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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

News Archive

News Archive - stories from May 2014.

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

Processed bathymetry imageNew USGS hire organizes bathymetric processing class

Stan Locker, a new employee of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center and a long-time collaborator from the University of South Florida, organized a three-day advanced hydrographic data processing training class for USGS staff. The software is used to process swath bathymetry (multi-beam and interferometric), side-scan sonar backscatter, and single beam data. Stan has a long history working with the USGS including work on the West Florida Coastal Studies project and on Pulley Ridge, the 100-km-long photosynthetic coral reef discovered in 1999 at a depth of 60 meters. Staff participating in the training included Julie Bernier, Noreen Buster, Nancy DeWitt, Jake Fredericks, Jim Flocks, Arnell Forde, Kyle Kelso, Jen Miselis, and Dana Wiese.

For work on the West Florida shelf, see:
For work on Pulley Ridge, see:

posted: 2014-05-29

Photo showing coastal erosionUSGS St. Petersburg staff help kick off the west coast storms component of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project

From June 23–25, Hilary Stockdon and Joe Long from the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) will travel to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, to begin planning the west coast component of the storm-induced coastal erosion hazards assessment, a task of the larger National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH). Collaborators from the West Coast include Peter Ruggiero from Oregon State and Patrick Barnard from USGS Santa Cruz Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC). Pacific winter storms are one in the catalog of storm events that can generate dangerous waves capable of moving large amounts of sand, destroying buildings and infrastructure.

For more information about the NACCH project, visit:

posted: 2014-05-29

St. Petersburg CollegeSt. Petersburg Marine Microbiology Laboratory hosts St. Petersburg College marine biology student group

On May 28, USGS Research Microbiologist Christina Kellogg will host St. Petersburg College (SPC) sophomore and junior marine biology students. Kellogg will give a presentation about marine microbiology and her recent work on coral diseases and then the students will receive a tour of the facility from lab manager Molly McLaughlin.

posted: 2014-05-29

DataONEDataONE Phase 1 Project wraps up

DataONE, a nationwide National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project on federating existing earth and environmental sciences data repositories, wrapped up its first phase of projects during the annual all hands meeting in Park City, Utah, May 13–15th. Heather Henkel, (USGS, St. Petersburg, Fla.) was one of four people representing USGS at these meetings. Critical to the infrastructure being built to support DataONE are educational and outreach activities, which include (1) informing the community about data stewardship, (2) working with stakeholders, and (3) educating them on data management best practices. Heather participated in the Community Education and Engagement (CEE) working group, which has produced both data management training modules, ( and librarian resources ( The CEE work directly supports and complements USGS data management activities such as the production of USGS training modules (

To see the current newsletter describing DataOne activities, visit:

posted: 2014-05-29

map of middle atlantic bight showing locations of water level stationsHurricane Sandy Impacts Did Not Contribute to Subsequent Storm Flooding

Flooding in coastal areas bordering Great South Bay, N.Y. and Barnegat Bay, N.J. caused by winter storms that occurred following Hurricane Sandy was not influenced by changes Sandy made to barrier islands or other bay features, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

The study of Barnegat Bay and Great South Bay looked at data from November 2012 to October 2013, when winter storms brought water levels in these bays to among the 20 highest storm water levels reached from October 2007- October 2013.

The study, “Water-level response in back-barrier bays unchanged following Hurricane Sandy,” by Aretxabaleta, A.L., Butman, B., and Ganju, N.K., is in the Geophysical Research Letters journal and available online.

posted: 2014-05-28

Fire IslandComprehensive on-shore and off-shore surveys planned this field season for Fire Island, NY

From June 9 - 27, Cheryl Hapke (USGS-geologist) will lead a crew of at least 17 field personnel to acquire survey data as part of the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations project at Fire Island National Seashore. Surveys include sub-aerial beach and dune topography using an in-situ mobile lidar in collaboration with the Alabama Water Science Center (ALWSC); nearshore bathymetry (0-10 m water depth) using a combination of jet-skis and the Light Amphibious Reconnaissance Craft (LARC) in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and flow velocity, depth, and water levels at the Old Inlet breach at Fire Island, in collaboration with the New York Water Science Center (NYWSC). The LARC will also be used to collect sub-surface geophysical data in 0 - 12 m water depth, up to 2 km offshore.posted: 2014-05-22

probability mapNational Assessment scientists host University of Florida student group

On May 13th, USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH) scientists hosted the University of Florida (UF) student chapter of Coasts, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute (COPRI). Scientists Kara Doran, Joe Long, Cheryl Hapke, and P. Soupy Dalyander gave presentations on the various science projects that are part of the NACCH project.posted: 2014-05-22

Draft Environmental Assessment for Seismic Reflection Scientific Research Surveys During 2014 and 2015 in Support of Mapping the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard Extended Continental Margin and Investigating Tsunami Hazards

The draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the U.S. Geological Survey's Seismic Surveys in the Atlantic is available for review and public comment from May 20, 2014 - June 20, 2014.

