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Recent Coastal and Marine Fieldwork - April-July 2020

Much of the USGS fieldwork has been delayed, postponed, or canceled in the face of COVID-19. USGS Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program (CMHRP) scientists were able to safely venture out to collect beach elevations; biogeochemistry samples; water, soil, and meteorological data; and coral and algal samples, in San Francisco, Florida, Massachusetts, and the US Virgin Islands.

Map of North America with three dots in locations where fieldwork was conducted.
Some of the locations where USGS Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program (CMHRP) scientists conducted fieldwork in April-July 2020.

This article is part of the June-July 2020 issue of the Sound Waves newsletter.

Kissimmee River Aquifer Storage and Recovery (KRASR) treatment facility, Okeechobee, FL: Collected samples for geochemistry, biogeochemistry, microbial diversity, microbial productivity, and nutrient cycling, in order to characterize microbial biogeochemistry of groundwater systems, April 1

Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA: Collected base GPS and beach elevation data and Structure-from-Motion digital photos, to monitor changes in beach sand volume and distribution, April 6, June 10, July 8

Madeira Beach, FL: Collected GPS beach elevation data following the passage of Tropical Storm Cristobal and in support of long-term monitoring at Madeira Beach and the total water level (TWL) model, June 10, July 10

Martin and Brevard Counties, FL: Collected beach elevation profiles and mapped sea turtle nesting locations to assess nesting response on different template designs for nourished beaches and how these differ from a "natural beach", Summer 2020

Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, USVI (BUIS): Visited coral calcification monitoring stations to measure coral and algal calcification rates, and extended the coral-calcification assessment network to include BUIS, June 15-19

Herring River Estuary, Cape Cod, MA: Continuous monitoring of surface water and pore-water depth, salinity, and temperature, soil temperature and meteorological data in Herring River estuary to examine environmental geochemistry and health of the estuary, ongoing from June through October


Photograph of USGS staff in the marsh wearing masks
Safety is a top priority. USGS staff recently improved access to field sites at the Herring River estuary within the Cape Cod National Seashore to provide safer paths through a phragmites wetland. Research continues largely through deployment of instruments that can take measurements in water and air continuously, but some measurements do require staff, who are implementing USGS guidance on steps to working safely through the pandemic.
A man stands on the bow of a small aluminum boat wearing bib waders, a personal floatation device, and a mask.
Marine technician Dan Powers, from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's Marine Facility (PCMSC MarFac), wears all the required personal protective equipment: bib waders, personal floatation device, and mask. He and MarFac engineering technician Pete Dal Ferro went out on Alviso Slough to retrieve and clean current meters that are secured to metal frames. The frames and instruments get pretty fouled-up with mud and vegetation in these shallow waters, requiring frequent cleanings.