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News Archive

News Archive - stories from July 2017.

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

Panelists discuss impacts of sea level rise in Florida on WUSF Public MediaUSGS researcher interviewed on WUSF Public Media about the impacts of sea level rise in Florida

Davina Passeri (SPCMSC Mendenhall Post-Graduate Fellow) was interviewed on "Florida Matters," a weekly public affairs program on WUSF Public Media, the Tampa Bay area's NPR station. The show focused on the impacts of sea level rise in Florida and what local governments are doing to prepare for it. The interview can be heard here:

posted: 2017-07-27

USGS Coastal Geologist Cheryl Hapke to brief New York Senator Charles Schumer's Long Island staff on the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Plan

On Monday July 31, Cheryl Hapke (SPCMSC) and Rob Thieler (WHMSC) will provide a science briefing to the staff at Senator Charles Schumer's Long Island, NY staff on the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Plan (FIMP). A DOI Advisory Team consisting of staff from USGS, NPS, FWS, and DOI provide input to the FIMP process by working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assure the plan meets the requirements of the regulatory agencies and is based on sound science. The goal of the plan is to provide long-term storm damage risk reduction to Long Island. The USGS has been providing science and the interpretations of the science to the team, and to the public, for over a decade. The briefing will provide an overview of the issues and the science behind FIMP to new staff in Senator Schumer's Long Island office.

posted: 2017-07-27

USGS Research Marine Biologist to participate in 38th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

From August 7–11, Ilsa Kuffner (Research Marine Biologist, SPCMSC) will represent the Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) at a meeting of the United States Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF), which was established in 1998 by Presidential Executive Order to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. The USCRTF includes leaders of 12 Federal agencies, seven U.S. States, Territories, Commonwealths, and three Freely Associated States working together to build partnerships and strategies in support of on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs. The theme for the 38th USCRTF meeting is "healthy reefs for a healthy economy." Kuffner will attend the weeklong meeting to promote USGS science results and lend her scientific expertise as a member of the USCRTF Climate Change Working Group. Kuffner's participation in the meeting will increase visibility of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) project and strengthened coordination and collaboration with partner agencies and jurisdictional governments.

posted: 2017-07-20

Photograph taken from offshore of the Mud Creek landslide, from the USGS vessell Snavely, on July 11, 2017.USGS maps underwater part of Big Sur landslide at Mud Creek

Scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center mapped the offshore extent of the Mud Creek landslide on California’s Big Sur coast on July 11, 2017. They used sonar to measure bathymetry (seafloor depth) along a series of overlapping swaths to produce a map of the underwater slide debris and surrounding seafloor. The mapping is part of an effort to understand what happens to landslide material after it enters the ocean. The team has been collecting and analyzing air photos of the Mud Creek area before and after the May 20 landslide to monitor changes in ground elevation. See provisional imagery at the Remote Sensing Coastal Change website. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569posted: 2017-07-14

Photo taken of the stern of a boat showing scientists and equipment collecting cores of bayfloor sediment.Connection between two earthquake faults in the San Francisco Bay area highlighted in radio and TV interviews

USGS research geophysicist Janet Watt spoke with reporters Jenna Lane (KCBS Radio, San Francisco) on July 5 and Tom Vacar (KTVU Channel 2, San Francisco) on July 6 about her research on a connection between the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults beneath San Pablo Bay, an arm of California’s San Francisco Bay. Watt is currently analyzing samples of bay sediment to better understand how these faults have interacted in the past—information that will improve forecasts and help communities prepare for future earthquakes. The interviews were prompted by a July 2 article in the San Jose Mercury News. The KCBS interview aired the morning of July 6, and the KTVU interview was broadcast that evening. Contact: Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565posted: 2017-07-14

CMGP Marine Biologist tapped for scientific advice on restoring Caribbean coral reefs

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner is serving on the inaugural steering committee of the Coral Restoration Consortium (CRC), the formation of which is being announced to the scientific community this week. The development of a consortium emerged as a priority recommendation from the November 2016 "Workshop to Advance the Science and Practice of Caribbean Coral Restoration." The CRC is a community of practice that comprises scientists, managers, coral restoration practitioners, and educators dedicated to enabling coral reef ecosystems to adapt and survive the 21st century and beyond. The CRC's mission is to foster collaboration and technology transfer among participants, and to facilitate scientific and practical ingenuity to demonstrate that restoration can achieve meaningful results at scales relevant to reefs in their roles of protecting coastlines, supporting fisheries, and serving as economic engines for coastal communities. Kuffner will serve on the CRC steering committee for a three-year term.