Please submit comments to

posted: 2014-05-22

Photo of Ian Goodwin.Visiting seminar speaker from Macquarie University, Australia hopes to set up collaboration with USGS on the topic of climate change

On Wednesday, May 21st at 2:00 pm, the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) in Santa Cruz, California will host a seminar by Ian Goodwin from Australia's Macquarie University. Goodwin is part of the University's Marine Climate Risk Group, Climate Futures and Department of Environment and Geography. The seminar is titled, "A centennial-scale view of climate change impacts on subtropical east Australian shoreface sand supply and shoreline stability since 3,000 years BP." During his visit to PCMSC, Goodwin hopes to discuss research topics for a potential collaboration with the USGS. Read Goodwin's abstract at The public is encouraged to attend.posted: 2014-05-15

RISC-KITUSGS oceanographer advises "Risc-Kit", a European Coastal Risk and Resiliency project

From May 5–10, Nathaniel Plant, an oceanographer with the USGS, traveled to Cambridge, UK to serve on a board of experts of Risc-Kit. Risc-Kit is a European Union (EU) effort to evaluate risks and resilience measures associated with flooding, storm surge, and erosion. The project will demonstrate a consistent approach at 11 locations across Europe. Nathaniel's role with the board was to evaluate the project's structure, objectives, and implementation. The Risc-Kit project is similar to the USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards project, so valuable lessons are expected to be gained from the EU experience.

For more information, visit:

posted: 2014-05-15

Plaque dedicated to Abby SallengerCorps dedicates oeach observation tower in Duck, NC, to Abby Sallenger

In a small ceremony on the evening of April 30th, the Field Research Facility (FRF) of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a plaque dedicating its beach observation tower to Dr. Asbury H. Sallenger. About ten USGS scientists were there as attendees for a meeting to establish a vision for future nearshore science research (see Highlight 2014-04-03). The tower, built in 1986, is 43 meters (120 feet) tall and is used to support radio antennae and video cameras for nearshore process research. The town of Duck, NC posted pictures of the tower, the plaque, and its environs on its social media page.

To see a real time view from the tower, visit:

posted: 2014-05-15

Photograph of foraminifer samplesSediment trap in the Northern Gulf of Mexico to calibrate sediment geochemistry for marine climate reconstructions

From 5/30–6/3, USGS research geologist Julie Richey, along with Caitlin Reynolds, will cruise out to the Gulf of Mexico on the R/V Pelican to collect samples from their sediment trap, approximately 200 km south of Cocodrie, LA. Julie is using the sediment trap to look at the seasonal flux of plankton from the sea surface to the seafloor, and also to calibrate the geochemistry of foraminifera and algal biomarkers to temperature and salinity in the Gulf. The field crew will include Cole Spencer, a USGS undergraduate intern from St. Petersburg's Eckerd College, and collaborators from University of South Carolina and University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, visit:

posted: 2014-05-15

Mary McGann works with volunteers to teach kids about foraminifera.Sanctuary Celebration on the Santa Cruz Wharf

The USGS will participate in a celebration of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on May 17, 2014, on the municipal wharf in Santa Cruz, California. The family-oriented event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include live music, arts and crafts, and educational activities. The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center will host a booth where visitors can create water currents in a tank and measure them with a current meter; observe foraminifera (single-celled marine organisms) through microscopes and learn how they are used to date seafloor sediments and study climate change; and view a short movie featuring USGS seafloor video, bathymetric data, and rare observations of submarine turbidity currents in Monterey Canyon. The festival is part of a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Santa Cruz Wharf. For more information, contact Helen Gibbons,, 831-460-7418.posted: 2014-05-12

Photo of Paul on the rocks.Upcoming seminar at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) in Santa Cruz, Calif.

On Wednesday, May 14th at 2:00 pm, Paul Koch, Professor and Dean of Physical and Biological Sciences at the University of California - Santa Cruz, will give a seminar titled, "Shifting baselines on the Antarctic Coast: Using Mummies to Understand the Vulnerability of Seals to Changing Climate." The public is encouraged to attend. For more information, please visit the PCMSC Seminar page at 2014-05-09

USGS Woods Hole Science Center hosts Sandy Supplemental workshop:

USGS scientists will convene a two-day workshop on May 22-23, 2014 to coordinate field and modeling efforts for the Estuarine Physical Response Project (Sandy Supplemental Project #GS2-2D). Collaborators from Boston University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, and Horn Point Laboratory will participate by presenting their respective roles in the project and brainstorming opportunities for cross-collaboration, synergy, and future investigations.

