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.

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Filter Total Items: 56
Devastation of the coastal city of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Date Published: April 13, 2016

We study the distribution and hazard potential of coastal and submarine events such as earthquakes and submarine landslides and associated tsunami potential, hurricane induced coastal inundation, extreme storms, sea-level rise and oil and gas spills. We also model development to help evaluate and forecast coastal hazard probability and occurrence.

Methane hydrate
Date Published: April 13, 2016

Our scientists conduct research studies focused on geologic mapping, sampling and understanding of mineral and energy resources and studies of the geologic setting and processes to inform renewable energy development offshore.

crustose coralline algae
Date Published: April 13, 2016

We bring together multidisciplinary expertise focused on developing tools and models to improve understanding of how healthy ecosystems function as well as how they respond to environmental changes and human impacts including ecosystem restoration. Research studies address coral reef, coastal wetland, benthic habitat and groundwater resources.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy
Date Published: April 12, 2016

USGS scientists at the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and other offices received funding for studies related to habitat change, storm surge and ecological modeling, migratory bird impacts, and other topics of interest. The Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Mapping Application showcases the data and analytical products resulting from these studies.

Mount Rainier seen from Puyallup, Washington
Date Published: March 17, 2016

The Volcano Hazards Program develops long-range volcano hazards assessments. These includes a summary of the specific hazards, their impact areas, and a map showing ground-hazard zones. The assessments are also critical for planning long-term land-use and effective emergency-response measures, especially when a volcano begins to show signs of unrest.

HayWired Scenario ShakeMap
Date Published: March 15, 2016

The HayWired project is an earthquake scenario currently underway to model and study impacts on the San Francisco Bay area from a Mw 7.05 earthquake on the Hayward fault.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 7, 2016

View recent events or search for past earthquakes. Optimized for mobile and desktop.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 7, 2016

View current advisories, events, and what is going on in the news.

Redoubt Volcano viewed from the northwest following the April 4, 2009 eruption (Event 19). Steam rises from the summit crater, p
Date Published: March 7, 2016

There are 169 potentially active volcanoes in the U.S., and the USGS Volcano Hazards Program provides warnings of unrest and eruption for these volcanoes. We offer volcano monitoring data, provide maps and geologic information, conduct research how volcanoes work, and engage with community education and outreach.

USGS science for a changing world logo
Date Published: March 7, 2016

The USGS provides practical, unbiased information about the Nation's rivers and streams that is crucial in mitigating hazards associated with floods. This site provides information about the USGS activities, data, and services provided during regional high-flow events, such as hurricanes or multi-state flooding events.

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory logo
Date Published: March 2, 2016

Monitors and studies the active geologic processes and hazards of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field and its caldera. Yellowstone National Park contains the largest and most diverse collection of natural thermal features in the world. YVO also monitors volcanic activity in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

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

Our scientists work with NASA and other space agencies to lead investigations, select rover landing sites, create geologic maps and cartographic products for numerous spacecraft missions throughout our solar system. Our Astrogeology Science Center continues to provide support for numerous past, present and future space missions.

Filter Total Items: 42
Screenshot of  Real-Time Dst Display website
April 27, 2016

Real-Time Disturbance Storm Time (Dst) Display

Real-time Dst data from USGS observatories as well as other world partners.

Fish on seafloor, Offshore Northern California
April 18, 2016

Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photography Portal

This portal contains U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) video and photography of the seafloor off of coastal California and Massachusetts, and aerial imagery of the coastline along segments of the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic coasts. These data were collected as part of several USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program Seafloor Mapping projects and Hurricane and Extreme Storm research.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy
April 12, 2016

Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Map

The Hurricane Sandy Spatial Data Mapping Application showcases data and analytical products from Aerial reconnaissance imagery; Environmental Contaminants; and Reproductive success of piper plovers.

Tephra and gas eruption from Mount St. Helens crater with dome
March 17, 2016

Volcano Monitoring Data

Many volcanoes in the U.S. are monitored by arrays of several instruments that detect subtle movements within the earth and changes in gas and water chemistry. The Volcano Hazards Program streams this data to its Volcano Observatories and makes it available on volcano-specific websites.

Lidar data of the Gulf Islands, Florida
March 17, 2016

Coastal and Marine Geoscience Data System

Site provides access to Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) data via Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards services; serving data to GeoMapApp and Virtual Ocean 2-D and 3-D earth browsing tools, for data integration, visualization and analysis; and metadata catalogs for data discovery.

Colored, shaded multibeam data, offshore of Monterey, CA.
March 15, 2016

California State Waters Map Series GIS Data and Metadata

GIS data files for map areas offshore of California are listed with a brief description, a small image, and links to the metadata files and the downloadable data files.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Flood Watch

Maps of flood and high flow conditions within the U.S.

Screenshot of Waterwatch website drought page
March 7, 2016

Drought Watch

Where in the Nation are droughts or very low flows occurring now? How can I see these sites on a map and get to the data?

