Mission Areas

Natural Hazards

Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs

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
Filter Total Items: 204
Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Overview

The most frequent and widespread damaging landslides in the U.S. are induced (started) by prolonged or heavy rainfall.  The majority of rainfall-induced landslides are shallow (less than a few meters deep), small, and move rapidly.  Many rainfall-induced landslides transform into debris flows (fast-moving slurries of water, soil, and rock) as they travel down steep slopes, especially those...

Date published: July 2, 2018
Status: Active

Additional Landslide Information

More sites relating to landslides.

Date published: July 1, 2018
Status: Active

Further Reading

More readings on Aurora, Geomagnetic Storms, Geomagnetism and Magnetic Fields, Magnetosphere and Ionosphere and Space Weather Impacts on Earth. 

Date published: July 1, 2018
Status: Active

International Observatory Programs

Links to our international observatory partners' programs.

Date published: June 30, 2018
Status: Archived

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you have a question? The answer is probably right here! Go to the FAQ tab.

Date published: June 28, 2018

Preliminary Analysis of Satellite Imagery and Seismic Observations of the Nuugaatsiaq Landslide and Tsunami, Greenland

Disclaimer

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely science to assess ongoing hazards. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages...

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Active

Model Updates

Updates to the models for post-fire debris-flows.

Date published: June 27, 2018
Status: Active

Scientific Background

The scientific background information for Emergency Assessment of Post-Fire Debris-Flow Hazards.

Date published: June 25, 2018
Status: Active

Catastrophic Landslides of the 20th Century - Worldwide

Table of the Catastrophic Landslides including year, country, triggering process, the volume of material, impact, and comments. 

Date published: June 25, 2018
Status: Active

Sea Level Rise Hazards and Decision Support

The Sea Level Rise Hazards and Decision Support project assesses the potential impacts of sea level rise and provides tools for coastal management decision making.   Historical and recent observations of coastal change are combined with model simulations of coastal environments such as barrier islands, wetlands, and coastal aquifers. A variety of methods including Bayesian...

Date published: June 25, 2018
Status: Active

Scientific Background (Fires prior to 2016)

The scientific background information for fires prior to 2016 for Emergency Assessment of Post-Fire Debris-Flow Hazards.

Go back to Scientific Background.

Date published: June 25, 2018
Status: Completed

Geologic Mapping Offshore of Rhode Island

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is mapping sea-floor geology and sedimentary environments offshore of Rhode Island. This site provides links to bathymetric, sidescan-sonar, sediment, photographic, seismic-reflection, and interpretive datasets, all presented in Geographic Information System (GIS) formats and...

Filter Total Items: 104
Date published: February 15, 2018

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. 

Date published: February 15, 2018

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. 

Date published: February 15, 2018

Data and calculations to support the study of the sea-air flux of methane and carbon dioxide on the West Spitsbergen margin in June 2014

This dataset collected on the West Spitsbergen margin during U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program Field Activity 2014-013-FA, which was carried out in conjunction with the University of Tromso and the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel on the R/V Helmer Hanssen.

Date published: February 15, 2018

Water column physical and chemical properties of Cenote Bang, a component of the Ox Bel Ha cave network within the subterranean estuary coastal aquifer of the Yucatan Peninsula, from December 2013 to January 2016

This dataset, collected during four field events during U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program Field Activities 2015-013-FA and 2016-003-FA in conjunction with Texas A&M University reports geochemical properties of the water column from Cenote Bang, a component of the Ox Bel Ha cave network that is located 5 km inland from the coast. 

Date published: February 14, 2018

Key Findings for Scenario-Based Assessment for Nor'easters

Percentage of sandy beaches very likely (probability > 0.9) to experience erosion associated with collision, overwash, and inundation during class 1-3 nor’easter impact.

Date published: February 14, 2018

Key Findings for Scenario-Based Assessment for Hurricanes

Percentage of sandy beaches very likely (probability > 0.9) to experience erosion associated with collision, overwash, and inundation during category 1-5 hurricane landfall.

Date published: February 14, 2018

Multichannel sparker seismic-reflection data of field activity 2016-656-FA; between Icy Point and Dixon Entrance, Gulf of Alaska from 2016-08-07 to 2016-08-26

This data release contains high-resolution multichannel seismic (MCS) reflection data collected in August of 2016 along the southeast Alaska continental margin. Structure perpendicular MCS profiles were collected along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault. The data were collected aboard the R/V Norseman using a Delta sparker sound source and recorded on a 64-channel digital streamer...

