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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

News Archive

News Archive - stories from June 2013.

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

USGS staff name retrofitted research vessel R/V Sallenger

On June 28, the recently acquired 2530 Extended Cabin Parker, retrofitted as a research vessel, was named the R/V Sallenger. The name was placed on the vessel before her first field work in Biloxi, MS. The committee responsible for the retrofit, including Keith Ludwig (chair), Mark Hansen, Jack Kindinger, Jennifer Miselis, and Dave Zawada, unanimously recommended the name to SPCMSC director Richard Poore, who approved it June 19. By convention, boat names are two or three syllables, so they can be easily understood on the radio. There is also a tradition that names carry a meaning special to the boat. Hopefully, the R/V Sallenger will carry on Abby's legacy to the Center proudly.

posted: 2013-07-01

Post Hurricane Sandy Field Assessment Continues at Fire Island, New York

On June 23, Cheryl Hapke and Owen Brenner (USGS) traveled to Islip, NY to conduct field work at Fire Island. Working with National Park Service (NPS) staff who are providing field assistance and acting as plover (Charadrius melodus) monitors, the USGS scientists will resurvey the series of profiles and tracklines they have been surveying since Hurricane Sandy.

The USGS is also working in collaboration with the NPS and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct a survey of the open breach at Fire Island. On Wed. June 26, the USACE amphibious LARC system (Lighter, Amphibious, Resupply, Cargo vessel) from Duck, NC, will survey the breach, collecting high resolution bathymetry. Scientists will simultaneously collect flow velocity and water level information. The effort is intended to better understand the dynamics and evolution of the newly-formed breach system.

posted: 2013-06-28

Controlling the Spread of Invasive Microorganisms in the World’s Ports, and Using Microorganisms to Monitor Pollution

USGS micropaleontologist Mary McGann will participate in fieldwork in Wimereux, France, July 2-8, to determine how best to (a) control the spread of invasive microorganisms in the world’s ports and (b) use microorganisms to “biomonitor” polluted environments. The work includes testing of a new DNA identification technique for invasive marine microorganisms, and developing of a new biotic index (a scale for assessing quality of an environment on the basis of the organisms present) to be used in a European biomonitoring program that will serve as a model for a similar program in the U.S. McGann was invited to participate by scientists from the University of Lille and the University of the Littoral Opal Coast. For further information contact Mary McGann,, 650-329-4979.

posted: 2013-06-24

New project on Asia-Pacific water, energy, food and environmental security

Peter Swarzenski will represent the USGS on a new multi-national project Human-Environmental Security in the Asia-Pacific Ring of Fire: Exploring the Water-Energy-Food Nexus. Swarzenski has been invited by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) to lead discussions on marine and terrestrial processes affecting coastal aquifers in the Pacific, during a meeting in Kyoto, Japan, July 16-18. Swarzenski is the lead chemical oceanographer in the USGS Coastal Aquifer Project. For further information contact Peter Swarzenski,, 831-460-7529.

posted: 2013-06-24

Michael E. Field Receives Distinguished Service Award

USGS emeritus geologist Michael E. Field has been awarded the highest honor of the Department of the Interior, the Distinguished Service Award, “in recognition of his outstanding scientific contributions to the study of coastal and marine geology and his exemplary leadership” within the USGS and the scientific community. The honor was announced at a Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center awards ceremony in Santa Cruz, Calif., on June 19, 2013. The citation letter, signed by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on May 2, 2013, commends Field for his “four-decade career as a geologist for the U.S. Government” performing “complex research that spans the globe from deep-sea fans to shallow coral reef environments.” For more information, contact Bob Rosenbauer,, 831-460-7401.

posted: 2013-06-20

USGS Presentation at National Research Council Workshop on Sea-Level Rise and Storminess in California

USGS geologist Curt Storlazzi presented a talk on “Coastal Erosion and Other Impacts,” highlighting efforts led by his USGS colleagues Patrick Barnard and Li Erikson, at the Workshop on Observations of Sea-Level Rise and Storminess in California, sponsored by the National Research Council of the National Academies and held in Irvine, California, June 20-21, 2013. Attendees included Earth, ocean, atmospheric, and climate scientists and Federal and State agency managers of coastal programs. For more information, contact Curt Storlazzi,, (831) 460-7521.

