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News Archive

News Archive - stories from March 2014.

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

In Oakland and Alameda, in the eastern San Francisco Bay area of California, large parts of the Oakland Airport would be inundated (in red) during the SAFRR tsunami scenario.USGS a Key Contributor to Tsunami Preparedness Exercises

As part of National Tsunami Preparedness Week, March 23 to 29, the San Francisco [California] Department of Emergency Management is conducting a 3-day functional exercise to practice the city’s tsunami alert and warning procedures, response capabilities, and recovery operations. USGS marine geophysicist Stephanie Ross is representing the USGS at this exercise, which is based on the SAFRR Tsunami Scenario developed by USGS scientists and collaborators and released September 2013 (see USGS Newsroom article). NOAA's annual PACIFEX tsunami-warning exercise on March 27 is also based on the SAFRR Tsunami Scenario. Some of the organizations and communities holding PACIFEX-related exercises include Washington State and California's San Mateo, Marin, and Orange Counties. The National Institutes of Health will hold a recovery-phase exercise on April 7. For more information, contact Stephanie Ross,, 650-329-5326.posted: 2014-03-28

Fire Island Biennial Science meeting Report coverPresentation at Fire Island Biennial Science Meeting

On 3/27, USGS staff Cheryl Hapke and Owen Brenner travel to Long Island, NY to attend the Fire Island Biennial Science meeting held at the Fire Island National Seashore Management Center in Patchogue, NY. Cheryl is giving an invited presentation at the two-day conference. Cheryl and Owen will also meet with National Park Service staff to discuss ongoing field activities.

posted: 2014-03-27

2DH XBeach simulation of a (fictitious) storm surge in Petten, The Netherlands with subsequent flooding of the hinterlandMorphologic evolution model of Fire Island breach

From 3/29–4/7, USGS scientist Cheryl Hapke will travel to Delft, Netherlands, to meet with various researchers at the Deltares Institute and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) to collaborate on a joint Hurricane Sandy Supplemental funded effort to develop a morphologic evolution model of the breach at Fire Island that formed during the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in Nov. 2012.

posted: 2014-03-27

Volunteers with the San Francisco Neighborhood Emergency Response Team NERT walk away from Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California, during the 2013 inaugural SF Tsunami Walk.USGS Participates in Public Tsunami Preparedness Walks

As part of National Tsunami Preparedness Week, March 23 to 29, many coastal communities are holding Tsunami Walks, starting at the coast and walking uphill out of the expected inundation zone. Stephanie Ross, USGS marine geophysicist and coordinator of the SAFRR Tsunami Scenario (, will represent the USGS at the San Francisco Tsunami Walk on Saturday, March 29, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on the Marina Green (at Marina and Scott). During this free public event (, participants will simulate an actual tsunami evacuation, walking away from San Francisco Bay toward higher ground (the Marina Branch Library at Chestnut and Webster). In California, other tsunami walks are being held in Crescent City, Muir Beach, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, and San Diego. For more information, contact Stephanie Ross,, 650-329-5326.posted: 2014-03-26

Photomicrograph of the benthic foraminifera Haynesina germanica--Ehrenberg, 1840--found in San Francisco Bay, CA.USGS Paleontologists Will Participate in “BioBlitz” Species Inventory

USGS paleontologists Mary McGann and Scott Starratt will participate in an all-taxa species inventory on March 28–29, 2014, in California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. During the “BioBlitz”—sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service—teams of volunteers led by expert scientists will find and identify as many species as possible within a 24-hour period. McGann (Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center) and Starratt (Volcano Hazards Program) will sift through San Francisco Bay-floor sediment to identify foraminifera (McGann) and diatoms (Starratt), one-celled organisms that make shells of calcium carbonate and silica, respectively. These shells can provide information about present ecosystem health and past climate and oceanographic conditions. One BioBlitz goal is to create broader impacts through public outreach, science education, and media coverage of this scientific endeavor. For more information, contact Mary McGann,, 650-329-4979.posted: 2014-03-25

barrier islandSediment Samples from Assateague Island and Chincoteague Bay

From 3/24 to 4/7, USGS staff will be collecting sediment samples (marsh push cores, sand auger cores, and surface and estuarine grab samples) from Assateague Island, Chincoteague Bay, MD and VA. The primary purpose of the sampling is to characterize the surficial sediment of sandy washover fans and back-barrier marshes and then integrate the data into vulnerability assessments for the Barrier Island and Estuarine Wetland Physical Change project. In addition, the sediment data will be used to establish a baseline dataset and will be integrated into estuarine models being developed for the Estuarine Physical Response project.

posted: 2014-03-20

State of the Gulf SummitUSGS scientists invited to attend the 3rd State of the Gulf Summit 2014

The limited invitation meeting includes Federal and State resources mangers, scientists, and policymakers, Gulf academic scientists, key nongovernmental organizations and leaders. USGS scientists Alyssa Dausmon and Jack Kindinger are attending to participate in discussions on science-based restoration current and future directions. The meeting is being held in Houston, TX, March 24th to 27th.

posted: 2014-03-20

Flyer for 29th Annual Symposium on Caribbean GeologyInvited presentation at 29th Annual Caribbean Geology Conference

On March 27th, USGS oceanographer Joseph Long will give an invited presentation on the USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards program at the 29th Annual Symposium on Caribbean Geology held at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, PR.

