Unified Interior Regions

Region 10: California-Great Basin

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The California-Great Basin includes California, Nevada, and part of Oregon. The Regional Office, headquartered in Sacramento, provides Center oversight and support, facilitates internal and external collaborations, and works to further USGS strategic science directions. Our scientists do a broad array of research and technical assistance throughout the U.S. and across the globe.


Date published: May 26, 2021

Media Advisory: Where Earthquakes Hide in the Desert - Live Online Public Lecture

You are invited to a public lecture about recent surface rupturing earthquakes in the western United States.

Date published: May 12, 2021

Christina Neal to Lead USGS Volcano Science Center

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On May 9, 2021, Christina (Tina) Neal became the new director of the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Science Center, home of the Alaska, California, Cascades, Hawaiian and Yellowstone volcano observatories.  

Date published: May 4, 2021

Entire U.S. West Coast Now Has Access to ShakeAlert® Earthquake Early Warning

After 15 years of planning and development, the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system is now available to more than 50 million people in California, Oregon and Washington, the most earthquake-prone region in the conterminous U.S.

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Date published: June 16, 2020
Status: Active

Coastal Change Hazards

Natural processes such as waves, tides, and weather, continually change coastal landscapes. The integrity of coastal homes, businesses, and infrastructure can be threatened by hazards associated with event-driven changes, such as extreme storms and their impacts on beach and dune erosion, or longer-term, cumulative...

Date published: March 6, 2020
Status: Active

Fourth Federal UAS Workshop

November 17 - 19, 2020 Virtual Workshop

Contacts: Jonathan Stock, Bruce Quirk, Matthew Fladeland
Date published: March 26, 2019
Status: Active

Defining Native Ranges of U.S. Inland Fishes

Understanding the native versus non-native range of a species can provide useful information about dispersal, population distribution patterns, and human mediated movement across hydrologic barriers. The USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Program is working with partners to define native ranges of inland fishes in the United States to help identify which species should be included in the...

Date published: March 5, 2019
Status: Active

The Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Flood and Storm Tracker (FaST)

Storm-related flooding can lead to the potential spread of nonindigenous (or non-native) aquatic species into waterways they have not been seen in before. The USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species program has developed an innovative mapping tool to help natural resource managers with post-storm nonindigenous aquatic species detection and assessment efforts. 

Date published: April 11, 2016
Status: Active

Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) Program

Welcome to the Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS) information resource for the United States Geological Survey. Located at Gainesville, Florida, this site has been established as a central repository for spatially referenced biogeographic accounts of introduced aquatic species. The program provides scientific reports, online/realtime queries, spatial data sets, distribution maps, and general...

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Date published: May 25, 2021

Modeled extreme total water levels along the U.S. west coast

This dataset contains information on the probabilities of storm-induced erosion (collision, inundation and overwash) for each 100-meter (m) section of the United States Pacific coast for return period storm scenarios. The analysis is based on a storm-impact scaling model that uses observations of beach morphology combined with sophisticated hydrodynamic models to predict how the coast will...

Date published: June 9, 2020

SPARROW Mappers for the 2012 SPARROW Models for the Pacific region

SPARROW mappers are interactive tools that allow users to explore river streamflow and nutrient and sediment loads and yields and the importance of different sources of contaminants in a particular river basin. Data can be visualized using maps and interactive graphs and tables, and rankings can be shown by state, major watershed, hydrologic unit (HUC), and catchment.

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Year Published: 2021

The value of US coral reefs for flood risk reduction

Habitats, such as coral reefs, can mitigate increasing flood damages through coastal protection services. We provide a fine-scale, national valuation of the flood risk reduction benefits of coral habitats to people, property, economies and infrastructure. Across 3,100 km of US coastline, the top-most 1 m of coral reefs prevents the 100-yr flood...