posted: 2013-06-20

SPCMSC Staff Create ABBY Base Station

On June 13, 2013, Nancy Dewitt and B.J. Reynolds along with Mark Hansen and Frank Derkovitz created a new permanent base station on the rooftop of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center building. The base station was given the code name ABBY, named after Asbury Sallenger, whose office was in the same section as the antenna site. The base station will be used to calibrate SPCMSC field instruments and as a control point for field work the center is doing in the Tampa Bay area. Coordinates are 27 45 50.68286N, 82 38 16.12225W.

posted: 2013-06-19

SPCMSC Staff Collaborate with NOAA to Test Topo/Bathy Lidar Capabilities

On June 12, 2013 SPCMSC staff conducted a bathymetric survey near Ft. Desoto county park in order to provide ground-truth for a lidar evaluation project led by NOAA. The survey was conducted by Nancy Dewitt with assistance from Nathaniel Plant, Mark Hansen, and Kyle Kelso. The survey strategy was to collect bathymetric data at shallow depths to depths that exceeded the expected lidar extinction depth of 1 secchi depth. A single-beam fathometer and GPS positioning system were used for the bathymetric survey. Secchi depth measurements were made with a secchi disk at the end of each cross-shore transect in about 4 m depth.nThese data will be used to evaluate commercial lidar systems that may be used to conduct future research, storm response, and navigation surveys.

posted: 2013-06-19

USGS Biologists Discover New Chemosynthetic Communities on Interagency Deepwater Canyons Cruise

On May 8, USGS biologists on board the joint USGS/BOEM/NOAA and university expedition "Deepwater Canyons 2013 - Pathways to the Abyss" discovered vast beds of deep sea chemosynthetic mussels over a mile deep in Deepwater Canyons of the coast of the Atlantic. The new community was found in a gas seep site being visited for the first time. Bathymetric data collected on a previous expedition had suggested, based on bubbles rising through the water columns, that this may be the site of a previously undiscovered gas seep. This discovery confirmed the presence of a seep and an associated biological community. The information was posted on the expeditions' blog hosted by NOAA at and was tweeted from @USGS and @USGSAquaticLife. For more information, contact Helen Gibbons at 831-460-7418, hgibbons@usgs.go or Rachel Pawlitz at 352-264-3554,

posted: 2013-06-17

Three Environmental Stewards Program students working this summer at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

The Environmental Stewards Summer Program, sponsored by the Southwest Conservation Crops, DOI Office of Youth Service & Partnership, and AmeriCorps, is a 10-week program that is intended to provide professional development and hands-on experience with environmental and conservation projects for undergraduates or recent graduates. Research Microbiologist Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC) is mentoring three students through this program. William (Bill) Gowacki will be isolating and characterizing bacteria associated with deep-sea corals collected from canyons off the eastern coast of the United States. This research will provide information about the biodiversity of the canyons and also the biology of these barely known cold-water corals. Stephanie Lawler will be data mining large pyrosequencing datasets for information on actinomycetes, a bacterial group that is best known for producing bioactive compounds with pharmaceutical potential. Stephanie will also be learning molecular biology techniques and using them to identify unknown bacteria collected from cold seeps recently discovered in deepwater canyons. Erin Viverito-Baker will be engaged in method validation, comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of three different DNA extraction kits to determine the best method for capturing the microbial community from coral samples. This is critical information for the many laboratories around the world studying tropical coral diseases. All three students receive a small stipend for living expenses and after completion of the program (minimum 300 hours) they will receive a Segal Education Award from AmeriCorps that can be applied towards student loans or tuition.

posted: 2013-06-17

USGS Storm Response to Hurricane Sandy in Fire Island National Seashore, N.Y., featured in American Geophysical Union (AGU) Periodical

On May 21, SPCMSC coastal science researchers Cheryl Hapke and Hilary Stockdon along with William Schwab from the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) and Mary Foley from the National Park Service (NPS) published a lead article in the AGU periodical EOS titled "Changing the Paradigm of Response to Coastal Storms." The article describes how a breach from Hurricane Sandy in Fire Island, N.Y., remains open more than 6 months after the storm. The breach, within a federal wilderness area, is being carefully evaluated and monitored by a multiagency group, balancing increased risk to infrastructure and human safety with benefit to the natural environment. This is an unparalleled management approach along a developed coastline and could serve as an option for response to future storms.

posted: 2013-06-17

SPCMSC and WHCMSC Staff Continue Long-Term Chandeleur Barrier Island Study

In July, 2013, ten scientists and technicians from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program's science centers in St. Petersburg, Florida (SPCMSC) and in Woods Hole, Massachusetts (WHCMSC) will reside at the remote Chanedeleur Islands, La, for ten days to conduct surveys as part of a time-series of topographic, geophysical, sedimentologic, and hydrographic information. The information they collect will be compared with similar surveys conducted in 2011 and earlier to monitor change that has occurred to the rapidly degrading barrier island system. Scientists from the USGS in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have been studying the storm-related evolution of the Chandeleur Islands in eastern Louisiana for many years. This work was undertaken to support research objectives of the National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards Project and the Barrier Island Evolution Research Project (BIER). The latter seeks to address a research gap between the short time scale of individual storms (hours to days) and the longer time scales associated with the historic and geologic evolution of the coastal system (decades to millennia). The BIER Project lead is Nathaniel Plant, Geophysical and Sedimentologic task primary investigators are Jennifer Miselis and Jim Flocks.

