Coastal and Marine Geology Program
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
In June 1994, U.S. Geological Survey implemented a 5-year National
Marine and Coastal Geology Plan outlining proposed studies and
tentative budgets for understanding the coastal and offshore areas
of the United States, to be conducted within the Office of Marine
Geology within the Geologic Division. Since the plan was submitted
and accepted by Congress, several changes have occurred that affect
the research program: Departmental budgets have been level; Funding
from other outside sources have been modest; USGS underwent a
significant downsizing in staff; Geologic Division has reorganized
such that the Office of Marine Geology is now renamed the Coastal
and Marine Geology Program; and issues and opportunities for
new studies that were unforeseen in the original plan have occurred.
These changes make it appropriate to outline new directions for
the Coastal and Marine Program.
This document is intended to summarize the modifications that have occurred in the Coastal and Marine National Plan as a result of these changes. An explanation and highlights of the changes from the 1994 plan included in this update is provided below.
Overview of External Factors and Changes-
Lower Budgets: The original National Plan
research program predicated on two budget scenarios: full implementation
of the Program, with a budget estimate that increased from $63.5
M in the first year (FY 1995) to $94.7 M in the fifth year (1999);
and partial implementation, with a budget that increased from
$41.6 M to $55.1 M. The actual budgets implemented in the first
three years have been level funded at $37.1 M, or about 24 % below
the partial implementation level projected for FY 1997. This
lower number ($37.1 M) is now projected as the realistic level-funded
budget estimate for the near future.
Smaller Staff: The downsizing of the Geologic Division
resulted in a loss of research, technical, and non-research support
staff from the program. This, together with the lower than planned
budgets, limits the manpower available to apply to new or expanded
studies, and provides incentive for the program to undertake cooperative
studies, involving other government and non-governmental investigators.
New Directions: In an effort to remain flexible and responsive
to national needs, the Coastal and Marine Program has initiated
several projects that were unanticipated when the original National
Plan was written. These projects reflect requests coming in from
Congress, other federal agencies, DOI, the states, and academic
collaborators. A good example of these projects is the new coastal
erosion study in south west Washington state begun in 1996 in
cooperation with state and local partners.
Overview of Internal Changes, New Directions and Trends-
All Themes -
Information and facilities
Purpose of Plan
This document presents a 5-year plan for research and mapping
activities to be conducted by the Coastal and Marine Geology Program
of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It is the updated edition
of the program elements in the 5-year plan first produced in
The program is designed to describe marine and coastal geologic
systems, to understand the fundamental processes that create,
modify and maintain them, and to develop predictive models that
provide understanding of natural systems, the effects of man's
activities on them, and to provide a capability to predict future
change. The program addresses issues of national importance in
the areas of environmental quality and preservation, natural hazards
and public safety, and natural resources, providing information
and comprehensive understanding of marine and coastal geology
for public benefit. The program will provide information and
products to guide the preservation and sustainable development
of the Nation's marine and coastal environment of both
the oceanic and Great Lakes coastal domains.
1 The National Marine and Coastal Geology Program,
1994, A plan developed by the U.S. Geological Survey at the request
of the U.S. Congress.
Research and mapping investigations conducted by the Coastal and
Marine Geology Program are designed to describe marine and coastal
systems, understand the fundamental geologic processes that create,
modify and maintain them, and develop predictive models. Investigations
address four themes:
Coastal and Marine Geology Program activities directed toward
these issues follow several complementary and interdependent avenues
Fundamental studies improve the understanding of geologic processes critical to enhancing predictive capabilities. These critical processes are relevant to a variety of environments and hence knowledge can be applied nationwide and worldwide.
Regional studies develop a description and understanding
of marine and coastal geologic systems where problems are significant
and (or) the ability to understand fundamental processes have
a high chance of success. An objective of the Coastal and Marine
Geology Program is to maintain an understanding of marine and
coastal systems on a regional basis. The program conducts regional
studies throughout the U.S. EEZ and Great Lakes, but also recognizes
the international aspect of many issues (e.g. coral reefs, pollutant
transport, mineral resources) which necessarily involves international
Catastrophic event studies address the role that rare
or large magnitude events play in geological systems. Major
storms or hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, major floods, and
pollutant discharges require rapid response and a long-term commitment
to the development of a baseline data set.
Long-term observations define the time scales and the magnitude
of variability in geologic systems. Analyses of long-term measurements
are essential to successfully distinguish long-term trends caused
by anthropogenic effects from natural changes; often suggest hypotheses
about key processes; identify new directions for investigation;
document catastrophic and (or) rare events; and provide a range
of conditions for model simulation and testing.
Assessments provide a systematic appraisal of the status of geologic systems or processes. Initially, these are undertaken in the context of regional studies, eventually leading to national assessments. In national assessments led by other Federal agencies, the USGS provides marine and coastal geological expertise as needed.
The quality and preservation of natural environments have become
leading concerns in the 1990's, and these concerns extend
to Federal lands in the coastal and marine realm where increasing
population pressure and human activities stress a wide variety
of natural systems. One of the broad goals of the Coastal and
Marine Geology Program is to improve our scientific understanding
of geologic factors which influence the long-term quality and
preservation of environments . Geologic mapping and research
investigations of geologic processes provide critical information
to help understand natural and human stresses on the environment.
For example, sediment dynamics studies and seabed mapping and
sampling can provide an understanding of how pollutants and particles
are transported, deposited, recycled, and stored in marine and
coastal settings. Comparison of past and present environments
allows distinction between natural and man-induced changes.
Understanding the causes of long-term change requires careful
consideration of the geologic record, for it is itself a record
of change. The issues include sea-level changes brought about
by altered climate and global tectonics, as well as the influence
of humans on natural geologic processes, such as erosion, sedimentation,
and the transport of sediments and pollutants in the marine and
Studies conducted under the Environmental Quality and Preservation theme include fundamental studies, plus three subthemes: (1) Pollution and Waste Disposal, (2) Fragile Environments, and (3) Marine Reserves and Biologic Habitats. Phasing of regional studies is shown in a figure at the end of this theme.
Scope of the Problem
The USGS is committed to providing sound scientific knowledge
and information needed to understand environmental quality and
preservation on regional and national scales. This broad view,
which is necessary to maintain credibility and to evaluate the
potential success or failure of management and societal decisions,
is appropriate for Federal attention. An ability to characterize,
understand, and predict environmental change for national needs
requires integration of basic research findings to the appropriate
spatial and temporal scales. Fundamental studies specifically
address this integration in the development of large-scale predictive
skill based on basic research results. Two elements of fundamental
studies related to environmental studies theme are discussed below.
