USGS surveys the southern Monterey Bay coast to study changing beaches

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From September 12–14, scientists from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center used all-terrain vehicles and small watercraft to map the sand on beaches and under the water in southern Monterey Bay.

An all-terrain vehicle equipped with GPS and other devices sits on the beach and a personal watercraft is in background.

For typical beach surveys, USGS scientists drive an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) like the one shown here, equpped with precision GPS that collects location and elevation data.

A man wearing a hard hat and waders sits on an all-terrain vehicle equipped with instruments that collect data.

USGS oceanographer Andrew Stevens, of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, sits on an all-terrain vehicle equipped with a precision GPS and other instruments.

The scientists will survey the area yearly to see how beaches gain or lose sand. These surveys add to twice-yearly surveys of the northern Monterey Bay coast underway since 2014. The scientists will conduct more frequent mapping to capture effects of large storms and other events, such as the closing of the Cemex sand mine in southern Monterey Bay, scheduled to occur by the end of 2020. Understanding long- and short-term impacts on the local sand supply can inform coastal planning. USGS research geologist Patrick Barnard was quoted in a September 20 Monterey County Weekly article about the recent survey.

Two people on personal watercraft maneuver separately and spaced apart in a beach setting near a jetty.

Two personal watercraft operators from the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, navigate their personal watercraft (PWC) in the shallow nearshore region in Moss Landing near Elkhorn Slough.


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