Photo Roundup - December 2020-March 2021

Release Date:

A selection of coastal and marine images and videos from across the USGS.

This article is part of the December 2020-March 2021 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter.

A man holds a round, yellow object with a cord in front of a brick building

Dr. Mark Buckley of the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center holds a new Sofar Smart Mooring and Spotter Buoy that will be used to deliver high-fidelity, real-time wave, water level, and wind data. These data will be used to validate and improve the USGS/NOAA Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast, which provides real-time forecasts of water levels and coastal change along nearly 3,000 miles of the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts. (Credit: Meaghan Faletti, USGS. Public domain.)

Learn more: USGS/NOAA Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast

An underwater photograph shows a school of brightly colored fish swim over corals.

A healthy coral reef in the Tumon Bay Marine Preserve off Tumon, Guam, showing a number of different species of fish swimming over a high coral cover reef composed of a number of hard and soft coral species. (Credit: Curt Storlazzi, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)

Learn more: Coral Reef Project

Photograph of USGS staff on Cape Cod National Seashore beach

Scientists from the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center using a helium powered kite-balloon at Head of the Meadow Beach and Marconi Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts. A camera is attached to the kite and taken up and down the beach to take a bunch of pictures used to create a digital elevation model with structure-from-motion techniques. (Credit: Sandra M Brosnahan, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)

Learn more: Using Video Imagery to Study Marconi Beach and Head of the Meadow Beach

A woman wearing a mask, hard hat, personal floatation device, and waders stands near a river.

In August of 2020, the enormous CZU wildfire complex consumed over 85,000 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, leaving scarred landscapes in the hilly region. Runoff from large rainstorms in the winter months carry contaminants from the soils within these burned-out forests. Forest fires and the fire retardants used to help control and extinguish them introduce chemicals into watersheds that can harm wildlife and contaminate drinking water. Research geologist Renee Takesue, of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, samples stream sediment in the lower parts of burned watersheds to measure concentrations of several kinds of contaminants after the major storm runoff in late January of 2021. Our team hopes to compare these with samples taken from the same watersheds after the fire. Samples must be collected before too much time has elapsed since the wildfires, before post-fire storms wash the burned material downstream. (Credit: Amy East, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)

Learn more: Landscape Response to Disturbance

USGS scientists prepare to deploy a seafloor tripod loaded with oceanographic equipment

Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Center scientists prepare to deploy a seafloor tripod loaded with oceanographic equipment offshore of Sandwich, Massachusetts, March 2021. (Credit: John Warner, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)

Learn more: Massachusetts Integrated Coastal Studies (MICS)

A scuba diver works with scientific equipment at the bottom of the ocean

Kim Yates performs maintenance on a remote sensing unit, called an Ocean Carbon System (OCS) that monitors ocean chemistry. (Credit: Benjamin Drumond.)

Learn more: Coral Reef Community Calcification and Metabolism

Three scientists operate a vibracore - a metal cylinder that is pushed into the sediment on a barrier island

Mendenhall postdoctoral fellow Daniel Ciarletta and geologists Julie Bernier and Nancy DeWitt of the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center operating a vibracore system on Mullet Key, a barrier island along the Gulf coast of Central Florida. The scientists are taking sediment samples to learn more about the long-term geological evolution of the island. (Credit: Meaghan Faletti, USGS. Public domain.)

Learn more: Coastal Sediment Availability and Flux

View from the sky looks down on a roadway that runs along a coastal cliff, part of the road has washed away.

The atmospheric river, a narrow, powerful track of water vapor that can deliver tremendous volumes of rain, hit the central California coast and stalled there between January 26 and 28, 2021 — with catastrophic consequences. The area around Rat Creek, about 20 miles south of Big Sur's town center, received more than 8 inches of rain during a 2-day period, according to the National Weather Service. Rainwater washed dead trees, ash, mud, and rock downslope from the nearby watershed, scorched by the Dolan Fire in Los Padres National Forest in the fall of 2020. Drain pipes that run below Highway 1 were rapidly clogged with the debris and were eventually overwhelmed. The roadway was no match for the overflowing culverts, resulting in a massive collapse of the rocky cliff. On January 29th, a USGS reconnaissance flight snapped this dramatic photo above the Rat Creek drainage showing the debris flow. (Credit: Jon Warrick, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)

Learn more: Big Sur Landslides and Remote Sensing Coastal Change

View from a plane over the ocean looking at a coastal cliff region with a newly engineered roadway cut along it.

On May 20, 2017, this section of the Big Sur coastline experienced a huge landslide that wiped out scenic coastal Highway 1. By July 2018 the roadway was reopened. USGS scientists from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center and the Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center continue to monitor this section of the coastline, in collaboration with the California Department of Transportation. This photo was taken January 29, 2021. (Credit: Jon Warrick, USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center. Public domain.)

Learn more: The Mud Creek Landslide of May 20, 2017