SPCMSC scientists to present at the State of the Coast 2021 conference

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SPCMSC geologists are giving presentations on research of recent geomorphologic changes at the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, at the virtual State of the Coast 2021 conference held June 2–4, 2021.

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Landsat view of the Chandeleur Islands, Lousiana, in February 2011. (Credit: Landsat imagery courtesy of NASA. Public domain.)

SPCMSC geologist Julie Bernier will present "Landscape Evolution of the Northern Chandeleur Islands Driven by Storms and Human Modification," and research geologist Jennifer Miselis will present "Natural and Human-Related Variability in Sediment Flux at the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana" at the State of the Coast 2021 conference.

The Chandeleur Islands, located east of the Mississippi River delta in the northern Gulf of Mexico, have experienced significant shoreline erosion, island narrowing, and land loss in recent decades, much of which has been attributed to extreme storms such as Hurricane Katrina (2005). SPCMSC scientists, in collaboration with other USGS offices, the University of New Orleans, and the State of Louisiana, have been studying the islands’ geology and the storm-induced morphologic changes at the Chandeleur Islands since 2006. In 2010, the State of Louisiana began construction of an oil-mitigation sand berm along the northern Chandeleur Islands, providing an opportunity to build upon previous research by investigating how the addition of a significant volume of sediment to the nearshore environments of this sediment-starved system would affect sediment transport and nearshore morphologic evolution of the islands. SPCMSC researchers used remotely-sensed methods and tools, and collected geophysical and sedimentologic data to assess sediment transport over time. Bernier's research focused on developing automated techniques to assess satellite-derived land-cover changes and puts recent changes in important historical (since 1984) context. Miselis' work centered on measuring changes in submerged environments since 2011 to quantify sediment-transport rates and compare them to existing estimates. Barrier islands play important roles as nesting habitats for shorebirds and other wildlife, and act as a physical barrier to protect mainland shorelines and their communities from the impacts of storm waves and erosion. USGS research in these environments help inform coastal managers about the current state and future of barrier islands so they can make decisions regarding coastal resilience, habitat protection, and sediment management actions.