Hurricane Sandy Response- Linking the Delmarva Peninsula's Geologic Framework to Coastal Vulnerability

Science Center Objects

The Delmarva Peninsula is a 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex that was significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy. In order to better constrain controls on coastal vulnerability and evolution, the region’s sediment sources, transport pathways and sediment sinks must be identified. This project defines the geologic framework of the Delmarva coastal system through geophysical mapping of the inner continental shelf. Such information can then be related to the physical processes that govern coastal system evolution at storm-event and longer timescales. Similar efforts conducted in Fire Island, NY, North Carolina, South Carolina and Massachusetts have proven crucial to the assessment of coastal hazards as well as to habitat characterization and identification of cultural resources in those regions. Defining the geologic framework of the Delmarva coastal system through geophysical mapping of the inner continental shelf provides the scientific foundation for effective management of this dynamic coastal system as it responds to storms, sea-level rise, and anthropogenic activities.

 

Project Outcomes

Geophysical Mapping and Sea Floor Sampling: Geophysical Surveys conducted during the summers of 2014 and 2015 acquired post-Sandy bathymetric, backscatter, seismic-reflection profile, sediment sample and bottom-photograph data.

Exiting Dataset Compliation and Integration: The project built on recent and ongoing hydrographic, geologic, and ecological studies in the area.

Data Releases: Bathymetric, backscatter, seismic reflection profile and sample data provide a three-dimensional, high-resolution view of the Delmarva coastal environment.  

Coastal Processes and Regional Collaborations:  This project defines the underlying geologic framework that controls the Delmarva coastal system.  Research is conducted in close collaboration with other regional studies that address the physcial and ecological processes that contribute to coastal evolution. 

in the near future, sediment availability and movement may be a significant constraint on natural beach response and engineering responses associated with recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Longer-term changes in storminess and sea-level rise will also affect future sediment movement and the response of beaches and dunes. The Delmarva Peninsula includes valuable national assets such as Assateague Island National Seashore, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the Eastern Seaboard’s longest coastal wilderness owned by The Nature Conservancy, as well as heavily developed coastal municipalities. Knowledge of a region’s antecedent geology, sediment type, distribution, deposit geometry, and transport pathways is lacking and is critical to addressing coastal issues. Comprehensive inner continental shelf geophysical mapping provides the data essential to fill these knowledge gaps. Similar efforts conducted in Fire Island, NY, North Carolina, South Carolina and Massachusetts have proven crucial to the assessment of coastal hazards as well as to habitat characterization and identification of cultural resources in those regions. Defining the geologic framework of the Delmarva coastal system through geophysical mapping of the inner continental shelf provides the scientific foundation for effective management of this dynamic coastal system as it responds to storms, sea-level rise, and anthropogenic activities.

Sound Waves Articles

"Team Delmarva" Completes Second comprehensive Seafloor Mapping off the Delmarva Peninsula

USGS Joins the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Resilience Institute—A Partnership for Integrated Climate Research to Help Local and Regional Leader

USGS Scientists Conduct Comprehensive Seafloor Mapping off the Delmarva Peninsula

This Woman ROCKS!

Linking Coastal Processes and Vulnerability—Assateague Island Regional Study

Abstracts

Pendleton, E.A., Brothers, L.L., Mahmud, A., Thieler, E.R., 2015, Using automated image classification to link geomorphology and shallow stratigraphy along the Delmarva Peninsula, Paper No. 93-8 Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 47, No. 7 p. 265.

Brothers, L.L., Foster, D.S., Pendleton, E.A., Thieler, E.R., 2015, Distribution and tentative ages of an extensive paleochannel network offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula, U.S.A., Paper No. 93-9 Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 47, No. 7 p. 266.

Mahmud, A., Pendleton, E.A., Brothers, L.L., Andrews, B.D., Thieler, E.R., 2015, Repurposing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hydrographic data for he sea floor sediment mapping along the Delmarva Peninsula, Paper No. 39-8, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 47, No. 7 p. 122.

Brothers, L.L., Thieler, E.R., Pendleton, E.A., Foster, D.S., Danforth, W.W., Baldwin, W.E., and Ackerman, S.D., 2014, New-Regional Scale Geophysical Observations of the Delmarva Peninsula, U.S.A. Inner Continental Shelf, OS23C-1217 presented at 2014 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif 15-19 Dec.

Map of Chesapeake Bay and Delmarva Peninsula

 Clockwise: Map of Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva Peninsula; Radar Image of Hurricane Sandy; Seismic Reflection Profile data collected offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula; Shipwreck off of Ocean City, MD imaged in side scan sonar backscatter; Bathymetric data showing sand ridges; photo of sea floor ripples.