USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program
News Archive - stories from July 2013.
On July 26, the USGS (St. Petersburg) received a query from a reporter about the nature of the offshore ledges near Ft. Myers, Fl. Kevin Lollar, who works for the News-Press was inquiring about the origin of ledges divers commonly encounter offshore. Chris Reich (Geologist) spoke with Mr. Lollar and suggested that most ledges encountered by casual divers were likely natural limestone exposures that were eroded at the shoreline when sea level was lower, rather than formed by coral reefs. There are many of these ledges and rock outcrops along the west Florida shelf, some in water too deep to fully understand their genesis, but a new discovery by the USGS working on the geology of the Florida Middle Ground showed that a marine gastropod helped preserve the structures that are used by many divers and fisherman today.
For more about the Florida Middle Ground, see the Journal of Coastal Research article: The Role of Vermetid Gastropods in the Development of the Florida Middle Ground, Northeast Gulf of Mexicoposted: 2013-08-01
On July 31, Amy Keller of Florida Trend Magazine inquired about the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Center for a forthcoming article on the "Marine High Tech Corridor" in the Tampa area. While the print version of the magazine will publish all the articles at once, the online version releases articles sporadically, so the article may not be immediately available online.posted: 2013-08-01
On July 24, USGS Geologist Cheryl Hapke had a phone briefing with Dave Wegner, senior Democratic staffer from the House Subcommittee of the greater Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure about the breach in Fire Island, NY, caused by Hurricane Sandy. The call was in response to the briefing that Cheryl and Dave Russ had given to Senator Schumer's (D-NY) staff on July 17. Mr. Wegner stated that he was getting conflicting information about whether the breach is naturally closing or if it has grown to such a size that it will not allow for natural closure. Cheryl stressed that it is inconclusive whether the breach is opening or closing, but that the USGS has recently collected data, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and is planning to conduct additional analyses. Mr. Wegner also asked about the USGS activities in response to Hurricane Sandy and about the longer-term research the USGS is conducting at Fire Island. Cheryl mentioned that an Open-file Report on Hurricane Sandy coastal impacts should be published by the fall. Mr. Wegner was appreciative of the information exchanged and wants to revisit the possibility of more conversations after the Open File Report is published.posted: 2013-08-01
On July 17, Cheryl Hapke (USGS St. Petersburg) and David Russ (USGS Northeast Region) briefed Sean Bryne and Gerald Petrella of Senator Charles Schumer's (D-NY) staff on science the U.S. Geological Survey conducted before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy. Topics of the discussion included, among other topics, how the USGS worked with federal, state, and local partners to issue predictions of coastal impacts, how they collected data to document the storm's impact and New York specific topics, such as the storm's impact on the New York City and Long Island coastlines including the breach at Fire Island and its effects on wetlands, marshes, and vegetation. The Senator's staff expressed their appreciation to the USGS and looked forward to a continued relationship.posted: 2013-07-24
On July 13, 2013, USGS conducted an oblique aerial photography survey as part of the Barrier Island Evolution Research (BIER) project. A goal of BIER is to study the evolution of the sand berm constructed in the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon accident in 2010. Karen Westphal (contractor for the USGS) collected 1248 oblique images beginning at Breton Islands, Louisiana, The flight continued north through the Chandeleur Islands to Cat Island, Mississippi and then eastward to the Alabama/Florida border. Westphal flew in a Cessna 172, taking geo-located pictures out the left side of the aircraft through an open window.posted: 2013-07-24
The USGS continues to work across a broad range of scientific topics that improve our understanding of Hurricane Sandy impacts. Much of this science also supports and informs local, state and Federal recovery efforts and adaptive strategies that will prepare our Nation for future events.
Visit the Sandy Response Page to read about how scientists forecast, measure and map coastal changes and vulnerability, look at flooding, storm-surge, water-quality impacts and other aspects of this extreme storm event. The page serves up multiple links to Sandy-related topics: science features, storm impact studies, photography, data, publications and news releases.posted: 2013-07-19
On July 12, 2013 for the 3 pm EDT segment, Cheryl Hapke was featured on the National Public Radio (NPR) show Science Friday. The two-hour show, hosted by Ira Flatow, is a live weekly science interview on science topics that are in the news. Cheryl was discussing the breach on Fire Island, NY from Hurricane Sandy. Among the issues brought up were when the breach might close, should it be closed manually, and what the benefits versus risks may be if it is left to close naturally. The discussion also focused on whether there is enough sand available to continue to replenish the nation's beaches after severe storms.posted: 2013-07-18
USGS scientists John Barras (USGS Baton Rouge) and Richard Day (NWRC-Lafayette) have contributed to two chapters in the newly released fourth volume of Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota, a series sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and published by the Texas A&M University Press. Volume 4, Ecosystem-Based Management, edited by John Day and Alendro Yáñez-Arancibia, provides a comprehensive study of ecosystem-based management, analyzing key coastal ecosystems in eleven Gulf Coast states from Florida to Quintana Roo and presenting case studies in which this integrated approach was tested in both the United States and in Mexico. John Barras is a co-author on Chapter 5, "Integrated Coastal Management in the Mississippi Delta: System Functioning as the Basis of Sustainable Management." Richard Day co-authored Chapter 14, "Global Climate Change Impacts on Coastal Ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico: Considerations for Integrated Coastal Management."posted: 2013-07-12
In August 2012, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers rejoined scientists and staff from their partner agencies for a second year of collecting seafloor photographs, bottom video, and sediment samples off Massachusetts. These data are being used to identify bottom typessuch as bedrock, gravel, sand, or mudand organisms living on the seafloor and in the sediment.
Read more in Sound Wavesposted: 2013-07-11
A new more sensitive weight-based approach for monitoring coral growth in the wild has been developed by U.S. Geological Survey researchers leading to more definitive answers about the status of coral reefs.
