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.

News

Date published: October 6, 2021

Queen Charlotte Fault Mapping

The Queen Charlotte Fault is an active strike-slip boundary, similar to California’s San Andreas fault.

Date published: September 9, 2021

Helicopter Making Low-Level Flights over North-Central Idaho

Residents and visitors should not be alarmed to see a low-flying helicopter over Lemhi and Custer Counties west of Salmon, Idaho from September 6 to October 18, 2021. 

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Date published: September 30, 2021
Status: Active

Remote Sensing Coastal Change

We use remote-sensing technologies—such as aerial photography, satellite imagery, structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry, and lidar (laser-based surveying)—to measure coastal change along U.S. shorelines.

Date published: September 30, 2021
Status: Active

Using Video Imagery to Study Coastal Change: Santa Cruz Beaches

Two video cameras atop the Dream Inn hotel in Santa Cruz, California, overlook the coast in northern Monterey Bay. One camera looks eastward over Santa Cruz Main Beach and boardwalk, while the other looks southward over Cowells Beach.

Date published: September 30, 2021
Status: Active

Using Video Imagery to Study Coastal Change: Sunset State Beach

Two video cameras overlook the coast at Sunset State Beach in Watsonville, California. Camera 1 looks northwest while Camera 2 looks north. The cameras are part of the Remote Sensing Coastal Change project.

Date published: September 15, 2021
Status: Active

Sediment Transport in Coastal Environments

Our research goals are to provide the scientific information, knowledge, and tools required to ensure that decisions about land and resource use, management practices, and future development in the coastal zone and adjacent watersheds can be evaluated with a complete understanding of the probable effects on coastal ecosystems and communities, and a full assessment of their vulnerability to...

Date published: September 15, 2021
Status: Active

Drag and sediment transport: conditions at the bottom boundary

Research on bed sediment grain size, bedform morphology, vegetation characteristics, and sediment resuspension and transport is part of the Sediment Transport in Coastal Environments project.

Contacts: Jessie Lacy
Date published: September 2, 2021
Status: Active

Ecosystems: EXPRESS

The continental shelf and slope offshore California, Oregon, and Washington are home to deep-sea corals, chemosynthetic communities, and other sensitive habitats that could be impacted by the development of energy and mineral resources. The EXPRESS (Expanding Pacific Research and Exploration of Submerged Systems) campaign will map and characterize these special areas to help guide ocean...

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: September 1, 2021
Status: Active

Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS)

The Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) makes detailed predictions of storm-induced coastal flooding, erosion, and cliff failures over large geographic scales. CoSMoS was developed for hindcast studies, operational applications and future climate scenarios to provide emergency responders and coastal planners with critical storm-hazards information that can be used to increase public safety...

Date published: July 30, 2021
Status: Active

Dynamic coastlines along the western U.S.

The west coast of the United States is extremely complex and changeable because of tectonic activity, mountain building, and land subsidence. These active environments pose a major challenge for accurately assessing climate change impacts, since models were historically developed for more passive sandy coasts.

Date published: July 30, 2021
Status: Active

U.S. West Coast and Alaska Marine Geohazards

Marine geohazards are sudden and extreme events beneath the ocean that threaten coastal populations. Such underwater hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis.

Devastating earthquakes in Japan (2011) and Chile (2010) that spawned pan-oceanic tsunamis sent a sobering reminder that U.S. coastlines are also vulnerable to natural disasters that originate in...

Date published: July 30, 2021
Status: Active

Seafloor Faults off Southern California

More than 22 million people live along Southern California’s coast, and many more migrate there every year. Faults and earthquake threats in this region have been heavily studied on land. USGS aims to boost our knowledge about faults on the seafloor, so they can be included in hazard assessments.

Contacts: Danny Brothers
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Date published: September 30, 2021

Overlapping lakebed images and associated GNSS locations acquired near Dollar Point, Lake Tahoe, CA, March 2021

We collected underwater images using a recently developed towed-surface vehicle with multiple downward-looking underwater cameras. The system is named the Structure-from-Motion (SfM) Quantitative Underwater Imaging Device with Five Cameras (SQUID-5). Images were collected March 10th and 11th of 2021 by towing the SQUID-5 at a speed of approximately 3.0 knots along a series of adjacent survey...

