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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.

Microbial removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from surface water recharged into the Upper Floridan Aquifer

Dr. John Lisle (Research Microbial Ecologist, SPCMSC) is currently being funded by South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to characterize the rates of microbial removal of nitrates, nitrites, ammonium, and phosphorus from treated water from the Kissimmee River that will be recharged into the Upper Floridan Aquifer (UFA). This study is providing novel data on the ability of microorganisms native to the UFA and introduced in the treated recharge water to remove nutrients during storage at aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) facilities near Lake Okeechobee. The data from this study are being considered by state regulatory agencies for assignment of water quality improvement criteria to the storage phase of recharged water at ASR facilities. Dr. Lisle presented a webinar to South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) personnel in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL DEP) personnel in Tallahassee, Florida, describing recent research findings on the removal of nitrates, nitrites, and phosphorus from recharged water during the storage in the Upper Floridan Aquifer.

posted: 2018-09-13

Meeting on impact of infrastructure on occurrence and persistence of harmful algal blooms in South Florida

Dr. John Lisle (Research Microbial Ecologist, SPCMSC) was an invited panel member, participating in an open discussion on the occurrence and persistence of harmful algal blooms in south Florida with Florida State Senator Glavano. The panel also included University of South Florida faculty members Dr. Valerie Harwood, Dr. Mark Raines, Dr. Sarina Ergas, Dr. David Lewis, Dr. George Phillippdis, and Dr. Mahmood Nachabe. The discussion focused on existing and prospective infrastructure projects that contribute to or mitigate harmful algal blooms in the watersheds associated with Lake Okeechobee and those leading to both coasts. Dr. Lisle discussed his recent research findings that during the storage phase of an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) cycle, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the recharged water are significantly reduced, providing a higher quality water upon recovery and discharge back into Lake Okeechobee.

posted: 2018-09-13

potential coastal change impacts from FlorenceElevated water levels from Hurricane Florence likely to impact Southeast Atlantic beaches and dunes for several days

The USGS Coastal Change Hazards storm team is predicting coastal change impacts due to the potential for high waves and storm surge along the Southeast Atlantic coast. In North Carolina where Florence is predicted to make landfall, 75% of sandy beaches are likely to erode and 15% of dunes are likely to overwash. Forecasts showing the timing and magnitude of elevated water levels at the shoreline in the Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer are predicting that water levels will be elevated for several days, increasing the likelihood of overwash and inundation as dunes are eroded through time.

Predictions will be updated as conditions change and are available in the Coastal Change Hazards Portal.

posted: 2018-09-11

First slide from a computer animation showing changes at the mouth of the Elwha River from 2011 through 2016.Moving Mountains: Elwha River Still Changing Five Years After World's Largest Dam-Removal Project: More than 20 million tons of sediment flushed to the sea

USGS News Release, September 5, 2018: Starting in 2011, the National Park Service removed two obsolete dams from the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, Washington. It was the world’s largest dam-removal project. Over the next five years, water carrying newly freed rocks, sand, silt and old tree trunks reshaped more than 13 miles of river and built a larger delta into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and six research partners recently published a paper summarizing a half-decade of changes to the shape and sediment of the Elwha River after dam removal.

Read the entire News Release.

posted: 2018-09-10

Cover art graphic from CaliforniaUSGS provides critical science to support California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment

Scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center lead a suite of research projects that provided foundational science to California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, released August 27. One of the projects is the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), which forecasts coastal flooding under multiple storm conditions and sea-level rise scenarios. The CoSMoS team partnered with scientists in the USGS Western Geographic Science Center to translate flood projections into potential economic, land use, and infrastructure impacts. CoSMoS projections were then combined with other research to assess climate-change impacts on critical lifelines in the Los Angeles area, such as water, power, telecommunications, public health, and emergency response. USGS scientists also contributed to regional and state-level reports that synthesize the assessment findings. Contact: Patrick Barnard,, 831-460-7556

posted: 2018-09-07

Bow of a ship on a large, calm river is nearing a bridge to pass under it.USGS-NOAA cruise maps Cascadia subduction zone to assess earthquake hazards