Using the weight-based approach, scientists discovered that colonies of the Massive Starlet coral calcified about 50 percent faster in the remote Dry Tortugas National Park compared to three sites along the rest of the island chain from Miami to Marathon, Fla. The reasons behind this surprising pattern are not clear, leaving a mystery sure to pique the interest of many reef managers.
To learn more about the new more sensitive weight-based approach for monitoring coral growth, read the USGS press release.
To learn more about the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies Project, please visit the website.posted: 2013-07-10
On July 1, USGS released the Science Plan, "Meeting the Science Needs of the Nation in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy - A U.S. Geological Survey Science Plan in Support of Restoration and Recovery." This science plan was developed immediately following Hurricane Sandy to coordinate continuing USGS activities with other agencies and to guide continued data collection and analysis to ensure support for recovery and restoration efforts. The data, information, and tools that are produced by implementing this plan will: (1) further characterize impacts and changes, (2) guide mitigation and restoration of impacted communities and ecosystems, (3) inform a redevelopment strategy aimed at developing resilient coastal communities and ecosystems, (4) improve preparedness and responsiveness to the next hurricane or similar coastal disaster, and (5) enable improved hazard assessment, response, and recovery for future storms along the hurricane prone shoreline of the United States.posted: 2013-07-09
The Department of the Interior recently announced the release of $475.25 million in emergency disaster relief funding to repair, rebuild, and restore impacted areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This will also provide investments in scientific data and studies to support recovery in the region. USGS science will help identify coastal areas that have been made more vulnerable to storm damage and provide communities with critical information needed for recovery that will also help prepare for future storm events.posted: 2013-07-09
Hurricanes unleash dangerous waves and powerful currents capable of moving large amounts of sand, destroying buildings and infrastructure, and reshaping our nation's coastline. USGS research focuses on understanding the magnitude and variability of the impacts of hurricanes and extreme storms on the sandy beaches of the United States. The overall objective is to improve the capability to predict coastal change that results from severe storms. Such a capability will support management of coastal infrastructure, resources, and safety. Understanding the impacts of coastal change is just one way science keeps our Nation prepared.posted: 2013-07-09
On July 1, the USGS released two reports assessing the probability of hurricane-induced coastal change on sandy beaches from Florida to New York. The reportsone assessing the coastline from Florida to North Carolina, the second from Virginia to New Yorkcan function as a reference for community planners and emergency managers along the Eastern Seaboard. SPCMSC staff participating in the reports include Hilary Stockdon, Kara Doran, Nathaniel Plant, Kristy Sopkin, and Dave Thompson. The reports were released with an online component, http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/hurricanes/erosionhazards/, which can act as a "virtual tookit" for emergency planners to help make decisions on how to best address coastal vulnerabilities.posted: 2013-07-03
On June 26 and 27, thirty 8th grade students attending University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science's (CMS) Oceanography Camp for Girls visited the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) to learn about how hurricanes and other extreme storms impact our coastline. Kara Doran used the Center's 16-foot wave tank to demonstrate how waves form, travel, and deposit sand on beaches giving the students the opportunity to make their own waves. Theresa Burress simulated a hurricane using the Center's coastal erosion model, which illustrates how wind and waves transport sediment from a barrier island during storms. Thirteen students also had the opportunity to interview Center scientists one-on-one about their work. Participating SPCMSC scientists included Kara Doran, Jennifer Flannery, Sophia Liu, Jennifer Miselis, Karen Morgan, Lisa Osterman, Nathaniel Plant, Julie Richey, and Tom Smith.posted: 2013-07-03
On July 2, USGS research oceanographer Dr. Lisa Robbins (USGS-St Petersburg) and graduate students Paul Knorr and Kira Barrera met with Jacob Courant and a film crew from the Savannah College of Art and Design at the US Geological Survey in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. Courant is directing and co-producing a short documentary film about ocean acidification (OA) and its socioeconomic effects in the Florida Keys. To collect information for the film, Mr. Courant interviewed Robbins on ongoing OA projects and Knorr on his dissertation research about tropical benthic foraminifera, Archaias and Amphistigina, and techniques used in the laboratory. Additionally, Robbins' group is currently conducting experiments on a prolific tropical/subtropical sediment producer, the green alga, Halimeda, found throughout the Florida Keys and near Tampa Bay.posted: 2013-07-03
On June 18, 2013, the Maine legislature sent out notification of a Joint Resolution "Recognizing Ocean Acidification as a Threat to Maine's Coastal Economy, Communities and Way of Life" (SP0599). The legislation was sent to the members of the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWG-OA), of which SPCMSC Oceanographer Lisa Robbins is a member. For text of the legislation, please see: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/billtexts/SP059901.asp.posted: 2013-07-03
Special Issue, 63, of the Journal of Coastal Research, Understanding and Predicting Change in the Coastal Ecosystems of the Northern Gulf of Mexico was just published.
Read the full range of articles online at Journal of Coastal Researchposted: 2013-07-02
On June 28, the recently acquired 2530 Extended Cabin Parker, retrofitted as a research vessel, was named the R/V Sallenger. The name was placed on the vessel before her first field work in Biloxi, MS. The committee responsible for the retrofit, including Keith Ludwig (chair), Mark Hansen, Jack Kindinger, Jennifer Miselis, and Dave Zawada, unanimously recommended the name to SPCMSC director Richard Poore, who approved it June 19. By convention, boat names are two or three syllables, so they can be easily understood on the radio. There is also a tradition that names carry a meaning special to the boat. Hopefully, the R/V Sallenger will carry on Abby's legacy to the Center proudly.posted: 2013-07-01
Sound Waves - USGS bi-monthly newsletter of coastal and marine research
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