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News Archive - stories from January 2014.

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

Disasterville at MOSISenior Scientist Recognized for Service on MOSI board

In January, 2014, USGS Oceanographer Lisa Robbins rotated off from the Board of Directors of the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Fla. MOSI Director Wit Ostrenko and Vice President of Development Molly Demeulenaere acknowledged Robbins for her eleven years of service to the Board. In 2007, Lisa was instrumental in connecting the USGS with Disasterville, a permanent 10,000 sq. ft. exhibit that explores the science behind natural disasters. In 2009, MOSI was the Gold Medal Winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for museums. During Lisa's tenure, the museum has grown from 210,000 sq. ft. to over 400,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space, making it the largest science museum in the Southeastern U.S.

For more information about Lisa's appointment to the MOSI board and the Disasterville exhibit, see the following Soundwaves articles:

posted: 2014-01-30

University of South FloridaScientists give Tour to Provost Scholar's Marine Science Undergraduates

USGS scientists spoke about ongoing coastal and marine science research on January 22 to 3 undergraduate students and 2 graduate students who are interested in pursuing marine science as a career. The tour was part of a professional development day organized by the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science. The students are participating in USF's Provost Scholar's Program, which is an accelerated program that allows goal-oriented students the opportunity to complete their undergraduate program in three years and pursue their graduate education and career goals. Theresa Burress (Librarian) provided an overview of USGS and discussed current natural hazards, climate, and ecosystem research at the Center. The students also met with Ilsa Kuffner (Research Ecologist) to learn more about current coral reef monitoring efforts and Mike Gray (Microbiologist) to learn about deep-sea coral microbial ecology projects.

posted: 2014-01-30

Scientists vibracoring, a method used to reconstruct the past from Earth sedimentsScientists to answer Coring Questions via Voice Recorder with Brookline, Mass. Middle School Students

On January 19, 2014, an 8th grade science teacher from Brookline, Massachusetts, asked USGS staff members Kyle Kelso and Nancy DeWitt whether they would be willing to do a short interview to discuss their work using coring to help reconstruct ancient environments, and to explain how this helps to create better climate models for the future. The class collected their own sediment cores during the fall of 2013 at a local Massachusetts lake—with mixed success—and had some follow-up questions for the scientists. On January 27, Kyle and Nancy received a series of 5 questions from the students about both the vibracoring equipment and how the sediment data obtained is used to interpret past climate. Kyle and Nancy will respond to the interview questions by the end of the month, using online voice recording software.

posted: 2014-01-30

Map showing SLRDs for 60-yr time series at gauge locations across North America from Hotspot article by Sallenger, Howd, and DoranUSGS Research Continues to be Referenced in Sea Level Rise Discussions

"The Flood Next Time" a frequently cited article by Justin Gillis published in the Environment section of the New York Times on January 14, focuses on continuing research into Sea Level Rise (SLR) in lower Manhattan. The article describes the importance of the tide gauge originally emplaced in the Battery section of New York City in the 1850's. The article emphasizes the central tenant of the Hotspot paper authored by SPCMSC researchers Sallenger, Howd, and Doran that localities on the Northeastern US coast will likely feel the impacts of relative SLR more than other coastal areas. Gillis mentions other likely sources of increased relative SLR including glacial rebound, and a meteor impact in the Chesapeake Bay area also revealed by USGS research.

To view the Flood Next Time article see:®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article

The Sallenger, Howd, and Doran Hotspot article can be viewed at:

posted: 2014-01-30

The four major coal-producing regions are shown in relation to the areal extent of the Mississippi River watershed.Deep-sea coral record of human impact on watershed quality in the Mississippi River Basin

Land-use changes in the Mississippi River Basin are associated with increased carbon and nitrogen pollution from the Mississippi River and persistent eutrophication and hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM). In a paper published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles (, USGS scientist Nancy Prouty and colleagues present a novel record of land-use changes using the chemistry of deep-sea corals collected in the GOM. The authors introduce a new chemical tracer of agro-industrialization, rhenium (Re). Their analyses of Re and other trace metals and nitrogen isotopes from deep-sea coral samples show that the chemistry of deep-sea corals records upstream changes in water quality. The new approach provides a quantitative way to evaluate effects of future land-use and climate change on downstream biogeochemical cycles.
See a larger version of the map.

For more information, contact Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-4748.

posted: 2014-01-28

image of methane bubble from Lake QualluuraqUSGS Research Geophysicist, participates in All Things Considered discussion on National Public Radio

On January 6, 2014, USGS Research Geophysicist, Carolyn Ruppel, participated in a discussion on National Public Radio's All Things Considered Program.