The objective of the Fundamental Environmental Studies Subprogram
is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the record and
impact of geologic changes that occur in marine and coastal environments.
This will be addressed through studies that focus on the principle
agents of change.
Records of sedimentation, climate, and catastrophic events:
Changing rates of sediment erosion, transport, and deposition
produce unique, recognizable patterns in sedimentary records.
Past climates and related biological productivity is recorded
in sedimentary sequences, and such information helps understand
and guide management of modern habitats. Profound man-induced
changes are often seen locally, and sometimes regionally. Paleoclimate
records also serve as tests for predictive numerical climate models.
Specific environments for study which are sensitive to sedimentary,
climatic, and catastrophic changes can be found in bays and estuaries,
within lakes, on continental margins, and in polar regions.
Records of sea level change: Evolution of many
coastal and marine environments is strongly impacted by changing
relative sea (or lake) levels, including global water-level change
and land subsidence or uplift. Local records of sea-level change
add to our understanding of regional and global sea-level variations
and give us better tools to predict the future of sea-level change
and its effects on U.S. coastlines. Three regions for study that
are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in sea level are coral
reefs, coastal wetlands, and the continental margins.
Scope of the Problem
Many of the continental shelves, coasts, lakes, and estuaries
within U. S. waters, particularly near urban centers, contain
polluted sediment. Heavy metals, radioactive waste, organic chemicals,
and nutrients have been introduced to these environments through
natural processes, by intentional disposal, and by accidental
spills. The contaminants are derived from both point sources,
such as industrial discharge and sewage treatment plants, and
non-point sources, such as agricultural and urban run-off and
atmospheric deposition. The presence of such materials in the
Nation's coastal waters and lakes and their accumulation
in sediment have created problems associated with health and safety,
biological resources, and recreational activities. Dredging and
environmentally-sound disposal of contaminated and non-contaminated
material is essential to the commercial viability of many U.S.
ports. There is considerable public concern and political attention
focused on the impact of past and present use of our waters as
waste disposal sites.
The behavior and interaction of polluted sediment with the sea-floor
environment are strongly influenced by substrate geology and sediment
transport processes. For example, many pollutants chemically
and physically bind to fine-grained sediment. Mobilization and
transport of the host sediment by waves and currents result in
movement of the pollutants. Therefore, adequately addressing
the issues of pollutant accumulation and transport requires an
increased understanding of both the local geology and the key
sedimentary processes that transport and distribute sediment.
The objectives of the Pollution and Waste Disposal Subtheme are
to: (1) identify and map the extent of sediment deposits and
associated contaminants on the sea floor; (2) understand the processes
by which pollutants and waste material interact with and accumulate
in sedimentary deposits; (3) improve our knowledge of transport
of sedimentary particles and associated pollutants; and (4) increase
our understanding of the processes by which pollutants migrate
through subsurface deposits and are reintroduced to the seabed
and water column.
Tasks of the Pollution and Waste Disposal subtheme are directed
at high priority areas such as estuaries and coastal regions near
densely populated urban areas, and sensitive ecosystems experiencing
environmental degradation. Studies in different regions will
be undertaken in a phased approach. In some cases, regions may
be revisited with new studies that address geologic processes,
concerns and questions that come to light during initial studies.
Definition of needs within each study area will depend on priorities
of the 30 coastal states and other Federal agencies.
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES: To maintain scientific credibility
and to achieve a predictive capability and a quantitative understanding
of pollutant fate and transport, fundamental scientific advances
are needed in the measurement and quantification of sediment transport,
the chemistry of sediment-pollutant interactions, the definition
of sedimentary environments, and the physics and biology of sediment
mixing processes. Models are needed to predict coastal and estuarine
sediment dynamics and to define the circulation patterns of water
that carry mixtures of dissolved and particulate materials. The
studies of contaminated sediments require continual improvement
of remote sensing technology and the technology used for rapidly
characterizing and mapping bottom sediment and dating cores for
the past century.
REGIONAL STUDIES: Nationwide, there is great variability
in the sources and types of pollutants, in the sediment types
within which pollutants accumulate, and in the processes that
transport, deposit, and remobilize pollutants. Within regions,
studies are undertaken to identify the distribution, source, transport
pathways, and fate of pollutants. Factors influencing sediment
and associated pollutant transport include harbor development,
dams on streams discharging into the urban ocean, sewage outfalls,
man-induced initiation of coastal landslides and sever pollution
of urban streams. The objectives and approaches for each study
are tailored to the needs of each specific region. Common components
of regional studies include:
Geologic Framework and Mapping. Maps of sediment parameters
from seabed sampling, swath acoustic mapping, and subbottom profiling
are used to identify sites of particulate accumulation and for
the design of monitoring programs.
Recent Geochronology. Dated sediment cores are used to
establish chronologies of the past 100 years for determining pollutant
fluxes, sediment budgets, and as a tie to historic events.
Process Studies. Regional studies investigate sediment
dynamics, geochemistry, and animal-sediment interactions that
lead to resuspension, recycling, and transport, and accumulation
of sediment-associated pollutants.
Present Regional Studies (listed geographically, east to west)
Areas of future interest for Regional Studies:
LONG-TERM MONITORING AND OBSERVATIONS: Long-term
observations define the time scales and the magnitude of variability
in geologic systems, and provide a description of the mean condition,
as well as the seasonal, interannual, and climatic variability.
Such descriptions are essential to successfully distinguish long-term
trends caused by anthropogenic effects from the effects of natural
changes, including catastrophic events. Finally, long time series
data provide a range of conditions for model simulation and an
important test for numerical and analytical models. These need
a prescribed tenure following completion of validation.
Present Regional Study:
Areas of future interest for Regional Monitoring:
Scope of the Problem
Many coastal, lacustrine, and marine fragile environments, including
coastal wetlands, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and polar ecosystems,
have been impacted and degraded during the past century by a combination
of natural processes and the activities of mankind. Over the
past several decades, the impacts of human activities have accelerated,
and in spite of increased awareness and concern for the environment,
fragile habitats such as wetlands and reefs continue to deteriorate.
