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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.

Looking at an angle at a coastal cliff region with a newly cut road running across it.Time-lapse view of California Highway 1 reconstruction after 2017 landslide

USGS scientists produced an animated GIF in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) re-opening of State Highway 1 through Big Sur on July 18, 2018. In 2017, the massive Mud Creek landslide buried a quarter-mile of the famous coastal route with rocks and dirt more than 65 feet deep. As part of a new research project to monitor erosion along the landslide-prone cliffs of Big Sur, USGS scientists collected aerial photos before and after the slide, and during the construction project. By analyzing overlapping photos, they made precise maps of the slopes and calculated volumes of material lost or gained over time. Our researchers shared data and images with Caltrans to help ensure the safety of workers and the success of the road reconstruction. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569

Read more about the USGS research project: Remote Sensing Coastal Change.

posted: 2018-07-18

USGS scientists publish a new study that advances the capability to quantitatively reconstruct past ocean temperature from coral geochemistry

The article "Quantifying uncertainty in Sr/Ca-based estimates of SST from the coral Orbicella faveolata"; has been accepted for publication in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. The strontium to calcium ratio (Sr/Ca) in aragonitic skeletons of massive corals provides a proxy for sea surface temperature (SST) that can be used to reconstruct paleoclimates across decades, centuries, and, potentially, millennia. This study produced a new, regional-scale Sr/Ca-SST calibration for Orbicella faveolata using five modern Orbicella faveolata corals from Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA. This study also examined the sources of uncertainty that influence the robustness of the Sr/Ca paleothermometer and discovered that the precision of the O. faveolata paleothermometer is ~2 ℃ for decadal-scale comparisons and ~1 ℃ across multi-decadal timescales.

posted: 2018-07-17

Photo from offshore of Fire Island: nearshore geophysical mapping with sub-bottom sled (foreground), personal watercraft equipped with echosounders (background, water) and beach-based personnel (background, beach).USGS scientists successfully acquire repeat geophysical data at Fire Island National Seashore

USGS personnel Jennifer Miselis (Research Geologist), BJ Reynolds (Engineering Technician), Nancy DeWitt (Geologist), Andy Farmer (CNT), Jake Fredericks (Hydrographic Technician), Mitch Lemon (Field Technician), Chelsea Stalk (CNT), Nesti Stathakopoulos (Oceanographer), and Hunter Wilcox (CNT) traveled to Fire Island National Seashore along the south shore of Long Island, New York, to conduct a geophysical survey in coordination with the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The objective of the field effort was to remeasure seafloor elevations and sub-seafloor geology in areas that were surveyed in 2014 in order to quantify change in shoreface sediment availability and flux, some of the first data of its kind. The bathymetry of Wilderness Breach, which has remained open since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, was also remapped to help better understand the post-storm morphological evolution of a natural inlet. Seafloor elevations were mapped using two personal watercraft (PWC) equipped with echosounders. Unlike the 2014 survey, when an amphibious vessel was used to map the shoreface geology, this survey was the first time SPCMSC researchers launched an Edgetech 512i from the beach using a wheeled sled and SPCMSC Research Vessel (R/V) Sallenger. The specialized sled was the result of a collaborative effort of the SPCMSC Marine Operations group and the survey could not have been completed without it. Over approximately 3 weeks and with incredible effort, the PWCs covered 715 km and the sled covered 330 km to successfully complete the field work.

posted: 2018-07-17

USGS scientists host National Science Foundation undergraduate students from Mote Marine Laboratory

Several undergraduate students who were awarded internships at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) Program will visit the Saint Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC). Since their internship research is often focused on topics in biological oceanography, in addition to touring the facility, the students will learn about USGS research in coastal geology and the tools used to do that research. SPCMSC scientist Jennifer Miselis (Research Geologist) will host the students and provide an overview of coastal geological research. The SPCMSC Marine Operations group will stage equipment and vessels so the students can learn how geophysical data are acquired. Noreen Buster (Geologist) will provide an overview of sediment sampling and coring capabilities in the core laboratory. Finally, a panel comprised of Xan Fredericks (Cartographer/Lidar Coordinator), RC Mickey (Oceanographer), and Caitlin Reynolds (Geologist) will answer questions from the students regarding their career paths, USGS research, and what it's like to be a career scientist.

posted: 2018-07-17

High coastal bluff with an apartment building perched on top near the edge of the cliff and what looks like posts of an old fence or pier in the water.Southern California coastal cliffs could retreat 135 feet in 80 years as erosion rates potentially double

USGS scientists combined a series of computer models to forecast cliff erosion along the Southern California coast. Their results were published June 19 in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. The research showed that for the highest sea-level rise considered by the paper (2 meters, or about 6 ½ feet), bluff tops along nearly 300 miles of Southern California coast could lose an average of 135 feet by 2100—and much more in some areas. Coastal managers could be faced with a difficult decision to prioritize bluff-top property or public beaches by permitting or prohibiting armoring. Learn more in a USGS news release posted July 9. Contact: Patrick Barnard,, 831-460-7556

posted: 2018-07-09

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