Unified Interior Regions

Region 12: Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)

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Our scientists in the Pacific Islands Region conduct impartial, multi- and interdisciplinary research and monitoring on a large range of natural-resource issues that impact the quality of life of citizens of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. 

News

Date published: September 30, 2021

New Eruption at Kīlauea Summit

A new eruption at Kīlauea's summit began at approximately 3:20 p.m. HST on September 29, 2021. Lava activity is currently confined to Halema'uma'u crater within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Gas emissions in the summit region are elevated.

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: February 1, 2021

New Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

HILO, Hawaii — The U.S. Geological Survey has selected Dr. Ken Hon as the new Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii. HVO was founded in 1912 by Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, and Hon will serve as HVO’s 21rst director.

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Date published: September 16, 2021
Status: Active

Role of Reefs in Coastal Protection

We are combining ocean, engineering, ecologic, social, and economic modeling to provide a high-resolution, rigorous, spatially-explicit valuation of the coastal flood protection benefits provided by coral reefs and the cost effectiveness of reef restoration for enhancing those benefits.

Date published: September 1, 2021
Status: Active

Coastal Climate Impacts

The impacts of climate change and sea-level rise around the Pacific and Arctic Oceans can vary tremendously. Thus far the vast majority of national and international impact assessments and models of coastal climate change have focused on low-relief coastlines that are not near seismically active zones. Furthermore, the degree to which extreme waves and wind will add further stress to coastal...

Date published: August 26, 2021
Status: Active

Climate Change and Land-use Histories

We are developing new and unique oceanographic and environmental archives from coral skeleton records to better understand the compounding effects of land-use and environmental change on coral reef health.

Contacts: Nancy Prouty
Date published: August 26, 2021
Status: Active

Reef Resource Assessments - Planning for the Future

We are mapping and assessing all of the important geologic and oceanographic factors to identify those coral reefs most at risk and those reefs that are potentially the most resilient and the most likely to recover from natural and human-driven impacts.

Date published: June 25, 2021
Status: Active

Reef Hydrodynamics and Sediment Processes

The overall objective of this research effort is to better understand how circulation and sediment processes impact coral reefs and their adjacent coastlines.

Date published: May 24, 2021
Status: Active

Low-lying areas of tropical Pacific islands

Sea level is rising faster than projected in the western Pacific, so understanding how wave-driven coastal flooding will affect inhabited, low-lying islands—most notably, the familiar ring-shaped atolls—as well as the low-elevation areas of high islands in the Pacific Ocean, is critical for decision-makers in protecting infrastructure or relocating resources and people.

Date published: May 13, 2021
Status: Active

Pacific Island Bird Survey Design and Data Analysis

Abundance data are collected for bird populations throughout the Pacific Islands by numerous federal, state, university, and non-profit organizations. In order to ensure data are standardized and available to researchers throughout the region, interagency bird databases have been created and continue to be used. These databases contain more than a million compiled, proofed, and standardized...

Date published: March 24, 2021
Status: Active

Conservation Genetics of the Hawaiian Hoary Bat

The Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus semotus) or ʻōpeʻapeʻa is the only extant land mammal native to the Hawaiian archipelago and is listed as endangered due to apparent population declines, and a lack of knowledge concerning its distribution, abundance, and habitat needs. This study is designed to apply molecular techniques to document demographic information, assess genetic variability...

Date published: December 14, 2020
Status: Active

Biology, Impacts and Control of Invasive Reptiles in the Pacific

Research on Guam has led to development and validation of numerous effective control tools, including the advancement of reptile control to support native species recovery. 

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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 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the islands of Saipan and Tinian)

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 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (the islands of Saipan and Tinian). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for each of 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 American Samoa (the islands of Tutuila, Ofu-Olosega, and Tau)

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 American Samoa (the islands of Tutuila, Ofu-Olosega, and Tau). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for each of four nearshore wave energy return periods

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

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 Territory of Guam

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 Guam. There are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for each of four nearshore wave energy return periods (rp; 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-years) and both with %

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: August 22, 2018

Pedestrian tsunami evacuation results for two tsunami-inundation zones (2009 and probable maximum tsunami (PMT)) and four travel speeds (slow walk, fast walk, slow run, and fast run) for American Samoa

This data release is comprised of a set of eight time travel map shapefiles (two tsunami inundation zones and four travel times) for use in GIS software applications and two population exposure by travel time tables (residents and nonresidences) for use in GIS software applications and other standalone spreadsheet applications. The travel time map was generated using the Pedestrian Evacu

