Coastal and Marine Geology
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The USGS conducts a wide variety of research in coastal and marine environments to support scientific understanding, develop tools and technology, and provide maps, data, and other information needed by resource managers and decision-makers.Explore Our Science
Coral reefs are facing increasing stress from climate change (elevated sea-surface temperatures and acidification), combined with local stresses from over-fishing and sedimentation and other sources of land-based pollution. In light of the potential for these stressors to increase the rate of coral reef degradation to epidemic levels, coral reef scientists and managers world-wide are shifting...
Based on rates of vertical reef accretion in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific, it is unlikely that reefs there and other locations will keep pace with the rising sea levels, and their inability to do so will lead to subtle but important changes in selected physical processes on some coral reefs.
Terrigenous sediment run-off and deposition on coral reefs can significantly impact coral health by blocking light and inhibiting photosynthesis, directly smothering and abrading coral, and triggering increases in macro algae. The delivery of sediment and pollutants to reefs have increased globally as a response to human-induced changes to watersheds, as...
Welcome to the USGS Coral Reef Project website
Explore the fascinating undersea world of coral reefs. Learn how we map, monitor, and model coral reefs so we can better understand, protect, and preserve our Nation's reefs.
Addressing issues concerning mineral resources that occur within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Pacific coastal States, Pacific islands of U.S. affiliation, and areas beyond national jurisdictions.
For a beach town like Santa Cruz, preserving 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.
Hurricane Joaquin coastal change forecast and pre- and post-storm photos documenting coastal change.
Essential habitat for wild salmon and other wildlife borders river deltas and estuaries in the Pacific Northwest. These estuaries also support industry, agriculture, and a large human population that’s expected to double by the year 2060, but each could suffer from more severe river floods, higher sea level, and storm surges caused by climate change.
Scientists evaluated and improved the accuracy of pre-landfall forecasts of storm-induced coastal erosion hazards for Northeast beaches using data from post-Sandy lidar sruveys, beach morphology, and storm hydrodamics.
This project integrated a wetland assessment with existing coastal-change hazard assessments for the adjacent dunes and beaches of Assateague Island, Maryland, to create a more comprehensive coastal vulnerability assessment.
We use remote-sensing technologies—such as aerial photography, satellite imagery, and lidar (laser-based surveying)—to measure coastal change along U.S. shorelines.
CMGP conducts integrated mapping of the coastal and marine environment to define offshore hazards and sediment processes, support habitat and resource management, and monitor change. CMGP is an innovator in mapping and laboratory analyses, whose expertise is sought by other governmental agencies, educational institutions, and private companies.Find Data
The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) launched the Shoreline Change Project in 1989 to identify erosion-prone areas of the Massachusetts coast. This update included a marsh shoreline, which was defined to be the tonal difference between low- and high-marsh seen in ortho-photos. Further cooperation between CZM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has resulted in another...
Collection, analysis, and age-dating of sediment cores from salt marshes on the south shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, from 2013 through 2014
Elevation of the marsh surface was measured with RTK-GPS to evaluate where the marsh falls within the current tidal frame. The historic marsh surface elevation was then reconstructed using the calculated age of each depth interval and its elevation, assuming that elevations within this shallow zone (less than 30 cm) have been preserved for the past century.
Oceanographic time-series measurements made by the U.S. Geological Survey between 1975 and the present as part of research programs. The data were collected to address specific research questions and were primarily collected over durations less than a year, using stationary platforms, with sensors near the sea floor. These data have been used to study of ocean dynamics and to validate ocean...
Welcome to the CMGP Internet Map Server, an internet map server and downloadable list of GIS data being served by the USGS, Coastal and Marine Geology Program.
Sampling data collected in Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, and Vineyard Sound; south of Martha's Vineyard; and south and east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 2011, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2011-015-FA
These survey data are used to explore the nature of the sea floor and, in conjunction with high-resolution geophysical data, to make interpretive maps of sedimentary environments and validate acoustic remote sensing data.
