Beach surveys planned near deadly California debris flows

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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center researchers plan to survey selected beaches and parts of the shallow seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from March 27-30.

The study area includes Montecito, California, which was devastated during debris flows on January 9 that killed 21 people. PCMSC staff have measured beach topography and seafloor bathymetry in this area every spring and fall since 2005, to better understand long-term coastal changes. The researchers will use precision GPS units on backpacks and all-terrain vehicles, and personal watercraft equipped with GPS and sonar. This beach and nearshore survey will be the first since the debris flows reached the ocean, which were the first significant sediment input since 2005.

Man sits on a personal watercraft floating idle in the water, wearing safety equipment, watercraft is equipped with gear.

Personal watercraft equipped with GPS and sonar (echo sounder) is used to collect detailed, nearshore bathymetry (depth) information.