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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

Recent News

Recent News - stories from the last 14 days.

For information about a story, contact Ann Tihansky (202) 208-3342.

Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE-teams announcedUSGS scientist evaluates XPRIZE Phase 2 trials

From December 10–12, Christina Kellogg, (Research Microbiologist) from the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) will travel to Monterey, California, to act as a judge in the phase 2 trials of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE (see SPCMSC Highlight from 2014-09-11). Chris will be involved in a team summit followed by a judges meeting.

For more information on the XPRIZE competition, visit:

posted: 2014-12-11

Aquifer Storage and Recovery in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration PlanUSGS scientist on Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) Special Review Panel

John Lisle (Research Microbiologist) will be participating as a panel member for the review of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) Regional Study which is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and the ASR Regional Study to be held in Jacksonville, Florida, from 12/10–12/12. This requirement, for review of the ASR Regional Study, is fulfilled by a panel assembled by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences. The ASR Regional Study has three major components: a regional groundwater model, a hydrogeological evaluation (including water quality), and an ecosystem risk assessment. Dr. Lisle contributed to the groundwater quality evaluation with the USGS publication "Survival of Bacterial Indicators and the Functional Diversity of Native Microbial Communities in the Floridan Aquifer System, South Florida" (OFR 2014-1011), which was summarized in a chapter of the ASR Regional Study final report.

posted: 2014-12-11

Islamorada in the Florida KeysIslamorada, Florida fieldwork continues for supporting Coral Reef Project

USGS Dave Zawada and Kim Yates have sent a 4-person team (Nate Smiley, Legna Torres-Garcia, Anesti Stathakopoulos, and Chris Moore) to Islamorada in the Florida Keys from 12/7 to 12/12, as part of their ongoing work on Crocker Reef for the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) project. The team will be performing regular maintenance and downloading data from the Ocean Carbon System (OCS). They will also be deploying 4 Acoustic-Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs). The ADCP data will be used to model water transport on the reef.

posted: 2014-12-11

Map of study areaUSGS scientist consulted for Fire Island - Montauk Point, NY Federal Plan

Cheryl Hapke (Research Geologist) from the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC), will represent the USGS on a Department of Interior (DOI) technical advisory team to provide coastal science expertise to the National Park Service (NPS) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for planning discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) NY District in the development and modification of the Fire Island to Montauk Point preliminary Federal Plan. The meeting will be held at USACE Headquarters in New York City from 12/8–12/9.

posted: 2014-12-11

Photos of Wallerconcha sarae, and of USGS chief scientist Brian Edwards with USGS researcher Andy Stevenson collecting samples from the gravity corer.New Bivalve Species Discovered in Arctic Ocean Sediment

A new species of bivalve mollusk (clams, mussels, oysters, and their kin) was discovered more than 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) below the Arctic Ocean surface off northern Alaska. The new species was found in sediment cores that penetrated over 4.5 meters (15 feet) into an unusual seafloor mound. Age estimates place the clam as living as much as 1.8 million years ago to near present; it might still be alive today. USGS scientists aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy collected the cores in 2010 during a joint U.S.-Canadian cruise to map the limits of U.S. and Canadian Extended Continental Shelf. The animal was identified as a new genus and species by Paul Valentich-Scott of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Named Wallerconcha sarae, it was reported in the open-access journal ZooKeys (doi:10.3897/zookeys.462.6790). For more information, contact Tom Lorenson,, 831-460-7410.
View larger versions of the photographs: Wallerconcha sarae (photo credit, Paul Valentich-Scott), and USGS researchers Brian Edwards and Andy Stevenson (photo credit, Helen Gibbons, USGS).

posted: 2014-12-11

Shaded relief bathymetry draped draped by slope gradient, warm colors indicate steep slope, cool colors indicate gentle slope.Mapping Fault Deformation and Large Submarine Landslides Off Southern California

To better understand offshore earthquake and tsunami hazards, USGS scientists from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) and the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center ran a multichannel seismic survey off southern California in late November. Led by PCMSC, the research cruise was a collaborative effort between USGS, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and University of California, Santa Cruz. It produced detailed images of

  1. Holocene and late-Pleistocene deformation associated with three offshore faults, and
  2. large submarine landslides along a ridgeline facing Santa Monica.

The three faults—San Clemente fault, Catalina fault, and San Diego Trough fault—combined accommodate 10–15% of the North America-Pacific plate motion (5–7 mm/yr). Results of the survey will contribute to probabilistic hazards models for metropolitan Los Angeles and San Diego. For more information, contact Danny Brothers,, 831-460-7460.

Read more about our “Coastal and Marine Earthquake, Tsunami, and Landslide Active Margin Field Studies.”

posted: 2014-12-05

Figure 1 from USGS Tectonics paper on the junction between the San Andreas and Calaveras faults, reprinted in a KQED blog about the paper. Red lines are active faults; yellow dots are earthquake locations; H marks the town of Hollister. The three lines X-X’, Y-Y’ and Z-Z’ are locations of cross sections from the paper that are also reprinted in the blog.3D Study of Fault Junction Featured on KQED Science Blog

A recent Tectonics paper by USGS scientists studying the junction between California’s San Andreas and Calaveras faults was featured in a KQED Science Blog ( Blog author Andrew Alden described how USGS geophysicist Janet Watt and colleagues combined geologic and geophysical data to develop a 3D picture, or model, of the fault junction. Alden selected graphics from the paper (doi: 10.1002/2014TC003561) to show how the model reveals two cross faults that may connect the San Andreas and Calaveras faults at depth. He echoes the authors’ comments about the importance of 3D fault investigations when he writes, “Because earthquakes can spread from one major fault to another, these are the things we need to find if we want to learn our earthquake future.” KQED is a public media outlet based in San Francisco, California.

See a larger version of the map pictured here.
For more information, contact Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565.

posted: 2014-12-04

Chrysogorgia sp. coral being collected on October 15, 2011, at a depth of 1,094 meters (3,600 feet) in the Gulf of Mexico from the vessel Holiday Chouest using the Schilling ultra-heavy-duty remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Image was acquired with an AquaPix AquaSLR digital still camera held by the ROV manipulator arm. Photo courtesy of Penn State Professor of Biology Charles Fisher.Extreme Longevity and Slow Growth Rates of Deep-Sea Corals in Area Affected by Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Highlight Vulnerability

USGS scientists Nancy Prouty and Amanda Demopoulos and academic colleagues published “Growth rates and ages of deep-sea corals impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill” in Deep-Sea Research II in November 2014 (doi: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2014.10.021). The authors report growth rates based on deep-sea (> 800 meters) corals collected in 2010 and 2011 from an area affected by the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill. Using radiocarbon dating methods, they report life spans of over 600 years. These slow-growing corals yield radial growth rates between 0.34 and 14.20 micrometers/year. Low radiocarbon values for some corals’ soft tissue indicate they were feeding in part on petroleum-derived carbon, potentially related to the DWH spill. The extreme longevity and slow growth rates highlight the vulnerability of these deep-sea coral species to disturbance. For more information, contact Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526.

posted: 2014-12-04

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