Unified Interior Regions

Puerto Rico

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.

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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: October 7, 2020

Bridging the Language Barrier During the Puerto Rico Earthquake

What happens when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Puerto Rico and the public needs critical information? How does a mostly English-speaking science agency reach a mostly Spanish-speaking public?

Date published: June 22, 2020

Scientists Map Tectonic Structure Below the Seafloor of Puerto Rico

The USGS is working to identify and map faults in southern Puerto Rico, to estimate the location and magnitude of potential earthquakes.

Date published: May 26, 2020

USGS Scientists Find Seafloor Faults Near Puerto Rico Quakes’ Epicenters

Most residents of southern Puerto Rico were startled by the sequence of earthquakes that began Dec. 28, 2019 and included a magnitude 6.4 quake on Jan. 7, 2020. Aftershocks are expected to continue for years, including some relatively strong ones, like a May 2 magnitude 5.4 temblor

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Date published: October 8, 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
Date published: September 12, 2020
Status: Completed

Susceptibility to Landslides Triggered by Intense Rainfall, Puerto Rico

Map Depicting Susceptibility to Landslides Triggered by Intense Rainfall, Puerto Rico
by K. Stephen Hughes and William H. Schulz

Puerto Rico is vulnerable to landsliding. This report summarizes creation of a new high-resolution model of rainfall-induced landslide susceptibility for the main island.

Contacts: William Schulz, K. Stephen Hughes
Date published: September 11, 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.

Date published: July 29, 2020
Status: Active

Landslides Triggered by the 2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake Sequence

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake occurred near Barrio Indios, Guayanilla, Puerto Rico on January 7, 2020. A study of the triggered landslides is ongoing.

Date published: July 20, 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
    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.

    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.

    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

    Date published: January 7, 2020
    Status: Active

    Event Page for Magnitude 6.4 Earthquake in Puerto Rico

    Eventpage with Earthquake Details

    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. 

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    Date published: June 19, 2020

    Inventory of landslides triggered by the 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake sequence

    Here we present an inventory of remotely and field-observed landslides triggered by 2019-2020 Puerto Rico earthquake sequence. The inventory was mapped using pre- and post-event satellite imagery (PR_landslide_inventory_imagery.csv), an extensive collection of field observations (https://doi.org/10.5066/P96QNFMB) and using pre-earthquake lidar as...

    Date published: February 18, 2020

    Cross-reef wave and water level data from coral reef environments

    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...

    Date published: February 5, 2019

    Hydrologic Conditions of Selected Reservoirs in Puerto Rico

    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.

    Date published: February 5, 2019

    Hydrologic Conditions of Selected Reservoirs in Puerto Rico

    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.

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flooding extents and depths based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the States of Hawaii and Florida, the Territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,

    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

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flood extent polygons and flood depth points based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the Territory of Puerto Rico (the islands of Culebra, Puerto Rico, and Vieques)

    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

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flood extent polygons and flood depth points based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the State of Hawaii (the islands of Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu

    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

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Time series data of oceanographic conditions from La Parguera, Puerto Rico, 2017-2018 Coral Reef Circulation and Sediment Dynamics Experiment

    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

    Date published: September 1, 2017

    National Water Information System web interface (NWISweb)

    The National Water Information System (NWIS) web application provides access to real-time and historical surface-water, groundwater, water-quality, and water-use data collected at approximately 1.5 million sites across all 50 states.

    Date published: April 20, 2016

    Structures Data

    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

    Map depicting susceptibility to landslides triggered by intense rainfall, Puerto Rico

    Landslides in Puerto Rico range from nuisances to deadly events. Centuries of agricultural and urban modification of the landscape have perturbed many already unstable hillsides on the tropical island. One of the main triggers of mass wasting on the island is the high-intensity rainfall that is associated with tropical atmospheric systems. Puerto...

    Hughes, K. Stephen; Schulz, William
    Hughes, K.S., and Schulz, W.H., 2020, Map depicting susceptibility to landslides triggered by intense rainfall, Puerto Rico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1022, 91 p., 1 plate, scale 1:150,000, https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201022.

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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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    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.

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    January 29, 2020

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

    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 normal and some will be larger than others, but there

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    January 29, 2020

    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 personas a mantenerse seguras y cuidarse a sí mismas y a los demás.

     

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    Dianne López-Trujillo with Lynne Carrier, FEMA translator.
    January 28, 2020

    Dianne López-Trujillo with Lynne Carrier, FEMA translator

    Dianne López-Trujillo with Lynne Carrier, FEMA translator.

    The USGS Recognizes Dianne Lopez-Trujillo During Hispanic Heritage Month

    What happens when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Puerto Rico and the public needs critical information? How does a mostly English-speaking science agency reach a mostly Spanish-speaking public?

    The USGS relies on its

    ...
    Congressional event following the 6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico
    January 19, 2020

    Congressional event following the 6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico

    Congressional event following the 6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico held on Jan. 20, 2020. Dr. Jonathan Godt (USGS) and Dr. Elizabeth A. Vanacore (Red Sismica Puerto Rico) answered questions to congressmen: Yauco's major, Bill Posey, Jenniffer González Colón, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala

    Congressional event following the 6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico
    January 19, 2020

    Congressional event following the 6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico

    Overview of the Congressional event following the 6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico. Bottom of picture: congressmen. Center: Dianne Lopez, Lindsay Davis, Donyelle Davis

    Part of the USGS Earthquake Response Team visiting areas affected by the 6.4 earthquake.
    January 17, 2020

    USGS visits areas affected by the 6.4 Puerto Rico earthquake

    Part of the USGS Earthquake Response Team visiting areas affected by the 6.4 earthquake. Place: Guánica Boardwalk. From left to right: Donyelle Davis, Dianne López, Jonathan Godt, Alex Grant

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    USGS team with Wanda Vazquez-Garced, governor of Puerto Rico
    October 7, 2020

    What happens when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Puerto Rico and the public needs critical information? How does a mostly English-speaking science agency reach a mostly Spanish-speaking public?

    Marine technician deploy a hydrophone off Puerto Rico
    June 22, 2020

    The USGS is working to identify and map faults in southern Puerto Rico, to estimate the location and magnitude of potential earthquakes.

    Map of seismic research site on seafloor off Puerto Rico
    May 26, 2020

    Most residents of southern Puerto Rico were startled by the sequence of earthquakes that began Dec. 28, 2019 and included a magnitude 6.4 quake on Jan. 7, 2020. Aftershocks are expected to continue for years, including some relatively strong ones, like a May 2 magnitude 5.4 temblor

    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

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