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Real-time Streamflow

Map and data of real-time streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year in the U.S.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

ISIS – The Integrated System for Imagers and Spectrometers

ISIS has many standard image processing operations such as contrast stretch, image algebra, filters, and statistical analysis. Isis operates on both classical two-dimensional images as well as three-dimensional cubes collected from imaging spectrometers. It also has unique capabilities for processing data from NASA spacecraft missions.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

PILOT – The Planetary Image LOcator Tool

PILOT is a web based search tool for the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC) database of the Planetary Data System. PILOT features SPICE-corrected image locations and searching capabilities using a navigable map, user selectable image constraints, and facilitates bulk downloads and/or image processing using POW.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

POW – The Map Projection on the Web

The Map Projection on the Web service was created to help researchers convert raw Planetary Data System images to a science-ready map projected images. The system integrates the Planetary Image LOcator Tool (PILOT) and the Unified Planetary Coordinate (UPC), ISIS3, GDAL, and the Astrogeology processing cluster for its’ processing needs.

Filter Total Items: 59
Year Published: 2016

Geomorphological control on variably saturated hillslope hydrology and slope instability

In steep topography, the processes governing variably saturated subsurface hydrologic response and the interparticle stresses leading to shallow landslide initiation are physically linked. However, these processes are usually analyzed separately. Here, we take a combined approach, simultaneously analyzing the influence of topography on both...

Giuseppe, Formetta; Simoni, Silvia; Godt, Jonathan W.; Lu, Ning; Rigon, Riccardo
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Formetta, G., Simoni, S., Godt, J.W., Lu, N., and Rigon, R., 2016, Geomophological control on variably saturated hillslope hydrology and slope instability: Water Resources Research, v. 52, no. 6, p. 4590-4607

Year Published: 2016

Coastal bathymetry data collected in June 2014 from Fire Island, New York—The wilderness breach and shoreface

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, collected bathymetric data along the upper shoreface and within the wilderness breach at Fire Island, New York, in June 2014. The U.S. Geological Survey is involved in a post-Hurricane Sandy effort to map and monitor the...

Nelson, Timothy R.; Miselis, Jennifer L.; Hapke, Cheryl J.; Wilson, Kathleen E.; Henderson, Rachel E.; Brenner, Owen T.; Reynolds, Billy J.; Hansen, Mark E.
Nelson, T.R., Miselis, J.L., Hapke, C.J., Wilson, K.E., Henderson, R.E., Brenner, O.T., Reynolds, B.J., and Hansen, M.E., 2016, Coastal bathymetry data collected in June 2014 from Fire Island, New York—The wilderness breach and shoreface: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1007, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ds1007.

Year Published: 2016

Get your science used—Six guidelines to improve your products

Introduction Natural scientists, like many other experts, face challenges when communicating to people outside their fields of expertise. This is especially true when they try to communicate to those whose background, knowledge, and experience are far distant from that field of expertise. At a recent workshop, experts in risk communication offered...

Perry, Suzanne C.; Blanpied, Michael L.; Burkett, Erin R.; Campbell, Nnenia M.; Carlson, Anders; Cox, Dale A.; Driedger, Carolyn L.; Eisenman, David P.; Fox-Glassman, Katherine T.; Hoffman, Sherry; Hoffman, Susanna M.; Jaiswal, Kishor S.; Jones, Lucile M.; Luco, Nicolas; Marx, Sabine M.; McGowan, Sean M.; Mileti, Dennis S.; Moschetti, Morgan P.; Ozman, David; Pastor, Elizabeth; Petersen, Mark D.; Porter, Keith A.; Ramsey, David W.; Ritchie, Liesel A.; Fitzpatrick, Jessica K.; Rukstales, Kenneth S.; Sellnow, Timothy L.; Vaughon, Wendy L.; Wald, David J.; Wald, Lisa A.; Wein, Anne; Zarcadoolas, Christina
Attribution: Natural Hazards
Perry, S.C., Blanpied, M.L., Burkett, E.R., Campbell, N.M., Carlson, A., Cox, D.A., Driedger, C.L., Eisenman, D.P., Fox-Glassman, K.T., Hoffman, S., Hoffman, S.M., Jaiswal, K.S., Jones, L.M., Luco, N., Marx, S.M., McGowan, S.M., Mileti, D.S., Moschetti, M.P., Ozman, D., Pastor, E., Petersen, M.D., Porter, K.A., Ramsey, D.W., Ritchie, L.A., Fitzpatrick, J.K., Rukstales, K.S., Sellnow, T.S., Vaughon, W.L., Wald, D.J., Wald, L.A., Wein, A., and Zarcadoolas, C., 2016, Get your science used—Six guidelines to improve your products: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1419, 37 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/cir1419.

Year Published: 2016

Estimating time-dependent connectivity in marine systems

Hydrodynamic connectivity describes the sources and destinations of water parcels within a domain over a given time. When combined with biological models, it can be a powerful concept to explain the patterns of constituent dispersal within marine ecosystems. However, providing connectivity metrics for a given domain is a three-dimensional problem...

Defne, Zafer; Ganju, Neil K.; Aretxabaleta, Alfredo

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

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.
Attribution: Natural Hazards
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

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.

