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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

Recent News

Recent News - stories from the last 14 days.

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

A man walks on a beach with sand dunes, he is wearing a backpack and carrying a hand-held device.Beach surveys to monitor change along northern Monterey Bay

From October 9–15, USGS personnel surveyed beaches and the adjacent ocean floor along Monterey Bay’s northern coast. They mapped beach elevations with precision GPS units on backpacks and all-terrain vehicles, and they recorded nearshore depths with personal watercraft equipped with GPS and echo sounders. Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) scientists have conducted surveys between Santa Cruz and Moss Landing every fall and spring since October 2014 to study the patterns and causes of coastal change. They add targeted mapping to capture the effects of large storms. PCMSC runs regular surveys on various California shores, including recently begun mapping along southern Monterey Bay.

posted: 2018-11-16

People stand around a table listening thoughfully, while one man talks.City of Santa Cruz staff briefed on USGS science activities

On October 17, 2018, 17 staff members from the City of Santa Cruz, California toured USGS facilities in the city. Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center scientists gave presentations focused on local issues including sea-level rise, coastal flooding and erosion; nearshore mapping; marine geohazards; and coastal landslide mapping. The California Water Science Center Santa Cruz Field Office chief discussed local streamflow measurements, and demonstrated old and new measuring tools. The staffers asked many questions, as several city departments depend on USGS data or have new projects that could benefit from USGS information. Contact: Guy Gelfenbaum,, 831-460-7401

posted: 2018-11-16

Pilots from the USGS collect imagery data using Unmanned Aerial System, while personnel from the WARC conduct ground-based site surveys of Pelican Island, Alabama.Wintering bird habitat and species monitoring fieldwork at Dauphin Island, Alabama

The ability to connect elevation and habitat characteristics used by wintering shorebirds has been identified as beneficial to conservation and restoration planning by management entities such as the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To address this need and support decisions in barrier island management, the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, and the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center are collaborating on an effort to develop a probabilistic model that can predict wintering bird use based on habitat characteristics. A field data collection campaign is planned for December, 2018, as part of monthly monitoring in support of that effort at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Data collected will include UAS-based imagery that will be used to determine elevation and habitat characteristics; in situ vegetation and elevation data; and a wintering bird census. These data will also be used to advance techniques in deriving habitat data from UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems).

posted: 2018-11-15

A man sits on an all-terrain vehicle which has equipment on it, and the man is smiling and wearing safety gear for the beach.USGS surveys the southern Monterey Bay coast to study changing beaches

From September 12–14, scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center used all-terrain vehicles and small watercraft to map the sand on beaches and under the water in southern Monterey Bay. The scientists will survey the area yearly to see how beaches gain or lose sand. These surveys add to twice-yearly surveys of the northern Monterey Bay coast underway since 2014. The scientists will conduct more frequent mapping to capture effects of large storms and other events, such as the closing of the Cemex sand mine in southern Monterey Bay, scheduled to occur by the end of 2020. Understanding long- and short-term impacts on the local sand supply can inform coastal planning. USGS research geologist Patrick Barnard was quoted in a September 20 Monterey County Weekly article about the recent survey. [More]

posted: 2018-11-15

People stand on a boat looking out at a piece of equipment as itLarge underwater experiment in California's Monterey Canyon shows that 'turbidity currents' are not just currents, but involve movement of the seafloor itself

Turbidity currents have historically been described as fast-moving currents that sweep down submarine canyons, carrying sand and mud into the deep sea. But a new paper in Nature Communications shows that, rather than just consisting of sediment-laden seawater flowing over the seafloor, turbidity currents also involve large-scale sediment movements within the seafloor. This discovery emerged from an 18-month-long, multi-institutional study of Monterey Canyon. USGS researchers and marine technicians were collaborators in the project, which monitored a 50-kilometer-long stretch of the canyon in unprecedented detail. The findings could help ocean engineers avoid damage to pipelines, communications cables, and other seafloor structures. Read a news release from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the scientific paper in Nature.

posted: 2018-11-15

USGS scientists publish study documenting recent wetland-changes along Maryland and Virginia coastline

USGS scientists Julie Bernier and Kathryn Smith (SPCMSC) and Steven Douglas (Cherokee Nation Technologies) published a paper "Analysis of multi-decadal wetland changes and cumulative impact of multiple storms, 1984 to 2017" in the journal Wetlands Ecology and Management. This study analyzed Landsat satellite imagery to document historical and recent (post-Hurricane Sandy) wetland changes that occurred along the Maryland and Virginia coastlines since 1984. This study was part of the post-Hurricane Sandy Barrier Island and Estuarine Wetland Physical Change Assessment.

posted: 2018-11-14

Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZEUSGS researcher judges final round of Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition in Kalamata, Greece

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is a $7 million global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths, and resolution of ocean exploration. In order to have a judge on site for the duration of the final trials, held in Kalamata, Greece, the 7-member international judging panel will take turns, each covering a week to ten-day period. Dr. Christina Kellogg (Research Microbiologist, SPCMSC) will be the on-site judge during the week of November 19–24, 2018. In this final field-testing round for the Grand Prize of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition, which starts in November and runs through December, the teams have up to 24 hours to map at least 250 km2 of the ocean seafloor (an area that is nearly three times the area of Paris) to depths down to 4,000 meters—a cold, dark, and high-pressure environment that is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planet's greatest wonders and resources for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world's grandest challenges. XPRIZE utilizes a unique combination of gamification, crowdsourcing, incentive prize theory, and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10x (vs. 10%) impact in the grand challenge domains facing our world.

To watch a video describing the competition, visit

posted: 2018-11-08

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