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We conduct impartial, multi- and interdisciplinary research and monitoring on a large range of natural-resource issues that impact the quality of life of citizens and landscapes of the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean region.

News

Date published: May 2, 2020

Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake Felt in Puerto Rico

On May 2, 2020, a  magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck about 4 miles offshore of Tallaboa, Puerto Rico, at a depth of about 5-6 miles (9 kilometers). This story will be updated if/when more information becomes available.

Date published: March 19, 2020

New USGS map can help Puerto Rico deal with risk of landslides after hurricanes

A new U.S. Geological Survey map of Puerto Rico shows the relative risks of landslides due to the kind of intense rainfall brought on by hurricanes. It identifies 20%  of the island as at high risk, 9% at very high risk, and 1% at extremely high risk of landslides under those conditions. 

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Coral head that looks like lettuce sits on sandy bottom in clear blue water and is surrounded by brightly colored fish.
Date Published: May 8, 2020
Status: Active

Coral Reef Project

Explore the fascinating undersea world of coral reefs. Learn how we map, monitor, and model coral reefs so we can better understand, protect, and preserve our Nation's reefs.

View from the sky of a tropical coastline and a beach with ocean water so clear the coral reef can be seen.
Date Published: February 25, 2020
Status: Active

Using Video Imagery to Study Wave Dynamics: Tres Palmas

Four video cameras look westward over the coast and the coral reef at Tres Palmas in Rincón, on the west coast of Puerto Rico. Two cameras look out at the horizon and over the ocean for the mid-field view; one camera offers a zoomed-in, far-field view overlooking the reef and out to the island of Desecheo, a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge; and another camera focuses on the beach.

Contacts: Curt Storlazzi, PhD, Miguel Canals-Silander, Patricia Chardon Maldonado
Value of US Coral Reefs for Risk Reduction
Date Published: January 21, 2020
Status: Active

The Value of U.S. Coral Reefs for Risk Reduction

Summary of the report, “Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction”

    Contacts: Curt Storlazzi, PhD, Michael Beck
    Magnitude 5.8 in Puerto Rico
    Date Published: January 15, 2020
    Status: Active

    30-day aftershock scenarios for Puerto Rico (Spanish)

    Earthquakes are unsettling, destructive, and often tragic to the communities they affect. The USGS works diligently to help keep people safer by providing them and their emergency responders the science needed to respond to ongoing hazards.

    Magnitude 5.8 in Puerto Rico
    Date Published: January 15, 2020
    Status: Active

    30-day aftershock scenarios for Puerto Rico (English)

    Los terremotos, como los ocurridos en Puerto Rico, pueden ser preocupantes, destructivos y en muchas ocasiones trágicos para las comunidades afectadas.

    Magnitude 5.8 in Puerto Rico
    Date Published: January 15, 2020
    Status: Active

    7-day aftershock forecast for Puerto Rico's 6.4 Magnitude Earthquake

    What we think will happen next

    PuertoRico Quake
    Date Published: January 7, 2020
    Status: Active

    Event Page for Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake in Puerto Rico

    Eventpage with Earthquake Details

    Screenshot of Puerto Rico Shakemap
    Date Published: January 7, 2020
    Status: Active

    Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake in Puerto Rico: Shakemap

    The magnitude 6.4 earthquake was widely felt. The ShakeMap, showed strong to very strong shaking occurred across parts of Southern Puerto Rico closest to the event and moderate shaking occurred across the rest of the island. 

    View from the sky of a tropical coastline and a beach with ocean water so clear the coral reef can be seen.
    Date Published: August 23, 2019
    Status: Active

    Coral Reef Project: Puerto Rico

    To better understand how waves move across coral reefs and cause flooding on tropical shorelines, USGS scientists have installed video cameras and oceanographic instruments off San Juan and Rincón, Puerto Rico. Their work is part of a study funded by USGS after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The offshore instruments measure wave heights and speeds; the onshore video cameras show where waves break...

