Subduction Zone Science

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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.

Reducing Risk Where Tectonic Plates Collide—Fact Sheet & Science Plan

Reducing Risk Where Tectonic Plates Collide—Fact Sheet & Science Plan

The USGS Science Plan, “Reducing Risk Where Tectonic Plates Collide” is a blueprint for building the crucial scientific foundation needed to inform the policies and practices that can make our Nation more resilient to subduction zone-related hazards.

View Fact Sheet

Introduction to Subduction Zones

Introduction to Subduction Zones

What is a subduction zone? What makes subduction zones so hazardous? The most powerful earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and landslides occur in subduction zones where tectonic plates collide and one plate is thrust beneath another.

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News

Date published: October 13, 2020

ShakeOut 2020: Staying Safe When the Ground Starts to Rumble

When the ground shakes, what do you do? ShakeOut 2020:  Drop, Cover, and Hold On!

Date published: September 14, 2020

National Preparedness Month 2020: Earthquakes and Tsunamis

Natural hazards 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.

Date published: August 25, 2020

A Massive Earthquake Is Coming to Cascadia—And It Can’t Be Stopped

This AtlasObscura article features USGS scientist Brian Atwater and University of Washington colleague, David Yamaguchi and their research on the Cascadia subduction zone.

View A Massive Earthquake Is Coming to Cascadia—And It Can’t Be Stopped.

Attribution: Natural Hazards

Publications

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Year Published: 2020

Localized fluid discharge by tensile cracking during the post-seismic period in subduction zones

It is thought that extensional structures (extensional cracks and normal faults) generated during the post-seismic period create fluid pathways that enhance the drainage of the subducting plate interface, thus reducing the pore pressure and increasing fault strength. However, it remains to be elucidated how much pore fluid pressure decreases by...

Otsubo, Makoto; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.; Miyakawa, Ayumu; Yamaguchi, Asuka; Kimura, Gaku

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Year Published: 2020

Segmentation and supercycles: A catalog of earthquake rupture patterns from the Sumatran Sunda Megathrust and other well-studied faults worldwide

After more than 100 years of earthquake research, earthquake forecasting, which relies on knowledge of past fault rupture patterns, has become the foundation for societal defense against seismic natural disasters. A concept that has come into focus more recently is that rupture segmentation and cyclicity can be complex, and that a characteristic...

Philibosian, Belle; Meltzner, Aron J.

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Year Published: 2020

Selected geologic maps of the Kodiak batholith and other Paleocene intrusive rocks, Kodiak Island, Alaska

Kodiak Island in southern Alaska is one of the premier examples globally for the study of forearc magmatism. This location contains two Paleocene intrusive belts that formed due to the subduction of a migrating spreading ridge and slab-window: the Kodiak batholith and the trenchward magmatic belt. These magmatic rocks are part of the Sanak-Baranof...

Farris, David W.; Haeussler, Peter J.
Farris, D.W., and Haeussler, P.J., 2020, Selected geologic maps of the Kodiak batholith and other Paleocene intrusive rocks, Kodiak Island, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3441, pamphlet 10 p., scale 1:50,000, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3441.