Other unique environments, such as those hosting submarine seep
and vent biologic communities, are relatively unknown but potentially
important. Conserving these environments and preventing further
degradation, as well as restoring some areas, requires sound scientific
understanding of the geologic processes (currents, sediment flux)
and the geologic framework (morphology, structure, sediment distribution)
in which the dominant processes operate. Baseline information
is also critical for evaluating the short- and long-term effects
of catastrophic events on fragile coastal and marine ecosystems.
Coastal wetlands, a fragile transitional zone between marine and
terrestrial environments, have significant economic and intrinsic
ecological value. Healthy coastal wetlands require the "right
mix" of fresh and salt water, sediment, and other physical
parameters to provide a stable base for growth of vegetation.
They are the most productive ecosystems known, providing nutrients
and habitats that support the entire coastal ecosystem. Eighty
percent of the Nation's coastal commercial and recreational
fisheries depend upon wetlands for spawning, hatching, and nursery
activities. Coastal wetlands also play vital roles as habitats
for wildlife, waterfowl, and migratory birds. Wetlands function
to filter pollutants and to hold and absorb water, which can reduce
Coral reef ecosystems in the Florida Keys, Hawaii, and the U.S.-affiliated
islands in the Pacific and Caribbean thrive in clear, nutrient-poor
waters. These systems generally overlie porous and permeable
limestone, providing pathways for the movement of toxic and nutrient-rich
ground water. Small increases in the nutrient content of coastal
waters (associated with fertilizer and sewage discharge) may
upset the fragile balance necessary to maintain the health of
economically important coral reefs. Additional detrimental effects
may be caused as well by increased turbidity due to anthropogenic
activity and by increased salinity due to poor water management
The objectives of these studies are to increase our scientific
understanding of the delicate balance of geological processes
necessary to maintain the Nation's fragile coastal and
marine environments and to improve our capability to predict ecosystem
response to both natural processes and human activities.
Regional studies consider several factors including, rapid loss
or high degree of stress on ecosystems, extent of present or former
wetlands, and locations where information on geologic processes
or history is needed for management or restoration.
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES: Wetlands and coastal ecosystems are
a dynamic balance between terrestrial and aquatic influences,
and are extremely sensitive to changes in both water level and
water availability. Annual cycles as well as longer-term climate
cycles are important aspects of wetland studies. Wetlands respond
to water-level change by growth and migration, which indicates
erosion or accretion of sediment. At present, knowledge of the
supply and redistribution of sediment within many wetlands and
coastal ecosystems is limited. Better understanding will be achieved
through fundamental studies focusing on the mechanisms of sediment
transport and on the balance between depositional and erosional
processes driven by coastal storms and currents.
REGIONAL STUDIES: Nationwide, wetlands are highly
diverse. Studies within different regions are being undertaken
to understand the geologic processes and controls for specific
systems. The objectives and research approaches of each study
are being tailored to specific regions, although each study has
Present Regional Studies
Areas of future interest for Regional Studies:
Scope of the Problem
Sound management of the special marine and coastal areas that
have been set aside for conservation and (or) sustainable use
for the benefit of future generations is dependent upon comprehensive
scientific information. These special areas include the National
Marine Sanctuaries, National Seashores, National Marine Parks,
areas designated in the USEPA Bays Programs, and other Federal
coastal and estuarine reserves. The 1972 Marine Protection, Research,
and Sanctuaries Act defines marine sanctuaries as "areas
of special national significance due to their resource or human
use values" with respect to "conservation, recreational,
ecological, historical, research, educational, or aesthetic value
of the sanctuary." Eleven National Marine Sanctuaries have
been designated and five additional ones proposed. For effective
management, most of them require a multidisciplinary scientific
program which evaluates present environmental conditions and describes
the processes and rates of change. Environmental conditions depend
on physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes which
are linked in many ways. Thus, marine geological studies are
a fundamental part of the broad studies required for accurate
understanding of these environments.
The Nation's marine biological habitats play a vital role
in the life cycles of commercial and recreational fisheries species,
in the maintenance of biological diversity, and in the protection
of coastlines from erosion. Habitat substrate (or sedimentary
environment) is of critical importance to the reproduction and
survival of benthic organisms and other species that spend a part
of their life cycle in, on, or near the seabed. At present, biological
habitats in many of the Nation's coastal and offshore regions
are being impacted by human activities, which include overfishing,
physical disturbance of the seabed by fishing gear, and pollution
from runoff and waste disposal. Important geologic attributes
of biological habitats include: sediment texture and consistency,
bottom morphology, strength of near bottom currents, and erosion,
transport, and deposition of sediments. As noted in a recent
study "Working Together in the EEZ" by the National
Research Council, coastal States require information on bathymetry,
seabed imagery, and sediment characterization for the assessment
and monitoring of biological resources.
The objectives of the Marine Reserves and Biologic Habitats Subprogram
are to gather, interpret, and distribute geologic information
about areas that are identified as of national importance, either
as a biologic resource or for their intrinsic value. Research
will be conducted with agencies and colleagues contributing biological
expertise in order to maximize the value of geologic information
to Federal and State resource management agencies.
Studies of marine reserves and biologic habitats are regionally
prioritized using a combination of the following factors: 1.)
Interest from and cooperation with State and Federal (NOAA-NMFS,
USGS-BRD, FWS) marine resource managers and biologists; 2.) significant
commercial or recreational value, or presence of endangered species;
and 3.) a clear role of the coast, sediments and sea floor in
the life histories of organisms.
REGIONAL STUDIES: The research effort maps selected
reserves and habitats, quantifies the effects of both natural
processes and human activities, and identifies predictable natural
cycles or trends of habitat change. Emphasis and scope varies
depending on specific problems and needs in individual areas.
Two approaches are used: mapping and geologic characterization
of the sea floor and sediment deposits; and identifying and investigating
the key geologic processes that affect critical regions.
Mapping and Characterization is a major under-taking of
this research program. The goal is a description of sea-floor
geology with direct linkages to important biological habitats
identified by cooperating agencies.. Digital interpretive maps
of the seabed in each study area will define sediment texture
and rock types, morphology, sediment pollutant concentrations,
and geological structures along with infauna, epifuana and fisheries
Geologic processes are being identified that shape the
present seafloor geologic environment and influence how it changes.
Objectives include: evaluation of the natural and anthropogenic
fluxes of sediments and associated pollutants; characterization
of physical oceanographic processes; description of the interaction
of biology and geology, particularly with respect to bioturbation;
evaluation of seafloor to erosion and deposition; and evaluation
of vulnerability to catastrophic events such as storms, oil and
chemical spills, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, and sea-level
Present Regional Studies:
Areas of future interest for Regional Studies:
Biodiversity and productivity of marine systems are major global
issues, and geologic conditions and processes play an extremely
important role. There is the potential to conduct studies in
collaboration with USGS-BRD and other agencies and institutions.