Reguero, Borja G.; Storlazzi, Curt; Gibbs, Ann E.; Shope, James B.; Cole, Aaron D.; Cumming, Kristen A.; Beck, Mike

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Year Published: 2021

Potential use of the benthic foraminifers Bulimina denudata and Eggerelloides advenus in marine sediment toxicity testing

The benthic foraminifers Bulimina denudata and Eggerelloides advenus are commonly abundant in offshore regions in the Pacific Ocean, especially in waste-discharge sites. The relationship between their abundance and standard macrofaunal sediment toxicity tests (amphipod survival and sea urchin fertilization) as well as sediment...

McGann, Mary

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Year Published: 2021

The weight of cities: Urbanization effects on Earth’s subsurface

Across the world, people increasingly choose to live in cities. By 2050, 70% of Earth's population will live in large urban areas. Upon considering a large city, questions arise such as, how much does that weigh? What are its effects on the landscape? Does it cause measurable subsidence? Here I calculate the weight of San Francisco Bay region...

Parsons, Thomas E.

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Year Published: 2021

Toward an integrative geological and geophysical view of Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes

The Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) is an exceptional geologic environment for recording evidence of land level changes, tsunamis, and ground motion that reveals at least 19 great megathrust earthquakes over the past 10 kyr. Such earthquakes are among the most impactful natural hazards on Earth, transcend national boundaries, and can have global...

Walton, Maureen A. L.; Staisch, Lydia M.; Dura, Tina; Pearl, Jessie Kathleen; Sherrod, Brian; Gomberg, Joan S.; Engelhart, Simon E.; Trehu, Anne; Watt, Janet; Perkins, Jonathan P; Witter, Robert C.; Bartlow, Noel; Goldfinger, Chris; Kelsey, Harvey; Morey, Ann; Sahakian, Valerie J.; Tobin, Harold; Wang, Kelin; Wells, Ray; Wirth, Erin

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Year Published: 2021

The impacts of the 2015/2016 El Niño on California's sandy beaches

The El Niño Southern Oscillation is the most dominant mode of interannual climate variability in the Pacific. The 2015/2016 El Niño event was one of the strongest of the last 145 years, resulting in anomalously high wave energy across the U.S. West Coast, and record coastal erosion for many California beaches. To better manage coastal resources,...

Smith, Schuyler A; Barnard, Patrick L.

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Year Published: 2020

Shoreline retreat of the Corte Madera marshes, 1853 to 2016, Marin County, California

The greater San Francisco Bay estuary, prior to human intervention, encompassed about 2,200 km2 of tidal and salt marshes. Over time, these areas became increasingly diked, developed, and altered from their natural state. In addition, natural forces are always driving a continually shifting equilibrium.This study area, the Corte Madera marshes, is...

Carkin, Bradley A.; Kayen, Robert E.; Wong, Florence L.
Carkin, Bradley A., Kayen, Robert E., and Wong, Florence L., 2020, Shoreline retreat of the Corte Madera marshes, 1853 to 2016, Marin County, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1074, 36 p., 6 appendixes, https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201074.

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Year Published: 2020

Seasonal variation in sediment delivery across the bay-marsh interface of an estuarine salt marsh

Sediment transport across bay–marsh interfaces depends on wave energy, vegetation, and marsh-edge morphology, and varies over a range of timescales. We investigated these dynamics in a tidal salt marsh with a gently-sloped, vegetated edge adjacent to northern San Francisco Bay. Spartina foliosa (cordgrass) inhabits the lower marsh and Salicornia...

Lacy, Jessica R.; Foster-Martinez, Madeline R.; Allen, Rachel (Contractor); Ferner, Matthew C.; Callaway, John C.

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Year Published: 2019

Understanding tidal marsh trajectories: Evaluation of multiple indicators of marsh persistence

Robust assessments of ecosystem stability are critical for informing conservation and management decisions. Tidal marsh ecosystems provide vital services, yet are globally threatened by anthropogenic alterations to physical and biological processes. A variety of monitoring and modeling approaches have been undertaken to determine which tidal...