Date published: August 22, 2018

Pedestrian evacuation times for residents on the islands of American Samoa, for 2009 and predicted maximum tsunami (PMT) inundation zones by village, modeled at four travel speeds (slow walk, fast walk, slow run, and fast run)

This dataset contains American Samoa resident count estimates as a function of travel time out of the 2009 and probable maximum tsunami (PMT) inundation zones for four different travel speeds (slow walk, fast walk, slow run, and fast run). The data are organized in a manner which permits summarizing or visualizing the data by village, tsunami-evacuation zone, and/or travel tim

Date published: August 22, 2018

Pedestrian evacuation times for businesses on the islands of American Samoa, for 2009 and predicted maximum tsunami (PMT) inundation zones by village, modeled at four travel speeds (slow walk, fast walk, slow run, and fast run)

This dataset contains American Samoa nonresidence count estimates as a function of travel time out of the 2009 and probable maximum tsunami (PMT) inundation zones for four different travel speeds (slow walk, fast walk, slow run, and fast run). The data are organized in a manner which permits summarizing or visualizing the data by business classification (church, community center

Date published: August 20, 2018

Tsunami evacuation time map for American Samoa predicted maximum tsunami (PMT) inundation zone and fast walk speed

The travel time map was generated using the Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst model (version 1.0.1 for ArcGIS 10.5) from the USGS (https://geography.wr.usgs.gov/science/vulnerability/tools.html). The travel time analysis uses ESRI's Path Distance tool to find the shortest distance across a cost surface from any point in...

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Year Published: 2021

Rebounds, regresses, and recovery: A 15-year study of the coral reef community at Pila‘a, Kaua‘i after decades of natural and anthropogenic stress events

Pila‘a reef on the north shore of Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i was subjected to a major flood event in 2001 that deposited extensive sediment on the reef flat, resulting in high coral mortality. To document potential recovery, this study replicated benthic and sediment surveys conducted immediately following the event and 15 years later. Coral cores were...

Rodgers, Ku'ulei S.; Richards Dona, A.; Stender, Y. O.; Tsang, A. O.; Han, J. H. J.; Weible, Rebecca; Prouty, Nancy G.; Storlazzi, Curt D.; Graham, Andrew M.

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Year Published: 2021

Global-scale changes to extreme ocean wave events due to anthropogenic warming

Extreme surface ocean waves are often primary drivers of coastal flooding and erosion over various time scales. Hence, understanding future changes in extreme wave events owing to global warming is of socio-economic and environmental significance. However, our current knowledge of potential changes in high-frequency (defined here as having return...

Morim, Joao; Vitousek, Sean; Hemer, Mark; Reguero, Borja; Erikson, Li H.; Casas-Prat, Merce; Wang, Xiaolan L.; Semedo, Alvaro; Mori, Nobuhito; Shimura, Tomoya; Mentaschi, Lorenzo; Timmerman, Ben

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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

Multi-region assessment of chemical mixture exposures and predicted cumulative effects in USA wadeable urban/agriculture-gradient streams

Chemical-contaminant mixtures are widely reported in large stream reaches in urban/agriculture-developed watersheds, but mixture compositions and aggregate biological effects are less well understood in corresponding smaller headwaters, which comprise most of stream length, riparian connectivity, and spatial biodiversity. During 2014–2017,...

Bradley, Paul; Journey, Celeste A.; Romanok, Kristin; Breitmeyer, Sara; Button, Daniel T.; Carlisle, Daren M.; Huffman, Bradley; Mahler, Barbara; Nowell, Lisa H.; Qi, Sharon L.; Smalling, Kelly; Waite, Ian R.; Van Metre, Peter C.
Attribution: California Water Science Center, Colorado Water Science Center, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Water Science Center, New Jersey Water Science Center, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center, Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center, Oregon Water Science Center, South Atlantic Water Science Center (SAWSC), Water Resources, Region 1: North Atlantic-Appalachian, Region 2: South Atlantic-Gulf (Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), Region 3: Great Lakes, Region 4: Mississippi Basin, Region 5: Missouri Basin, Region 6: Arkansas-Rio Grande-Texas-Gulf, Region 7: Upper Colorado Basin, Region 8: Lower Colorado Basin, Region 9: Columbia-Pacific Northwest, Region 10: California-Great Basin, Region 11: Alaska, Region 12: Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), United States of America

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Year Published: 2021

Does geomorphology determine vulnerability of mangrove coasts to sea-level rise?