posted: 2017-07-13

USGS Microbiologist invited to coral model system workshop

Roger Williams University is sponsoring a workshop August 1–3, 2017 aimed at applying the latest research on model organism Astrangia poculata, the Northern Star Coral, to solutions for tropical coral reef health across the globe. This temperate coral occurs from New England to Florida along the US East Coast. Dr. Christina Kellogg (Research Microbiologist, SPCMSC) was invited to bring her expertise in deep-sea coral systems and microbiomes to the workshop this year to develop new research directions.

posted: 2017-07-13

Scientists from National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards publish data release of lidar-derived beach morphology covering the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines from 1998 to 2016

Scientists from National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards have published information on the dune crest, toe, shoreline, beach width and beach slope for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. These beach morphology features are extracted at 10-meter alongshore spacing for each available lidar survey. Future surveys, as well as legacy datasets going back to 1996 will be added to the data release. These data form the foundation for the newly expanded USGS Total Water Level Viewer ( Beach morphology data are also used by coastal managers and environmental modelers to characterize suitable habitats and measure coastal resiliency.

posted: 2017-07-13

USGS scientist Josh Logan points to the high-water mark, the upper limit of damage to tree bark by water-borne debris, from a series of large floods on the Carmel River in January and February 2017.News article: Dam removal and winter floods may help steelhead trout in California’s Carmel River

USGS research geologist Amy East was quoted in a July 7 San Jose Mercury News article titled “With San Clemente Dam gone, are steelhead trout about to make comeback on the Carmel River?” East noted that last winter’s heavy rains produced more floods and larger floods than the river had undergone in many years. These floods, combined with the 2014–15 dam removal, changed the river in ways that make it more hospitable to steelhead, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. East leads a USGS team that has been measuring the river’s topography and the sediment it carries since 2013. Their work supports NOAA and California State University Monterey Bay investigations of physical and ecological changes in the watershed resulting from dam removal. Contact: Amy East,, 831-460-7533posted: 2017-07-12

USGS Huge landslide on California’s Big Sur coast continues to change

The Mud Creek landslide on California’s Big Sur coast keeps eroding, as seen in air photos taken June 26. USGS scientists have been collecting and analyzing air photos about every two weeks, weather permitting, since the slide occurred on May 20. Maps derived from the June 26 photos show continued movement on the slide’s upper slopes and accelerating erosion at its toe. Since May 27, the 13-acre bulge of new land created by the slide has lost about 2 acres to wave erosion at its seaward edge, while material has accumulated on the beaches beside it. The latest photos also captured new roads built by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to monitor and sample the slide. View provisional imagery at the USGS Remote Sensing Coastal Change website. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569posted: 2017-07-11

Drone image of Beach Nourishment at the Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility in Duck, NCUSGS Scienctists to Track Effects of Historic Lake Ontario Flooding

Beginning July 10, U.S. Geological Survey scientists plan to conduct fieldwork along a flood-impacted stretch of New York’s Lake Ontario shoreline, using unmanned aerial systems (also known as drones), pressure sensors that measure water elevation and special water-elevation gages designed for rapid set-up. The fieldwork, supported by the state of New York and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is designed to gather up-to-date information to help emergency managers track and respond to historic levels of flooding, and to collect new scientific data about coastal processes affecting the lake’s shoreline.

Read more at “USGS Scientists to Track Effects of Historic Lake Ontario Flooding”

posted: 2017-07-10

Mary McGann and Janet Watt, in the USGS core lab, cutting a core sample of mud, collected from the bottom of San Francisco Bay.Front-page news: USGS analyzing mud samples to shed light on San Francisco Bay area earthquake hazards

A front-page article in the San Jose Mercury News features USGS geophysicist Janet Watt explaining her study of mud collected from beneath the bottom of San Pablo Bay, California. Watt led a team whose October 2014 imaging of sediment layers beneath the bay revealed a direct link between two hazardous faults in the San Francisco Bay area—the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults. In October 2016, the scientists collected core samples of muddy sediment along the newly discovered fault segment. They are analyzing the cores to ascertain the ages of sediment layers disrupted by fault movement. Determining when the fault has moved could improve assessments of the area’s earthquake hazards. Reporter Lisa Krieger learned of the study from Watt’s May 25 USGS public lecture. Read the article, published online July 2. Contact: Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565posted: 2017-07-07

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