 reveal new information about the distribution of gas hydrates in the sector stretching from the upper continental slope to deep water areas offshore New Jersey to North Carolina.
Science for a Risky World: A USGS Plan for Risk Research and Applications – USGS publishes strategic plan for examining risk
USGS explores opportunities to advance its capabilities in risk assessment, mitigation, and communication in new strategic plan.
Learn About USGS Hazards Science and More About National Preparedness Month: The very nature of natural hazards means that they 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.
"In Yosemite Valley, rockfalls can happen every four to five days, where boulders that can be larger than your average car or apartment building thunder down steep mountainsides." - Seeker