Integrated terrain models covering 16,357 square kilometers of the Massachusetts coastal zone and offshore waters were built to provide a continuous elevation and bathymetry terrain model for ocean planning purposes. A Triangulated Irregular Network was created from public-domain bathymetric and LiDAR data using the ArcGIS terrain-model framework.
Conceptual salt marsh units for wetland synthesis: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
The salt marsh complex of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay (New Jersey, USA), was delineated to smaller, conceptual marsh units by geoprocessing of surface elevation data. Flow accumulation based on the relative elevation of each location is used to determine the ridge lines that separate each marsh unit....
Geophysical data collected along the Atlantic continental slope and rise 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2014-011-FA, cruise MGL1407
In summer 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 21-day geophysical program in deep water along the Atlantic continental margin by using R/V Marcus G. Langseth (Field Activity Number 2014-011-FA). The purpose of the seismic program was to collect multichannel seismic reflection and refraction data to determine sediment thickness
Swath bathymetry collected offshore of Fire Island and western Long Island, New York in 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Field Activity 2014-072-FA
Hurricane Sandy, the largest storm of historical record in the Atlantic basin, severely impacted southern Long Island, New York in October 2012. In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), conducted a high-resolution multibeam echosounder survey with Alpine Ocean Seismic Survey, Inc., offshore of Fire Island and western Long Island...
This dataset displays the spatial variation mean tidal range (i.e. Mean Range of Tides, MN) in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA. MN was based on the calculated difference in height between mean high water (MHW) and mean low water (MLW) using the VDatum (v3.5) software (...
Exposure potential of salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge to environmental health stressors
This dataset displays the exposure potential to environmental health stressors in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA. Exposure potential is calculated with the Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response (SCoRR) ranking system (Reilly and others, 2015)
Water quality in the Barnegat Bay estuary along the New Jersey coast is the focus of a multidisciplinary research project begun in 2011 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. A continuous elevation surface (terrain model) integrating all available elevation data in the area was produced for water circulation modeling...
USGS creates geologic maps of coastal and submarine areas as well as complementary geospatial data products that can be used to assess resources, hazard potential, and support a wide range of model applications.Explore Our Interactive Maps
CSMP is a cooperative program to create a comprehensive coastal and marine geologic and habitat base map series for all of California's State waters. Data collected during this project reveal the seafloor offshore of the California coast in unprecedented detail and provide an ecosystem context for the effective management of this precious marine resource.
This portal is a “go to” source for maps related to ocean and coastal mapping. Information is organized by geography or region, by theme, and by the year data was published.
The Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) shares a wide range of resources to help explain and illustrate scientific concepts, our scientific activities, expertise, technology, tools, and other educational resources. Through newsletters, multimedia resources, special events, and other products, you can learn more about the many ways our science supports the Nation.Dive In To CMGP Multimedia
Lush thicket of staghorn coral in the Dry Tortugas National Park
Flyer to advertise the upcoming USGS Menlo Park Campus Free Public Lecture on April 26, 2018: "The Role of U.S. Coral Reefs in Coastal Protection: Rigorously valuing flood reduction benefits to inform coastal zone management decisions." To be given by Curt Storlazzi, USGS Research Geologist at Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Santa Cruz, CA.
USGS geomorphologist Pat Limber drives an all-terrain vehicle equipped with differential GPS, on Ellwood Beach in Goleta, California, collecting topographic, or elevation and contour, data. These data, accurate to about 1 inch (about 2 centimeters) both horizontally and vertically, are used to monitor seasonal beach changes.
Jackson Currie and Alex Snyder of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center drive personal watercraft (PWCs) offshore of San Ysidro and Oak Creeks, which let out onto Miramar Beach in Montecito, California. The equipment on the PWCs collects bathymetry, or depth, data which is used to map the nearshore. USGS has been mapping this area twice yearly—every spring and fall—since 2005. The...