From July 31 to August 23, a joint USGS-NOAA cruise mapped seafloor depths, texture, and gas seeps in the Cascadia subduction zone offshore of Washington, Oregon, and northern California. The largest earthquakes in the world occur within subduction zones along the giant fault between the down-going and overriding plates. Such earthquakes have potential to trigger large tsunamis by raising or lowering parts of the seafloor. During the cruise, scientists mapped a total of 6,452 square kilometers of seafloor. They identified new faults offsetting the seabed, possible mud volcanoes, and numerous seeps that highlight the region’s geologic activity. Results from this mapping and related efforts will provide key baseline information for assessing earthquake, tsunami, and landslide hazards and developing situational-awareness products, as part of USGS work on Reducing Risk where Tectonic Plates Collide. Contact: Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565

posted: 2018-09-07

NASAUSGS and NASA researchers meet to discuss Synthetic Aperture Radar for assessing USGS coastal-flooding projections

USGS and NASA researchers met July 16 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to discuss Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery of the Southern California coast collected during higher-than-normal tides (“king tides”) in fall 2016. JPL collected the SAR imagery to determine if it could be used to validate and improve coastal flood hazard simulations made by the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS). Volunteers with Urban Tides, a community science initiative with USC Sea Grant, took shore-based photographs on the dates of the SAR flights, providing on-the-ground comparisons. USGS and JPL researchers met to discuss the initial analyses of data extracted from the SAR overflights, and the ability to use these data for validating CoSMoS projections. Contact: Andrea O’Neill,, 831-460-7586

posted: 2018-09-07

Underwater photo of a sandy and rocky reef environment with a tray of equipment held down on the rocky area with weights and cinderblocks.Hurricane Maria's impacts on deep-water coral reefs off Puerto Rico

USGS research geologist Curt Storlazzi was quoted in an August 22 Nature news article about Hurricane Maria’s effects on deep-water coral reefs off Puerto Rico. Storlazzi’s collaborators from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez placed USGS instrument packages on the steep seaward slope of a reef off the island’s southwest coast in July 2017 to study reef structure and health. The sensors continued to collect data when Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, swept from east to west across the island in September 2017. The corals appeared healthy a few months after the storm when the sensors were recovered. Preliminary analysis by Storlazzi and others indicates that the hurricane sent waves crashing into the reef with unusual frequency and pushed a swell of cold water from the ocean bottom up to the reef. Contact: Curt Storlazzi,, 831-460-7521

posted: 2018-09-07

Big Bend Coastal Mapping Prioritization Workshop in Cedar Key, Florida

The USGS, FWRI, and FIO, as part of the Florida Coastal Mapping Program (FCMaP), are leading a coastal and seafloor mapping prioritization workshop on Sept. 7, 2018, with stakeholders from 20 different Federal, State, County, and academic entities. The group will utilize a new tool developed by NOAA and FWRI to indicate which areas of the seabed, from the shore to the shelf edge, are most important for high resolution elevation data collection. The different entities participating will populate the tool and the results will be analyzed for spatial and temporal priorities. Cheryl Hapke (Research Geologist), Jim Flocks (Research Geologist), and Kathryn Smith (Ecologist) from the SPCMSC will attend in person, and Xan Fredericks (Cartographer/Lidar Coordinator) will attend via webinar. The workshop is the first of 6 regional workshops that will be held around the State of Florida as part of the FCMaP strategy for facilitating the collection of modern high-resolution elevation information for all of Florida's coastal waters in the next decade. The series of workshops were formulated during a stakeholder workshop in January, 2018, during which an existing data inventory and gap analysis were presented. The stakeholder group indicated that the Big Bend Region was a high-priority area due to the paucity of high-resolution bathymetry for the area.

posted: 2018-09-06

CMHRP Lidar Coordinator invited to be Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Ohio GIS Conference

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program, was invited by the Ohio Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), along with the County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO) and Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP), to be the featured Keynote Speaker for the 2018 Ohio GIS Conference. The keynote is titled "Why GIS Matters to the USGS Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program" to compliment this year's conference theme, "GIS Matters." The 2018 Ohio GIS Conference will be held September 24–26 at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus. The annual event typically has more than 400 professionals in attendance to learn about the newest trends of geospatial technology. To find out more about the conference, see the conference website.

posted: 2018-09-06

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