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Sediments are the foundation of coastal systems, including barrier islands. Their behavior is driven by not only sediment availability, but also sediment exchanges between barrier island environments. We collect geophysical, remote sensing, and sediment data to estimate these parameters, which are integrated with models to improve prediction of coastal response to extreme storms and sea-level rise.
Shoreface and Holocene Sediment Thickness Offshore of Rockaway Peninsula, New York
SPCMSC scientists travel to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to conduct DUNEX research
With a wealth of knowledge about how shorelines, beaches, and dunes respond to storms and the variability of inner shelf geology, the USGS Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program is poised to extend its morphologic and geologic expertise across the shoreface and back-barrier data gaps. Shoreface geology is particularly important to assess since it may record evidence of processes that we otherwise don’t have the opportunities or capabilities to observe. With these goals in mind, we measure geology and morphology in coastal environments to reconstruct past environmental histories and estimate the magnitude and rate of sediment exchanges (e.g., fluxes) over a range of time scales. Integration of these observations with models allows us to predict past and future behavior of barrier-island systems in a changing climate and provides information to help our partners mitigate coastal hazards and identify coastal restoration priorities.
Incorporate shoreface morphology and geology into coastal-change assessments
Conduct repeat geophysical surveys to estimate sediment fluxes with better accuracy and temporal resolution
Understand how coastal systems respond to storms, variations in sediment supply and rate of sea-level rise over short (1-10s year) and long (100-1000 year) time scales
Make predictions of future (long-term) coastal vulnerability and resilience rooted in robust morphologic and geologic observations
Storm-Related Barrier Island Morphological Evolution - Storms quickly and dramatically alter barrier island environments by changing adjacent seafloor morphology, eroding beaches, scarping or leveling dunes, and sometimes creating new inlets. Measuring the magnitude of barrier island sediment movement during and after storms allows us to track rates of beach recovery, dune growth, and inlet-related alterations to barrier island sediment supply.
Barrier Island Sensitivity to Changes in Sediment Supply - Observations and models show that maintaining barrier islands requires a balance between sea-level rise and sediment supply. However, most estimates of sediment supply are not based on modern conditions, which could result in less accurate predictions of sediment fluxes. We explore how natural and human alterations impact modern sediment fluxes, or changes, on barrier islands – research that has important implications for coastal resilience and restoration.
Shoreface Morphology and Geology - Exchanges of sediment between the shoreface and barrier islands allow barrier islands to adjust to changes in water level, such as those associated with storms or sea-level rise. Characterizing shoreface morphology and geology allows us to explore how past and present processes have impacted modern barrier island sediment transport and what that means for future barrier island evolution.
Modeling Barrier Island Evolution, Shoreface Morphology, and Overwash - Barrier island field observations provide information about past and current environmental conditions and changes over time; however, they can’t tell us about the future. Models can predict possible future behaviors but are only as good as their input data. By integrating both observations and models, we can extend observations and arrive at more realistic predictions of barrier island behavior and vulnerability to storms and sea-level rise.
Coastal Sediment Availability and Flux (CSAF) Capabilities - We use innovative technology and integrate a variety of techniques to characterize barrier island environments, reconstruct their past history, and predict their future vulnerability.
Learn more about the Coastal Sediment Availability and Flux project
Below are data associated with this project.
Below are publications associated with this project.
This geonarrative features research used to predict how Fire Island beaches change in response to storms and how they may subsequently recover in the year following a storm event.
Below are news stories associated with this project.
SPCMSC Research Geologist Jennifer Miselis and Operations scientist Andy Farmer will conduct a geophysical survey at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Field Research Facility in Duck, NC as part of DUNEX.
SPCMSC geologist Julie Bernier was interviewed for an outreach story, "Keeping an Eye on Vulnerable Coastal...
SPCMSC Research Geologist Jennifer Miselis and Operations scientist Andy Farmer will conduct a geophysical survey at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...
SPCMSC scientist Emily Wei and operations personnel Andrew Farmer, BJ Reynolds, and Chelsea Stalk will be collecting high-resolution bathymetric data...
On June 1, 2021, USGS and USFWS published a joint report in response to a request from the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources to evaluate the...
SPCMSC geologists are giving presentations on research of recent geomorphologic changes at the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, at the virtual State of...
SPCMSC geologists Daniel Ciarletta, Julie Bernier, and Nancy DeWitt are collecting ground-penetrating radar profiles and vibracores from Pinellas...
SPCMSC geologists Daniel Ciarletta, Julie Bernier, and Nancy DeWitt will be collecting field data from the barrier islands of Pinellas County, Florida...
On January 28, 2021, SPCMSC Research Geologist Jennifer Miselis and CNSS Scientist Tim Nelson will virtually present USGS research on the nearshore...
Presentation by USGS scientist Daniel Ciarletta highlights Mendenhall research to Natural Hazards Mission Area leadership and colleagues.
SPCMSC scientists Julie Bernier, Noreen Buster, Kara Doran, Karen Morgan, and Tim Nelson will present their research at the Coastal Sediments '19...