Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Coastal Ecosystems

The USGS studies geologic and oceanographic processes that create and maintain habitats for coral, clams, crabs, salmon, and other ocean and estuary inhabitants. USGS studies of currents, suspended sediment, and groundwater chemistry, for example, help assess natural and human influences on the health of coral reefs. High-resolution seafloor mapping characterizes the seabed as rocky, sandy, or muddy; and bottom photos help identify the organisms that occupy those habitats.

Filter Total Items: 28
Date published: August 11, 2021
Status: Active

USGS DUNEX Operations on the Outer Banks

DUring Nearshore Event eXperiment (DUNEX) is a multi-agency, academic, and non-governmental organization (NGO) collaborative community experiment designed to study nearshore coastal processes during storm events. The experiment began in 2019 and is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021. USGS participation in DUNEX will contribute new measurements and models that will increase our...

Date published: July 8, 2021
Status: Active

San Francisco Bay geomorphology

This research is part of the project, “Sediment Transport in Coastal Environments.”

Contacts: Bruce Jaffe
Date published: June 25, 2021
Status: Active

Coral Reef Project: Puerto Rico

To better understand how waves move across coral reefs and cause flooding on tropical shorelines, USGS scientists have installed video cameras and oceanographic instruments off San Juan and Rincón, Puerto Rico. Their work is part of a study funded by USGS after Hurricanes Irma and María. The offshore instruments measure wave heights and speeds; the onshore video cameras show where waves break...

Date published: June 25, 2021
Status: Active

Reef Hydrodynamics and Sediment Processes

The overall objective of this research effort is to better understand how circulation and sediment processes impact coral reefs and their adjacent coastlines.

Date published: June 11, 2021
Status: Active

Puget Sound Priority Ecosystems Science

Puget Sound Priority Ecosystem Science (PES) supports interdisciplinary ecological research in the Puget Sound, Washington, watershed and nearshore.

Contacts: Eric Grossman
Date published: May 25, 2021
Status: Active

Climate impacts on Monterey Bay area beaches

For beach towns around Monterey Bay, preserving the beaches by mitigating coastal erosion is vital. Surveys conducted now and regularly in the future will help scientists understand the short- and long-term impacts of climate change, El Niño years, and sea-level rise on a populated and vulnerable coastline.

Date published: May 20, 2021
Status: Active

Submarine Groundwater Discharge

We define submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) to consist either of fresh groundwater, re-circulated seawater, or a composite thereof. We evaluate and present SGD in terms of a vector for nutrient delivery to coastal waters.

Date published: November 4, 2020
Status: Active

USGS science supporting the Elwha River Restoration Project


The Elwha River Restoration Project has reconnected the water, salmon, and sediment of a pristine river and coast of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Coordinated by the National Park Service, restoration of the Elwha River included the removal of two large dams that had blocked salmon and sediment passage for almost 100 years. The largest dam removal in U.S. history began in...

Date published: September 9, 2020
Status: Active

Hydrogeology and Reef Health

We are conducting geophysical and geochemical research to address questions about coastal groundwater-to-reef flow and coral reef health, with the goal of informing management decisions related to planning and implementing activities in priority watershed-coral reef systems.

Date published: August 31, 2020
Status: Active

California Seafloor Mapping Program

The California Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP) is a cooperative program to create a comprehensive coastal/marine geologic and habitat base map series for all of California's State waters. The California Ocean Protection Council (COPC) authorized funds to establish the CSMP in 2007 and assembled a team of experts from state and federal agencies, academia, and private industry to develop the...

Date published: September 10, 2019
Status: Completed

Circulation and Sediment, Nutrient, Contaminant, and Larval Dynamics on Reefs

The overall objective of this research effort is to better understand how circulation and sediment processes impact coral reefs.

Date published: June 17, 2019
Status: Active

Estuarine Ecosystem Recovery in Puget Sound

A clean and abundant sediment supply is critical for building and maintaining viable estuarine and wetland habitats. However, in many coastal regions, dikes, levees, and dams have disconnected water and sediment supply to estuarine and wetland habitats, altering sedimentation patterns, water quality, and nutrient loads. Dike and dam removal have become important methods for restoring river and...