Welcome to the Science Topics page of the USGS Water Science School, where you can explore the many aspects of water. All of our science information is available by browsing the Themes below.
Can you predict earthquakes?
No. Neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake. We do not know how, and we do not expect to know how any time in the foreseeable future. USGS scientists can only calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur (shown on our hazard mapping) in a specific area within a certain number of years. An earthquake prediction must define 3 elements: 1...
Can animals predict earthquakes?
The earliest reference we have to unusual animal behavior prior to a significant earthquake is from Greece in 373 BC. Rats, weasels, snakes, and centipedes reportedly left their homes and headed for safety several days before a destructive earthquake. Anecdotal evidence abounds of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects exhibiting strange behavior anywhere from weeks to seconds before an...
Why are we having so many earthquakes? Has naturally occurring earthquake activity been increasing? Does this mean a big one is going to hit? OR We haven't had any earthquakes in a long time; does this mean that the pressure is building up for a big one?
A temporary increase or decrease in seismicity is part of the normal fluctuation of earthquake rates. Neither an increase nor decrease worldwide is a positive indication that a large earthquake is imminent. The ComCat earthquake catalog contains an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years--not because there are more earthquakes, but because there are more seismic instruments and they are...
Our Water, Our Lives: California
This Teacher Guide includes background information, lesson plans, and examples of student answers for four lessons about water resources in California. The Student Worksheet includes student activities and questions. It can be downloaded and printed or transferred to a digital classroom document.
Our Water, Our Lives: The Chesapeake Bay Watershed
This Teacher Guide includes background information, lesson plans, and examples of student answers for three lessons about the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Student Worksheet includes student activities and questions. This can be downloaded and printed or transferred to a digital classroom document.
Teacher's Resources for Water Education
The USGS Water Science School offers many resources to help teach students all about water.