Geoscience: Hazards and public safety
Do you work to keep Canadians safe from threats posed by natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, space weather or floods? At the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), we provide decision makers with geoscience knowledge, tools and data to understand and reduce risks from natural hazards and inform adaptation to climate change.
Why it matters
With the right land-use planning, policies, emergency management and regulations, we can help at-risk communities adapt to the effects of climate change and natural hazards. Our information helps all levels of government understand the risks posed by hazards so they can plan appropriately. That might include building codes, land-use policies or mitigation such as dikes or other structures.
GSC data and information are also used by emergency management groups who plan for and respond to hazardous events. If they know, for example, that particular regions are at risk of experiencing landslides, they can have an action plan in place and equipment at the ready.
What we’re doing
Four of our GSC programs work on this focus area:
- Public Safety Geoscience Program (PSGP)
- Climate Change Geoscience Program (CCGP)
- Environmental Geoscience Program (EGP)
- Marine Geoscience for Marine Spatial Planning (MGMSP)
They make evidence-based, land-use planning and government regulations possible through several important activities.
Conducting critical assessments
- Conducting research to understand where, when and how major events such as flooding, earthquakes, terrestrial and submarine landslides, volcanoes, tsunamis and space weather might occur
- Monitoring environmentally sensitive regions to better understand their climate-driven changes
- Assessing the potential impacts of natural hazards (including earthquakes) to understand the damage and losses that could be generated and prioritize risk-reduction activities
- Investigating potential new earthquake source zones that significantly influence hazard models
- Incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into our processes, along with socioeconomic analyses and engineering data, when appropriate
- Working with partners in tsunami hazard and risk research
- Providing geoscientific advice and expertise on major resource development projects and their potential environmental effects, as required for federally mandated environmental impact assessments
- Clarifying the geological impacts of climate change in Canada
- Advancing the understanding of how permafrost-related hazards and landscape instability affect the maintenance of Northern transportation corridors and infrastructure
- Considering the effects of climate change in hazard and risk assessment, using a multi-hazard and cascading effects approach
Making research available to decision makers
- Working with Indigenous communities to incorporate science and Indigenous knowledge into risk-related decision-making
- Participating in national, local and regional disaster risk-reduction and adaptation planning
- Developing risk assessments, case studies, frameworks and tools that support risk-related decision-making
- Providing relative sea-level change projections and maps of Canada’s coasts to municipal and provincial planners
- Developing a broader understanding of tsunami hazards for all coasts in Canada
- Generating academic and plain-language publications
Research and scientific capacity in the GSC’s Public Safety Geoscience Program helps enable NRCan’s Canadian Hazards Information Service (CHIS) to provide timely information regarding space weather and earthquakes, as well as educational products on volcanoes in Canada. CHIS operates Canada-wide sensor networks to collect geophysical data, which is analyzed in real time to provide earthquake notifications, space weather effects forecasts and other products to government organizations, infrastructure operators, international partners, the media and the public. You can access space weather and earthquakes tracking from CHIS.
Indigenous communities and hazards
Many of Canada’s Indigenous communities are susceptible to the effects of hazard events that result from natural geological processes, and are sometimes worsened by climate change. We make it a priority to work with these communities, whose safety depends on understanding the risks their communities face as well as the ways in which they can mitigate and adapt.
Featured tools and data
- Significant Canadian earthquakes 1600–2017
Learn how information about significant Canadian earthquakes between 1600 and 2017 was gathered. Access the results and interpretation of this new view of Canada’s earthquake activity.
- Historical landslides that have resulted in fatalities in Canada (1771–2019)
Learn about fatal landslides in Canada in the past several hundred years. This is helpful information for anyone comparing data across hazards or working in emergency management or land-use planning.
Browse these pre-filtered topic results on Canada’s open data portal or search the entire collection:
- Space weather impacts to high frequency radio communication used by aviation (begins on p. 22)
Read about potential solutions to two space weather phenomena: absorption and post-storm maximum usable frequency depression. Both can severely degrade the high-frequency communication relied upon by the aviation industry.
You can also conduct your own GEOSCAN search, or browse pre-filtered results by topic:
- Public Safety Geoscience Program
- Debris flow
- Marine geoscience
- Space weather and geomagnetism
- Submarine landslides
- 2015 National Building Code of Canada seismic hazard maps
If you work in architecture or construction in Canada, use the seismic hazard maps to understand the level of seismic hazards in an area. The maps contain information about the direction and steepness of the hazard gradient across the country.
- Faults and lineaments of the Western Quebec Seismic Zone, Quebec and Ontario
This map shows brittle lineaments and mapped faults in the Western Quebec Seismic Zone, which includes the Ottawa River watershed. It can help you better understand the seismotectonics of the region.
Geoscience: Climate change
Our research monitors the effects of climate change on Canada’s permafrost, glaciers and sea levels. Use our tools to inform adaptation strategies for coastal infrastructure and communities, permafrost regions, and transportation routes and northern resource development.
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