More information about the symposium can be found at

posted: 2014-03-20

Photograph of USGS crew recovering instruments from San Francisco Bay.Studying Marsh Sediment and Drought in San Francisco Bay

Jessie Lacy and five other scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center completed fieldwork to measure sediment delivery to marshes near China Camp State Park on San Pablo Bay, the northern extension of San Francisco Bay. From February 25–28, they recovered instruments that measured variations in suspended-sediment concentration in time and space, as well as current speed and direction, to determine transport of sediment. Because of the California drought emergency, they redeployed three instruments for longer term monitoring of salinity and suspended-sediment concentrations in San Pablo Bay. Results of the marsh studies will be used to improve models of marsh response to sea-level rise. The redeployed instruments will measure conditions during this serious drought, which could increase salinity and decrease suspended-sediment concentrations, owing to reduced freshwater flows. For more information contact Jessie Lacy,, 831-460-7520.posted: 2014-03-18

Screen shot of an animation of a hypothetical tsunami triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone.USGS scientist provides tsunami animations for public broadcasting stories on Oregon earthquake and tsunami threats

Eric Geist was contacted by Ed Jahn, reporter and producer of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s OPB NEWS/Oregon Field Guide, for animations of a hypothetical tsunami triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone (off northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia). Jahn saw Geist’s original tsunami animations in an Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) educational video. Geist revised the animations for Jahn, who will use them in several stories on the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami threat to Oregon. For more information, contact Eric Geist,, 650-329-5457. See a larger version of the graphic.posted: 2014-03-16

Location of epicenter of earthquake offshore of northern California on March 9, 2014.USGS research geophysicist contacted about tsunami potential of the Cascadia Subduction Zone

Eric Geist was contacted regarding how tsunamis generated by the Cascadia Subduction Zone (off northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) could affect the U.S. west coast. The questions followed a magnitude-6.8 earthquake that occurred offshore of northern California on March 9, 2014 (local time). The earthquake occurred in the Gorda sub plate, a tectonic plate that is subducting beneath the Pacific Northwest at a rate of about 23 millimeters/year. Los Angeles Times staff writer Rong-Gong “Ron” Lin II interviewed Geist, and KTVU meteorologist Mark Tamayo contacted him for information (no interview). For more information, contact Eric Geist,, 650-329-5457.posted: 2014-03-16

The new, dynamic CMGP portalNew Coastal and Marine Geology Program 'Front End' Web Pages

On March 11, the Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) announced that it's new dynamic ocean and coastal program 'front end' web pages were live. The modern looking pages are the result of a team effort to analyze CMGP web content and to develop a strong, yet flexible, information architecture that provides a front door entry to our information. The new information architecture moves CMGP much closer to meeting mandates from Department of Interior (DOI) and the White House.

To look at the new 'CMGP Front End' format, please visit:

posted: 2014-03-13

map of the study area in northeastern north carolinaWHCMSC staff map North Carolina's inner continental shelf.

The inner continental shelf off the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina was mapped using sidescan sonar, interferometric swath bathymetry, and high-resolution chirp and boomer subbottom profiling systems. This information was used to describe the shallow stratigraphy, reinterpret formation mechanisms of some shoal features, evaluate local relative sea-levels during the Late Pleistocene, and provide new constraints, via recent bedform evolution, on regional sediment transport patterns.

To read the article visit Marine Geology

posted: 2014-03-11

A large-scale flow tank used in research for measurements of SRBsResearchers Collaborate with Naval Research Lab for 'First of a Kind' Measurements on Deepwater Horizon byproducts

From March 10-14, USGS Researchers Joe Long and P. Soupy Dalyander are collaborating with the Sediment Dynamics Laboratory at the Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center, MS, to observe how Surface Residual Balls (SRB's) are transported in the nearshore environment. SRB's are sand-oil agglomerates that were formed/deposited in coastal environments following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These measurements are the first of their kind and will be taken in a large-scale flow tank to observe if, how, and when SRBs move due to steady and oscillatory currents.

posted: 2014-03-10

Lidar image of St. John, USVISeamless Topography in the U.S. Virgin Islands

In a collaborative effort with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Geodetic Survey, USGS lidar operations staff will map off the coast of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as near Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge. From approximately March 3–17, USGS scientists and staff will support mapping efforts for the USGS's EAARL-B (Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar) lidar system. One of the unique features of the EAARL-B system is its ability to map both exposed and submerged topography to provide a continuous map of near-shore environment. Based upon test flights over typical Caribbean coral reef environments, the original EAARL demonstrated penetration to greater than 25 m, and routinely mapped coral reefs ranging in depth from 0.5 to 20 m below the water surface. The new EAARL-B is expected to surpass its predecessor with nominal offshore visibility in the Virgin Islands normally peaking in March.

For more information about the EAARL lidar, visit:

posted: 2014-03-10

image of fire island oceanographic deploymentWHCMSC staff are conducting field experiments on the inner continental shelf offshore of Fire Island, NY to study the coastal response to storms.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal Change Processes Project is conducting a field experiment on the inner continental shelf offshore of Fire Island, New York to study the coastal response to storms. Starting in early February 2014, scientists from the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, along with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of South Carolina, deployed oceanographic equipment at nine sites in water depths of approximately 12 meters (40 feet), with one site farther offshore at a of approximately 25 meters (80 feet). An ocean buoy was deployed at this offshore site to measure surface waves and telemeter the data via an iridium connection for analysis.

The data are available as part of the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) program at

In addition to the scientists, the data are being used by the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Park Service, and locals such as surfers

The buoy is expected to remain on site for several years.posted: 2014-03-10

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