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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

News Archive

News Archive - stories from August 2017.

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

SPCMSC Staff meet with Ms. Sarah Hanson, Representative Charlie Crist Staffer

Ken Rice (acting Center Director), Chris Reich (Deputy), and Vic Hines (Eastern Communications Chief) gave Ms. Sarah Hanson, legislative assistant to Representative Charlie Crist, a tour of the St. Petersburg Center on August 24, 2017. Ms. Hanson is a staffer for Rep. Charlie Crist who represents the 13th District, which includes St. Petersburg and most of Pinellas County. This was the first time in many years that a staffer from the local district requested a tour of SPCMSC. The tour included brief stops to discuss current research: Joe Long and Jenna Brown (coastal change forecasting), Soupy Dalyander (coastal management decision support), Ilsa Kuffner (coral reefs protecting FL coastlines), and Kathryn Smith (marsh sediment dynamics); and Center capability overviews by Noreen Buster (coring/core lab), and Jake Fredericks and Jim Flocks (seafloor mapping).

posted: 2017-08-30

Researcher presenting at Grand Bay Symposium

Christopher G. Smith will attend the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR) and Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge (GBNWR) Research Symposium (September 8–9, 2017). Christopher will be presenting research highlights from the Coastal and Marine Geology Program-funded projects, Sea-level and Storms Impacts on Estuarine Environments and Shorelines (SSIEES, pronounced Seas) and Estuarine Processes, Hazards, and Ecosystems (EPHE). The SSIEES project is focused on the long-term geologic and geomorphic significance of storms and sea-level on marsh-estuary systems, while the EPHE project focuses on short-term sediment dynamics and processes interacting with the geological and ecological landscape. Christopher will be presenting research on behalf of his colleagues from St. Petersburg (Nicole Khan, Stanley Locker, Marci Marot, Kathryn Smith, and associated USF graduate students Christian Haller and Joseph Terrano) and Woods Hole (Daniel Nowacki and Neil Ganju) Coastal and Marine Science Centers.

posted: 2017-08-30

Scientists re-survey a network of oceanographic and ecological monitoring stations in PanamaSPMSC Scientist travels to Pacific Panama to study the impacts of climatic and oceanographic variability on coral reefs

SCMSC Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth will lead a research expedition in Pacific Panama this month to study the growth, erosion, and oceanography of coral reefs in Pacific Panama. On this trip, Toth will visit the Gulf of Chiriqui, a region that experienced severe coral bleaching and mortality in response to the 2016 El Niño event, and the Gulf of Panama, which did not experience coral bleaching because the waters were cooled by seasonal upwelling. With the help of academic collaborators from Florida Institute of Technology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Toth will re-survey a network of oceanographic and ecological monitoring stations designed to measure the long-term effects of climatic and oceanographic variability on coral reefs in the region. Panamanian reefs are especially sensitive to environmental disturbances and may, like “canaries in a coal mine,” help scientists predict the future of coral-reef ecosystems on a global scale. coral bleaching

For more information on the project contact Lauren Toth,

posted: 2017-08-30

An example of the shoreline data for La Jolla Shores used in the CoSMoS-COAST model.New York Times quotes USGS geologist in article about California's coastal-erosion problems

The New York Times featured research by USGS geologist Patrick Barnard in its August 17 “California Today” section. The story “A Growing Threat on the Shoreline” referred to a report co-authored by Barnard forecasting that up to two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could be lost by 2100. Barnard said that variables contributing to beach loss include rising seas and intensified storms, both linked to climate change, as well as river dams blocking the flow of sand to beaches. The story described recent damage caused by erosion along California’s coast and noted that Barnard believes such problems are likely to become more frequent. Barnard leads development of the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), which provides detailed forecasts of coastal flooding due to storms of various intensities over a range of future sea levels. Contact: Patrick Barnard,, 831-460-7556posted: 2017-08-28

HarveyAug. 25 Update - Many Texas Beaches Likely to Erode, Be Overwashed, or Inundated by Hurricane Harvey

Updated projections from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate Hurricane Harvey is likely to cause significant beach erosion along the Texas coastline, with water overtopping 47% of dunes and inundating low-lying areas. Read more: 2017-08-25

potential coastal change impacts from Hurricane HarveyMany Texas Beaches Likely to Erode, Be Overwashed, or Inundated by Hurricane Harvey

New projections from the U.S. Geological Survey indicate Hurricane Harvey is likely to cause significant beach erosion along the Texas coastline, with water overtopping dunes and in some cases inundating areas. Read more: 2017-08-25

Closeup image of a single Eumunida picta squat lobster perched on a live Lophelia pertusa thicketSPCMSC Microbiologist gives invited talk at BOEM Information Transfer Meeting on Gulf of Mexico research

Dr. Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC Research Microbiologist) gave an invited talk titled "Multidisciplinary Assessment of Deep-Water Coral Ecosystems: Tools to Detect Impacts of Sub-Lethal Stress" during the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) 27th Gulf of Mexico Region Information Transfer Meeting (ITM), August 22–24, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. The Gulf of Mexico Region ITM began in 1980 as an annual meeting to foster sharing, results, methodologies, and ideas related to BOEM environmental studies. Scientists present, discuss and share their findings in support of the BOEM Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf (OCS) oil and natural gas, renewable energy, and marine minerals programs.

posted: 2017-08-23

Tampa Bay Times interviews USGS researcher about sea level rise

Davina Passeri (SPCMSC Mendenhall Post-Graduate Fellow) was interviewed by Justine Griffin, a business reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, for a story about obstacles that stand in the way of proposed development in Tampa, Florida, including sea level rise. The article was published on Sunday, August 11, and can be found online:

posted: 2017-08-17

Bruce Richmond clowns for the camera during the closing credits of Peeking into Permafrost. In the background are Cordell Johnson, left, and Peter Swarzenski, on the groundUSGS video selected for Goldschmidt film festival in Paris

