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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

News Archive

News Archive - stories from August 2013.

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

USGS Post-Doc Participates in the Joint Interagency Field Exploration Event

From 5-8 August, Sophia B. Liu, Ph.D., Mendenhall Post-Doc Fellow at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC), participated in field experiments at the Joint Interagency Field Exploration (JIFX) event in Camp Roberts, CA at the McMillan Airfield. The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) hosts these events several times a year to bring industry, academia, and government together in a semi-structured field testing environment fusing interactive community building and knowledge sharing activities with concept-based socio-technical experimentation. Dr. Liu's experiment titled "USGS 'Did the Coast Change?' Crowdsourcing Coastal Change Analysis of Aerial Photos" was one of over 60 experiments conducted at JIFX 13-4. With over 400 participants, her experiment focused on creating ad- hoc collaborations with participants developing similar geospatial crowdsourcing applications, social media analytics tools, and geospatial collaboration platforms. The following seven themes emerged as types of collaborations relevant to Dr. Liu's USGS geospatial crowdsourcing research: (1) Field-based crowdsourcing to ground truth remote crowdsourcing; (2) Harvesting social media for enhanced situational awareness and decision support; (3) Abstracting crowdsourcing workflows; (4) Visualizing and integrating crowdsourced data; (5) Emerging geospatial collaborations and platforms; (6) Imagery-related tools and projects; and (7) Innovation fellows and Hurricane Sandy-related project ideas.

posted: 2013-08-29

USGS Coastal Geologist participates in Post-Sandy Coastal Engineering Research Meeting in New Jersey

From September 4-6, Cheryl Hapke (USGS-St. Petersburg) has been invited to participate in the Board of Coastal Engineering Research meeting to be held in Long Branch, NJ. The purpose of the meeting, convened by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), is to explore impacts on the water resources and infrastructure of the North Atlantic coastlines due to Hurricane Sandy. Research needs associated with sustaining resilient coastal communities and systems through risk reduction, regional sediment management, and ecosystem restoration activities will be discussed. On Thursday, Sept. 5, there will be discussions on the recovery from Hurricane Sandy including coastal breach closures, with which Cheryl has been actively involved in Fire Island, New York (see News items posted 2013-08-01 and 2013-07-24).

posted: 2013-08-29

Seismic-Imaging Research Cruise Investigates Deepwater Gas Hydrate Deposits in the Gulf of Mexico

Interest is mounting in the possibility that gas hydrate—a naturally occurring ice-like substance that contains vast quantities of methane—might be a viable source of natural gas. A research cruise by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Gas Hydrates Project in the northern Gulf of Mexico in spring 2013 shed new light on that possibility. The 15-day cruise was conducted by USGS scientists and technicians with partial financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Read the full article in Sound Waves

posted: 2013-08-28

Hurricane Sandy Eroded Half of Fire Island's Beaches and Dunes: New Report Quantifies Coastal Change

Beaches and dunes on Fire Island, New York, lost more than half of their pre-storm volume during Hurricane Sandy, leaving the area more vulnerable to future storms.

While the damage and destruction on Fire Island was immediately evident after the storm, a new U.S. Geological Survey study released today is the first to quantify the actual changes to the coast caused by the storm.

"The beaches and dunes of the island were severely eroded during Sandy," said Cheryl Hapke, a USGS research geologist and lead author of the study. "The island was breached in three locations, and there was widespread damage and destruction of coastal infrastructure, including private residences. The report shows that the beaches and dunes lost 54.4 percent of their pre-storm volume, and the dunes experienced overwash along 46.6 percent of the island, dramatically changing the island's shape."

See the USGS Press Release and read the new report.

posted: 2013-08-28

New Maps of the Massachusetts seafloor

The U.S. Geological Survey and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) have worked collaboratively to map the geology of the shallow seafloor offshore of Massachusetts coast. Interpretation of high-resolution geophysical data (interferometric and multibeam swath bathymetry, lidar, backscatter, and seismic reflection), sediment samples, and bottom photographs were used to produce a series of maps that describe the distribution and texture of seafloor sediments, shallow geologic framework, and physiographic zones of this inner-shelf region. These data and interpretations are intended to aid efforts to inventory and manage coastal and marine resources, and provide baseline information for research focused on coastal evolution and environmental change.

