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Hurricane Sandy washover deposits on Fire Island, New York

February 16, 2017

Washover deposits on Fire Island, New York, from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were investigated a year after the storm to document the sedimentary characteristics of hurricane washover features. Sediment data collected in the field includes stratigraphic descriptions and photos from trenches, bulk sediment samples, U-channels, and gouge and push cores. Samples and push cores were further analyzed in the laboratory for grain size, density variations using x-ray computed tomography (CT), and surface microtexture using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Elevation profiles of washover features were measured using Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) with Real Time Kinematic processing. The DGPS elevations were compared to lidar (light detection and ranging) data from pre- and post-Sandy surveys to assess the degree to which washover deposit thicknesses changed within the year following deposition. Hurricane Sandy washover deposits as much as 1 meter thick were observed in trenches. Initial results show that the upper parts of the deposits have been reworked significantly in some places by wind, but there are still areas where the deposits are almost entirely intact. Where mostly intact, the washover deposits consist of massive or weakly laminated sand near the base, overlain by more strongly laminated sands.