Date published: February 12, 2018

Shoreline change rates in salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

This dataset displays shoreline change rates at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA

Date published: February 12, 2018

Sea floor sediment samples, seabed imagery, and CTD data collected in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, MA in 2015, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2015-062-FA

This field activity is part of the effort to map geologic substrates of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary region off Boston, Massachusetts. The overall goal is to develop high-resolution (1:25,000) interpretive maps, based on multibeam sonar data and seabed sampling, showing surficial geology and seabed sediment dynamics.

Date published: February 12, 2018

Continuous Bathymetry and Elevation Models of the Massachusetts Coastal Zone and Continental Shelf

Integrated terrain models covering 16,357 square kilometers of the Massachusetts coastal zone and offshore waters were built to provide a continuous elevation and bathymetry terrain model for ocean planning purposes.  A Triangulated Irregular Network was created from public-domain bathymetric and LiDAR data using the ArcGIS terrain-model framework and then interpolated into a 32-bit GeoTiff....

Date published: February 12, 2018

Aerial imagery and photogrammetric products from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flights over the Lake Ontario shoreline at Braddock Bay, New York, July 10 to 11, 2017

Low-altitude (80-100 meters above ground level) digital images were obtained from a camera mounted on a 3DR Solo quadcopter, a small unmanned aerial system (UAS), in three locations along the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York during July 2017. These data were collected to document and monitor effects of high lake levels, including shoreline erosion, inundation, and property damage.

Date published: January 19, 2018

Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer

Total water level (TWL) at the shoreline is the combination of tides, surge, and wave runup. A forecast of TWL is an estimate of the elevation where the ocean will meet the coast and can provide guidance on potential coastal erosion and flooding hazards.

Filter Total Items: 3,108
Year Published: 2018

Calculation of voltages in electric power transmission lines during historic geomagnetic storms: An investigation using realistic earth impedances

Commonly, one-dimensional (1-D) Earth impedances have been used to calculate the voltages induced across electric power transmission lines during geomagnetic storms under the assumption that much of the three-dimensional structure of the Earth gets smoothed when integrating along power transmission lines. We calculate the voltage across power...

Lucas, Greg M.; Love, Jeffrey J.; Kelbert, Anna
Lucas, G. M., Love, J. J., & Kelbert, A. (2018). Calculation of voltages in electric power transmission lines during historic geomagnetic storms: An investigation using realistic earth impedances. Space Weather, 16. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017SW001779

Year Published: 2018

The 2013–2016 induced earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, southern Kansas

We examine the first four years (2013–2016) of the ongoing seismicity in southern Kansas using high‐precision locations derived from a local seismometer network. The earthquakes occur almost exclusively in the shallow crystalline basement, below the wastewater injection horizon of the Arbuckle Group at the base of the sedimentary section. Multiple...

Rubinstein, Justin L.; Ellsworth, William L.; Dougherty, Sara L.
Rubinstein, Justin L; William L. Ellsworth, and Sara L. Dougherty (2018), The 2013–2016 Induced Earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, Southern Kansas, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, doi: 10.1785/0120170209.

Year Published: 2018

Rayleigh and S wave tomography constraints on subduction termination and lithospheric foundering in central California

The crust and upper mantle structure of central California have been modified by subduction termination, growth of the San Andreas plate boundary fault system, and small-scale upper mantle convection since the early Miocene. Here we investigate the contributions of these processes to the creation of the Isabella Anomaly, which is a high seismic...

Jiang, Chengxin; Schmandt, Brandon; Hansen, Steven M.; Dougherty, Sara L.; Clayton, Robert W.; Farrell, Jamie; Lin, Fan-Chi
Jiang, C., B. Schmandt, S. M. Hansen, S. L. Dougherty, R. W. Clayton, J. Farrell, and F.-C. Lin (2018), Rayleigh and S wave tomography constraints on subduction termination and lithospheric foundering in central California, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 488, 14-26, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2018.02.009.

Year Published: 2018

Temporal stress changes caused by earthquakes: A review

Earthquakes can change the stress field in the Earth’s lithosphere as they relieve and redistribute stress. Earthquake-induced stress changes have been observed as temporal rotations of the principal stress axes following major earthquakes in a variety of tectonic settings. The stress changes due to the 2011 Mw9.0 Tohoku-Oki, Japan, earthquake...

Hardebeck, Jeanne L.; Okada, Tomomi
Hardebeck, J. L., & Okada, T. (2018). Temporal stress changes caused by earthquakes: A review. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JB014617.

Year Published: 2018

Testing for the ‘predictability’ of dynamically triggered earthquakes in Geysers Geothermal Field

The Geysers geothermal field is well known for being susceptible to dynamic triggering of earthquakes by large distant earthquakes, owing to the introduction of fluids for energy production. Yet, it is unknown if dynamic triggering of earthquakes is ‘predictable’ or whether dynamic triggering could lead to a potential hazard for energy production...