We anticipate increased need for cooperative funding to provide
additional biological expertise to the USGS. This expertise would
carry out investigations linking biology to the sea floor environment
and to sediment transport processes including the important inshore
nursery areas in estuarine and brackish environments.
Present Regional Studies:
Areas of future interest for Regional Studies:
LONG-TERM MONITORING AND OBSERVATIONS: Long-term
monitoring programs, during which periodic observations will be
make to detect the impact of human activities and natural processes
on the habitat, will be an important part of many studies. Monitoring
is a logical and essential follow-up to mapping, characterization,
and process investigations, as it provides an opportunity to assess
change to a system. Establishing the rate at which environmental
degradation is presently taking place will include a compilation
and critical review of historical data as well as an examination
of the recent geologic record and measurement of processes.
Planned Timing of Environmental Studies
Hazards in the marine and coastal realm result from geologic processes
acting across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Sudden
catastrophic changes result from earthquakes, landslides, and
hurricanes. Processes acting on longer time scales may result
in coastal erosion and an increased susceptibility to flooding
and landslides. Research within this theme is conducted to better
understand the frequency and distribution of catastrophic events,
the geologic processes acting in the affected coastal regions,
and the local and regional susceptibility to process-driven change.
Studies conducted under the Natural Hazards and Public Safety
theme are grouped into two subthemes: (1) Coastal and Nearshore
Erosion and (2) Offshore Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Landslides.
The objectives are to understand the origin of natural geologic
hazards in the marine and coastal environment and the impact on
people, property, and the environment. Phasing of regional studies
is shown in a figure at the end of this theme.
Scope of the Problem
Coastal erosion is a serious national problem with long-term economic
and social consequences. All 30 States bordering an ocean or
Great Lake have erosion problems, and 26 are presently experiencing
net loss of their shores. Erosion is likely to increase in the
future as a consequence of sea level rise due to climate change.
Developed areas are threatened with potential loss of life and
billions of dollars in property damage as a result of storm impacts
and long-term erosion. Coastal erosion also threatens wetlands
and estuarine environments that are highly valued as nurseries
for commercial and recreational fisheries. Regional differences
in the geology and environmental factors such as winds, tides,
storm waves, and storm frequency result in a great diversity of
The erosion of the shoreline is the most visible result of a complex
system of sediment transport and redistribution both along the
coast and across the coastal region. This system, driven by a
variety of natural and anthropogenic processes across a range
of environments, may result in a net loss of sand to the beach
areas and may involve the movement of sediment across the entire
continental shelf. Lack of sediment in the coastal zone can also
be aggravated by mankind's activities such as dams trapping sediment
and badly designed coastal engineering structures. Fragile and
economically important ecosystems may be threatened by the redistribution
of sediment or the associated transport of contaminants and waste
products. Coastal and shelf sedimentary environments evolve as
a result of sediment transport, and investigations of the processes
controlling material transport in all marine environments will
provide managers of coastal and offshore marine environments with
necessary information on the nature of threats to coastal communities
and marine and coastal preserves and ecosystems.
The objective of the Coastal and Nearshore Erosion subtheme is
to understand the geological environment within which erosion,
transport and deposition of sediment occur, and ultimately to
predict erosion caused by natural processes and human activities.
At present, our understanding of the processes leading to coastal
erosion is rudimentary. Without understanding the processes,
prediction is difficult, and unreliable.
Components of the Coastal and Nearshore Erosion Subtheme in different
regions will be undertaken in a phased approach. In some cases,
regions may be revisited with new studies of different focus that
address geologic processes, concerns and questions that come to
light during initial studies. Key factors in prioritizing studies
include rapid rates of erosion; potential for significant impact
to wetlands, developed urban communities and infrastructure, the
impact of engineering structures on coastal habitats and sediment
transport, and collaboration with States and Federal agencies
such as FEMA, USACE, NOAA, and NPS. High priority areas include
regions where coastal and wetlands loss has recently accelerated,
the highly developed coasts of Florida and the mid-Atlantic region,
and islands with limited land area.
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES: The USGS is committed to providing
scientific knowledge and information applicable to coastal erosion
and sediment transport on regional scales. This broad view is
necessary to evaluate the potential success or failure of mitigation
efforts and management plans. Focus on site-specific problems
and processes fails to incorporate the controls imposed by large-scale
processes. An ability to understand and predict changes occurring
on a regional scale requires integration of basic research findings
to the appropriate spatial and temporal scales. These studies
would specifically address this integration in the development
of large-scale predictive skill based on detailed research results.
Particular emphasis would be directed toward a better understanding
of the processes that transport sediment in the nearshore and
across the inner continental shelf. Identifying the critical
processes as well as the role of chronic versus extreme events,
the impact of man-made structures, and their combined contribution
to the long-term evolution of coastal sedimentary systems, is
needed for the development of predictive models.
Areas of Program interest - Coastal Erosion Fundamental Studies:
REGIONAL STUDIES OF COASTAL EROSION: There is great variability
in the processes causing coastal erosion and in the geologic framework
within which the processes operate. Studies within different
regions will be undertaken to understand the geologic framework
within which erosion takes place, the diversity of processes,
the sediment budget for specific regions along with the potential
for sand resources, and implications of extracting offshore sand
for beach nourishment.
Present Regional Studies:
Regions of Future Interest for Regional Studies:
Scope of the Problem
Many of the largest and most damaging earthquakes in the world
occur near the coastal regions of tectonically active continents
and islands, both onshore and offshore. These regions include
the entire California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska margins;
some areas of the East Coast, particularly Puerto Rico, and the
U.S. Virgin Islands; and western Pacific areas such as Guam and
the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Catastrophic earthquakes
such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 1964 Good Friday,
Alaska earthquake occurred offshore and are strong indicators
of the high level of risk to which all of the Nation's
west coast metropolitan regions are subjected. Less commonly
recognized are the historic damaging earthquakes that have occurred
in other geographic regions, such as the 1886 Charleston, South
Carolina, earthquake. Because of the large and growing number
of people and the enormous value of property and societal infrastructure
in coastal areas that are at risk from seismic activity on offshore
faults and associated tsunamis, research targeted at marine earthquake
hazard identification is an important element of the Coastal and
Marine Geology Program. These studies will be done in conjunction
with the USGS Geologic Hazards Program.