Wasson, Kerstin; Ganju, Neil Kamal; Defne, Zafer; Endris, Charlie; Elsey-Quirk, Tracy; Thorne, Karen M.; Freeman, Chase; Guntenspergen, Glenn R.; Nowacki, Daniel J. ; Raposa, Kenneth B.

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Year Published: 2019

Slough evolution and legacy mercury remobilization induced by wetland restoration in South San Francisco Bay

Coastal wetlands have a long history of degradation and destruction due to human development. Now recognized as one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, substantial efforts are being made to restore this critical habitat. While wetland restoration efforts are generally viewed as beneficial in terms of providing wildlife habitat and...

Foxgrover, Amy C.; Marvin-DiPasquale, Mark C.; Jaffe, Bruce E.; Fregoso, Theresa A.

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Year Published: 2016

Anticipating environmental and environmental-health implications of extreme storms: ARkStorm scenario

The ARkStorm Scenario predicts that a prolonged winter storm event across California would cause extreme precipitation, flooding, winds, physical damages, and economic impacts. This study uses a literature review and geographic information system-based analysis of national and state databases to infer how and where ARkStorm could cause...

Plumlee, Geoffrey S.; Alpers, Charles N.; Morman, Suzette A.; San Juan, Carma A.

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Year Published: 2016

Agricultural damages and losses from ARkStorm scenario flooding in California

Scientists designed the ARkStorm scenario to challenge the preparedness of California communities for widespread flooding with a historical precedence and increased likelihood under climate change. California is an important provider of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other agricultural products to the nation. This study analyzes the agricultural...

Wein, Anne; Mitchell, David; Peters, Jeff; Rowden, John; Tran, Johnny; Corsi, Alessandra; Dinitz, Laura B.
Wein, A., Mitchell, D., Peters, J., Rowden, J., Tran, J., Corsi, A., and Dinitz, L. (2015). "Agricultural Damages and Losses from ARkStorm Scenario Flooding in California." Nat. Hazards Rev. , 10.1061/(ASCE)NH.1527-6996.0000174 , A4015001

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Year Published: 2016

Regional analysis of social characteristics for evacuation resource planning: ARkStorm scenario

Local planning is insufficient for regional catastrophes; regional exercises are needed to test emergency plans and decision-making structures. The ARkStorm scenario would trigger a mass evacuation that would be complicated by the social characteristics of populations [e.g., vehicle ownership, age, poverty, English language limitation (ELL), and...

Wein, Anne; Ratliff, Jamie L.; Allan Baez; Sleeter, Rachel
Wein, A., Ratliff, J., Báez, A., and Sleeter, R. (2014). "Regional Analysis of Social Characteristics for Evacuation Resource Planning: ARkStorm Scenario." Nat. Hazards Rev. , 10.1061/(ASCE)NH.1527-6996.0000161 , A4014002

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Map of U.S. mainland showing temperate, transitional and tropical temperature patterns
March 16, 2021

U.S. regions in the tropical-to-temperate transition

A map showing North America's tropical-to-temperate transition zone. Red, orange, and yellow depict the more tropical zones, and blues depict the more temperate zones, based on to the coldest recorded temperature for each area between 1980 and 2009. Photos show some cold-sensitive plants and animals with northern range limits governed by winter cold temperature extremes.

A school of snook, large subtropical game fish, in a Florida spring
March 15, 2021

Subtropical snook gather at a warm Florida springhead in winter

 Winter temperature extremes control the distributions of subtropical fishes. Common snook (Centropomus undecimalis), aggregate at a spring in northern Florida during winter. Snook are warm saltwater game fish, common in Florida, that have been moving further northward as extreme cold spells become less frequent and less intense.