The greatest climate-based threat to coastlines worldwide is sea-level rise. We tested the hypothesis that tropical coasts fringed by mangroves and receiving high inputs of terrigenous sediment are less vulnerable to sea-level rise than biogenic systems dependent upon peat formation for vertical land development. An analysis of published data...

McKee, Karen L.; Krauss, Ken; Cahoon, Donald

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Year Published: 2021

Nearshore water quality and coral health indicators along the west coast of the Island of Hawaiʻi, 2010–2014

Coral reefs worldwide are experiencing rapid degradation in response to climate and land-use change, namely effects of warming sea-surface temperatures, contaminant runoff, and overfishing. Extensive coral bleaching caused by the steady rise of sea-surface temperatures is projected to increase, but our understanding and ability to predict where...

Grossman, Eric E.; Marrack, Lisa; vanArendonk, Nathan R.
Grossman, E.E., Marrack, L., and vanArendonk, N.R., 2021, Nearshore water quality and coral health indicators along the west coast of the Island of Hawaiʻi, 2010–2014: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1128, 45 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201128.

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Year Published: 2020

Sediments and the sea floor of the continental shelves and coastal waters of the United States—About the usSEABED integrated sea-floor-characterization database, built with the dbSEABED processing system

Since the second half of the 20th century, there has been an increase in scientific interest, research effort, and information gathered on the geologic sedimentary character of the continental margins of the United States. Data and information from thousands of sources have increased our scientific understanding of the character of the margin...

Buczkowski, Brian J.; Reid, Jane A.; Jenkins, Chris J.
Attribution: Coasts, Data, Tools, and Technology, Geology, Mapping, Remote Sensing, and Geospatial Data, Minerals, Oceans, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program, Region 1: North Atlantic-Appalachian, Region 2: South Atlantic-Gulf (Includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), Region 3: Great Lakes, Region 4: Mississippi Basin, Region 6: Arkansas-Rio Grande-Texas-Gulf, Region 8: Lower Colorado Basin, Region 9: Columbia-Pacific Northwest, Region 10: California-Great Basin, Region 11: Alaska, Region 12: Pacific Islands (American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), United States of America, Deep Sea Exploration, Mapping and Characterization
Buczkowski, B.J., Reid, J.A., and Jenkins, C.J., 2020, Sediments and the sea floor of the continental shelves and coastal waters of the United States—About the usSEABED integrated sea-floor-characterization database, built with the dbSEABED processing system: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1046, 14 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201046.

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Year Published: 2020

Sedimentary evidence of prehistoric distant-source tsunamis in the Hawaiian Islands

Over the past 200 years of written records, the Hawaiian Islands have experienced tens of tsunamis generated by earthquakes in the subduction zones of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" (e.g., Alaska-Aleutian, Kuril-Kamchatka, Chile, and Japan). Mapping and dating anomalous beds of sand and silt deposited by tsunamis in low-lying areas along Pacific...

La Selle, Seanpaul; Richmond, Bruce M.; Jaffe, Bruce E.; Nelson, Alan; Griswold, Frances; Arcos, Maria E.M.; Chague, Catherine; Bishop, James M.; Bellanova, Piero; Kane, Haunani H.; Lunghino, Brent D.; Gelfenbaum, Guy R.

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Year Published: 2020

Organic geochemical investigation of far‐field tsunami deposits of the Kahana Valley, O'ahu, Hawai'i

Far‐field tsunami deposits observed in the Kahana Valley, O'ahu, Hawai'i (USA), were investigated for their organic‐geochemical content. During short high‐energy events, (tsunamis and storms) organic and chemical components are transported with sediment from marine to terrestrial areas. This study investigates the use of anthropogenic based...

Bellanova, Piero; Frenken, Mike; Richmond, Bruce M.; Schwarzbauer, Jan; La Selle, Seanpaul; Griswold, Frances; Jaffe, Bruce E.; Nelson, Alan R.; Reicherter, Klaus

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October 14, 2021

Hawai'i Island: Voices From Community-Based Climate Adaptation

View the audio-described version.

A research team comprising staff from the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PI-CASC), the University of Hawai'i and the County of Hawai'i Planning Department recently set out to quantify historic and contemporary rates of change

October 14, 2021

Hawai'i Island: Voices From Community-Based Climate Adaptation (AD)

Watch non audio described version.

