The United States is more than just the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Five permanently inhabited territories in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea are overseen by the U.S. and are home to more than 4 million people, many of whom are American citizens.
The island territories of American Sāmoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are rich with cultural and ecological resources, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior (DOI). As DOI’s science research bureau, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducts science to help environmental managers and policy makers address the myriad threats affecting America’s territories.
With volcanic islands and tropical rainforests to breathtaking ocean views and coral reefs, these territories are postcard-worthy locales. However, due to their small area, immense amount of coastline, and often remote locations, these island territories are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts, coastal hazards, invasive species, and other natural resource concerns.
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Volcanic Eruptions and Hazards in American Samoa
Coral Reef Project
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Coastal | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Costas
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Earthquakes | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Terremotos
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Ecosystems and Environmental Contaminants | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Ecosistemas y contaminantes ambientales
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Hurricanes | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Huracanes
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Landslides | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Deslizamientos de tierra
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Tsunamis | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Maremotos
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Water Resources | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Recursos de agua
Quantifying Flood Risk and Reef Risk Reduction Benefits in Florida and Puerto Rico: The Consequences of Hurricane Damage, Long-term Degradation, and Restoration Opportunities
Using Cutting-Edge Technology to Assess Coral Reef Bleaching Events and Recovery Rates in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
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Volcanic Eruptions and Hazards in American SamoaHazards associated with potential volcanic activity in American Samoa include ground shaking and related hazards, local tsunami, volcanic gases, low-level localized explosions of lava, lava flows, lava ocean entry hazards, and hydrovolcanic and phreatomagmatic activity.
Coral Reef ProjectExplore 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.
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards | Peligros naturales de Puerto RicoThe island of Puerto Rico is subject to numerous threats from natural hazards, including hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, coastal and inland flooding, environmental contaminants, and freshwater scarcity, among others. USGS science can help citizens better prepare for, mitigate, and adapt to these hazards. This website compiles USGS resources available for Puerto Rico to provide...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Coastal | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: CostasThis page is a collection of USGS coastal hazard research in Puerto Rico, including shoreline changes, coral reef assessments, and coastal flooding. A brief description of highlighted projects can be found below. All coastal hazard publications, data releases, and news for Puerto Rico can be accessed on this page. Esta página es una recopilación de investigaciones del USGS sobre los riesgos...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Earthquakes | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: TerremotosUSGS provides real-time earthquake data, information on historic earthquakes, resources for the most significant earthquakes, and seismicity and ground motions to support future updates to the seismic hazard models for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our seismic research can help establish better building regulations that mitigate earthquake risks and improve public safety. The USGS...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Ecosystems and Environmental Contaminants | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Ecosistemas y contaminantes ambientalesUSGS researchers have studied environmental contaminants and pathogens to address questions involving exposure pathways and human-health implications. They also study climate change impacts and ecosystem health. On this page, read about ecosystems and environmental health research in Puerto Rico, including contaminants in tap water, and possible human exposures. Investigadores del USGS han...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Hurricanes | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: HuracanesHurricanes are one of the most frequent natural hazards that Caribbean islands are prone to encounter. The frequency of storms and their intensity could increase with climate change. This page contains a variety of USGS research on hurricane impacts to Puerto Rico, dating back to 1989, when Hurricane Hugo impacted the island. Research topics include storm-induced landslides, as well as impacts on...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Landslides | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Deslizamientos de tierraThe Landslide Hazards Program from USGS works to help reduce the impact of landslides to people and infrastructure by furthering our understanding of causes of ground failure and by recommending strategies for risk mitigation. In Puerto Rico, USGS researchers have rigorously studied rainfall-induced landslides to provide maps that depict landslide susceptibility. Educational materials that...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Tsunamis | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: MaremotosTsunamis are long waves formed from a sudden displacement of the sea floor due to a fault rupture, landslide, or volcanic activity. Given that Puerto Rico lies above a subduction zone in the Caribbean Sea, it is especially susceptible to large earthquakes and tsunamis. The greatest tsunami ever recorded in Puerto Rico occurred from an earthquake off the Mona Passage in 1918. The USGS Earthquake...
Puerto Rico Natural Hazards: Water Resources | Peligros naturales de Puerto Rico: Recursos de aguaThe USGS monitors and studies water resources to deliver a wide range of data including streamflow conditions, groundwater information, lake and reservoir elevation, water quality, water use, and water availability, which can be accessed through the USGS National Water Dashboard. As of 2022, the USGS real-time water data network is comprised of 109 streamflow observation stations, 20 groundwater...
Quantifying Flood Risk and Reef Risk Reduction Benefits in Florida and Puerto Rico: The Consequences of Hurricane Damage, Long-term Degradation, and Restoration OpportunitiesCoastal flooding and erosion from extreme weather events affect thousands of vulnerable coastal communities; the impacts of coastal flooding are predicted to worsen during this century because of population growth and climate change. Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 were particularly devasting to humans and natural communities. The coral reefs off the State of Florida and the Commonwealth of...
Using Cutting-Edge Technology to Assess Coral Reef Bleaching Events and Recovery Rates in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana IslandsCoral reef ecosystems serve as natural coastal defenses, support local island economies, and are important sources of food for coastal communities. However, an increase in coral bleaching events, and the associated declines of coral cover and diversity, are highly likely as sea surface temperatures continue to rise. Multiple coral bleaching events between 2013 and 2017 have already impacted the re