Contact: Neil K. Ganju,

posted: 2014-05-08

USGS Scientists Study Coastal Erosion at Fire Island, NY

The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a sediment-transport experiment on the inner continental shelf offshore of Fire Island, New York, to study the coastal response to storms. In early February 2014, scientists from the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, along with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of South Carolina, deployed oceanographic instruments to measure surface waves, ocean currents, water levels, salinity, and temperature. Recovery of the instruments and analysis of the data will take place starting in early May. This effort is in part a response to assess the impacts and help determine the resiliency of coastal systems, such as Fire Island, to storm events such as Hurricane Sandy.

posted: 2014-05-08

Example of scaling coastal dune elevation changes across storm-impact regimesNew research on scaling coastal dune elevations published in Geophysical Research Letters

On April 24th, USGS research oceanographers Joseph Long and Nathaniel Plant, along with past USGS intern Anouk de Bakker (Utrecht University, Netherlands), published an article,"Scaling coastal dune elevation changes across storm-impact regimes," in Geophysical Research Letters. Using data from multiple hurricanes that made landfall in diverse coastal locations along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, the article compares the magnitude of storm-induced dune erosion to the characteristics of the individual storms. While storms that inundate coastal dunes (storm surge exceeding coastal dune crest elevation) are generally expected to result in the largest amount of coastal change, the data used in this study indicates that more dune erosion can occur during storms where surge levels remain below the dune crest and waves overwash the protective dunes for the duration of the storm. Quantifying and understanding the erosion that occurs in these different storm-impact regimes is essential to understanding if, how, and when coastal areas will become more vulnerable to future storms.

posted: 2014-05-08

Earth Day Festival in St. Petersburg, FloridaUSGS highlights St. Petersburg facility's sustainable practices on Earth Day

At the Earth Day Festival held on April 19 in St. Petersburg, Florida, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center staff members Molly McLaughlin, Theresa Burress, and Ellen Raabe showcased the many sustainable business practices that have been implemented at their USGS research facility, which includes the historic Studebaker building in downtown St. Petersburg. Although the Science Center is a fully-leased and serviced facility, a strong working partnership between the USGS, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, and the leasing company, has provided opportunities to reduce facility emissions by 15% since Fiscal Year 2008.

posted: 2014-05-08

Image showing wave time-series at inshore locationsUSGS research on probabilistic wave prediction published in Coastal Engineering

On May 4th, USGS research oceanographers Joseph Long, Nathaniel Plant, P. Soupy Dalyander, and Dave Thompson published an article in Coastal Engineering titled "A probabilistic method for constructing wave time-series at inshore locations using model scenarios." The study presents a method developed by USGS scientists to forecast wave characteristics and prediction uncertainty using a database of model 'hindcasts'. With this method, continuous wave time series can be quickly derived at any spatial location for use in marine infrastructure design, to evaluate sites for potential wave energy extraction, or to force nearshore circulation and sediment transport models.

posted: 2014-05-08

Flyer for the upcoming PCMSC Seminar.Two seminars in one at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at 2:00PM, the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) in Santa Cruz, CA is hosting a seminar being jointly presented by Jeff Danielson of the USGS Earth Resources Observation & Science Data Center in Sioux Falls, North Dakota, and Monica Palaseanu-Lovejoy of the USGS in Reston, Virginia. Jeff will present a talk entitled, “Coastal National Elevation Database (CoNED) overview: methods and topobathymetric models”, and Monica will present a talk on “Defining seacliffs limits and change analysis using lidar-derived high-resolution DEMs in Southern California”. The public is encouraged to attend. For more information, visit the PCMSC Seminar page at 2014-05-06

image of meagan gonneeaMeagan Gonneea is the new National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Woods Hole.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is very pleased to welcome Meagan Gonneea as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellow.

Meagan earned a PhD in Chemical Oceanography from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in September 2013 and worked on her thesis on seasonal variability in chemical fluxes from the Waquoit Bay subterranean estuary with Matt Charette at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Meagan received a NSF Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the impact of sea level rise and nitrogen enrichment on subsurface cycling of greenhouse gases and carbon in salt marshes with Kevin D. Kroeger, PhD at the United States Geological Survey in Woods Hole, MA.

posted: 2014-05-05

thumbnail image of bathymetry map of the waters surrounding the elizabeth islands, massachusettsUSGS publishes a Scientific Investigations Map of the Bathymetry of the waters surrounding the Elizabeth Islands, Massachusetts

The bathymetric data used to create the hillshaded relief image of the seafloor were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and supplemented with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrographic survey data. The map shows the detailed bathymetry of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound with depth soundings shown on a 5-meter-per-pixel grid. Depths are coded by color where the deepest areas are in blue and the shallowest areas are in orange. The aerial photography for the Elizabeth Islands and Massachusetts mainland were obtained from the Massachusetts Office of Geographic Information.

Go to to view and download the map.

posted: 2014-05-02

Map showing Barnegat Bay areaUSGS scientists conduct fieldwork in Barnegat Bay, NJ, as part of Hurricane Sandy Response

As part of the Estuarine Physical Response Project, a Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief funded project, Christopher Smith, Marci Marot, and Alisha Ellis from USGS will be traveling to Barnegat Bay, NJ from 5/10–5/22. The field work in Barnegat Bay will focus on the collection of nine box cores in order to evaluate depositional/erosional patterns over the last 100 years. These longer term perspectives will provide context for the impact that high magnitude events, such as Hurricane Sandy, have on estuarine systems, and the estuarine systems' role as a source/sink of coastal sediments.

posted: 2014-05-01

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