The link to the first CZM interpretive report, Shallow Geology, Seafloor Texture, and Physiographic Zones of the Inner Continental Shelf from Nahant to Northern Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, is available at

posted: 2013-08-27

FAT Instrument Will Measure Sediment Transport in Deep South China Sea

An innovative USGS-designed free-ascending tripod (FAT) will be deployed 2,000-3,000 meters deep on the floor of the South China Sea during a cruise September 8-October 6, 2013. Instruments on the tripod and numerous associated moorings will gather data to help scientists better understand how deep-seafloor sediment moves and accumulates in the study area. Such knowledge can be applied in deep U.S. waters as well, to determine where contaminated sediment might accumulate or to choose favorable sites for undersea cables and other infrastructure. FAT will be recovered in spring 2014. The study is co-sponsored by the USGS and Tongji University, with funding by the National Natural Science Foundation of China. The tripod was designed and built at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's Marine Facility. For more information contact Jingping Xu,, 831-460-7426.posted: 2013-08-23

Tele-Sampling Deep-Sea Coral on Mid-Cayman Rise During Webcast Cruise

USGS oceanographer Nancy Prouty is participating in exploration of the Mid-Cayman Rise (south of Cuba) from the exploration vessel Nautilus, using ROVs to collect samples for deep-sea coral paleoenvironmental studies. The exploration, August 19-30, is one leg of the 2013 Nautilus Exploration Program; all legs are being webcast live at Prouty is one of the scientists participating from home institutions via telepresence technology (Prouty at Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Santa Cruz, California). She will be on “watch” during sampling along a vertical transect from 2,000 to 4,000 meters on Mount Dent. Her involvement stems from attending (with Amanda Demopolous, USGS, Gainesville, Florida) an Ocean Exploration Trust workshop in November 2012 to identify key priority areas for ocean research in the Caribbean region. For more information, contact Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526.posted: 2013-08-23

2012 Research Cruise of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy part of "Breaking Ice" Series on Weather Channel

Beginning Saturday August 17 and running for three Saturdays in a row, the Weather Channel will feature a series "Breaking Ice" on the 2012 expeditions of the Healy. USGS scientist Lisa Robbins (St. Petersburg) led one of the science missions on the 2012 Healy cruise looking at Arctic Ocean Acidification. The team worked alongside scientists mapping the seafloor as part of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf program. The 6-part series compares the experiences of the U.S. Coast Guard Healy in the Arctic with the German civilian R/V Polarstern in the Antarctic. This week's episode, Iced, (8/24/13, 9:00-9:30 pm EDT) shows the American icebreaker Healy reaching the northernmost section of its 5-week Arctic mapping mission.

posted: 2013-08-22

Coastal and Marine Geology Staff participate in Lidar Technology Workshop

Nathaniel Plant (USGS-St. Petersburg) and Wayne Wright (USGS-Salisbury, MD) attended the Annual Airborne Coastal Mapping and Charting workshop on lidar technology and applications hosted by the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Excellence (JALBTCX), held 6-7 August in Mobile, AL. The meeting included technical and scientific expertise from federal, academic, and commercial institutions. USGS presented updates of improved bathymetric lidar capabilities and gave examples of applications of topographic and bathymetric lidar.

posted: 2013-08-22

St. Petersburg Scientist Continues Research on Effects of Drilling Mud on Cold Water Corals

Christina Kellogg (USGS-St. Petersburg) will be traveling to Norway (September 2-7, 2013) to continue a collaborative study on the effects of drilling mud on cold-water corals. Kellogg is a participant in a three year study funded by the Research Council of Norway and will be consulting on experimental design and microbial ecology. A primary objective of this project is to develop diagnostic methods to detect cold-water coral stress that may result from nearby oil and gas exploration activities.

For more information on research on the effects of Drilling Mud on Cold Water Corals, read: International Team Studies Impacts of Oil and Gas Drilling on Cold-Water Corals in Norway

posted: 2013-08-22

Studying Deep-Sea Coral Ecology Offshore Virginia and Maryland

USGS scientists working with partners from NOAA, BOEM, CSA Ocean Sciences, and universities are completing the final fieldwork of the 4-year Deepwater Canyons project to investigate biology, geology, oceanography, and archeology (shipwrecks) in two mid-Atlantic canyons off Virginia and Maryland. This cruise on the NOAA ship Nancy Foster departed from North Charleston, SC, on August 21 and will return August 28. Amanda Demopoulos, Olivia Cheriton, and Jonathan Borden from USGS are retrieving deep-sea moorings with rotating sediment traps and benthic landers with instruments and deep-sea coral experiments, all deployed August 2012. Demopoulos is project chief of the multidisciplinary USGS Diversity, Systematics and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems (DISCOVRE) project, which studies the biology, ecology, and connectivity of deep-sea coral environments to provide the science needed for their effective conservation and management. For more information contact Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526.

posted: 2013-08-22

Hurricane SandyRemapping Coastal Areas Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Plans for remapping parts of the East Coast where Hurricane Sandy altered seafloors and shorelines, destroyed buildings, and disrupted millions of lives last year are being announced today by three federal agencies. This remapping plan comes one day after the Administration's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force progress report.