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    Global map showing oceans and labeled continents, with dots to show places where data has been collected.
    February 18, 2020

    Direct field observations of wave dynamics across coral reefs and the resulting water levels are limited. Here we provide direct in situ measurements of waves and water levels across a number of coral reefs, extending from the fore reef, across the reef crest, and to the shoreline. These measurements are provided to help better understand the evolution of waves across coral reefs and ...

    Hydrologic Conditions Chart of Selected Reservoirs in Puerto Rico
    February 5, 2019

    The following graphs show water surface elevations above NGVD 1929 in selected reservoirs for several years, including 2015. The purpose of these graphs is to compare water surface elevations during 2015 with water surface elevations observed during years when documented droughts have occurred.

    Hydrologic Conditions Chart of Selected Reservoirs in Puerto Rico
    February 5, 2019

    The following graphs show water surface elevations above NGVD 1929 in selected reservoirs for several years, including 2015. The purpose of these graphs is to compare water surface elevations during 2015 with water surface elevations observed during years when documented droughts have occurred.

    Map of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding continents with boxes drawn around areas to show study locations.
    January 1, 2019

    This data release provides flooding extent polygons (flood masks) and depth values (flood points) based on wave-driven total water levels for 22 locations within the States of Hawaii and Florida, the Territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. For each of the 22 locations there are eight ass

    USGS
    January 1, 2019

    This part of the data release presents projected flooding extent polygon (flood masks) and flooding depth points (flood points) shapefiles based on wave-driven total water levels for the State of Hawaii (the islands of Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for

    USGS
    January 1, 2019

    This part of the data release presents projected flooding extent polygon (flood masks) and flooding depth points (flood points) shapefiles based on wave-driven total water levels for the Territory of Puerto Rico (the islands of Culebra, Puerto Rico, and Vieques). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for each four nearshore wave energy

    USGS
    January 1, 2019

    Time-series data of water surface elevation, waves, currents, temperature, and salinity collected between 17 May 2017 and 17 Jan 2018 off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico in support of a study on circulation and sediment transport dynamics over coral reefs. The data are available in NetCDF format, grouped together in zip files by instrument site location. A README.txt file details the

    Structure datasets for the nation from The National Map
    April 20, 2016

    USGS data portray selected structures data, including the location and characteristics of manmade facilities. Characteristics consist of a structure's physical form (footprint), function, name, location, and detailed information about the structure. The types of structures collected are largely determined by the needs of the disaster planning and response and homeland security organizations.

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    Year Published: 2020

    Bathymetric survey and sedimentation analysis of Lago Carite, Puerto Rico, January 2018

    During January 23–30, 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, conducted a bathymetric survey of Lago Carite primarily to update estimates of the contemporary reservoir storage capacity and sedimentation rate. Previously designated transect lines were surveyed by using a depth sounder coupled...

    Gomez-Fragoso, Julieta
    Gómez-Fragoso, J.M., 2020, Bathymetric survey and sedimentation analysis of Lago Carite, Puerto Rico, January 2018: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3454, 1 sheet, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3454.

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    Year Published: 2020

    Potential duration of aftershocks of the 2020 southwestern Puerto Rico earthquake

    AbstractAftershocks (earthquakes clustered spatially and chronologically near the occurrence of a causative earthquake) are ongoing in southwestern Puerto Rico after a series of earthquakes, which include a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that occurred near Barrio Indios, Guayanilla, on January 7, 2020, and affected the surrounding area. This report...

    Van Der Elst, Nicholas; Hardebeck, Jeanne L.; Michael, Andrew J.
    van der Elst, N.J., Hardebeck, J.L., and Michael, A.J., 2020, Potential duration of aftershocks of the 2020 southwestern Puerto Rico earthquake: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1009, 5 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201009.

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    Year Published: 2019

    Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction

    The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision making...