Undersea and coastal landslides also pose a hazard to property
and life in the coastal zone. For example, (1) communities in
Alaska were badly damaged and lives were lost as a result of undersea
landslides associated with the 1964 Good Friday earthquake; (2)
offshore drilling platforms have been destroyed by landslides
caused by hurricane waves; (3) recent evidence suggests that volcanic
islands, such as the Hawaiian Island chain, are vulnerable to
catastrophic giant landslides that can remove a third or more
of individual islands in a single event; and (4) Puget Sound is
bordered by developed bluffs that have experienced major landslide
failures during prehistoric earthquakes. To reduce the hazard
posed by these slope failures, we must develop a quantitative
understanding of the factors leading to the initiation and progression
of submarine and coastal landslides. This understanding will
lead to practical methodologies to predict the effects of landslides
on human life and property.
Both submarine earthquakes and catastrophic submarine landslides
have the potential for generating tsunamis which pose significant
hazards for coastal communities. Examples include the 1964 Alaska
earthquake, the giant Hawaiian landslides, and the 1918 earthquake
off Puerto Rico. Better understanding is required of the source
regions, mechanisms, and recurrence intervals of tsunami-generating
events, and of the nearshore morphology that affects tsunami run-up
in coastal regions.
The objectives of the Offshore Earthquakes and Landslides subtheme
are: (1) to understand the geologic environment and recent history
of great earthquakes, landslides, and tsunami in the marine realm,
(2) to evaluate the future potential and probable impacts of such
events on a regional basis, and (3) to make research results available
in an effective form for application in evaluations of seismic
risk zonation, development and land use patterns, engineering
and building codes, seismic retrofitting, and public disaster
education and preparedness.
Important factors used in setting priorities for regional studies
include frequency and size of earthquakes and landslides, population,
and potential to collaborate with other USGS hazards studies.
Highest priority areas are the tectonically active margins of
the Pacific coast, followed the Caribbean plate, southern Alaska
and Hawaii, and Pacific Trust territories.
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES:All applied scientific observations and conclusions that can be used for societally important purposes must be based on a sound scientific foundation. Often, advances can be achieved as a by-product of directed regional investigations. A continuous program component of fundamental studies would include specific non-regionally focused topics such as: active margin tectonics, seismically-induced submarine liquefaction of sands, submarine volcanism, earthquake model studies, asteroid impact, and improving our ability to identify unstable slopes.
REGIONAL STUDIES: The primary focus is to develop the
best information and knowledge possible of the marine crustal
structure and processes for those specific offshore and coastal
regions that are at greatest risk. A long-term multidisciplinary
research program is required that addresses such factors as:
(1) the most likely geographic locations of future damaging earthquakes,
tsunamis, and landslides, (2) their frequency and history of occurrence,
and (3) the styles of deformation and the destructive effects
that have a strong likelihood of affecting coastal property and
populations. All these investigations will be conducted in close
cooperation with the on-land focused studies of the Geologic
Hazards Reduction Program of the USGS.
Present Regional Studies:
Regions of Future Interest:
Planned Timing of Natural-Hazard Studies
Studies conducted under the Natural Resources theme are grouped
into three Subthemes: (1) Water Resources (coastal aquifers),
(2) Mineral Resources, and (3) Energy Resources. The Theme focus
is coordinated with the interest, needs and activities of USGS-WRD,
MMS, USACE, and the USGS Minerals Program. Mineral and energy
resource studies also involve international activities (reflecting
the major source for many resources).
To evaluate resource potentials and effects of their recovery
in a way that is meaningful to various user communities, we need
to upgrade our current data base, conduct experiments that elucidate
the processes of formation, alteration, and emplacement of these
resources, construct more realistic resource models than currently
exist, and effectively evaluate geologic aspects of recovery (e.g.
habitat modification, altered sedimentation patterns). Information
gained from these investigations will also help determine how
the formation, presence, and exploitation of these resources impacts
marine ecosystems. Phasing of regional studies is shown in a
figure at the end of this theme.
Scope of the Problem
Water is the substance that makes all life on Earth possible.
However, in many coastal communities, declining ground-water
levels have led to salt water intrusion in previously pristine
aquifers. The sediments on continental margins are inextricably
linked to the hydrogeologic cycle of coastal regions because they
contain vast reservoirs of fresh water and provide the pressure
heads that control the subsurface flow. The intent of defining
a water-resources element within the Natural Resources plan is
to focus on the role of offshore geology in understanding coastal
aquifers. Note that hydrothermal studies are covered under Mineral
Resources component of this Theme below.
Fresh- and salt-water flow are known to form a dynamic system
on the continental margin: for example, fresh-water springs have
long been known off the southeast U.S. coast, and brine seeps
have enabled unusual chemosynthetic biological communities to
develop in deep water on the continental margin off Florida, California
and Alaska. Saltwater intrusion into fresh-water aquifers in
coastal areas illustrates that human activities can alter the
flow unfavorably. Along the East Coast, onshore and offshore coastal
aquifers form essentially contiguous regional units between Rhode
Island and Florida. Little is known, however, about the details
of the distribution, hydrology, and volume of fresh water in the
coastal/offshore region, or the extent of its connection with
Understanding water flow and its links to subsurface geology on
the coastal margin is critical not only to human utilization of
coastal aquifers. How water (and other fluids) flow through continental
margin deposits, its interaction with the host sediments, and
the relative role that changing sea level plays are poorly known.
The fundamental objective of the Water Resources Subtheme is to
understand the distribution and geological characteristics of
fluid transport in coastal aquifers and marine environments in
conjunction with USGS-WRD . Part of this objective involves determining
fluid and mass fluxes and linkages between sites of fluid outflow/inflow
and local sea-floor ecology.
The Coastal and Marine Geology Program is well suited to tackle
studies related to water resources and aquifers on the continental
margin because of the expertise on the regional extent and composition
of deposits in coastal and offshore areas. Investigations will
be coordinated with other multidisciplinary research efforts primarily
in partnership with USGS-WRD programs, but also with other Federal,
State, and local agencies studying the relevant onshore aquifers.
COASTAL AQUIFERS: Studies are designed to understand the
processes related to those aquifers that introduce fresh water
into marine settings, salt water into fresh-water settings, or
store fresh water in marine sedimentary reservoirs. These studies
will involve the synthesis of regional geologic data; development
of models of fluid flow, mixing processes, discharge, and mass
and fluid flux; analysis of water chemistry wherever possible;
and development of strategies and technologies for identification
of additional potential offshore aquifers.