The USGS video Peeking into Permafrost has been selected for this year’s Goldschmidt Wild Orbit Cinema week in Paris, August 12–18. Produced by USGS contractor Amy West, the film is one of 15 chosen from nearly 100 entries. It follows a USGS team led by geologist Bruce Richmond as they investigate bluff erosion on Barter Island on Alaska’s Arctic coast. The video conveys the challenging conditions under which the scientists collect samples of permafrost and a range of data—from repeat photographs of the shore, to radon content in groundwater, to the composition and structure of the bluffs—to examine what’s controlling erosion of Arctic coasts. Such erosion threatens villages and infrastructure in many parts of northern Alaska. The annual film festival is a “week long celebration of the very best in science communication” held in conjunction with the prestigious Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.
View all 15 films.
Contact: Bruce Richmond,, 831-460-7531, or Amy West,, 831-460-7428posted: 2017-08-15

Underwater photograph shows instrument package on the seaward slope of the coral reef off Puerto Rico.Deep deployment of instruments to study coral reef structure and health off Puerto Rico

An instrument package developed by the USGS was placed on the seaward slope of a coral reef off southwestern Puerto Rico on July 27. Collaborators from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez deployed the instrument package at a depth of 177 feet—the deepest deployment yet of instruments to measure currents and suspended sediment in a coral reef environment. The researchers want to measure how much volcanic sediment (derived from land) and carbonate sediment (derived from the reef) are moving off the reef. They are also exploring how deep currents move cool, nutrient-rich water up the slope. This water can offset stress caused by global warming of surface waters and provide food for stressed corals. USGS scientist Cordell Johnson designed and built the instrument mount for delicate emplacement by technical divers. Contact: Curt Storlazzi,, 831-460-7521posted: 2017-08-10

Two stills from video showing animation of tsunami approaching the shore, from video produced by Physics World.Physics World videos feature USGS tsunami and earthquake scientists

USGS geophysicists are featured in two videos published by Physics World, magazine of the Institute of Physics. In the first video, Eric Geist explains his studies of the mechanics of tsunamis, particularly those triggered by earthquakes occurring at subduction zones on the seafloor, where oceanic plates slide underneath continental plates. (See Geist’s animations of historical tsunamis.) A second, companion video covers the work of Brian Kilgore, who triggers mini-earthquakes in a USGS lab to study their characteristics, and David Lockner, who works in a rock deformation and friction lab to recreate conditions in the Earth under which earthquakes occur. Journalist James Dacey filmed the interviews a year and a half ago at the USGS center in Menlo Park, California. The videos and accompanying article were published in July 2017 on Contact: Eric Geist,, 650-329-5457posted: 2017-08-10

USGS Corals and Paleoclimate Group Tours New Florida Aquarium Facility in Apollo Beach, FloridaUSGS Corals and Paleoclimate Group Tours New Florida Aquarium Facility

A group of SPCMSC researchers, staff scientists, and visiting students visited The Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation's brand-new facilities currently being built in Apollo Beach, Florida. The new buildings presently under construction will include state-of-the-art coral arks (greenhouses) to protect and restore coral genetic diversity and stocks of Florida's threatened corals. Scott Graves, director of the Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation (CFC), led the tour of the partially built main building, showed plans for future buildings, and explained the mission and vision of the Center. Keri O'Neil, (CFC, marine invertebrate specialist), explained the logistics of coral husbandry while leading the tour of the temporary coral facility that presently holds 92 specimens of the threatened pillar coral rescued from an ongoing disease outbreak in the Florida Keys. Collaboration between USGS and CFC could provide opportunity for scientific advancement in understanding the environmental determinants of coral growth, as well as providing data critical to optimizing the strategies for restoring populations of threatened coral species in the Florida Keys.

posted: 2017-08-09

Aerial Photo of the mouth of the Elwha River and its estuaries, showing a visible sediment plume blossoming out into the sea. Photo taken April 14, 2012 by Jon Felis, USGSUSGS scientist quoted in "Why the World's Rivers are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters"

USGS research geologist Jon Warrick was quoted in an article about the importance of river-borne sediment for helping coastal-wetland growth keep pace with sea-level rise. Titled “Why the World’s Rivers Are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters,” the article was published June 20 in Yale Environment 360, an online magazine covering global environmental issues. Warrick leads a USGS project studying how the removal of two large dams from the Elwha River in Washington State is changing the region’s coastal areas. He described the expansion of coastal landforms by sediment released during and after dam removal, and he noted that the best way to free sediment trapped behind a dam depends on the dam’s purpose and the unique nature of the river. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569

Read the article, and visit the "USGS Science to Support the Elwha River Restoration Project" web site.

posted: 2017-08-04

USGS met with the National Hurricane Center to discuss the USGS storm-tide monitoring and coastal change hazards programs

Personnel from the USGS met with the scientists from the Storm Surge Unit at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to collaborate on the USGS storm-tide monitoring program, including providing NHC with water level observations for model verification, and to discuss how to provide the NHC with wave runup and coastal erosion forecasts. The NHC team was very complimentary of the USGS program, noting the value of the information our scientists provide and citing datasets collected by the USGS in 2016 for Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew as examples. The USGS and NHC will work together to make USGS coastal hazards data and products available to NOAA during landfalling hurricanes.

posted: 2017-08-03

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