The USGS, NOAA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are using emergency supplemental funds provided by Congress to survey coastal waters and shorelines, acquiring data that will update East Coast land maps and nautical charts.

Using ships, aircraft, and satellites, the agencies will measure water depths, look for submerged debris, and record altered shorelines in high priority areas from South Carolina to Maine, as stipulated by Congress in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.

The areas to be remapped will be based on their relative dangers to navigation, effects from the storm, and discussions with state and local officials as well as the maritime industry.

Read the USGS Press Release

posted: 2013-08-21

Deep Sea TVUSGS scientists help NOAA promote deep-sea research

The NOAA research vessel Okeanos Explorer has been live-streaming the video feed from their remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) during exploratory dives in the deepwater canyons off the coast of the northeastern United States. Amanda Demopoulos (USGS-SESC) is co-leading the cruise during August with Martha Nizinski (NOAA) and interfacing with a team of shore-based scientists, including Christina Kellogg (USGS-SPCMSC). While promoting the cruise on Twitter, Kellogg coined the phrase "Deep Sea TV" to describe the live video feed. The Associated Press (AP) picked up the theme and wrote a story about the telepresence cruise, framing it in terms of a reality TV show. The story has been picked up by ABC, NBC, Yahoo News, USA Today, Washington Post, and many regional newspapers. As many as 67,000 viewers have logged on during a single dive to watch the live feed of the sea floor hundreds of meters below the surface. Deep Sea TV continues through August 16th, so skip the summer reruns and join the exploration!

Related links:

Okeanos Explorer live video stream

Washington Post article: Research ship's live streaming of deep ocean floor hooks people on eel attacks and starfish


posted: 2013-08-19

A kelp greenling fish swimming above a seafloor of mixed gravel, cobble and rugose rock outcrop with scattered shell. Fish is approx. 20 cm (8 inches) long. Image acquired 1 km (0.62 miles) offshore Half Moon Bay, California at a depth of 14 meters (46 ft). Also in the image are encrusting sponges, red algae (seaweed), and orange cup corals.Seafloor Maps, Datasets, Videos, and Photos from California State Waters

Three new USGS products in an ongoing series by the California Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP) were released August 9th, 2013—a map set for the area offshore of Carpinteria in southern California, a catalog of geographic-information-system (GIS) data layers for all of CSMP's published maps, and a collection of videos and photos of the seafloor along the entire California coast. The USGS is a key partner in the CSMP, a collaboration between state and federal agencies, academia, and the private sector to create a comprehensive base-map series for all of California's state waters. With the new products, decision makers and elected officials can better design and monitor marine reserves, evaluate ocean energy potential, understand ecosystem dynamics, recognize earthquake and tsunami hazards, regulate offshore development, and improve maritime safety.

Read the full News Release or contact Sam Johnson at or 831-460-7546, or Nadine Golden at or 831-460-7530.

posted: 2013-08-09

Map of Florida Middle GroundUSGS Geologist responds to Reporter Query on Offshore Ledges

On July 26, the USGS (St. Petersburg) received a query from a reporter about the nature of the offshore ledges near Ft. Myers, Fl. Kevin Lollar, who works for the News-Press was inquiring about the origin of ledges divers commonly encounter offshore. Chris Reich (Geologist) spoke with Mr. Lollar and suggested that most ledges encountered by casual divers were likely natural limestone exposures that were eroded at the shoreline when sea level was lower, rather than formed by coral reefs. There are many of these ledges and rock outcrops along the west Florida shelf, some in water too deep to fully understand their genesis, but a new discovery by the USGS working on the geology of the Florida Middle Ground showed that a marine gastropod helped preserve the structures that are used by many divers and fisherman today.

For more about the Florida Middle Ground, see the Journal of Coastal Research article: The Role of Vermetid Gastropods in the Development of the Florida Middle Ground, Northeast Gulf of Mexico

posted: 2013-08-01

Florida Trend MagazineUSGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center part of Sept., 2013 "Marine High Tech Corridor" Article

On July 31, Amy Keller of Florida Trend Magazine inquired about the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Center for a forthcoming article on the "Marine High Tech Corridor" in the Tampa area. While the print version of the magazine will publish all the articles at once, the online version releases articles sporadically, so the article may not be immediately available online.

posted: 2013-08-01

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