Aiken, Chastity; Meng, Xiaofeng; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Aiken, C., Meng, X., & Hardebeck, J. (2018). Testing for the ‘predictability’ of dynamically triggered earthquakes in The Geysers geothermal field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 486, 129-140.

Year Published: 2018

Clayey landslide initiation and acceleration strongly modulated by soil swelling

Largely unknown mechanisms restrain motion of clay-rich, slow-moving landslides that are widespread worldwide and rarely accelerate catastrophically. We studied a clayey, slow-moving landslide typical of thousands in northern California, USA, to decipher hydrologic-mechanical interactions that modulate landslide dynamics. Similar to some other...

Schulz, William; Smith, Joel B.; Wang, Gonghui; Jiang, Yao; Roering, Joshua J.

Year Published: 2018

Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria

Rainfall-induced shallow landsliding is a persistent hazard to human life and property. Despite the observed connection between infiltration through the unsaturated zone and shallow landslide initiation, there is considerable uncertainty in how estimates of unsaturated soil-water retention properties affect slope stability assessment. This source...

Thomas, Matthew A.; Mirus, Benjamin B.; Collins, Brian D.; Lu, Ning; Godt, Jonathan W.
Thomas MA, Mirus BB, Collins BD, Lu N, and Godt JW (2018) Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria, Landslides. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-018-0950-z

Year Published: 2018

Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths

The Mendocino Triple Junction region is the most seismically active part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The northward moving Pacific plate collides with the subducting Gorda plate causing intense internal deformation within it. Here we show that the stress field rotates rapidly with depth across the thrust interface from a strike-slip regime...

Li, Duo; McGuire, Jeffrey J.; Liu, Yajing; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.
Li, D., McGuire, J. J., Liu, Y., & Hardebeck, J. L. (2018). Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 485, 55-64.

Year Published: 2018

Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes

Thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle; erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.We investigated eight of these locations and found that they expose deposits of water ice that can be >100 meters thick, extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to...

Dundas, Colin M.; Bramson, Ali M; Ojha, Lujendra; Wray, James J.; Mellon, Michael T.; Byrne, Shane; McEwen, Alfred S.; Putzig, N. E.; Viola, Donna; Sutton, Sarah; Clark, E.; Holt, J.W.
Dundas, C. M., et al. (2018). Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes. Science, 359, 199-201, doi:10.1126/science.aao1619.

Year Published: 2018

Image simulation and assessment of the colour and spatial capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

This study aims to assess the spatial and visible/near-infrared (VNIR) colour/spectral capabilities of the 4-band Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) aboard the ExoMars 2016 Trace Grace Orbiter (TGO). The instrument response functions for the CaSSIS imager was used to resample spectral libraries, modelled spectra and to construct...

Tornabene, Livio L.; Seelos, Frank P.; Pommerol, Antoine; Thomas, Nicolas; Caudill, Christy M.; Becerra, Patricio; Bridges, John C.; Byrne, Shane; Cardinale, Marco; Chojnacki, Matthew; Conway, Susan J.; Cremonese, Gabriele; Dundas, Colin M.; El-Maarry, M. R.; Fernando, Jennifer; Hansen, Candice J.; Hansen, Kayle; Harrison, Tanya N.; Henson, Rachel; Marinangeli, Lucia; McEwen, Alfred S.; Pajola, Maurizio; Sutton, Sarah S.; Wray, James J.
Tornabene, L. L., et al., 2018. Image Simulation and Assessment of the Colour and Spatial Capabilities of the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Space Science Reviews, 214, doi:10.1007/s11214-017-0436-7.

Year Published: 2018

Irregular focal mechanisms observed at Salton Sea Geothermal Field: Possible influences of anthropogenic stress perturbations

At the Salton Sea Geothermal Field (SSGF), strain accumulation is released through seismic slip and aseismic deformation. Earthquake activity at the SSGF often occurs in swarm-like clusters, some with clear migration patterns. We have identified an earthquake sequence composed entirely of focal mechanisms representing an ambiguous style of...

Schoenball, Martin; Crandall-Bear, Aren; Barbour, Andrew J.; Schoenball, Martin

Year Published: 2018

Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres' largest crater, Kerwan

Gravity data of Ceres returned by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dawn spacecraft is consistent with a lower density crust of variable thickness overlying a higher density mantle. Crustal thickness variations can affect the long‐term, postimpact modification of impact craters on Ceres. Here we show that the unusual morphology...