A research team comprising staff from the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PI-CASC), the University of Hawai'i and the County of Hawai'i Planning Department recently set out to quantify historic and contemporary rates of change

A scientists observes a volcano crater
April 6, 2020

A geologists makes observations at Kilauea

Clear weather allowed HVO geologists to make observations and take measurements of the water pond at Kīlauea's summit. No major changes were observed, and the water level continues to slowly rise. Note the former HVO observation tower can be seen above the geologist's helmet. 

Scientist holds rope leading to Unoccupied Aircraft System
January 31, 2020

Unoccupied Aircraft System with water sampler

The sampling mechanism (on blue tarp) is prepared and the Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) is inspected just before take off to collect water from the Halema‘uma‘u crater lake. Brightly colored flagging tape tied to a cable attached to the UAS indicated depth as the sampling tool was lowered into the water. 

Brown pond
January 17, 2020

A close-up view of the Kilauea pond

A close-up view of the Kilauea pond shows the color variations across the surface, and sharp boundaries among zones of different color.

Four scientists work on samples at a volcano
January 17, 2020

Scientists process volcano lake water samples

After a sample was collected, HVO team members transferred water from the sampling device to plastic bottles. Team members took notes, measured water pH and evaluated water temperature data for each sample collected.   

Five glass beakers on a lab table
October 30, 2019

Water collected from the lake at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u

Water collected from the lake at the bottom of Halema‘uma‘u is prepared for laboratory analyses at the USGS California Volcano Observatory. Results thus far reveal chemistry indicative of complex reactions among the water, magmatic gases and Kīlauea's basaltic rocks. 

Unoccupied Aircraft System is inspected by pilot just before take off
October 26, 2019

Unoccupied Aircraft System is inspected by pilot just before take off

The sampling mechanism (on blue tarp) is prepared and the Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) is inspected just before take off to collect water from the Halema‘uma‘u crater lake. Brightly colored flagging tape tied to a cable attached to the UAS indicated depth as the sampling tool was lowered into the water. 

April 15, 2015

Resilience Potential of Coral Reefs in the Mariana Islands

This webinar was conducted as part of the "Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series" held in partnership between the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center. Webinar Summary: Reducing coral reef vulnerability to climate change requires that managers understand and support the natural resilience

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A telephoto image of one of the low lava fountains near the center of the growing Halema'uma'u lava lake
September 30, 2021

A new eruption at Kīlauea's summit began at approximately 3:20 p.m. HST on September 29, 2021. Lava activity is currently confined to Halema'uma'u crater within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Gas emissions in the summit region are elevated.

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.  

image related to volcanoes. See description
February 1, 2021

HILO, Hawaii — The U.S. Geological Survey has selected Dr. Ken Hon as the new Scientist-in-Charge at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii. HVO was founded in 1912 by Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, and Hon will serve as HVO’s 21rst director.

lava fountain inside Kīlauea Caldera
December 21, 2020

Shortly after 9:30 p.m. HST on Sunday, December 20, an eruption occurred within Kīlauea’s summit caldera. This is an evolving situation. To get up-to-date information, please check the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. For press inquiries, please email volcanomedia@usgs.gov. [update: 12/21/2020; 10:14am HST]

Ohia forest with dieback resulting from Rapid Ohia Death, Hawaii Island.
July 9, 2020

Hilo, Hawaiʻi – For the first time, researchers have shown that native ʻōhiʻa seedlings can survive for at least a year in areas that have active mortality from Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, or ROD, a fungal disease that is devastating to this dominant and culturally important tree in Hawaiian forests. This information can be useful to land managers and homeowners as they prioritize conservation actions.

Brown treesnake
May 22, 2020

On May 14, Director Reilly signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The MOA provides for continuity of operations for the USFWS and the USGS with construction of new office and lab facilities on the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in conjunction with DOD’s construction of a Marine Corps firing range.

A USGS field team measures spring floodwaters at Chesapeake bay's largest tributary.
May 12, 2020

U.S. Geological Survey field crews are measuring flooding across the country as spring weather is in full swing. Warming temperatures, increased precipitation and snowmelt have caused moderate to major flooding in the upper Midwest, East Coast, Central Plains and the Southeast portions of the country.

Unoccupied Aircraft System flying over volcano crater
May 1, 2020

This month marks the second anniversary of the largest rift zone eruption and summit collapse at Kīlauea Volcano in 200 years. In 2018, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaii Volcano Observatory monitored more than 60 collapse events at the summit that caused the floor of Halema‘uma‘u crater to drop about 1600 feet, or more than five times the height of the Statue of Liberty.

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