    Storlazzi, Curt D.; Reguero, Borja G.; Cole, Aaron D.; Lowe, Erik; Shope, James B.; Gibbs, Ann E.; Nickel, Barry A.; McCall, Robert T.; van Dongeren, Ap R.; Beck, Michael W.
    Storlazzi, C.D., Reguero, B.G., Cole, A.D., Lowe, E., Shope, J.B., Gibbs, A.E., Nickel, B.A., McCall, R.T., van Dongeren, A.R., and Beck, M.W., 2019, Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1027, 42 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191027.

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    Year Published: 2019

    Landslides triggered by Hurricane Maria: Assessment of an extreme event in Puerto Rico

    Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 and triggered more than 40,000 landslides in at least three-fourths of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities. The number of landslides that occurred during this event was two orders of magnitude greater than those reported from previous hurricanes. Landslide source areas were commonly...

    Bessette-Kirton, Erin; Cerovski-Darriau, Corina; Schulz, William; Coe, Jeffrey A.; Kean, Jason W.; Godt, Jonathan W.; Thomas, Matthew A.; Hughes, K. Stephen

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    Year Published: 2018

    Seismic sensors record a hurricane’s roar

    The instruments installed at Global Seismographic Network (GSN) stations were designed to record Earth’s vibrations, but they sometimes pick up sound waves from unexpected sources. For example, newly installed infrasound sensors at a station on Puerto Rico recorded the passage of Hurricane Maria on 20 September 2017.

    Wilson, David C.; Davis, Peter; Ebeling, Carl; Hutt, Charles R.; Hafner, Katrin
    Wilson, D. C., P. Davis, C. Ebeling, C. R. Hutt, and K. Hafner (2018), Seismic sensors record a hurricane’s roar, Eos, 99, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO102963. Published on 03 August 2018.

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    Year Published: 2016

    The 3D Elevation Program: summary for Puerto Rico

    Elevation data are essential to a broad range of applications, including forest resources management, wildlife and habitat management, scientific research, national security, recreation, and many others. For the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, elevation data are critical for flood risk management, landslide mitigation, natural resources conservation...

    Carswell, William J.

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    Year Published: 2016

    Hydrologic conditions in the South Coast aquifer, Puerto Rico, 2010–15

    In 1958, the U.S. Geological Survey began documenting hydrologic conditions, including groundwater levels, groundwater withdrawals for agricultural irrigation and public water supply, and water quality, in the South Coast aquifer, Puerto Rico. This information has improved the understanding of the water resources of the region. The hydrologic data...

    Torres-Gonzalez, Sigfredo; Rodriguez, Jose M.
    Torres-González, Sigfredo, and Rodríguez, J.M., 2016, Hydrologic conditions in the South Coast aquifer, Puerto Rico, 2010–15: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1215, 32 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151215.

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    Year Published: 2015

    Quantifying 10 years of improved earthquake-monitoring performance in the Caribbean region

    Over 75 tsunamis have been documented in the Caribbean and adjacent regions during the past 500 years. Since 1500, at least 4484 people are reported to have perished in these killer waves. Hundreds of thousands are currently threatened along the Caribbean coastlines. Were a great tsunamigenic earthquake to occur in the Caribbean region today, the...

    McNamara, Daniel E.; Hillebrandt-Andrade, Christa; Saurel, Jean-Marie; Huerfano-Moreno, V.; Lynch, Lloyd

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    Year Published: 2015

    Source, use and disposition of freshwater in Puerto Rico, 2010

    Introduction Water diverted from streams and pumped from wells constitutes the main source of water for the 78 municipios of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. A better understanding of water-use patterns is needed, particularly regarding the amount of water used, where and how this water is used and disposed, and how human activities affect water...

    Molina, Wanda L.
    Molina-Rivera, W.L., 2015, Source, Use, and disposition of freshwater in Puerto Rico, 2010, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2015-3044, 6 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/fs20153044.

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    Year Published: 2015

    Event sedimentation in low-latitude deep-water carbonate basins, Anegada passage, northeast Caribbean

    The Virgin Islands and Whiting basins in the Northeast Caribbean are deep, structurally controlled depocentres partially bound by shallow-water carbonate platforms. Closed basins such as these are thought to document earthquake and hurricane events through the accumulation of event layers such as debris flow and turbidity current deposits and the...