To view the transcript or listen to the discussion, visit Arctic Methane Bubbles Not As Foreboding As Once Feared at National Public Radio

posted: 2014-01-27

Jesse McNinch at a sea-level workshopU.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research Director to speak on 500-year Hurricane History

USGS Geologist Cheryl Hapke invited Jesse McNinch, director of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) Field Research Facility in Duck, NC, to speak at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science Seminar Series. Jesse will speak on Thursday, 1/23, at 3:30 pm in the Marine Science Laboratory Conference room about "A 500-yr, high-resolution hurricane history from St. Croix, USVI suggests sensitivity to ENSO (El-Niño Southern Oscillation) and AMO (Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation)." Jesse's expertise is in applying observational techniques in shallow water coastal environments to understanding processes driving coastal change. Jesse has worked with Cheryl Hapke on her Pre-Sandy research at Fire Island, NY, and will continue with the supplement-funded Post-Sandy research.

posted: 2014-01-22

2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science ConferenceUSGS Researcher Presents Poster at Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Ecosystem Science Conference

From January 27-29, USGS scientist Patricia Dalyander (Soupy) will attend the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in Mobile, AL. Co-authored with USGS scientists J. Long, N. Plant, and D. Thompson, Soupy will present the poster "Estimating the Potential Cross-shore Distribution of Oil Mat Formation in the Surf Zone during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill." The poster covers work chartered by the Deepwater Horizon Federal On-Scene Coordinator as part of the Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT3) effort. USGS scientists developed and applied a numerical model-based methodology for analyzing the depths at which oil and sand could have mixed during the Deepwater Horizon blowout to form the heavier-than-water oil/sand mats in the surf zone that persisted in causing beach re-oiling for a couple of years after the spill.

For more information on the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Science Conference, see:

posted: 2014-01-22

Conservation Award Ceremony program coverDOI Partners in Conservation Award

On January 16, the Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI), Sally Jewell, presented Partners in Conservation awards to 20 public-private partnerships at the main Interior auditorium. The award recognizes outstanding examples of conservation legacies achieved when DOI engages groups and individuals representing a wide range of backgrounds, ages, and interests to work collaboratively to renew lands and resources. Among the 20 groups nominated, USGS microbiologist Christina Kellogg participated with the USGS DISCOVRE team as part of the "Atlantic Canyons Pathways to the Abyss", Mid-Atlantic Region/International. The "Pathways to the Abyss" award represented a diverse array of partners including Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and USGS; the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; nine universities and colleges, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; and four other private research organizations, museums and institutes. The partners collaborated on the use of robotic underwater vehicles and other cutting-edge tools to discover and research deep-water coral habitats.

For more information, see the DOI press release:

posted: 2014-01-22

Graph from the PLoS-ONE article onlinePaper on Coral Classification by Fluorescence published by USGS author

On January 15, USGS geologist Dave Zawada published a paper in PloS One entitled Fluorescence-Based Classification of Caribbean Coral Reef Organisms and Substrates. In it Dave demonstrates the effectiveness of using fluorescence spectra to classify organisms and substrates commonly found in Caribbean coral reef communities.

posted: 2014-01-22

Photograph of a crown-of-thorns sea star.Threats to Coral Reefs in American Samoa

USGS geologist Curt Storlazzi traveled to the National Park of American Samoa in mid-January 2014 to help the National Park Service address threats to coral reefs on the north side of the island of Tutuila. Threats include pollution caused by historical land-use practices, climate change (coral bleaching has occurred), outbreaks of crown-of-thorns sea stars (pictured here) that can kill coral reefs, and overfishing of grazers that suppress algal overgrowth caused by land-based pollution. Storlazzi also coordinated with academic, NOAA, and EPA scientists and American Samoa officials on research needs for the US Coral Reef Task Force priority study area at Faga'alu on the south side of Tutuila, where excessive land-based pollution threatens reefs. For more information, contact Curt Storlazzi,, 831-460-7521.posted: 2014-01-17

USGS scientist Nancy Prouty collects water from the Niskin bottles on the CTD after deployment.USGS Among Recipients of Prestigious DOI Partners in Conservation Award

The multiagency project “Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Atlantic Deepwater Canyons” ( is a recipient of the 2013 U.S. Department of the Interior's Partners in Conservation Award. This study investigated the ecology of deepwater canyons off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast—pathways for nutrients, sediments, and pollutants from the continental shelf to the deep sea about which little was previously known. Participants came from 17 organizations, including USGS, BOEM, NOAA, WHOI, several universities, private firms, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science. Principal USGS participants are Colleen Charles, Amanda Demopoulos, Cheryl Morrison, Christina Kellogg, and Nancy Prouty. Out of many nominations, only 20 partnerships were recognized in 2013 from all nine bureaus of DOI. The Secretary of the Interior presented the awards January 16, 2014, in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526.posted: 2014-01-16

Image of the cover of bookPhotos from USGS Researcher featured in New International Book on Marine Aquaria

A new hardcover German book, "Meeresaquaristik: Probleme vermeiden erkennen lösen" (Marine Aquaria: Solving visible problems) by Dieter Brockmann was published in November, 2013, using several photographs of coral disease taken by USGS Research Microbiologist Christina Kellogg. Dr. Brockman discovered the photos while browsing the online gallery of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies web page and contacted Dr. Kellogg for permission to include them in his book.

To see a gallery of the USGS black-band disease photos, vist:

posted: 2014-01-08

Hapke collects GPS data for beach profiles at Fire Island National SeashoreFire Island Web Site Described in Environmental Newsletter

On December 30, 2013, the Environmental Monitor published an article written by Alex Card describing the new website authored by USGS Geologist Cheryl Hapke about current and recent research and findings of coastal behavior at Fire Island, NY, including impacts of Hurricane Sandy. The Environmental Monitor is an online newsletter featuring application and technology news for environmental professionals. The article emphasized how the website is a new type of product that the USGS is developing as an approach to make USGS research more accessible to the general public.

To view the article, visit:

To see the USGS Fire Island web site, visit 2014-01-08

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