At a much deeper vantage, USGS researchers are monitoring what’s happening on the seafloor to better understand risks from tectonic activity that could impact public safety.
In earthquake-prone regions, like the west coast of the Americas, a surge of underwater movement could impact people and their environment along the coast.
Marine geohazards are sudden and extreme events that happen when one tectonic plate compresses another, like the Cascadia Subduction Zone or Aleutian Trench, or when one plate moves horizontally past another, like in central and Southern California. This seafloor movement can generate earthquakes, which can cause underwater landslides and trigger tsunamis.
To study what happens at the seafloor, USGS scientists use sonar-generated images like this one, which shows topography and the potential for landslides near the head of Resurrection Bay, Alaska. Sonar is a system for detecting objects under water by emitting sound pulses and measuring how long it takes for the pulses to bounce back.
USGS scientists use sonar technology to create three-dimensional views of the seafloor to depths of 12 km to examine how faults work and how landslides could occur.
Learn more about USGS efforts to study marine geohazards.
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