U.S. Geological Survey Manual
120.9 - Office of the Associate Director for Natural Hazards
OPR: Office of Natural Hazards
Instructions: New Survey Manual Chapter.
1. General Functions. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Office of the Associate Director for Natural Hazards, provides executive-level leadership for the Natural Hazards Mission Area, which includes six science programs: Coastal and Marine Geology, Earthquake Hazards, Geomagnetism, Global Seismographic Network, Landslide Hazards, and Volcano Hazards. Through these programs, the USGS carries out its responsibility for monitoring and assessment of earthquakes, volcanic activity, and landslides, and supports the warning responsibilities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for geomagnetic storms and tsunamis.
The Natural Hazards Mission Area is responsible for coordinating USGS response following disasters and overseeing the Bureau's emergency management activities. The mission area coordinates long-term planning across the full USGS hazards science portfolio, including activities funded through many other programs across the Bureau, including floods, hurricanes, severe storms, wildfires, and biological and chemical threats.
2. Associate Director for Natural Hazards. The Associate Director exercises the authority delegated by the USGS Director to provide leadership and nationwide guidance for the natural hazards research, monitoring, assessment, and outreach activities of the Bureau and ensures integration of these activities with the strategic goals of the USGS and the Department of the Interior (DOI). This authority includes the areas of coastal and marine geology, earthquake hazards, geomagnetism, landslide hazards, and volcano hazards. Responsibilities for these functions are shared with a Deputy Associate Director for Natural Hazards.
The Associate Director and Deputy Associate Director are responsible for all aspects of the Natural Hazards Mission Area, which includes the following elements:
A. Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP). The CMGP supports all the missions of the USGS, characterizing and assessing coastal and marine processes, conditions, change, and vulnerability. The CMGP provides science to characterize and assess coastal and marine processes, conditions, change, and vulnerability to inform decisions that ensure safe and resilient coastal communities and sustainable use and protection of marine resources. Supporting the USGS natural hazards mission, the CMGP conducts research on marine geohazards including earthquakes, tsunami, and submarine landslides and on coastal change hazards from erosion, hurricanes and other extreme storms, and sea-level rise. The CMGP fosters collaboration on regional scales with Federal, tribal, State, and local organizations engaged in the National Ocean Policy.
B. Earthquake Hazards Program (EHP). The EHP conducts real-time monitoring, hazard and risk assessments, targeted research, and public outreach to support the mitigation of earthquake risks. It supports the USGS responsibility to provide authoritative earthquake information and warnings, and it is part of the four-agency National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program partnership, which was established by Congress in 1977. Through the EHP, the USGS contributes to earthquake hazard mitigation through assessments that underlie seismic provisions in building codes and to earthquake response through a suite of rapid-information products providing situational awareness following damaging earthquakes. The EHP also supports partnerships in research and monitoring via grants and cooperative agreements.
C. Geomagnetism Program (GP). The GP mission is to monitor the Earth's magnetic field. Operating a network of ground-based magnetic observatories in the United States and its territories, the program provides continuous records of magnetic field variations covering long timescales; disseminates magnetic data to various governmental, academic, and private institutions; and conducts research into the nature of geomagnetic variations for purposes of scientific understanding and hazard mitigation. These activities represent the USGS contribution to the interagency National Space Weather Program.
D. Global Seismographic Network (GSN). The GSN monitors seismic activity worldwide in support of earthquake monitoring, tsunami warning, nuclear treaty verification, and data collection for research on Earth structure and processes. It is a permanent digital network of state-of-the-art seismological and geophysical sensors located at over 150 globally distributed stations. The GSN is a partnership involving the USGS, the National Science Foundation, and the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology.
E. Landslide Hazards Program (LHP). The mission of the LHP is to increase public safety and reduce losses from landslides through improved understanding of landslide processes and hazards. It supports the USGS responsibility to provide authoritative landslide information and landslide warnings. The LHP conducts targeted research to develop and improve tools for landslide hazard assessments; pursues landslide investigations, hazard assessments and forecasts; provides technical assistance in response to landslide emergencies; and engages in outreach activities.
F. Volcano Hazards Program (VHP). The VHP conducts monitoring, hazard assessments, and research to advance the scientific understanding of volcanic processes in order to mitigate the harmful impacts of volcanic activity. The USGS monitors active and potentially active volcanoes throughout the United States and its territories, assesses their hazards, responds to volcanic crises, and conducts research on how volcanoes work. In support of the USGS responsibility to provide warnings of volcanic eruptions, the VHP also issues warnings of potential volcanic hazards to responsible emergency-management authorities and to the populace affected, including air traffic.
G. Science Application for Risk Reduction. The Science Application for Risk Reduction project focuses on building partnerships to improve the use of natural hazards information from the USGS, to identify needs and gaps, and to develop new products that increase the use of USGS science by emergency managers and community decision makers to promote greater resilience to natural hazards.
H. Emergency Management. Oversight responsibility for USGS Emergency Management activities has been given to the Natural Hazards Mission Area. The USGS Emergency Management Coordinator serves as a senior advisor to the USGS Director and works closely with the DOI Offices of Emergency Management and Environmental Policy and Compliance, the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other agencies and organizations to execute the emergency management responsibilities of the Bureau.
The Natural Hazards Mission Area also manages the USGS Hazard Response Executive Committee, which provides executive direction, oversight, and support to USGS managers in responding to major hazard events. During incidents of national significance, the USGS provides support to certain National Response Framework emergency support functions and National Disaster Recovery Framework recovery support functions.
I. Department of the Interior Strategic Sciences Group (SSG). The Associate Director for Natural Hazards co-leads the SSG, which was established by Secretarial Order 3318 to provide the standing capacity to rapidly assemble trained teams of scientists to construct interdisciplinary scenarios of the cascading consequences of natural disasters and other environmental crises. During an environmental crisis, the Secretary of the Interior can direct the SSG to activate a crisis science team composed of experts from government, academia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, as appropriate, to build scenarios, develop potential interventions to mitigate adverse effects, and deliver information to decision makers and resource managers. During non-crisis times, the SSG refines scenario development methodology, prepares for future deployments, and conducts training exercises.
/s/ Suzette M. Kimball August 25, 2015
Suzette M. Kimball Date
Acting Director, U.S. Geological Survey
Return to Survey Manual
Table of Contents
Return to Survey Manual Index
Return to Survey Manual Home Page