Background on these studies can be found at the following links:,,,

posted: 2013-06-17

Study Offers First Look at Green Sea Turtle Habitat Use in the Dry Tortugas National Park

USGS science is helping NOAA and the National Park Service enhance management strategies to protect sea turtles. A new study confirms that green sea turtles are spending much of their time in protected sites within both Dry Tortugas National Park and the surrounding areas of the Florida Keys Marine National Sanctuary. The USGS study is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park.

Read more at:

posted: 2013-06-12

USGS Releases the New Map Series: California State Waters Map Series

The California Ocean Protection Council initiated the California Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP), designed to create a comprehensive seafloor map of high-resolution bathymetry, marine benthic habitats, and geology within the 3-nautical-mile limit of California's State Waters. The CSMP approach is to create highly detailed seafloor maps through collection, integration, interpretation, and visualization of swath sonar data, acoustic backscatter, seafloor video, seafloor photography, high-resolution seismic-reflection profiles, and bottom sediment sampling data.

The map products display seafloor morphology and character, identify potential marine benthic habitats, and illustrate both the surficial seafloor geology and shallow (to about 100 m) subsurface geology.

See report and mapping products online:
Read more about the California Seafloor Mapping Program:

posted: 2013-06-12

Groundbreaking Gas Hydrate Research

A new project in Japan is helping scientists make significant progress in studying gas hydrates as a potential source for natural gas production. This research advances understanding of the global distribution of gas hydrates as well as whether and how methane contained in gas hydrates can be used as a viable energy source.

The collaboration continues a long-standing relationship between national methane hydrates research programs in Japan and the U.S., but represents the first time that U.S. researchers have been directly involved in studying Japanese gas hydrate samples. In the current phase of this project, an international group of scientists from Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) are employing cutting-edge technology and studying rare gas hydrate samples recovered deep beneath the seafloor.

Read more at:

posted: 2013-06-12

State Department Recognizes U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project Team with Honors

On April 4, 2013, the Department of State (DOS) presented Superior Honor Awards to the Senior agency representatives and the Integrated Regional Team leads working on the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project. The Interior Department, through U.S. Geological Survey, contributes to the accomplishments of this team. The url is (2.6 MB PDF).

posted: 2013-06-11

SPCMSC Oceanographer Interview on Arctic Ocean Acidification published in BioScience Review Article

SPCMSC staff Lisa Robbins was featured in a May 2013 article on ocean acidification, "Marine Life on Acid," by freelance journalist Leslie Evans Ogden. The review article was recently published in the journal BioScience, (v. 63, #5, p 322-328) ( The USGS Ocean Acidification research project was described including two pictures taken on board the USCGC (US Coast Guard Cutter) Healy, one of a CTD (Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth) cast and the second of University of South Florida (USF) graduate student Paul Knorr running alkalinities onboard.

posted: 2013-06-10

SPCMSC Local Story on Coastal Erosion now available on the web

The Highlight posted on May 2, 2013 on SPCMSC Oceanographer Hilary Stockdon's interview with WTSP is now available on the web. The url is

posted: 2013-06-06

Middlebury College Research Vessel Named for Retired USGS Scientist

In the marine research community, one of the greatest honors is to have a research vessel named for you. Such is the distinction bestowed on retired U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Dave Folger. The research vessel (R/V) David Folger, a 48-foot hydrofoil catamaran, is the newly dedicated research vessel for Middlebury College in Vermont. It will explore the waters of Lake Champlain while offering a state-of-the-art oceanographic platform for undergraduate students to learn the basics of marine research.

Read more at:

posted: 2013-06-06

SPCMSC Research part of a Science Feature on USGS Home Page

The Highlight posted on April 17, 2013 on SPCMSC Scientist Chris Kellogg's research on Deep Sea Underwater Canyons is now part of a Top Story Science Feature on the USGS Home page. The url is

posted: 2013-06-06

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