Regions of future interest:
Scope of the Problem
A stable supply of minerals is essential to the economic health
of our Nation and to a sustainable standard of living for all
of our people. We have had a continuous increase in dependence
on foreign supplies for most minerals in past decades. Strategic
and critical minerals for which the U.S. is almost completely
dependent on foreign sources such as manganese, nickel, platinum,
and cobalt, are potentially available within the U.S. EEZ . The
EEZ and Great Lakes also offer potential availability of vast
deposits of sand and gravel, phosphorite, and other minerals,
many discovered only in the past 15 years, but poorly known.
Offshore sand and gravel sources are being sought by many States
for aggregate supply and to replenish eroded beaches. Evaluation
and decision-making at local, State, and Federal levels, requires
objective information about the mineral resources as well as the
sea-floor geologic and environmental systems in which they are
located. The Division's Minerals Program and the Minerals Management
Service are key partners in defining and addressing minerals issues
for the Program.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the investigation of
sea-floor mineral resources is closely related to our understanding
geologic processes such as sediment dynamics, plate tectonics,
the exchange of heat and mass between the earth's crust
and seawater, and linkages between minerals deposits and living
organisms co-existing on the sea floor. These relationships have
implications for such diverse fields as global climate change,
marine biotechnology, fisheries, and wildlife management.
The overall objective of the Marine Mineral Resources Subtheme
is to improve understanding of the geological, geophysical, and
geochemical characteristics of nearshore and offshore mineral
deposits, the geological systems in which the deposits form, and
the processes and chemical fluxes that lead to mineral concentrations.
Components of the Mineral Resources Subprogram include fundamental
research, regional studies, and environmental effects of extraction.
Three subgroups of deposits are considered: (1) sand, gravel,
and heavy mineral concentrates formed in coastal and shelf settings
by sedimentary processes, (2) phosphorites and iron-manganese
crusts formed in continental shelf, margin, and deep-ocean settings
by low-temperature hydrogenetic processes, and (3) polymetallic
sulfide and oxide deposits formed at oceanic rift zones, island
arcs, and mid-plate volcanoes by high-temperature, hydrothermal
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES: Geologic models for mineral deposit
formation as well as models of the impact of minerals extraction
are based on data obtained by mapping, sampling, geophysical surveys,
and laboratory analyses. At present, we do not have a clear understanding
of the origin of most accumulations of mineral resources, and
the models, accordingly, are incomplete. To improve our understanding
we will conduct investigations of critical processes and test
hypotheses on the origin of the resources. Laboratory investigations,
involving experiments that simulate field conditions, may also
REGIONAL STUDIES: Mineral resources occur in a wide variety
of coastal and marine environments and are the products of a wide
range of concentrating processes. Regional studies focus on understanding
the geologic framework, and processes of formation of marine mineral
deposits, and also provide information relevant to environmental
concerns of exploration and development. Improved exploration
models for analogous mineral deposits on land depend on a better
understanding of where and how deposits form on the sea floor.
Geologic Framework. The investigations would treat the
mineral deposits as a component of a geological system. In the
case of sand and gravel, collaboration with other nearshore projects
in the Program will be essential. Recoverable hard minerals
in coastal settings occur primarily in unconsolidated sediments,
requiring an emphasis on geophysical profiling and coring at shallow
depths. The study of hard mineral substrates in deeper waters
requires bathymetric and sonar imaging of the sea floor, photographic
surveys, subbottom profiling, and dredge and core sampling. Cooperative
surveys with other USGS programs, other agencies, such as NOAA
and MMS, and academic institutions (including the MMS-Marine Minerals
Technology Centers) would be emphasized.
Processes of Formation. The formation of sea-floor mineral
deposits is related to a variety of geologic processes. A clear
understanding of these processes and how they influence the distribution,
size, and composition of deposits is needed. Since mineral-forming
processes on the sea floor involve exchange of large amounts of
heat and mass between the ocean crust and seawater, a contribution
can also be made to our understanding of natural variations in
global ocean chemistry and global climate change .
Environmental Concerns. The consequences of exploration
and development of mineral resources can best be assessed where
the physical, chemical, and biological processes that operate
in the environment surrounding the resource are adequately understood.
The environmental costs associated with their utilization bear
strongly on their economic potential. Baseline studies in areas
of leasing interest can be subsequently used to evaluate the geologic
effects of dredging or mining that result in changing the sea
or lake floor morphology and environment.
SAND AND GRAVEL (AGGREGATE) Resource and environmental
studies related to sand and gravel resources will primarily be
supplements to Pollution or Coastal Erosion regional studies under
Themes 1 and 2. Regions of emphasis respond to input from MMS
Region of Present Study:
Regions of Future Interest:
LOW TEMPERATURE HYDROGENETIC DEPOSITS (P and Mn crusts)
Regions of Program Interest:
HIGH TEMPERATURE HYDROTHERMAL DEPOSITS(sulfide deposits)
Regions of Program Interest:
RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS: To evaluate resource potentials in a way that is meaningful to various user communities, we need to (1) expand our current database including placing heterogeneous data scattered through the literature in a readily accessible format, (2) construct new resource models, and (3) determine the impacts on co-existing marine ecosystems of the formation, presence, and exploitation of mineral deposits. Assessment of the economic potential would include: (1) the development of a geologic model of the deposits in a specific area to include the dimensions, composition, grade of the deposit, and where necessary, amount of overburden, and (2) an economic evaluation of the resource based on current economic models.
Scope of the Problem
Energy is a primary natural resource upon which our society is
dependent. The availability of energy resources determines our
level of socio-economic development and facilitates society's
pursuit of innumerable goals and objectives. The two oil "shocks"
of the 1970s, and the recent Gulf war serve as powerful reminders
of the pivotal role of energy in both local and global economies.
About one-half of the world's petroleum supply will come
from the Middle East by the year 2010. The national interest,
therefore, is well served by a strong program that addresses the
geological systems and processes that determine the accumulation
and preservation of conventional and unconventional energy resources
in the marine environment.
Offshore conventional energy deposits, mostly oil and natural
gas, represent a significant component of the energy resource
potential of the Nation. Within the last decade, research has
also shown that most continental margins are reservoirs for a
potential new unconventional energy deposit: tremendous amounts
of methane gas literally frozen in gas hydrates in the uppermost
few hundred meters of sediment. In general, available scientific
information in these "deep frontier" areas is inadequate
to construct geologic models that reliably predict either the
processes that have formed the continental margin or its buried
energy deposits. Consequently, the resource availability and
economic potential of these energy resources is difficult to evaluate.