A woman stands in a rut eroded by water, on a very steep hill surrounded by burned trees.
February 28, 2021

Burned, denuded hillside in the CZU Lightning Complex

The USGS landslide team monitors and continues to update the hazard map models based on data collected in burn areas. This information improves future models and provides better hazard assessments used by officials for emergency response and decision making. Many of the steep hillsides burned and denuded in California fires repel water rather than soak it in. This

wind turbines in a dessert landscape
October 27, 2020

Wind turbines in California

Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Resource Area north of Palm Springs in California.

Home mostly covered by a debris flow in southern California
March 6, 2020

Debris flow after the 2003 Old Gran Prix fire

Damage from a major post-wildfire landslide that occurred on 25 December 2003 near Devore, San Bernardino County as a result of the Old/Grand Prix fires that ran through the San Bernardino Mountains.

Home damaged by post fire debris flow
March 6, 2020

Home damaged by post-wildfire debris flow in Montecito, CA.

Damage from a major post-wildfire landslide that occurred on 9 January 2018 near Montecito, Santa Barbara County as a result of the 2017 Thomas Fire.

This is the gage house on the Williamson River, USGS site 11502500.
November 5, 2019

Williamson River below the Sprague River in Chiloquin, OR.

This is a view of a USGS surface water stream gage that contains equipment to monitor discharge at the Williamson River below the Sprague Ruver in Chiloquin, Oregon. The gage house contains a historic stilling well and a device that records the level of water. It also has a water temerature sensor and a turbidimeter.

Two people kneeling to collect a carcass
March 20, 2019

Measuring wildlife mortality

Scientists collect carcasses at a wind energy facility to estimate total wildlife mortality at a site.

Home damaged by post fire debris flow
January 16, 2018

Montecito home damaged by post-wildfire debrisflow.

Damage from a major post-wildfire landslide that occurred on 9 January 2018 near Montecito, Santa Barbara County as a result of the 2017 Thomas Fire.

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2021 May Public Lecture Flyer
May 26, 2021

You are invited to a public lecture about recent surface rupturing earthquakes in the western United States.

Color photograph of person in colorful shirt in front of rock wall
May 12, 2021

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — On May 9, 2021, Christina (Tina) Neal became the new director of the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Science Center, home of the Alaska, California, Cascades, Hawaiian and Yellowstone volcano observatories.  

Earthquake Early Warning Basics
May 4, 2021

After 15 years of planning and development, the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system is now available to more than 50 million people in California, Oregon and Washington, the most earthquake-prone region in the conterminous U.S.

Two people kneeling to collect a carcass
March 31, 2021

CORVALLIS, ORE. – Reduction in wildlife mortality rates is sometimes cited as a potential benefit to the replacement of older, smaller turbines by larger, next generation turbines. In contrast, others have expressed concern that newer, larger turbines may actually increase bird and bat deaths.

Home damaged by post fire debris flow
February 25, 2021

Southern California can now expect to see post-wildfire landslides occurring almost every year, with major events expected roughly every ten years, a new study led by U.S. Geological Survey researchers finds.

Flight path of northern California
February 4, 2021

Residents should not be alarmed if they see a low-flying airplane over parts of northeastern California starting February 6, 2021.

People looking at damage to Olive View Hospital after earthquake
February 4, 2021

The San Fernando earthquake struck Southern California 50 years ago, killing 64 people and costing over $500 million in damages. The quake prompted federal, state and local action to reduce earthquake risks and bolster public safety.

A vibrant blue image of Earth with swirling white clouds and brown landmasses
January 29, 2021

Scientists rely on seismometers and eyewitness accounts to identify an earthquake’s location, time and magnitude. A new study explores how the latter can be limited by socioeconomic factors, which can create biases in datasets that scientists use to characterize seismic hazards and coordinate emergency response.  

a solar panel powering a seismometer peeks out of trees in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest
January 14, 2021

A lone solar panel in the middle of California’s largest national forest is powering a seismometer able to detect Earth’s vibrations, a piece of the puzzle necessary to help protect life and property by providing critical seconds of warning that an earthquake is occurring and shaking is imminent.