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SPCMSC Research Geologists Daniel Ciarletta and Emily Wei will present a talk, “Comparing the impacts of framework geology and coastal management on the morphologic evolution of Long Island Barriers” to students and professors at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, City College of New York.

View from the dunes of waves crashing on a sandy beach with grassy shoreline and some dead trees under a gray sky.
Looking over the dunes towards the beach in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness at Fire Island, New York.  The project at Fire Island seeks to reconstruct the evolution of the barrier over the last several centuries, with the goal of quantifying changes in sediment input and partitioning through time (e.g. how sand is distributed between the terrestrial portion of the barrier and the beach/shoreface). With this information, it could be possible to predict how the barrier might respond in the future (or even how it is responding presently) to changes in rate of sea-level rise, storminess, and sediment budget. Learn more about the Coastal Sediment Availability and Flux project. 

This talk by Drs. Ciarletta and Wei will highlight how geology and coastal management influence the resilience and availability of sediment at two coastal barrier systems at Long Island, NY: Fire Island and the Rockaway Peninsula. Despite being historically linked by alongshore sediment transport, the morphology of Fire Island and Rockaway are vastly different from each other due to human development and management strategies.

This presentation will draw from Dr. Ciarletta’s research using ground-penetrating radar and sediment cores to understand the terrestrial evolution of Fire Island. His work found that past inlet activity is still affecting sediment storage and release on the island today and is contributing to lags in morphological response that could decrease the future resilience of the barrier. Dr. Wei’s research uses marine-based seismic reflection and multibeam bathymetry to understand geologic and anthropogenic controls on sediment reservoirs. Her work revealed that sediment availability varies along the peninsula in accordance with glacial outwash deposits, sediment accommodation, and human modifications to the coastline such as jetties and groins. Thus, these barriers within the same coastal system are expected to continue evolving differently from each other despite experiencing similar forcing from increasing rate of sea-level rise and storm frequency/intensity. This complexity presents challenges to future management; however, these investigations may provide the insights necessary to prepare for the range of barrier morphological responses that could arise in the coming decades.

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