Coastal and Marine Geology Program
More than one-half of all Americans live within an hour's drive of an ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Great Lakes. Our coastal oceans are a vital resource for transportation, commerce, and recreation. They provide food, energy, and minerals for the entire Nation; on a global scale, they harbor critical biologic habitats and drive global climate.
Changes within the coastal and marine environment, whether naturally occurring or human induced, can endanger our quality of life, threaten property, pose risk to fragile environments, and affect livelihoods. Catastrophic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis cost the Nation more than $30 billion per year and have serious economic consequences for coastal communities. Wetland loss increases the threat of flooding, decreases water quality, and threatens wildlife. Degraded sea-floor and coastal habitats are failing to support fisheries. Coastal and offshore aquifers are subject to seawater intrusion and nutrient contamination. The coastal oceans have become a repository for sewage, chemicals, and toxics dumped or discharged offshore, or brought downstream by rivers.All 35 coastal States and the island territories are experiencing coastal erosion and are threatened by the rise in relative sea level; many have replenished eroded beaches at great cost. The management challenge faced by all coastal communities is to balance the competing needs of citizens, government, industry, and the environment.
Sound marine science is critical for making such management decisions.