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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

News Archive

News Archive - stories from February 2014.

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

Photograph was taken near the mouth of the Elwha River in Washington State.Effects of dam removal on coastal and marine ecosystems

USGS ecologist and Mendenhall post-doc Melissa Foley continues to study how the removal of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington state is affecting coastal and marine ecosystems. Foley is working with biologists for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to understand how changes in physical factors such as salinity, temperature, and turbidity affect biological productivity in estuaries near the river mouth, which have historically served as nursery habitat for juvenile salmon. In the nearshore, Foley is working with other USGS scientists to identify factors causing the loss of subtidal algae around the mouth of the Elwha River. Foley is measuring light availability, sediment deposition, and scouring frequency to determine if one or a combination of these factors is driving the marked decrease in algal cover since dam removal began in 2011. For more information, contact Melissa Foley,, 831-460-7564.posted: 2014-02-27

The E/V Nautilus docked in the Port of St. PetersburgResearch vessel outfitting in SPCMSC 'backyard'

In early February, the E/V Nautilus docked in the Port of St. Petersburg, less than 0.8 km from the SPCMSC Center, for an overhaul of its complex data and communication systems. Led by Robert Ballard of the Ocean Exploration Trust, the Nautilus is on a mission to do sea-floor mapping of the submerged United States territories. The crew of 47 is expected to depart St. Petersburg in April or May for mapping in the Pacific Ocean. Ballard and the USGS have a long history of cooperation, from his early days in the mid-1970's at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to a 2013 cooperative study of Geohazards off Puerto Rico looking at cyclicity of offshore landslide deposits.

For information about the E/V Nautilus's current stay in St. Petersburg, see:

To see a 1979 USGS Field Metadata sheet about a cruise to the East Pacific Rise, visit:

posted: 2014-02-27

Hydroacoustics Working Group (HaWG) earns Excellence in Leadership Award

The USGS Excellence in Leadership Award is granted annually to recognize an individual, or group of individuals, for outstanding acts, services, or achievements that exemplify and support the USGS goal of developing a leadership-centered culture throughout the bureau.

The Hydroacoustics Working Group earned the award for its leadership and skill in transforming how stream flow measurements are made using acoustic Doppler technology.

Marinna Martini and Brandy Armstrong, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center staff, are members of the Hydroacoustics Working Group.posted: 2014-02-26

Image showing the CREST website Home pageOceanographer leads Continuing Fieldwork for Coral Reef Ecosystems Studies (CREST) Project

From March 11–18, USGS Oceanographer Dave Zawada will be leading a research team to Crocker Reef off Islamorada in the Florida Keys, the CREST-II study site. The team of 3 will be downloading six months of temperature and irradiance data from an array of instrumented-moorings, as well as changing batteries and performing necessary maintenance. CREST stands for the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies project and involves a blend of process and monitoring activities relevant to understanding the health and resilience of shallow water reef environments.

For an overview of the CREST project, visit:

posted: 2014-02-20

Florida Adapts logoInternal Training Seminar on Climate Change

On Feb 26th, USGS Research Ecologist Ilsa Kuffner will speak as part of a Florida Adapts, an internal Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) training program on climate change effects on Florida marine ecosystems. The training is a follow-on to the 2011 FWC Climate Change Certification of Completion. At least 44 people are expected to attend the training session. Ilsa's presentation, one of three 25-minute talks, is titled "Climate Change and Florida's Coral Reefs." The talks will be held in the Florida Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) Building in St. Petersburg, FL from 12:30 pm–2:30 pm.

posted: 2014-02-20

2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting logo2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting

From February 23–28, USGS scientists P. Soupy Dalyander, Joseph Long, Christina Kellogg, and David Zawada will be giving talks, presenting posters, and co-chairing sessions at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting held in Honolulu, Hawaii. USF–USGS Graduate Assistantship awardee Kaitlyn Lizza is also a lead author. The meeting is co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Association for Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and The Oceanography Society (TOS).