Bland, Michael T.; Ermakov, Anton; Raymond, Carol A.; Williams, David A.; Bowling, Tim J.; Preusker, F.; Park, Ryan S.; Marchi, Simone; Castillo-Rogez, Julie C.; Fu, R.R.; Russell, Christopher T.
Bland, M. T., Ermakov, A. I., Raymond, C. A., Williams, D. A., Bowling, T. J., Preusker, F., … Russell, C. T. (2018). Morphological indicators of a mascon beneath Ceres’s largest crater, Kerwan. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 1297–1304. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL075526

Filter Total Items: 2,275
A blocked lava channel
July 3, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Evolution of a Blocked Channel (Part 1)

Evolution of a blocked channel, photo 1. A blockage of rafted material within the lava channel causes lava to flow over its banks near the Kapoho cone. In this section of the lava channel a cold lava flow from the 1960 eruption forms a barrier on the north side, which initially directed the channel to the southeast. A constriction in the channel formed at the bend where

...
View of eroding coastal bluffs, mostly mud capped with a permafrost layer with tundra on top.
July 3, 2018

Actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island

Photograph of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, located on the northern coast of Alaska.

Aerial shot showing lava flowing into residential area
July 2, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Lava at Kapoho Beach Lots

At the coast, the northern margin of the flow field is still oozing pasty lava at several points in the area of Kapoho Beach Lots.

Close up of a lava overflow
July 2, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Overfows

Close up image of overflows from the fissure 8 lava channel. Photograph taken during the morning overflight.

Drone shot looking at brightly colored red and orange lava flows
July 2, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Drone Over Lava Channel

USGS Mavic Pro drone image of the fissure 8 lava channel looking toward the vent. Overflows can be seen as incandescent spots beyond the channel margins. Drone flights and resultant imagery help scientists

...
Aerial view of an ocean entry with laze plumes
July 2, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Ocean Entry

The ocean entry being fed by a crusted over channel has fewer tiny ooze-out channels than yesterday spilling into the water. One larger ooze-out channel making dominant entry plume at the northern end of the broad ocean entry.

Annotated photo looking at fissure 8 lava channels and identifying lava flows in residential areas and the ocean entry
July 2, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Fissure 8 Channel (Annotated)

Annotated drone image of Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone fissure 8 lava channel. Image captured near Kapoho Crater looking east toward the ocean entry. Incandescent flow margin is more easily identified in the dark - specifically here in the area of Kapoho Beach Lots.

Aerial of lava channels
July 2, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Open Lava Channels

Fountains from Fissure 8 spatter cone continue to supply lava to the open channel with intermittent small, short-

...
July 1, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Whirlwind Above Fissure 8

In the Leilani Estates subdivision, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory field crews monitoring 

...
July 1, 2018

Kīlauea Volcano — Collapse/Explosion Event at Halema‘uma‘u

On June 30, 2018, at 02:51 PM HST, a collapse/explosion event occurred at Kīlauea's summit. An ash-poor 

...
June 30, 2018

Understanding Floods | Long-term Streamflow Data Collection (AD)

The USGS is developing methods to improve data collection during floods to gain new insight into the rise and fall of flood waters. In the past, the only data left behind after a flood was how high the water got, or the peak of the flood. This video presents the methodology that hydrologists are using to set up a Continuous Slope-area Reach in remote areas that are

...
June 30, 2018

Understanding Floods | Long-term Streamflow Data Collection

The USGS is developing methods to improve data collection during floods to gain new insight into the rise and fall of flood waters. In the past, the only data left behind after a flood was how high the water got, or the peak of the flood. This video presents the methodology that hydrologists are using to set up a Continuous Slope-area Reach in remote areas that are

...
Filter Total Items: 351
Date published: March 16, 2018

Visiting scientist from Japan assisting shoreline-change studies in California

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.

Date published: March 14, 2018

USGS Authors New Report on Seismic Hazard, Risk, and Design for South America

New seismic hazard and risk assessments can help at-risk communities prepare for future earthquake disasters

Date published: March 8, 2018

New 3D Measurements Improve Understanding of Geomagnetic Storm Hazards

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.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Fulbright Scholar Joins Coral Reef Project at Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

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.

Date published: March 8, 2018

Modern Perspective on Gas Hydrates

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.

Date published: February 25, 2018

Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake, Papua New Guinea

The USGS has up-to-date details on the February 25, 2018 event.

Date published: February 23, 2018

USGS in South Korea

 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.

Date published: February 21, 2018

Newspaper story on earthquake hazards in Santa Rosa, California, features information from USGS scientists

USGS scientists Janet Watt and Suzanne Hecker provided information to the article’s author.

Date published: February 20, 2018

Pacific Missile Tracking Site Could Be Unusable in 20 Years Due to Climate Change

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.

Date published: February 19, 2018

USGS fields tsunami questions after earthquake off Kodiak, Alaska

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.

Date published: February 16, 2018

One of the first Black USGS geophysicists, pioneers subsurface research

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.