Jackson Currie of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center drives a personal watercraft (PWC) offshore of Butterfly Beach in Montecito, California. The equipment on the PWC collects bathymetry, or depth, data which is used to map the nearshore. USGS has been mapping this area twice yearly—every spring and fall—since 2005. The data collected is incorporated into models of future...
USGS volunteer Josh Brown on Santa Claus Beach, Carpinteria, at the start of a 14-mile walking survey of southern California beaches. The differential GPS equipment carried in the backpack collects elevation, or topographic, data of the beach, accurate to about 1 inch (2 centimeters) both horizontally and vertically. Data are used to monitor seasonal beach changes and are incorporated into...
USGS geomorphologist Pat Limber drives an all-terrain vehicle equipped with differential GPS, on San Buenaventura Beach south of Ventura Pier, Ventura California, collects topographic, or elevation and contour, data. These data, accurate to about 1 inch (about 2 centimeters) both horizontally and vertically, are used to monitor seasonal beach changes.
Cave diving scientist David Brankovits from the USGS and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and DSO Jake Emmert (Moody Gardens) recover the OPP water sampling device designed and engineered by Emile Bergeron (USGS). The OPP collects samples across a chemical interface where bacteria entrain methane -- a dissolved gas -- into the food web. The OPP is powered by compressed gas and is able to...
Dive Safety Officer (DSO) Jake Emmert from Moody Gardens Aquarium enters a flooded coastal cave beneath the tropical forest of the Yucatan Peninsula through a small open-water pool, locally known as a cenote. Cave diving scientists John Pohlman (USGS) and David Brankovits (USGS/WHOI) will use these entrances over the coming days to access a vast network of passages where they are...
USGS coastal and marine geology news from coast to coast!
On Thursday, April 26, research geologist Curt Storlazzi of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center will give a public lecture on “The Role of U.S. Coral Reefs in Coastal Protection—Rigorously valuing flood reduction benefits to inform coastal zone management decisions.”
Documentary about sea-level rise threatening the Republic of the Marshall Islands features USGS findings
USGS research in the Republic of the Marshall Islands forms part of the scientific foundation of an interactive documentary released April 6 by PBS Frontline.
USGS oceanographer Dan Hoover explained how USGS coastal surveys are conducted and why they are important in a radio interview with NPR affiliate KCLU. KCLU was one of several outlets that reported on ...
Oceanographer Amy Gartman joined two members of the U.S. State Department at the 24th session of the International Seabed Authority, the organization charged with implementing the Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international treaty governing use of the oceans and their resources.
USGS Scientists Participate in Gulf of Mexico Habitat Monitoring and Mapping User Workshop and Mapping Summit
USGS Scientists will participate in the Gulf of Mexico Habitat Monitoring and Mapping User Workshop and Mapping Summit at the NOAA Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Alabama.
Cheryl Hapke will meet with Florida State Representative Ben Diamond on Friday, March 30, in his District office in St. Petersburg to brief him on the Florida Coastal Mapping Program.
Tracking the movement of sediment and contaminants from northern California wildfire areas to San Francisco Bay
USGS research geologist Renee Takesue of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center collected 20 sediment samples from Sonoma Creek and Napa River north of San Francisco Bay on March 17.
During the week of March 26, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will begin four days of mapping selected beaches and the adjacent seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Results will be compared to surveys from last fall to highlight changes due to winter waves, and to sediment inputs from area streams.
Collecting clues to the geologic history and mineral resources of the Rio Grande Rise, southwest Atlantic Ocean
USGS scientists James Hein and Kira Mizell participated in a University of São Paulo research cruise to the western Rio Grande Rise, an underwater plateau in international waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil.
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center researchers plan to survey selected beaches and parts of the shallow seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties from March 27-30.
USGS and NASA held a joint workshop titled “From Cells to Satellites: Methane Biogeochemistry at Multiple Scales” on March 16 at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
Coastal and marine geology expertise provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and usable information.Learn About CMGP