Presentations include:

Lizza, K. E., Zawada, D. G., Hine, A. C., Comparison of the Historical and Current Distribution of Acropora Cervicornis in Relation to Climatic Parameters and Habitat Characteristics: 2/26 Poster 2941

Dalyander, P.S., Butman, B., Patterns of Storm Driven Wave-induced Bottom Shear Stress on the U.S. East Coast Continental Shelf: 2/27 Poster 299

Kellogg, C. A., Gray, M. A., Bacterial Diversity and Biogeography of the Cold-water Gorgonian Primnoa Resedaeformis in Norfolk and Baltimore Canyons: 2/27 Poster 617

Zawada, D. G., Mazel, C. H., Unsupervised Classification of Caribbean Coral Reef Organisms and Substrates Based on Fluorescence Spectra: 2/27 Poster 2477

Long, J. W., Plant, N. G., Dalyander, P. S., Thompson, D. M., A Method for Constructing Wave Time-series at Inshore Locations Using Model Scenarios: 2/28 Friday 8:00AM

For more information on the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, visit:

posted: 2014-02-20

High-tide at a groundwater sampling site on Roi Namur atoll, November 2013.Groundwater Studies on Kwajalein Atoll

Peter Swarzenski of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center will continue studies of the coastal aquifer of Roi Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, February 23–March 3, 2014. Swarzenski is investigating underground freshwater and saltwater using geochemical and geophysical techniques, including trace metal, nutrient, and carbon geochemistry; radon isotope analysis; piezometry; thermal conductivity; and electrical resistivity. This work is part of a joint study for the Department of Defense, Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) by USGS, NOAA, and the University of Hawaii, to assess impacts of sea-level rise and storm-wave inundation on infrastructure and freshwater under various sea-level rise and climate scenarios. DOD will use the findings to develop climate-change adaptation plans for infrastructure and water resources. The findings also will be useful to Pacific island nations threatened by sea-level rise and climate change. For more information contact Peter Swarzenski,, 831-460-7529.posted: 2014-02-18

Graphic from OFR 2012-1234 showing mobility ratios of A: 0.03-centimeter (cm) quartz sand (sediment);  B: 2.5- cm, and C: 10-cm surface residual balls (SRBs) under large wave conditions in the northern Gulf of MexicoReport of Results for Modeling Oil/Sand Movement from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On February 6, USGS announced the publication of an analysis of a computer model to track the movement of sand/oil mixtures from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The article, "Dalyander, P.S., Long, J.W., Plant, N.P., and Thompson, D.M., Assessing mobility and redistribution patterns of sand and oil agglomerates in the surf zone" was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. In addition, the USGS press release cited the outputs of the modeling results in an Open-File Report, OFR 2012-1234. This effort has been a unique opportunity to leverage Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) expertise to inform a complex, time-sensitive, and applied problem. Knowledge gaps identified in this project provide future research opportunities for better response to oil spills and other applied problems in the nearshore.

To read the Marine Pollution Bulletin article, visit:

An additional reference to the possible range of oil mat formation, has been published as Appendix D of the Operational Science Advisory Team Report III (OSAT3) report:

The USGS press release can be viewed at:

posted: 2014-02-13

Images showing coastal damage from stormsInteragency Meeting on Coastal Resilience

On February 21, USGS Coastal Geologist Cheryl Hapke is presenting an overview of USGS efforts related to coastal resiliency for a meeting at the USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) Headquarters on G St. in Washington, D.C. Other agencies participating in the meeting on coastal resilience include various branches of the USACE, National Park Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Science Foundation. 

posted: 2014-02-13

Graphic from talk by WHCMSC scientist Neil GanjuWoods Hole Research Oceanographer to speak at SPCMSC

On February 18 at 1 pm in the Normile Conference Room, Neil Ganju, an oceanographer from the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC), will speak on "High-resolution observations and numerical modeling to evaluate estuarine habitat resilience: Recent work from the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center." Neil will present an overview of his work on the following three projects:

