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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.

"News & Views" article on coral-reef degradation published in Nature

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa B. Kuffner describes the significance of new work on the loss of reef-building capacity in the world's coral reefs for the journal Nature. In a "News & Views" article entitled "Sea-level rise could overwhelm coral reefs," she summarizes the work of Perry et al. (2018). published in the same Nature issue, and explains the implications of the group's findings for the management and conservation of the world's coral reef ecosystems. Kuffner describes how Perry et al.'s assessment of the capacity of coral reefs to grow fast enough to keep up with projected rises in sea level finds that most reefs will fall behind if nothing is done to restore them.

posted: 2018-06-18

USGS scientists publish study in the journal, Marine Micropaleontology, that proposes a new proxy for winter sea surface temperatures in the past

Caitlin Reynolds and Julie Richey (Geologists, USGS, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center), along with colleagues from University of South Florida, Oregon State University and University of California Davis, published a paper titled "Environmental controls on the geochemistry of Globorotalia truncatulinoides in the Gulf of Mexico: Implications for paleoceanographic reconstructions." This study uses foraminifera from the long-running (>10 years) Gulf of Mexico Sediment Trap to investigate the geochemical variations in the calcium carbonate shells of G. truncatulinoides, a species of foraminifera that lives in the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico exclusively during the winter months. The objective of this study was to verify that this species is living within the surface mixed-layer, and to calibrate its trace metal (Mg/Ca) composition to sea surface water temperature. Ultimately, this study shows that the non-encrusted form of this species can be used to reconstruct winter sea surface temperature in the Atlantic Ocean in the geologic record, allowing scientists to reconstruct changes in seasonal climatic extremes in the past.

posted: 2018-06-18

Photograph of John WarnerJohn Warner selected as one of AGU's Outstanding Reviewers of 2017

American Geophysical Union (AGU) Publications recognizes a number of outstanding reviewers each year. They were selected by the editors of each journal for their work in 2017. Outstanding reviewers provided in-depth evaluations, often over more than one round of revision, that greatly improved the final published papers. This increase in complexity, in turn, has increased the challenge and the role of reviewing.

John Warner, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, was cited by Robert Hetland, editor of Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.


posted: 2018-06-14

Amy East sits in a forested area wearing field gear talking to an unseen interviewer.Amy East elected GSA Fellow for insights into landscape response to changes in sediment supply

The Geological Society of America (GSA) elected USGS research geologist Amy East to be a GSA Fellow, “an honor bestowed on the best of our profession,” at the spring GSA Council meeting. East was nominated by Jon Major of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory “for insightful research contributions that have extended fundamental understanding of landscape responses to changes in sediment supply in modern and ancient sedimentary systems." East’s research includes studies on how altered sediment supply affected Washington State’s Elwha River during and after removal of two large dams, how California coastal watersheds respond to extreme rainfall, how Glen Canyon Dam affects downstream river-borne and wind-driven sediment in the Grand Canyon, and how the sedimentary records of active plate margins get preserved or destroyed over long time scales.

Contact: Amy East,, 831-460-7533

Watch:Running Rivers,” a video profile of Amy East.

posted: 2018-06-08

USGS scientists investigate the millennial-scale history of the "Threatened" elkhorn coral in Dry Tortugas National Park

Dr. Lauren Toth (Research Oceanographer, SPCMSC) and Anastasios Stathakopoulos (Oceanographer, SPCMSC) will collaborate with the National Park Service to complete a week-long expedition to Dry Tortugas National Park to study the occurrence of the elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, within the park during the Holocene. The elkhorn coral has been responsible for building wave-breaking, shallow-reef habitats throughout the western Atlantic for hundreds of thousands of years. Despite its historical dominance throughout Florida and the rest of the western Atlantic, this species has been conspicuously absent from the known fossil record of the Dry Tortugas National Park. Recently, however, SPCMSC scientists working on the CREST project discovered extensive deposits of sub-fossil elkhorn on Pulaski Shoal in the northeast part of the park that dated to a period ~4500 to 3500 years ago. On this trip the SPCMSC researchers will conduct a thorough survey of the park to look for previously unrecognized sub-fossil A. palmata, map the extent of the outcrop, and collect additional samples for radiometric dating to better understand the history of elkhorn populations and their role in reef development in the region. Elkhorn is now listed as "Threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act so the insights gained from this study may provide valuable information for the future management and restoration of this species.

posted: 2018-06-06

USGS Scientist invited to speak at Gordon Research Conference

Dr. Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC Research Microbiologist) was invited to give a talk entitled "Microbial Ecology of Mesophotic Coral Reefs" at the 2018 Mesophotic Coral Reef Gordon Research Conference. The conference takes place June 17–22, 2018, at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Mesophotic Coral Reef Ecosystems (MCE) are unique and understudied ecosystems characterized as low-light adapted deep reef communities that occur from ~30–150m. These reefs represent a unique ecosystem and there is a critical need to address many questions regarding the structure and function of MCE communities in their own right, but also to include their ecological role in the resilience of shallow coral reef communities to environmental insults. This conference will attract experts from around the world, as well as students and post-doctoral researchers, to present new data and evaluate the evidence supporting the multiple factors controlling the structure and function of MCE communities worldwide.

posted: 2018-06-06

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