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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.

Coral collected from reef near polluted groundwater seeps, A, shows more erosion than coral collected away from seeps, B, in these CT scans and photographs. cm = centimeterPolluted groundwater threatens coral reefs

Coral reefs already stressed by ocean acidification are particularly vulnerable to polluted groundwater, according to a recent study by USGS geologist Nancy Prouty and colleagues. Rising atmospheric CO2 is causing a gradual decrease in ocean pH, making it more difficult for corals to grow calcium carbonate skeletons and enhancing rates of dissolution and bioerosion—the breakdown of coral by other organisms. The authors show that polluted groundwater discharging onto coral reefs off west Maui, Hawai‘i, further lowers seawater pH and exposes corals to nitrate concentrations 50 times higher than normal. Such land-based pollution could contribute to the collapse of coastal coral reef ecosystems sooner than predicted just on the basis of ocean acidification. The study was published in the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, featured on AGU’s GeoSpace blog, and reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and the Associated Press. Contact: Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526

posted: 2017-11-17

Photo shows two polar bears rummaging around the eroding coastal bluffs of Barter Island in northern Alaska in July of 2016. The bears triggered a motion-activated camera. Photo courtesy of Bruce Richmond, USGS.ABC News speaks to USGS researchers about Arctic coastal change

USGS scientists Li Erikson and Ann Gibbs spoke by phone with producers from ABC News on November 2 about permafrost, coastal erosion, and changing sea-ice conditions at Barter Island on Alaska’s Arctic coast. Durrell Dawson and Doug Vollmayer were making an ABC News television documentary about polar bears and their habitat in Alaska and wanted to learn more about Arctic coastal change described on the USGS web site. The documentary, which features polar bear researchers from the USGS Alaska Science Center, is currently scheduled to air Tuesday, November 21. Contact: Li Erikson,, 831-460-7563

See a larger version of the polar bear photo.

posted: 2017-11-16

USGS researcher announced as judge for Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition

XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world's grandest challenges. XPRIZE announced in a press release the identities of the independent international judging panel that will choose the winners of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition. The panel consists of experts in seafloor mapping, data analysis, marine and drone technologies, and underwater discoveries: Victor Abbott, Ph.D., formerly of the University of Plymouth; Aida Alvera Azcarate, Ph.D., University of Liege; Douglas Au, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; Catherine Ball, Ph.D., Remote Research Ranges; Christina Kellogg, Ph.D., United States Geological Survey; David Mearns, Blue Water Recoveries; and Shah Selbe, National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

posted: 2017-11-16

USGS Research Microbiologist interviewed by American Society for Microbiology

During the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) workshop, held at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM)'s headquarters, ASM communications staff interviewed Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC Research Microbiologist) about the purpose of the NMDC workshop, her role on the Microbiome Interagency Working Group (MIWG), and the recent release of a USGS fact sheet showcasing USGS microbiome research. The interview will appear in a blog post on the society's website.

For more information:

posted: 2017-11-16

3D point cloud images looking at the Mud Creek slide, first image from airplane photo and second from drone.LA Times story about Big Sur landslide features quotes, imagery from USGS

USGS geologists Jon Warrick (Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center) and Kevin Schmidt (Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center) are quoted in a November 9 Los Angeles Times story titled “Highway 1 was buried under a massive landslide. Months later, engineers battle Mother Nature to fix it.” The story takes readers to Mud Creek on California’s Big Sur coast, where millions of tons of rock and dirt slid toward the ocean last May. It details some of the steps that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is taking to stabilize the slide and rebuild the road. Among the illustrations are 3D images of the landslide constructed by Warrick. He and Schmidt have been studying slides along the Big Sur coast and sharing their findings with Caltrans. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569

Learn more about the USGS project, Remote Sensing Coastal Change.

View a larger version of this animation.

posted: 2017-11-15

Gerry Hatcher, left, and Shawn Harrison work on their video camera station atop a hotel in Santa Cruz, California. Photo by Shawn Harrison, USGSEyes on the Coast—Video Cameras Help Forecast Coastal Change

Coastal communities count on beaches for recreation and for protection from large waves, but beaches are vulnerable to threats such as erosion by storms and flooding. Whether beaches grow, shrink, or even disappear depends in part on what happens just offshore. How do features like shifting sandbars affect waves, currents, and the movement of sand from the beach to offshore and back? USGS scientists have installed video cameras pointed at beaches on the coast of western Florida and central California. They’re analyzing the videos to measure features of the beach and ocean so they can improve coastal-change forecasts.

Read the USGS News article from November 8, 2017.

posted: 2017-11-14

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Page Last Modified: December 05, 2016 11:14 AM (JSG)