Photo Roundup - October-December 2019

Release Date:

A selection of coastal and marine images from across the USGS

This article is part of the October-December 2019 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter.

Cartoon illustration of a coastal bluff that is beginning to crumble into the sea.

Screen shot from animated cartoon that shows a typical bluff from the Arctic (north) coast of Alaska. Learn more about Climate impacts to Arctic coasts.

(Public domain.)

Recorded June 1, 2019 - August 18, 2019: Video shows a series of photos taken every hour during daylight hours in the summer of 2019. The camera looks westward along the coastal bluffs of Barter Island, located on Alaska’s North Slope. A pole on the bluff, visible in the first half of the video, once supported another video camera that was aimed at the shoreline to study wave and shoreline dynamics.

This video starts on June 1st at -4°C (25° F) when the bluffs are still frozen, snow is on the ground, and the winter pack ice protects the permafrost cliffs from wave attack. By the end of June, the ice and snow are gone, temperatures often climb to 12°C (54° F), and waves begin to lap at the narrow beach below the bluffs.

In mid-July, the now-thawed, upper active layer of the tundra begins to slough off onto the beach. By the end of July, waves accompanied with elevated storm-tides erode the lower part of the slope. Just days later, as erosion increases rapidly, the bluff supporting the camera gives way and the camera tumbles onto the beach. Despite its fall onto the muddy beach, the camera continued to record and was successfully recovered in order to create this video.

The USGS is studying this highly erosive stretch of Arctic coastline to try to better understand the main driving forces behind the erosion and why erosion rates seem to be increasing. The increase is likely the result of several changing arctic conditions, including declining sea-ice extent, increasing summertime sea-surface temperature, rising sea level, and possible increases in storm power and corresponding wave action. More long-term work is needed to understand the interplay of these factors and how they drive changes in coastal erosion.

Learn more about Climate impacts to Arctic coasts.

Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, USGS

(Public domain.)

Paragorgia coral

This Paragorgia coral was seen on a boulder near the Cape Fear seep site. Read more about the DISCOVRE Research Expeditions.

(Credit: Ivan Hurzeler and DEEP SEARCH 2019 - BOEM. Image courtesy of Ivan Hurzeler and DEEP SEARCH 2019 - BOEM, USGS, NOAA, ROV Jason, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

View looks up to the sky through a metal frame with tubes and instruments, and a woman wearing a hard hat is working on it.

USGS scientist Nancy Prouty collects samples from a CTD. A CTD is package of electronic instruments that measure conductivity, temperature, and depth of water. Read more about the DISCOVRE Research Expeditions.

(Art Howard)

A man and a woman holding a coral sample

Glenn Simpson (left), Park Manager of the Dry Tortugas National Park, National Park Service and Ilsa Kuffner (right), USGS Research Marine Biologist, with an elkhorn coral from Pulaski Shoal being weighed and measured. Read more about measuring coral growth to help restore reefs.

(Public domain.)

Image of processing van on the deck of the R/V Warren

Sunrise on Cape Cod Bay with a peek inside the processing van on the deck of R/V Warren Jr. Read more about Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Seafloor.

(Public domain.)

Image of USGS staff on the fantail of a research vessel preparing to deploy the subbottom profiler

 Before deploying the subbottom profiler for leg 2 of the seafloor mapping cruise, Wayne Baldwin, Alex Nichols, and Chuck Worley made sure the floats were sufficiently inflated. In the relatively shallow waters of Cape Cod Bay, they want the instrument towed at water's surface for the resolution of the sub seafloor geology. Read more about Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Seafloor.

(Public domain.)