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: December 14, 2020

Model archive for analysis of long-term annual yields of highway and urban runoff in selected areas of California with the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM)

This model archive describes approaches used by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with CalTrans for assessing long-term annual yields of highway and urban runoff in selected areas of California with version 1.1.0 of the Stochastic Empirical Loading and Dilution Model (SELDM). 

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

Rigorously valuing the coastal hazard risks reduction provided by potential coral reef restoration in Florida and Puerto Rico

The restoration of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, can reduce risks by decreasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. In the United States, the protective services provided by coral reefs were recently assessed in social and economic terms, with the annual protection provided by U.S. coral reefs off the coasts of...

Storlazzi, Curt D.; Reguero, Borja G.; Cumming, Kristen A.; Cole, Aaron D.; Shope, James B.; Gaido L., Camila; Viehman, T. Shay; Nickel, Barry A.; Beck, Michael W.
Storlazzi, C.D., Reguero, B.G., Cumming, K.A., Cole, A.D., Shope, J.B., Gaido L., C., Viehman, T.S., Nickel, B.A., and Beck, M.W., 2021, Rigorously valuing the coastal hazard risks reduction provided by potential coral reef restoration in Florida and Puerto Rico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1054, 35 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211054.

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Year Published: 2021

Rigorously valuing the impact of projected coral reef degradation on coastal hazard risk in Florida

The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. In the United States, the physical protective services provided by coral reefs were recently assessed, in social and economic terms, with the annual protection provided by U.S. coral reefs off the coast...

Storlazzi, Curt D.; Reguero, Borja G.; Yates, Kimberly K.; Cumming, Kristen A.; Cole, Aaron D.; Shope, James B.; Gaido L., Camila; Zawada, David G.; Arsenault, Stephanie R.; Fehr, Zachery W.; Nickel, Barry A.; Beck, Michael W.
Storlazzi, C.D., Reguero, B.G., Yates, K.K., Cumming, K.A., Cole, A.D., Shope, J.B., Gaido L., C., Zawada, D.G., Arsenault, S.R., Fehr, Z.W., Nickel, B.A., and Beck, M.W., 2021, Rigorously valuing the impact of projected coral reef degradation on coastal hazard risk in Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1055, 27 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211055.

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Year Published: 2021

Rigorously valuing the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on coastal hazard risks in Florida and Puerto Rico

The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. In the United States, the physical protective services provided by coral reefs were recently assessed in social and economic terms, with the annual protection provided by U.S. coral reefs off the coasts...

Storlazzi, Curt D.; Reguero, Borja G.; Viehman, T. Shay; Cumming, Kristen A.; Cole, Aaron D.; Shope, James B.; Groves, Sarah H.; Gaido L., Camila; Nickel, Barry A.; Beck, Michael W.
Storlazzi, C.D., Reguero, B.G., Viehman, T.S., Cumming, K.A., Cole, A.D., Shope, J.B., Groves, S.H., Gaido L., C., Nickel, B.A., and Beck, M.W., 2021, Rigorously valuing the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on coastal hazard risks in Florida and Puerto Rico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1056, 29 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211056.

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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

Assessment of barrier island morphological change in northern Alaska

Arctic barriers islands are highly dynamic features influenced by a variety of oceanographic, geologic, and environmental factors. Many Alaskan barrier islands and spits serve as habitat and protection for native species, as well as shelter the coast from waves and storms that cause flooding and degradation of coastal villages. This study...

Hamilton, Anna I.; Gibbs, Ann E.; Erikson, Li H.; Engelstad, Anita C.
Hamilton, A.I., Gibbs, A.E., Erikson, L.H., and Engelstad, A.C., 2021, Assessment of barrier island morphological change in northern Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1074, 28 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211074.

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Year Published: 2021

Drivers of extreme water levels in a large, urban, high-energy coastal estuary – A case study of the San Francisco Bay

Reliable and long-term hindcast data of water levels are essential in quantifying return period and values of extreme water levels. In order to inform design decisions on a local flood control district level, process-based numerical modeling has proven an essential tool to provide the needed temporal and spatial coverage for different extreme...