Knowledge of the processes that interact to control the genesis
and evolution of the continental margin rock systems is essential
for prudent stewardship of these energy reserves and to understand
and predict the environmental consequences associated with their
development and exploitation.
The primary objective of the Energy Resources Subtheme is to improve
understanding of the complex and dynamic geological processes
that have formed continental margins so as to better understand
the genesis, accumulation, and preservation of associated energy
deposits. Related to this objective is understanding the environmental
and geologic changes to the environment that result from extraction.
Studies are designed to place energy resources in the context
of the regional geological systems in which they were formed and
preserved, and to better understand modern sedimentary analogs
of source and reservoir rocks. Studies addressing the impact
of energy extraction on the environment are considered here but
also overlap considerably with "Environmental" studies
in Theme 1. The Division's Energy Program and the Minerals Management
Service are key partners in defining and addressing energy issues
for the Marine Program. The primary factors determining regional
research is the potential extent of the resource and defining
a research role for the USGS that compliments activities of other
Federal programs and private industry. A second factor is the
opportunity for cooperative investigations with other agencies
(MMS, DOE), the USGS Energy Program, the energy industry, and
other activities of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program.
FUNDAMENTAL STUDIES: Conceptual geological models are
the foundation upon which to build successful exploration and
preservation strategies for energy resources and to understand
the environments in which they occur. The focus of fundamental
studies will be on the development of new predictive models for
the physical, thermal, and chemical evolution of deposits on the
continental margins within the U.S. EEZ, and on the effects of
climate and sea-level changes on the occurrence and quality of
petroleum source rocks in modern marine environments and their
application to global exploration strategies onshore and offshore.
GAS HYDRATES: Immense amounts of gas are concentrated
in frozen, ice-like gas hydrates within the uppermost several
hundred meters of sediment in deep water on the continental margins
of the US from the Gulf of Mexico to the Alaska Arctic. The worldwide
amount of carbon in gas hydrates may be twice that of all other
fossil fuels on Earth; and the amount of methane may be 3,000
times the amount in the present atmosphere. Therefore, gas hydrates
are significant to the world's energy resources and to
global climate change. Studies need to focus on regional in-situ
geophysical and drilling studies along with companion laboratory
experiments of methane in sediments and theoretical models.
Area of Present Program focus:
Areas of Future Program Interest:
OIL AND GAS: Many of the most productive oil- and gas-producing
fields are developed in rock units that originated along continental
margins. The continental margins also contain numerous modern
analogs to older petroliferous strata, for which depositional
setting, mode of origin, and preservation are poorly understood.
Large tracts of the continental margin thought to be beyond production
because the oil reservoirs are too deeply buried or because they
are in water too deep to economically drill are being developed.
The focus of this component will be to characterize and understand
the modern analogs of marine hydrocarbon deposits. Many of these
studies will also overlap with of environmental and hazards processes.
Region of Present Program Interest:
Region of Future Interest:
Planned Timing of Natural-Resource Studies (16K)
Geologic information, data and assessments about the characteristics
of the coastal and offshore geology are critical for wise management
and multi-use decisions. Activities under the Information and
Technology theme are grouped into four Subthemes: Systematic
Mapping of the Coast and Sea Floor, Coastal and Marine Information
Bank, Assessments and Evaluation of the Information Bank, and
Technology and Facilities. The overall goals are to coordinate
geologic mapping of the coastal and EEZ sea-floor environment,
to develop and maintain a comprehensive description and synthesis
of information and knowledge about the geologic systems of the
coast and US EEZ, and to be a national source of information about
the geology of the Nation's marine realms that facilitates
the management and protection of the marine environment and resources.
Priorities and phasing are shown in the figure
at the end of this theme.
Scope of the Problem
Systematic mapping of the coast and sea-floor throughout the entire
submerged U.S. territory (including the Great Lakes and major
estuaries) has been a component of the Coastal and Marine Geology
Program for the last decade. In 1984, shortly after proclamation
of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the USGS began reconnaissance-level
geologic mapping of the deep-water portions of this vast area.
Mapping was also initiated in selected areas of the coast and
shallow sea floor near urban centers, in association with studies
that address important hazards and environmental issues. The
primary map elements include shore-line and bathymetric change
maps, side-scan sonar and multi-beam swath mosaic maps and geomorphic
analysis. Other geologic information is collected routinely during
the mapping operations, such as coastal and subbottom profiles.
The image data is combined with other data sets using computer
Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques, along with geologic
The primary objective of the Systematic Mapping of the Coast and
Sea Floor Subtheme is to acquire, process and assemble, reconnaissance-level
acoustic maps which provide base maps for studies under Themes
1, 2, and 3 as well as for other federal, state and local agencies.
These maps show morphology, bathymetry, sediment or rock type,
as well as man-made structures or debris. The information is
then interpreted to create reconnaissance geologic maps that provide
the foundation for specific topical investigations.
The investigations under this subtheme are focused on mapping the coastal and shelf EEZ. Highest priorities are initiation of systematic mapping in selected regions of the shallow EEZ near metropolitan centers. These priorities will (1) augment and compliment issue-based investigations within Themes 1, 2, and 3, and (2) be closely tied to cooperator partners with well-defined needs and with funding support. This is in keeping with the major information needs of users of the EEZ (USGS/NMD, NOAA-NOS, USACE, MMS, NPS, EPA, and FEMA, State and Local Agencies). As part of these studies, surveys will be carried out (1) in areas of intensive sea floor use, (2) where activities have affected or may affect the coastal environment, such as sites of pollution or waste disposal, (3) where geologic information is necessary for management and or preservation of resources, such as biological habitats, wetlands, and National Marine Reserves, (4) where hazards exist, such as areas of coastal erosion or earthquakes, (5) and where monitoring sites are established to assess long-term environmental change. Over the long-term, standard paper and Mapping is considered here as a unifying long-term goal to map high priority regions of the nearshore EEZ using consistent standards. Over the long-term, the sum of these studies will provide extensive coverage of the shallow US EEZ and standard, national procedures and products will be produced.
