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Distribution of foraminifera in Chincoteague Bay and the marshes of Assateague Island and the adjacent vicinity, Maryland and Virginia

November 28, 2017

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center conducted a seasonal collection of estuarine, marsh, and sandy washover surface sediments from Chincoteague Bay, Tom’s Cove, and the surrounding Assateague Island and Delmarva Peninsula in March–April and October 2014, after Hurricane Sandy. Micropaleontology samples were collected as part of a complementary USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program Sea-level and Storm Impacts on Estuarine Environments and Shorelines project study. For comparison with estuarine and overwash deposited foraminifera, a group of scientists from the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Massachusetts collected samples offshore of Assateague Island on the inner continental shelf during a seafloor mapping study in the summer of 2014 and shipped select samples to the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center. The micropaleontological subsamples analyzed for foraminifera at each site can be used to establish a foraminiferal baseline assemblage that takes into consideration the seasonal variability of the various species, regarding density and geographic extent, which are influenced by transient and stable environmental parameters. By understanding what parameters affect the various foraminiferal assemblages, researchers can delineate how alterations in salinity, temperature, or marsh-to-bay interactions, such as marsh erosion, might affect that assemblage.