Nederhoff, Kees; Saleh, Rohin; Tehranirad, Babak; Herdman, Liv M.; Erikson, Li H.; Barnard, Patrick L.; Van der Wegen, Mick

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Year Published: 2021

Miocene phosphatization of rocks from the summit of Rio Grande Rise, Southwest Atlantic Ocean

Marine phosphorites are an important part of the oceanic phosphorus cycle and are related to the effects of long-term global climate changes. We use petrography, mineralogy, rare earth elements contents, and 87Sr/86Sr-determined carbonate fluorapatite (CFA) and calcite ages to investigate the paragenesis and history of phosphatization of...

Benites, Mariana; Hein, James R.; Mizell, Kira; Jovane, Luigi

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Year Published: 2021

Geologic and geophysical maps of the Santa Maria and part of the Point Conception 30'×60' quadrangles, California

This report presents digital geologic, gravity, and aeromagnetic maps for the onshore parts of the Santa Maria and Point Conception 30'x60' quadrangles at a compilation scale of 1:100,000. The map depicts the distribution of bedrock units, surficial deposits, paleontological data, geophysical data and structural features in the Santa Maria basin...

Sweetkind, Donald S.; Langenheim, Victoria E.; McDougall-Reid, Kristin; Sorlien, Christopher C.; Demas, Shiera C.; Tennyson, Marilyn E.; Johnson, Samuel Y.
Sweetkind, D.S., Langenheim, V.E., McDougall-Reid, K., Sorlien, C.C., Demas, S.C., Tennyson, M.E., and Johnson, S.Y., 2021, Geologic and geophysical maps of the Santa Maria and part of the Point Conception 30'×60' quadrangles, California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3472, 1 sheet, scale 1:100,000, 58-p. pamphlet, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3472. [Supersedes USGS Open-File Reports 95–25 and 92–189.]

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Year Published: 2021

Colored shaded-relief bathymetry, acoustic backscatter, and selected perspective views of the northern part of the California Continental Borderland, southern California

The California Continental Borderland is the complex continental margin in southern California that extends from Point Conception southward into northern Baja California (Fisher and others, 2009). This colored shaded-relief bathymetry map of the northern continental borderland in southern California was generated primarily from multibeam-...

Dartnell, Peter; Roland, Emily C.; Raineault, Nicole A.; Castillo, Christopher M.; Conrad, James E.; Kane, Renato; Brothers, Daniel S.; Kluesner, Jared; Walton, Maureen A. L.
Dartnell, P., Roland, E.C., Raineault, N.A., Castillo, C.M., Conrad, J.E., Kane, R., Brothers, D.S., Kluesner, J., and Walton, M.A.L., 2021, Colored shaded-relief bathymetry, acoustic backscatter, and selected perspective views of the northern part of the California Continental Borderland, southern California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3473, 3 sheets, scale 1:250,000, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3473.

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Year Published: 2021

Multiple climate change-driven tipping points for coastal systems

As the climate evolves over the next century, the interaction of accelerating sea level rise (SLR) and storms, combined with confining development and infrastructure, will place greater stresses on physical, ecological, and human systems along the ocean-land margin. Many of these valued coastal systems could reach “tipping points,” at which hazard...

Barnard, Patrick L.; Dugan, Jenifer; Page, Henry M. ; Wood, Nathan J.; Finzi Hart, Juliette A.; Cayan, Daniel; Erikson, Li H.; Hubbard, David A.; Myers, Monique; Melack, John M.; Iacobellis, Samuel F.

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Year Published: 2021

Extent of impact of deep-sea nodule mining midwater plumes is influenced by sediment loading, turbulence and thresholds

Deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining research activity has substantially increased in recent years, but the expected level of environmental impact is still being established. One environmental concern is the discharge of a sediment plume into the midwater column. We performed a dedicated field study using sediment from the Clarion Clipperton...

Munoz-Royo, Carlos; Peacock, Thomas; Alford, Matthew; Smith, Jerome; Le Boyer, Arnaud; Kulkarni, Chinmay; Lermusiaux, Pierre; Haley, Patrick; Mirabito, C; Wang, Dayang; Adams, Eric; Ouillon, Raphael; Breugem, Alexander; Decrop, Boudewijn; Lanckreit, Thijs; Supekar, Rohit; Rzeznik, Andrew; Gartman, Amy; Se-Jong Ju

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Year Published: 2021

Multiple melt source origin of the Line Islands (Pacific Ocean)

The Line Islands volcanic chain in the central Pacific Ocean exhibits many characteristics of a hotspot-generated seamount chain; however, the lack of a predictable age progression has stymied previous models for the origin of this feature. We combined plate-tectonic reconstructions with seamount age dates and available geochemistry to develop a...

