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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

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News Archive - stories from December 2013.

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

Website about a Decade of Research on Fire Island, NY, released by USGS Coastal Geologist to help understand Future Coastal Changes

On December 17, the USGS issued a press release describing a new website devoted to help understand coastal changes occurring at Fire Island, NY. USGS Geologist Cheryl Hapke has been instrumental in not only providing basic scientific research for the barrier islands off Long Island, but also participating in the policy and environmental decision process following Hurricane Sandy. "The website is intended to provide federal, state and local partners and stakeholders with an access point to the large body of science we have produced," Hapke said.

Read the USGS Press Release.

posted: 2013-12-18

Fire IslandDecade of Fire Island Research Available to Help Understand Future Coastal Changes

A new resource about Fire Island, N.Y. is now at the fingertips of coastal managers, planners and the public that will be useful for understanding and predicting future change on the island.

The USGS created the public website that details a decade's worth of research that focuses on changes to the beaches and dunes of the barrier island and understanding what affects their change.

Fire Island was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. More than a year later, the USGS continues to study the changes left behind in its devastating path and generating critical information to aid the recovery process and help communities become more resilient against future storms.

Read the USGS Press Release.

posted: 2013-12-17

S. Jeffress Williams, scientist emeritus with the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center contributes to Boston Globe article.

‘Sand wars’ come to New England coast. As weather worsens, New England’s sea levels are rising fast — as are the stakes.

Sand is becoming New England coastal dwellers’ most coveted and controversial commodity as they try to fortify beaches against rising seas and severe erosion caused by violent storms.

Read the full article in the Boston Globe

posted: 2013-12-16

Photograph shows the Tsunami Evacuation Route signs that are used to direct people on the fastest escape route away from an approaching tsunami wave.The SAFRR Tsunami Scenario

USGS marine geophysicist Stephanie Ross was interviewed December 13, 2013, by KTVU Channel 2 San Francisco about the SAFRR (Science Application for Risk Reduction) Tsunami Scenario for broadcast on the 6 p.m. news. The scientific report provides an analysis of the potential impacts along the California coast, following a hypothetical but plausible tsunami created by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake offshore of the Alaskan peninsula. Watch the interview with Ross by reporter John Fowler on the KTVU web site and read the accompanying article, “Report shows how large tsunami could devastate San Francisco”. For more information, contact Stephanie Ross, 650-329-5326.posted: 2013-12-16

Collecting cores in the Florida Middle GroundUSGS Scientist Presents Findings on the Florida Middle Ground Research Project to the Pinellas County Sea Grant Extension-hosted "Salty Talks Series"

On December 5, 2013, USGS Geologist Christopher Reich presented findings from a 2010 research project in a talk titled "New Geologic Discovery at the Florida Middle Ground." The presentation was given to the general public at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center in St. Petersburg and hosted by Libby Carnahan, who works for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Science Florida Sea Grant program. Libby was a member of the dive team that collected the cores. The coring took place August 1-7, 2010 and required 6 teams of divers to pull off this daunting task. This was the first time anyone had successfully taken cores in the Florida Middle Ground (FMG), which is located 120 miles northwest of Tampa Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. The unique geologic structure has had many researchers curious about its development and geologic composition since it was first discovered in the early 1900s.

Our findings changed the long-standing theory that the FMG had developed as a coral reef. Four cores were drilled during the week. No coral material was found in any of the rock samples. We found that the FMG ridges range in water depths from 86ft to >180ft with some dramatic ledges. Rather than corals, the walls consist of a thick sequence of muddy sands that are capped by Vermetid gastropods (marine snails).

For detailed information on the findings of the research project you can find the journal article at

For more information about the Weedon Island Preserve visit their website at

posted: 2013-12-12

USGS Coastal Geologist speaks at Long Island Natural History Conference

On Friday, December 6, Cheryl Hapke (USGS) will speak to the Long Island Natural History Conference at 10 am for a 45-minute talk, "Coastal Response to Hurricane Sandy at Fire Island, NY." The conference is being held in the Berkner Auditorium of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY. Cheryl's talk, the lead talk listed in the program, will be about the profound morphologic changes to the beach and dune system at Fire Island before and after the storm and will also explore the long term (decade to century) behavior of the system and regional geology.

posted: 2013-12-05

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