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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

News Archive

News Archive - stories from August 2014.

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

USGS conducted joint sonar/lidar bathymetric survey at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to support U.S. Air Force erosion vulnerability study

On 18 August 2014, researchers from the Saint Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) began a bathymetric survey of the complicated shoals, channels, and bars that are connected to the Cape Canaveral shoreline. This region has complex patterns of erosion and deposition that are evolving due to storms and sea-level rise. The survey approach utilized the both sonar and lidar observation technologies to optimize data coverage over a wide region with variable water clarity. The two data sets will be integrated into a single data set used to estimate bathymetric change and provide new input to numerical models. Additional data were collected to quantify survey accuracy and to develop improved assimilation of oceanographic, lidar, and sonar data and models.

posted: 2014-08-28

USGS scientists travel to Fire Island, New York, to continue post-Sandy monitoring

From 9/7–9/11, USGS geologists Cheryl Hapke, Owen Brenner, and Kat Wilson will return to Fire Island after an extensive field data collection trip in June to re-survey the shoreline and beach profiles ongoing coastal recovery studies. They will also present an update of field activities and preliminary findings to the NPS staff. Fire Island is one of the principal USGS areas of interest to document geologic processes related to Sandy erosion and recovery.

posted: 2014-08-28

Iridigorgia sp. (a type of Chrysogorgidae octocoral), with a typical coiled shape at the base of Noroît Seamount. The organism is about half a meter to a meter (2 to 3 feet) across. Water depth is approximately 1,800 meters (5,900 feet).Caribbean Seamount Exploration Will Be Live Online

Amanda Demopoulos (USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center [SESC]) and Jason Chaytor (USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center [WHCMSC]) are co-chief scientists on a research cruise investigating seamounts in the eastern Caribbean near the British Virgin Islands. They will work aboard the exploration vessel Nautilus September 3–14 with fellow USGS and academic scientists: Brian Andrews (WHCMSC), Shannon Hoy (USGS Cherokee Nation Technology Solutions [CNTS] WHCMSC), Jill Bourque (CNTS SESC), Jennie McClain-Counts (SESC), and Erik Cordes (Temple University). Participating from shore via telepresence are USGS scientists Uri ten Brink (WHCMSC), Nancy Prouty (Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center), and Cheryl Morrison (Leetown Science Center). Primary objectives include characterizing the geology, geomorphology, and ecology of the seamounts, including deep-sea coral habitats and associated communities. Follow the expedition in real time and interact with scientists and educators onboard at This expedition builds upon a 2013 research cruise featured in Sound Waves ( For more information, contact Amanda Demopoulos,, 352-264-3490, or (in the Pacific Region) Nancy Prouty,, 831-460-7526.posted: 2014-08-27

map of newly-discovered seepsUSGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program research geophysicists were coauthors on a Nature Geoscience study entitled, "Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern US Atlantic margin"

USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program research geophysicists Carolyn Ruppel (Gas Hydrates Project, Woods Hole) and Daniel Brothers (Geohazards Project, Santa Cruz) were coauthors on a Nature Geoscience study entitled, "Widespread methane leakage from the seafloor on the northern US Atlantic margin" that was published online on August 24, 2014. Using water column backscatter imagery obtained by NOAA's ship Okeanos Explorer in a 94,000 km2 area of the Atlantic margin between Cape Hatteras and Georges Bank, they and their colleagues identified at least 570 methane plumes in the water column. A small number of remotely-operated vehicle dives with NOAA's Deep Discoverer verified that the plumes mark the location of seafloor gas seeps that are sometimes associated with chemosynthetic communities, authigenic carbonates, and/or seafloor gas hydrates. Only three seep areas had previously been identified on the US Atlantic passive margin seaward of the shelf-break, and much of the newly-discovered seepage occurs on the upper slope, where gas hydrate may be dissociating due to warming of impinging intermediate waters. This is the first discovery of widespread upper slope seepage possibly related to gas hydrates outside of rapidly-warming Arctic regions, like the West Spitsbergen margin.posted: 2014-08-25

Screen shot showing Python Map exampleSenior USGS science data coordinator continues work on data management training modules

From August 26–29, Heather Henkel, based at the St. Petersburg field center, will travel to Lakewood, Colorado, to work with Viv Hutchison and Lisa Zolly (Core Science Systems) on new training modules for the USGS Data Management web site. The first modules are available at and cover three introductory topics. The USGS Data Management web site was developed to not only provide broad and easy access to best practices, tools, and recommended reading, but also to facilitate compliance with recent mandates from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) regarding open data access to well-managed, federally-funded research. Regardless of location, a broad range of scientists with little or no experience in data management will be able to implement current best practices by having the training modules available online.

posted: 2014-08-21

image of coawst modeling systemCOAWST Modeling System Training at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

On August 25-28, 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center will host more than 100 scientists from around the world to be trained on our Coupled Atmosphere Waves and Sediment Transport Processes (COAWST) system.

Daily sessions will develop realistic cases to include Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF), Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS), and Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN), providing step by step tutorials to develop applications. There will also be opportunity to enhance individual setups, ask questions, share files, methods, interact with other users and developers who are performing similar applications.

posted: 2014-08-20

Members of the award-winning USGS Environmental Achievement teamSPCMSC receives USGS Environmental Achievement Award

The St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) received notice it won one of three USGS Environmental Achievement Awards announced on August 6. SPCMSC won in the category for Good Neighbors for Greenhouse Gas Reduction. The award recognized the small team of Ellen Raabe, Environmental Program Coordinator, Molly McLaughlin, Lab and Safety Manager, Chris Reich, Operations Manager, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, and the Southeast Companies, facility leasing company. SPCMSC in collaboration with Southeast Companies has diligently worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Center primarily by reducing electricity consumption by 19% from FY2012 to FY 2013 (see Highlight from 2014-05-08). The effort in FY2012 was part of ongoing modifications that included a hot-water solar tube array replacing the bulk of the natural gas used by the laboratory building, conversion from fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting, and expanding chilled water, supplied by the University of South Florida, by retrofitting HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) in all three buildings.

posted: 2014-08-14

Old photograph of USGS scientist taking measurements in the fieldUSGS field team to establish Sediment Elevation Tables (SETs) on Crocker Reef

From 8/18 to 8/29, five field staff from the USGS will travel to Islamorada, Fla. to establish benchmarks and accurately locate underwater Sediment Elevation Tables on Crocker Reef utilizing both the 25–foot R/V Sallenger and the 22-foot Twin Vee. Over the coming months and years, the SETs will allow the USGS to characterize sediment accumulation or removal patterns at several locations around the reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (For earlier work on Crocker Reef, see Highlight from 2014-07-02). USGS staff contributing to the fieldwork are Chris Reich, B.J. Reynolds, Nate Smiley, Lauren Toth, and new operations hire Anastasios Stathakopoulos (Anesti). Kim Yates and Dave Zawada serve as co-principal investigators.

posted: 2014-08-14

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