Pockalny, Robert; Barth, Ginger; Eakins, Barry; Kelley, Katherine A.; Wertman, Christina

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September 1, 2021

Image of the Week - Caldor Fire Expands Toward Lake Tahoe

The Caldor fire in California started on August 14, 2021 and quickly spread in high winds.

The fire continues to expand toward the Lake Tahoe area as residents evacuate.

This image was captured on August 21, the 8th day.

Landsat 8's near infrared and shortwave infrared bands reveal active fire, burn scars, and smoke.

Landsat's thermal and

August 20, 2021

Image of the Week - Dixie Fire Ravages Northern California

The Dixie Fire has become the largest single fire in California's recorded history. State fire officials don't list it at the top, however. The record is held by the massive August Complex fire of 2020 which burned over one million acres. The term "complex" is used when multiple fires in the same area ignite separately. Designating the fires as a complex allows them to be

August 10, 2021

Image of the Week - Dry Spell Depletes Northern California Reservoirs

A prolonged dry spell has sparked woes over water availability and wildfire in the western United States.

This stretch of northern California is heavily reliant on man-made reservoirs. The recent history of a single Landsat scene can serve to illustrate the ripple effects of those severely parched conditions. Water levels have dropped in Folsom Lake, Indian Valley

July 25, 2021

Ferromanganese Nodules—2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones Exped. (AD)

During a recent dive on the New England Seamount chain off the North Atlantic coast, researchers aboard the NOAA Ocean Exploration Expedition, North Atlantic Stepping Stones, discovered a marine geological feature known as a ferromanganese (Fe-Mn) nodule field in the saddle between two peaks of Gosnold Seamount. These seamount-hosted nodules were an exciting find, since Fe

July 13, 2021

NOAA-USGS Stepping Stones 2021 Expedition - AD

Join USGS researchers Jason Chaytor and Kira Mizell as they virtually participate in a NOAA Ocean Exploration expedition to the depths of the North Atlantic.

The 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones: New England and Corner Rise Seamounts expedition runs from June 30 to July 29. At-sea and shore-based science teams will study deep-water habitats in the high seas,

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.

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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

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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.

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map
September 9, 2021

Residents and visitors should not be alarmed to see a low-flying helicopter over Lemhi and Custer Counties west of Salmon, Idaho from September 6 to October 18, 2021. 

Image shows two scientists in a tall grass field examining something
September 9, 2021

The newly formed Nevada Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit brings state and federal wildlife-management resources together, providing for a cooperative partnership that ensures resources are best serving Nevada’s wildlife and wild places.

A hollowed out base of a sequoia tree
September 7, 2021

As a wildfire approached Tonto National Monument in Arizona, archaeologists and firefighters rushed to cover the park’s 700-year-old cliff dwellings with fire resistant aluminum wrapping.  

USGS
September 7, 2021

The USGS has prepared an Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act for a new Laboratory Facility at Moffett Field in Santa Clara County, California. The USGS is requesting your comments on the EA and Section 106 review by September 22, 2021.

polluted groundwater
September 1, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Intensive pumping of aquifers during drought can speed up deterioration of groundwater quality, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. The results highlight clean drinking water supply vulnerabilities in California and other western states currently experiencing record drought conditions.

A four-panel diagram shows how different amounts of sea-level rise change a coastal system.
September 1, 2021

A new multidisciplinary case study from USGS and collaborators looks at how even modest sea-level rise threatens coastal communities, infrastructure and ecosystems such as beaches, tidal marshes and estuaries by pushing them past “tipping points,” the crucial junctures at which even slight changes can fundamentally alter how an entire system behaves.

july 8 california earthquake
July 8, 2021

A magnitude 6.0 (M6.0) earthquake struck Little Antelope Valley, California near the Nevada border on July 8, 2021 at 3:49pm local time (July 8 at 22:49 UTC). 

Smartphone for earthquake early warning in Costa Rica
July 8, 2021

A new study led by USGS and Costa Rican researchers demonstrates how Earthquake Early Warning using smartphone technology can be both inexpensive and effective for millions of people.  

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.  

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