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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.

Major faults in the vicinity of Paicines, California, about 50 kilometers east of Monterey Bay. Shaded box shows area where the San Andreas and Calaveras faults intersect.Integrated Geologic and Geophysical Study of the San Andreas-Calaveras Fault Junction Reveals 3D Geometry and Connectivity

USGS research geophysicist Janet Watt and colleagues published an article in Tectonics ( on their use of potential-field, geologic, geodetic, and seismicity data to study fault geometry and slip transfer through the 60-kilometer-long junction of California’s San Andreas and Calaveras faults. Among the major findings: (a) seismically active cross faults connect the two faults at depth, suggesting that through-going earthquake rupture is possible and that the steeply dipping Calaveras fault zone should be considered in future seismic-hazard analyses; (b) serpentinite and related rocks are widespread within the fault junction, which may help explain why the two faults creep in the junction. The study highlights the need for 3D characterization of fault geometry at deep intersections of major faults that do not intersect at the Earth’s surface. For more information, contact Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565.

posted: 2014-11-21

Ocean acidification: the new threat for marine ecosystemsUSGS Senior Scientist helped lead first Latin American Ocean Acidification (OA) Workshop

USGS St Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center scientist, Dr. Lisa Robbins, participated as an instructor and co-organizer (as lead in the Capacity Building component of the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) for the first Latin–American Ocean Acidification (LAOCA) Workshop November 10-15, 2014 held in Dichato, Chile. The workshop was sponsored by the OA-ICC and the Universidad de Concepción, Institute de Musels, Chile. Attending the workshop were 20 students from around Latin America including Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Columbia. The course was taught by Robbins and Drs. Sam Dupont (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), Helen Findley (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK), Andrew Dickson (Scripps, California), Jose Martin Hernandez-Ayon (Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Mexico), Cristian Vargas (Universidad de Concepción) and Nelson Lagos (Chile). One of the goals of this short course was to provide researchers in this new field of ocean acidification information on the "best practices" in the field. Robbins provided information on the CO2-system chemistry of ocean acidification and how to measure it using different techniques and the use of carbon calculators. In a separate mini symposium held at the University of Concepción, Robbins' powerpoint talk focused on setting up scientific networks and the framework associated with the study of OA.

For more information about the LAOCA workshop, visit:

posted: 2014-11-20

Graphic of the coccidioidomycosis cycle in humansUSGS scientist helps CDC staff locate source of airborne microbe

From 11/15 to 11/23, USGS microbiologist Dale Griffin will do fieldwork in Tucson, Arizona, with staff from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help locate the source of coccidioidomycosis, or Valley Fever. Even though the fungus is known to be transported airborne, it has never been captured from in-situ air samples. Dale was chosen for his experience in collecting microbe samples from African Dust that travels across the Atlantic Ocean (see Soundwaves article, March 2002). The initial CDC sampling program will be in and around Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson.

posted: 2014-11-20

Underwater photograph showing the name of the sunken barge Umpqua, taken by MBARI from their remotely-operated vehicle or ROV.Shipwreck Discovered During Sampling Cruise in Monterey Bay, California

Scientists with the USGS and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) discovered a sunken barge during a weeklong sampling cruise in Monterey Bay, where they are studying sediment transport and natural hazards, including the offshore San Gregorio fault zone. USGS research geologist Katie Maier was examining sonar images from MBARI’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) when she spotted angular features that suggested a manmade object in Monterey Canyon. The researchers—who were using MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts to sample deep-sea sediment in the canyon—focused one dive on the angular object and discovered that it was the Umpqua II out of Reedsport, Oregon. The barge ran aground in 1982 near Moss Landing and was towed out and sunk in the canyon. Read about the discovery at For more information, contact Katie Maier,, 831-460-7461.

posted: 2014-11-12

New species of white coral, found in an area known as The Football. Most likely it is closely related to gorgonian corals. Credit: NOAA.USGS Part of Multiagency Investigation that Discovered New Coral Species off California

On November 5, NOAA announced the discovery of a new species of deep-sea coral and a nursery area for catsharks and skates in underwater canyons near the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. The discoveries came during the first intensive exploration of California’s offshore areas north of Bodega Head by a consortium of federal and state marine scientists that included USGS geophysicist Guy Cochrane. They used small submersibles and other technologies to film and photograph marine life in waters reaching 1,000 feet deep. Cochrane, whose USGS team had collected sonar data in the area in 2011, noted: "The video surveys from this research mission verified the extent of rocky habitat estimated from sonar data collected several years ago." Read the NOAA news release at For more information, contact Guy Cochrane,, 831-460-7554.

posted: 2014-11-12

Maps of bathymetry and geology in Point Reyes, CaliforniaWorkshops on the California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program

On October 22 and 23, 2014, the USGS, the California Ocean Protection Council, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) co-hosted two workshops on the California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program (CSCMP) at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. CSCMP scientists are currently publishing a comprehensive geologic and habitat base-map series for all of California's State waters, and they are seeking feedback on how the program should go forward to best fit diverse scientific and stakeholder needs. Each workshop was attended by 45 to 50 participants, with representation from 32 different entities, including 9 state agencies, 8 federal agencies, 5 academic/research institutions, 3 regional associations, 3 non-governmental organizations, and 7 private-sector companies. The breadth of interests and expertise led to enthusiastic and fruitful discussions. For more information, contact Sam Johnson (, 831-460-7546) or Guy Cochrane (; 831-460-7554).

posted: 2014-11-09

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