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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Probabilistic Forecasting of Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Earthquake Effects in the Coastal Zone

Ground view of collapsed building and burned area at Beach and Divisadero, Marina District, San Francisco, Loma Prieta earthquake, 1989. Photo by C.E. Meyer, USGS April 2011 in waterfront area of Arahama, Japan following the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami. House moved laterally off cement foundation in Redwood Grove, Santa Cruz Mountains, Loma Prieta earthquake, 1989. Photo by J.K. Nakata, USGS Building damaged in 2014 South Napa earthquake. Photo by Erol Kalkan, USGS Damage from the magnitude 9.2 earthquake in Alaska on March 27, 1964. A subsidence trough, or graben, formed at the head of the L Street landslide in Anchorage during the earthquake. Note the collapsed Four Seasons Apartment Building and, behind it, the undamaged three-story reinforced concrete frame building, which is on the stable block beyond the graben. Photo Credit: USGS April 2011 in waterfront area of Tohoku, Japan following the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Structural failure of twin bridges carrying Highway 1 across Struve Slough, near Watsonville, Loma Prieta earthquake, 1989. Photo by J.C. Tinsley, USGS April 2011 in waterfront area of Arahama, Japan following the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Damaged building in downtown Napa. Photo by Erol Kalkan, USGS Differential settlement due to liquefaction caused cracking of paved road on Pauls Island, Loma Prieta earthquake, 1989. Photo by S.D. Ellen, USGS April 2011 in Japan following the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
About Our Research

The nation's coastlines are vulnerable to the interrelated hazards posed by earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis. In the marine environment these events often occur in concert, and distant triggers can cause severe local effects, making the issue global in scope. As the population continues to migrate toward the coastlines, the social impacts of these hazards are expected to grow. Products are aimed for use in regional multi-hazard assessments, and might range from complete assessments to analysis tools, interpreted data, or models. We are interacting with groups tasked with making formal hazard assessments and have provided products needed by them in a timely manner (e.g., Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP)). These collaborations will continue to be a major guiding influence, and we plan to maintain research flexibility needed for proper response as necessary. As such, the task is defined thematically. The larger community will help to establish guidelines on regions in which we will we work.

Research Web Sites Photo of lidar scanner and USGS researcher.

Global Geoengineering Research

The Coastal and Marine Geology geoengineering group investigates the causes of ground deformation and ground failures—such as landslides and liquefaction—that result from earthquakes, storms, and wave action.

Screen capture of a tsunami animation.

Tsunami and Earthquake Research

This site provides general information about how earthquakes generate tsunamis, as well as descriptions and animations of historical tsunamis, virtual reality models showing how tsunamis change as they approach and bounce off coastlines, and summaries of past fieldwork in areas struck by major tsunamis.

Map of earthquake probability near San Francisco.

Earthquake Hazards Program

We work closely with scientists in the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, with the goal of providing relevant scientific information to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage from earthquakes.

Thumbnail of report, California Earthquake Rupture Forecast.

Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP)

We collaborate with groups that make formal hazard assessments, such as the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP), providing and evaluating the latest scientific information. This site presents the most recent collaborative earthquake forecasts for all of California.

Recent Publications

Tsunamis: Bayesian Probabilistic Analysis — Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science, 2017

A physics-based earthquake simulator and its application to seismic hazard assessment in Calabria (Southern Italy) region — Acta Geophysica, 2017

Reconstruction of Far-Field Tsunami Amplitude Distributions from Earthquake Sources — Pure and Applied Geophysics, 2016

Vertical deformation associated with normal fault systems evolved over coseismic, postseismic, and multiseismic periods — Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 121

Non-linear resonant coupling of tsunami edge waves using stochastic earthquake source models — Geophysical Journal International 204

A submarine landslide source for the devastating 1964 Chenega tsunami, southern Alaska — Earth and Planetary Science Letters 438

Great (≥Mw8.0) megathrust earthquakes and the subduction of excess sediment and bathymetrically smooth seafloor — Geosphere 11

Dynamic models of an earthquake and tsunami offshore Ventura, California — Geophysical Research Letters 42

Earthquake rupture process recreated from a natural fault surface — Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 120

Shear wave velocity and site amplification factors for 25 strong-motion instrument stations affected by the M5.8 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake of August 23, 2011 — USGS Open-File Report 2015-1099

Earthquake outlook for the San Francisco Bay region 2014–2043 — USGS Fact Sheet 2016-3020

Shear-wave velocity and site-amplification factors for 50 Australian sites determined by the spectral analysis of surface waves method — USGS Open-File Report 2014-1264


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Page Contact Information: Laura Zink Torresan
Page Last Modified: 27 March 2017 (lzt)