  • West Falmouth Harbor, Mass.—the effect of nutrient loading through groundwater on seagrass recovery
  • Chesapeake Bay, MD & VA - evaluating wetland stability through sediment flux measurements
  • Barnegat Bay, NJ - modeling the response of back-barrier estuaries to hurricane forcing

posted: 2014-02-13

New lab space at SPCMSCCenter celebrates lab space for new GC/MS instrument

On February 7, a new lab space created to house the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center’s (SPCMSC) new Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) was shown to the staff in an impromptu Open House. Over 30 staff members came to see the 320 sq. ft. space, which was made into a lab out of existing hallways and unused lab space by facilities engineer Frank Derkovitz. Molly McLaughlin, lab manager, supervised the construction and organized the Open House. The GC/MS will initially be operated by newly-arrived SPCMSC geochemist, Julie Richey, to analyse biomarker proxy signals for environmental change in lacustrine, coastal, and deep sea sediments.

posted: 2014-02-13

image of a jetyakUSGS Scientists and their partners from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, conducted pilot surveys with an autonomous kayak nicknamed the “jetyak.”

The jetyak is a relatively inexpensive vehicle that can execute various scientific missions in coastal waters. In August 2013, the scientists used it to map the floor of a shallow cove in the Connecticut River estuary with both downward-looking and sidescan sonar and to measure current profiles (current velocities at various heights above the seafloor) with an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP).

To view the Sound Waves article, visit The “Jetyak”—Autonomous Kayak Performs Shallow-Water Surveys

posted: 2014-02-10

The National Conference on Beach Preservation TechnologyFlorida Beach Conference on Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

On February 12, SPCMSC scientist Kara Doran will present a talk in the opening session at the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association National Conference on Beach Preservation Technology in Stuart, Fla. Kara, a co-author along with Cheryl Hapke, is stepping in for Hilary Stockdon, who is the lead author. The talk will highlight the center's involvement in research following Hurricane Sandy: "Lessons from Hurricane Sandy: Science to Inform Coastal Management."

For more information on the National Conference on Beach Preservation Technology, visit:

posted: 2014-02-06

Photo diagramming dune crest and dune baseNational Research Council Post-Doc to give Seminar on Dune Modelling

On February 7th, Meg Palmsten, a National Research Council Post-doctoral Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), will give her seminar on Modeling Dune Response to an East Coast Low. Meg worked with the USGS Hurricane Group under Abby Sallenger as an undergraduate. Subsequently, Meg worked in a doctoral program at Oregon State University under Dr. Robert Holman.

To see a sample of Meg's earlier work with the USGS on Hurricane Isabel visit:

posted: 2014-02-06

CO2 graphicRetired International Petroleum Geologist Speaks about Climate Change

On January 22, Kress DeGroot, a geochemist recently retired from Royal Dutch Shell, spoke to an audience of about 40 USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)/USFSP (University of South Florida St. Petersburg) staff and students on "Climate change and what to do about it." Kress spoke about data concerning CO2, sea level, and temperature. Kress discussed that since the last Ice Age, the Earth has warmed considerably and sea level has risen at least 120 meters. During the last century, global warming occurred until 1940, followed by global cooling until 1975, then warming resumed from 1975 to 1998. Now that global temperature has not followed the model predictions for over 15 years, ocean acidification is becoming a more important topic. For more information or to forward questions to Dr. DeGroot, please contact Eugene Shinn, 727-553-1158.

posted: 2014-02-06

3-D image of the Snohomish Delta from swath bathymetry and acoustic backscatter dataUSGS Scientists Map Snohomish Delta, Washington

To inform managers tasked with ecosystem restoration, salmon recovery, flood-hazard mitigation, and climate-change planning in Puget Sound, scientists from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center are mapping the Snohomish Delta where data either do not exist or were last collected in the 1960s. Swath bathymetry and acoustic backscatter data will be merged with recent LiDAR data to generate high-resolution (1-meter) onshore-offshore digital-elevation and substrate models to characterize important salmon habitats, sediment budgets, and transport processes, and the effects of artificial levees. Many Pacific Northwest river-delta wetlands have lost habitat due to levees that focus stream flow and sediment offshore, leaving wetlands starved for sediment and vulnerable to sea-level rise while fragmenting nearshore seagrass meadows—both essential habitats for endangered salmon species. The data will provide important boundary conditions for hydrodynamic modeling. For more information, contact Eric Grossman,, 206-526-2529.posted: 2014-02-05

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