MAPPING THE COAST AND NEARSHORE EEZ: In the next decade,
the coast and shallow portion of the U.S. EEZ (water depths less
than 500 m and estuaries) will be a major priority for USGS investigations
and surveys. These areas are used for recreation, transportation,
and waste disposal; contain most of the currently harvested fisheries
resources; provide habitat for juvenile and endangered species;
are valued for their aesthetics; and are most affected by human
NATIONAL COORDINATION: Because of technical and logistical
constraints of coastal and nearshore mapping, systematic mapping
is presently a time intensive effort. Mapping of the shallow
EEZ will be accomplished by starting in critical areas and in
areas adjacent to major metropolitan regions such as New York,
Chicago, and Los Angeles, in conjunction with other studies to
be conducted as part of the Coastal and Marine Program. Over
the long-term, standard paper and electronic products from these
surveys will provide systematic coverage of the coast and shelf
to issue based investigations and to cooperating agencies.
Present Regions of Study:
Regions of Future Interest:
Future regions of the EEZ mapped by the program will be linked directly to Studies initiated under the first three Themes. The effort under this Theme of the program will focus on assuring uniform products are developed in the different regions. These areas include the
One of the purposes of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program
is to develop and maintain a comprehensive understanding of the
marine geology of the Nation's coastal and offshore Federal
lands for public benefit. This information must be easily available
in a variety of forms to the Federal and state governments, the
public, industry, and the scientific community to facilitate the
wise management and sustainable use of the Nation's marine
realms. Development of an Information Bank is therefore a priority
component of the Program and appropriate to the mission of the
USGS. The Bank includes physical archives and electronic media
to facilitate access to stored data and information.
The primary objectives of the Marine and Coastal Information Bank Subtheme are to:
The operation of the USGS Coastal and Marine Information Bank
will require the development of technical capabilities for data
rescue and continued maintenance of the Information Bank. Collaboration
with current USGS data efforts, NMD GIS programs and standards
will be undertaken in concert with data programs in other federal
agencies. The information will be made available in a variety
of forms and is the basis for a range of educational activities.
TECHNICAL CAPABILITIES AND STANDARDS: Information in the
Bank will be maintained and distributed electronically, backed
by physical archives of samples, paper records and electronic
media. A marine information network linking the three marine
centers and available to others over the Internet will be maintained.
Standards for digital data storage and for metadata documentation
and retrieval will be developed in consultation with interagency
organizations so that all newly produced (or rescued) program
data can be archived in widely accessible formats and can be located
and retrieved across the Internet. Other agencies and Institutions
will be encouraged to add to the Information Bank in areas of
interest to the Program.
COMPREHENSIVE AND READILY USABLE INFORMATION BANK: An information management system will be established to support the information activities of the investigations undertaken by the Coastal and Marine Geology Program. The system will:
The Information Bank will include catalogs of USGS digital and analog data holdings, reconnaissance images of the EEZ sea floor (GLORIA and other surveys), geophysical data (including multi-channel, gravity, magnetic, and digital high resolution seismics), coastlines, bathymetry, sediment texture, sediment chemistry, time-series data of ocean bottom currents, bottom photographs, and selected publications of the USGS. Data will be principally digital, however, the Information Bank will also include samples and analog observations.
OUTREACH: The wise stewardship of the Nation's
marine and coastal areas depends on an informed public. Educational,
outreach, and training materials (information sheets, documentaries,
CD-ROMS, displays) and activities (seminars, conferences, classroom
participation) will provide information about Coastal and Marine
issues to a wide range of audiences.
The comprehensive, integrated body of knowledge available through
the Information Bank will be used to perform assessments that
evaluate the state of knowledge about the coastal and marine geology,
or provide an overview or synthesis of selected aspects of the
marine realms. Initially, these assessments will be evaluations
of the completeness of the Information Bank itself.
As the Information Bank grows, the primary objectives of the Assessments and Evaluation Subtheme will be to provide national summaries of:
The Information Bank will provide the means for regular periodic
assessments of the state of information about the Nation's
marine realms; for judging its relevance to national needs and
ability to address gaps in understanding; and for redirecting
survey and research efforts to meet needs and fill gaps. Assessments
provide a place for a larger (often national) reviews and synthesis
that cannot be carried out as part of regional studies, provide
assurance that regional studies relate to a national view of specific
issues, and provide a way to add to the Program Information Bank.
As such, much of the data for these assessments will be embedded
in Themes 1, 2, and 3.
Topics of Present Interest:
Marine and coastal geologic investigations require a broad range
of specialized platforms and equipment. Research vessels, ranging
from shallow draft coastal vessels to ocean-going ships, provide
major support for field investigations. Specialized equipment
includes acoustic and optical systems to image the sea floor,
seismic systems to map the subsurface, instruments to measure
currents and oceanographic parameters, a broad range of sampling
systems, and laboratory facilities. Instruments for geologic and
sedimentologic parameters along the coast and offshore become
ever more sophisticated and productive. For example, new swath
mapping systems have greatly improved the ability to conduct reconnaissance
surveys of shallow water regions in a cost effective way. Remote
sensing data collected from aircraft or satellites, provide another
important source of information to many investigations.
The objective of the Technology and Facilities subtheme is to
obtain, develop, and maintain the scientific equipment, vessels,
and technical facilities needed to conduct the investigations
of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program.
High priority items are those which are critical to a number of
investigations of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program. In
general, most acquisitions are borne by the individual studies
that require them. The equipment maintained by the USGS Coastal
and Marine Geology Program benefits the entire marine science
community and is often used as a National Facility by other researchers
cooperating with the USGS.
VESSEL CAPABILITIES: As field studies are a primary component
of most of the investigations in this plan, the daily cost of
operating, maintaining, and (or) leasing vessels such as the UNOLS
platforms is included in the individual budgets of the investigations.
Upgrades or common vessel equipment provide basic support for
Areas of Program Interest:
SCIENTIFIC EQUIPMENT: Advanced hardware and software
are essential to obtain and process sea-floor observations and
to produce data products efficiently and rapidly. The USGS has
recently acquired new software and workstations that allow field
and laboratory data to be processed in near real time. The digital
data and mosaics, similar to aerial photographs, are distributed
on CD-ROM and are overlain with other data, such as tectonics,
stratigraphy, sediment texture, contaminant levels, habitats,
and sediment pathways. This component focuses on the maintenance,
upgrading and expansion of facilities and field and operational
instruments, and laboratory equipment with emphasis on supporting
the needs of multiple projects. Priorities will be determined,
justified, and understood in the context of science and project
Areas of Program Interest:
In situ instruments
Planned Timing of Information and Technology Activities