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Back-island and open-ocean shorelines, and sand areas of Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia, April 12, 1989, to September 5, 2013

March 18, 2015

Assessing the physical change to shorelines and wetlands is critical in determining the resiliency of wetland systems that protect adjacent habitat and communities. The wetland and back-barrier shorelines of Assateague Island, located in Maryland and Virginia, changed as a result of wave action and storm surge that occurred during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. As part of the U.S. Geological Survey Coastal and Marine Geology Program, the impact of Hurricane Sandy will be assessed and placed in its historical context to understand the future vulnerability of wetland systems. Making these assessments will rely on data extracted from current and historical resources such as maps, aerial photographs, satellite imagery, and lidar elevation data, which document physical changes over time.

This Data Series Report includes several open-ocean shorelines, back-island shorelines, back-island shoreline points, sand area polygons, and sand lines for Assateague Island that were extracted from natural-color orthoimagery (aerial photography) dated from April 12, 1989, to September 5, 2013. The images used were 0.3–2-meter (m)-resolution U.S. Geological Survey Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quads (DOQQ), U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) images, and Virginia Geographic Information Network Virginia Base Map Program (VBMP) images courtesy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The back-island shorelines were hand-digitized at the intersect of the apparent back-island shoreline and transects spaced at 20-m intervals. The open-ocean shorelines were hand-digitized at the approximate still water level, such as tide level, which was fit through the average position of waves and swash apparent on the beach. Hand-digitizing was done at a scale of approximately 1:2,000. The sand polygons were derived by using an image-processing unsupervised classification technique that separates images into classes. The classes were then visually categorized as either sand or not sand. Also included in this report are 20-m-spaced transect lines and the transect base lines.