Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Using Global Fiducials Library high-resolution imagery, commercial satellite imagery, Landsat and Sentinel satellite imagery, and aerial photography to monitor change at East Timbalier Island, Louisiana, 1953–2021

January 20, 2023

This report documents morphological changes between 1953 and 2021 at East Timbalier Island, Louisiana, a Gulf of Mexico barrier island. East Timbalier Island, which was located west of the Mississippi River Delta at the front of Timbalier Bay, was one of the most rapidly changing barrier islands on Earth. Since aerial photographs were initially taken in 1953, the Island steadily lost length and area, finally eroding away by early summer 2021. After major storm events, sediment eroded from the Island and migrated hundreds of meters north. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew breached the Island in several places, resulting in increased erosion and land loss. Until it completely eroded away, the Island underwent a cycle of washovers, vegetation removal, breaching, and erosion with sediment transport to the north. Satellite imagery shows that three such cycles occurred between 1992 and 2017, despite the partial restoration of the Island between 1998 and 2000. Each cycle increased the distance between the Island and the mainland to the east, reducing both the sediment supply from the east and the protection that Timbalier Bay and the adjacent coastal lands received from the barrier island.

Previously, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Civil Applications Center used 1-meter resolution imagery archived at the USGS Global Fiducials Library (GFL), collected between 2000 and 2010 by U.S. National Imaging Systems, to monitor the changes at the Island. New research expands this study retrospectively and prospectively using aerial photography collected from 1953 to 2012 and in 2020; declassified imagery collected in 1962, 1972, and 1975; DigitalGlobe satellite imagery collected since 2004; Landsat satellite imagery collected since 1972; Sentinel–2 satellite imagery collected since 2015; and GFL imagery collected from 1991 to 2020.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2023
Title Using Global Fiducials Library high-resolution imagery, commercial satellite imagery, Landsat and Sentinel satellite imagery, and aerial photography to monitor change at East Timbalier Island, Louisiana, 1953–2021
DOI 10.3133/sir20225107
Authors Gary B. Fisher, E. Terrence Slonecker, Shawn J. Dilles, Bruce F. Molnia, Kim M. Angeli
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2022-5107
Index ID sir20225107
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Civil Applications Center

Related Content