Filter Total Items: 1,336
Broad view of an icy scarp on Mars
2017 (approx.)
For the first time, high-resolution images show the three-dimensional structure of massive ice deposits on Mars. This NASA HiRISE image shows an icy scarp on Mars in the context of a broader area.
quadcopter (drone) and camera ready for launch
2017 (approx.)
The 3DR Solo with GoPro Hero4 camera and gimbal. Coming to a survey area near you soon. Photo credit: Shawn Harrison , USGS. This photo was taken during USGS unmanned aerial systems (drone) pilot training. Two training sessions were held - one in February-March 2017 in Santa Cruz, California and the second in April 2017 in Gainesville, Florida. This photo originally was published in a Soundwaves...
December 17, 2017
Review of all elements included in the GIS template provided to NASA-funded mappers producing USGS SIM-series planetary geologic maps.
December 15, 2017
The Thomas fire has burned more than 230,000 acres and continues to blaze across souther California. These images show some of the burn scar left behind. 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/ )
image of the SeaBOSS and USGS personnel on the fantail of the R/V Connecticut on Long Island Sound
2017 (approx.)
Image of the SeaBOSS and USGS personnel on the fantail of the R/V Connecticut in Long Island Sound
USGS personnel adjusting SeaBOSS equipment
2017 (approx.)
USGS personnel adjust equipment on the SeaBOSS on the fantail of the R/V Connecticut on Long Island Sound
This HiRISE image cutout shows Recurring Slope Lineae in Tivat crater on Mars in enhanced color.
2017 (approx.)
This HiRISE image cutout shows Recurring Slope Lineae in Tivat crater on Mars in enhanced color. The narrow, dark flows descend downhill (towards the upper left). Analysis shows that the flows all end at approximately the same slope, which is similar to the angle of repose for sand. Dark features previously proposed as evidence for significant liquid water flowing on Mars have now been identified...
Long Island Sound Survey team
2017 (approx.)
Long Island Sound Survey mapping team. This project is a collaboration of several agencies and institutions including Univ of Connecticut, Univ of New Haven, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, NOAA, LDEO, USGS
2017 (approx.)
This video is of is a three-dimensional (3D) view of the Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands topobathymetric model which consists of topography (land elevation) and bathymetry (water depth). This video shows the importance of high-resolution, detailed topobathymetric models because the highest natural elevation for the Majuro Atoll is only three meters. This video shows how the island...
2017 (approx.)
A tour of the Planetary Geologic Mapping Python toolbox, a suite of GIS tools from the Astrogeology Science Center.
Spider crab and rocks on the seafloor in Long Island Sound
2017 (approx.)
Seafloor photograph of a spider crab, sediment, rocks, taken by the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center SeaBOSS during a deployment off the R/V Connecticut in Long Island Sound
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Photograph of a flooded road in Olympic National Park, Washington, showing a person walking in the shallow water.
December 8, 2017

A team of federal scientists addressed comments from researchers who disagree with their conclusions that river channel evolution is driven primarily by physical factors rather than an overabundance of elk after wolf eradication.

Map showing the M4.1 earthquake epicenter near Dover, DE
November 30, 2017

The USGS has up-to-date details on the November 30, 2017 event.

Image: 2014 Landslide in Washington State
November 30, 2017

"Gravity Never Sleeps":  The USGS collaborates with community partners for a series of briefings on Capitol Hill to discuss national landslide hazards.  

Image: Coral reefs, Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands
November 29, 2017

At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), USGS geologist Curt Storlazzi chaired a session at a conference on issues affecting DoD installations.

Map of Alaska’s north coast showing color-coded rates of shoreline erosion, Inset: Polar bear on Barter Island.
November 28, 2017

The USGS updated its shoreline-change rates for Alaska’s north coast between the U.S.-Canadian Border and Icy Cape as part of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards.

Image shows a cave diver in a flooded cave
November 28, 2017

In the underground rivers and flooded caves of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where Mayan lore described a fantastical underworld, scientists have found a cryptic world in its own right.

CT scans and photographs of coral collected from reef near polluted groundwater seeps. One set shows more erosion than the other
November 27, 2017

Coral reefs already stressed by ocean acidification are particularly vulnerable to polluted groundwater, according to a recent study by USGS geologist Nancy Prouty and colleagues.

Map showing the epicenter of the November 12, 2017 earthquake Iran/Iraq border
November 12, 2017

The USGS has up-to-date details on the November 12, 2017 event.

Distant view of sandy yellow beach stretching from bottom left to upper right of photo.
November 8, 2017

Coastal communities count on beaches for recreation and for protection from large waves, but beaches are vulnerable to threats such as erosion by storms and flooding. Whether beaches grow, shrink, or even disappear depends in part on what happens just offshore. How do features like shifting sandbars affect waves, currents, and the movement of sand from the beach to offshore and back?

USGS: Science for a changing world
November 8, 2017

In the public interest, and in accordance with FAA regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project. Your assistance in informing the local communities is appreciated.

3D map of Mud Creek slide derived from video footage collected by drone on October 12, 2017.
November 6, 2017

On October 12, USGS drones collected video footage of the Mud Creek landslide, which buried California State Highway 1 under a third-of-a-mile-wide mass of rock and dirt on May 20.