    Chaytor, Jason D.; ten Brink, Uri S.
    Event sedimentation in low-latitude deep-water carbonate basins, Anegada passage, northeast Caribbean; 2014; Article; Journal; Basin Research; Chaytor, Jason D.; ten Brink, Uri S.

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    Year Published: 2014

    Core data from offshore Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

    In 2008, as a collaborative effort between Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the U.S. Geological Survey, 20 giant gravity cores were collected from areas surrounding Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The regions sampled have had many large earthquake and landslide events, some of which are believed to have triggered tsunamis. The...

    Hoy, Shannon K.; Chaytor, Jason D.; ten Brink, Uri S.
    Hoy, S.K., Chaytor, J.D., and ten Brink, U.S., 2014, Core data from offshore Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1227, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141227.

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    Year Published: 2014

    Estimated water use in Puerto Rico, 2010

    Water-use data were aggregated for the 78 municipios of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico for 2010. Five major offstream categories were considered: public-supply water withdrawals and deliveries, domestic and industrial self-supplied water use, crop-irrigation water use, and thermoelectric-power freshwater use. One instream water-use category also...

    Molina-Rivera, Wanda L.
    Estimated water use in Puerto Rico, 2010; 2014; OFR; 2014-1117; Molina-Rivera, Wanda L.

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    multicolored map of Ocean Shores, Washington
    April 13, 2017

    The Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst is an ArcGIS extension that estimates how long it would take for someone to travel on foot out of a hazardous area that was threatened by a sudden event such as a tsunami, flash flood, or volcanic lahar. It takes into account the elevation changes and the different types of landcover that a person would encounter along the way.

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    Map of seismic research site on seafloor off Puerto Rico
    April 30, 2020

    Scientists find signs of undersea faults off SW Puerto Rico

    Locations of multichannel seismic reflection profiles (in black), collected during cruise FA2020-14. The profiles are overlain on colored and shaded multibeam bathymetry, Lidar topography (green and white) and near-shore bathymetry (darker blue), and NOAA coastal relief model (light blue and white). Dashed purple lines – hypothesized faults from the distribution of

    ...
    Scientist on research vessel prepares to launch hydrophone
    March 5, 2020

    Scientist launches instrument used to map seafloor off Puerto Rico

    USGS marine technician Wayne Baldwin prepares to deploy the hydrophone array during a seismic research cruise off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico on board the R/V Sultana in March 2020.

    Marine technician deploy a hydrophone off Puerto Rico
    March 5, 2020

    USGS marine technicians launch a hydrophone off Puerto Rico seafloor

    USGS marine technicians Alex Nichols (L) and Eric Moore (R) deploy the hydrophone array on a seismic research cruise off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico aboard the R/V Sultana in March 2020.

    USGS technicians launch "sparker" used in seafloor mapping
    March 5, 2020

    Three scientists launch a "sparker" used in seafloor mapping

    USGS research geologist Jason Chaytor (L) and marine technicians Alex Nichols (center) and Eric Moore (R) deploy the “sparker” sound source on a seismic research cruise off the southwest coast of Puerto Rico aboard the R/V Sultana in March 2020.

    click on image for full description
    January 29, 2020

    2020 Southwest Puerto Rico Earthquake Sequence (Jan 29, 2020)

    2020 Southwest Puerto Rico Earthquake Sequence

    The U.S. Geological Survey has released a report on the potential duration of aftershocks of the 2020 Southwest Puerto Rico earthquake sequence (series) to guide public policy decisions, other actions, and help people stay safe and care for themselves and each other.

    i) AFTERSHOCK FORECAST*
    Aftershocks are

    ...
    click on image for full description
    January 29, 2020

    Secuencia del Terremoto del 2020 en el Suroeste de Puerto Rico

    Secuencia del Terremoto del 2020 en el Suroeste de Puerto Rico

    El Servicio Geológico de los EE. UU. ha publicado un informe sobre la duración potencial de las réplicas de la secuencia (serie) del terremoto del Suroeste de Puerto Rico en el 2020 que puede ser usado como guía en las decisiones de política pública, otras acciones y ayudar a las

    ...
    January 17, 2020

    Mapping the Ground Failure

    My name is Kate Allstadt. I’m a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado, and I'm here in Puerto Rico in the city of Ponce with some colleagues and we're here to map the ground failure that occurred due to this earthquake so we're mapping things like Rock Falls and landslides and liquefaction, as well as lateral spreading which is what we

    land movement
    January 16, 2020

    Lateral Spread in Ponce, Puerto Rico

    USGS scientists were deployed to assess land deformation and movement after a large M6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. Here is an example of a lateral spread near a stream in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

    Attribution: Natural Hazards
    land movement
    January 16, 2020

    Lateral spread near creek in Ponce, Puerto Rico

    USGS scientists, like Dr. Alex Grant, were deployed to assess land deformation and movement after a large M6.4 earthquake struck Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. Here is an example of a lateral spread near a creek in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

    Attribution: Natural Hazards
    land movement
    January 16, 2020

    House marking in Puerto Rico

    Houses were damaged during the M6.4 earthquake that struck Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. Houses were tagged by local officials for whether they were safe or not.

    Attribution: Natural Hazards
    click on image for full description
    January 16, 2020

    2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake Sequence (as of Jan. 16, 2020)

    2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake Sequence

    Earthquakes detected between December 28, 2019 as of January 16, 2020. Subject to updates.

     

    >300 M3+earthquakes recorded*
    since Dec. 28, 2019 (within 40km) strong enough to be felt

    10 M5+ earthquakes recorded*
    since Dec. 28, 2019 (including M6.4) large

    ...
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    A map of the magnitude 5.4 Earthquake Felt in Puerto Rico showing it hit about six miles offshore on the south side of island
    May 2, 2020

    On May 2, 2020, a  magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck about 4 miles offshore of Tallaboa, Puerto Rico, at a depth of about 5-6 miles (9 kilometers). This story will be updated if/when more information becomes available.

    Aeirial view of landslides blocking roads  in Utuado, Puerto Rico
    March 19, 2020

    A new U.S. Geological Survey map of Puerto Rico shows the relative risks of landslides due to the kind of intense rainfall brought on by hurricanes. It identifies 20%  of the island as at high risk, 9% at very high risk, and 1% at extremely high risk of landslides under those conditions. 

    A road damaged by a landslide in Puerto Rico.
    February 6, 2020

    A new landslide guidebook released February 5 is now available for Puerto Rico residents to learn more about the landslide hazards that can impact the island.

    Magnitude 5.8 in Puerto Rico
    January 29, 2020

    Links to forecasts and scenerios (below) will continue to be updated, however, text in this story will not be updated unless there is significant change to the aftershock behavior or to the USGS response to the earthquake. 

    7-day aftershock forecast [English]

    30-day aftershock scenarios [English | Spanish]

    seismic stations
    January 17, 2020

    A sequence of earthquakes in southwest Puerto Rico continues to affect people living there, with the largest recent aftershock a magnitude 5.2 on Jan. 15. U.S. Geological Survey scientists on the island and the mainland are providing up-to-date scientific information to help the Commonwealth government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency make decisions that protect the public.

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    January 16, 2020

    Earthquake Aftershock Forecast and Scenarios

    PuertoRico Quake
    January 15, 2020

    Earthquake Aftershock Forecast and Scenarios

    PuertoRico Quake
    January 14, 2020

    Earthquake Aftershock Forecast and Scenarios

    PuertoRico Quake
    January 13, 2020

    Earthquake Aftershock Forecast and Scenarios

    PuertoRico Quake
    January 13, 2020

    Earthquake Aftershock Forecast and Scenarios

    PuertoRico Quake
    January 12, 2020

    Earthquake Aftershock Forecast and Scenarios

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