Unified Interior Regions

U.S. Virgin Islands

We conduct impartial, multi- and interdisciplinary research and monitoring on a large range of natural-resource issues that impact the quality of life of citizens and landscapes of the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean region.

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We conduct impartial, multi- and interdisciplinary research and monitoring on a large range of natural-resource issues that impact the quality of life of citizens and landscapes of the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean region.

News

Date published: August 31, 2021

Assessing Contaminants at Virgin Islands National Park and the Coral Reef National Monument

The U.S. Virgin Islands attracts more than two million people each year, most of whom are eager to explore the white sandy beaches and tropical marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. 

Date published: October 4, 2018

New coral reef study to begin at Buck Island National Park Service unit on St. Croix

Scientists travel to Buck Island Reef National Monument to plan a new study and to assess hurricane impacts to the coral reefs surrounding Buck Island.

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Date published: September 7, 2021
Status: Active

Coral Reef Project

Explore the fascinating undersea world of coral reefs. Learn how we map, monitor, and model coral reefs so we can better understand, protect, and preserve our Nation's reefs.

Date published: September 7, 2021
Status: Active

The Value of U.S. Coral Reefs for Risk Reduction

Summary of the report, “Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction”

    Contacts: Curt Storlazzi, PhD, Michael Beck
    Date published: August 10, 2020
    Status: Completed

    Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change Impacts to Reefs

    Learn how the USGS studies sea-level rise and climate change impacts to coral reefs.

    Date published: January 28, 2020
    Status: Active

    Contaminants Assessment in the Coral Reefs of the Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

    USGS collected samples at reef locations within the Virgin Islands National Park and analyzed for the presence of contaminants, organotin compounds, or sunscreen compounds.

    Date published: September 10, 2019
    Status: Completed

    Circulation and Sediment, Nutrient, Contaminant, and Larval Dynamics on Reefs

    The overall objective of this research effort is to better understand how circulation and sediment processes impact coral reefs.

    Date published: December 6, 2018
    Status: Active

    Real-time and Historical Data

    These pages provide access to water-resources data collected at approximately 1.9 million sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Online access to this data is organized around the categories listed at the bottom.

    The USGS investigates the occurrence, quantity, quality...

    Date published: November 5, 2018
    Status: Completed

    Coral Reef Facts

    These facts about coral reefs are presented in conjunction with the USGS Coral Reef Project.

    Date published: October 5, 2018
    Status: Active

    Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST)

    The specific objectives of this project are to identify and describe the processes that are important in determining rates of coral-reef construction. How quickly the skeletons of calcifying organisms accumulate to form massive barrier-reef structure is determined by processes of both construction (how fast organisms grow and reproduce) and destruction (how fast reefs break down by mechanical...

    Date published: June 19, 2018
    Status: Active

    Mineral Resource Assessment of U.S. Territories of the Caribbean Basin Archipelago including Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Adjacent Areas

    Project objectives are to develop a modern probabilistic quantitative mineral resource assessment of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and adjacent geologically similar areas that examines the potential for minerals-based economic development and trade within the region.

    Contacts: Floyd Gray
    Date published: July 26, 2016
    Status: Active

    HDgov: Multi-agency Website for Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

    HDgov is an interactive and mobile-responsive online portal to interagency, academic, and non-government resources focused on the human dimensions of natural resource management. The web portal provides easy access to tools, publications, data, and methods that help ensure that the people side of natural resources is considered throughout the entire natural resource management process. The...

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    Date published: September 7, 2021

    Projected flooding extents and depths based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods for the State of Florida, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands for current and potentially restored coral reefs

    This data release provides flooding extent polygons based on wave-driven total water levels for the coral lined coasts of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The locations of the restoration lines along and across shore were defined by the presence of continuous coral/hardbottom habitat of greater than 100 m alongshore length and proximity to the 3-m depth contour. The wave and...

    Date published: March 26, 2021

    Cross-reef wave and water level data from coral reef environments

    Direct field observations of wave dynamics across coral reefs and the resulting water levels are limited. Here we provide direct in situ measurements of waves and water levels across a number of coral reefs, extending from the fore reef, across the reef crest, and to the shoreline. These measurements are provided to help better understand the evolution of waves across coral reefs and...

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flood extent polygons and flood depth points based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the State of Hawaii (the islands of Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu

    This part of the data release presents projected flooding extent polygon (flood masks) and flooding depth points (flood points) shapefiles based on wave-driven total water levels for the State of Hawaii (the islands of Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, Niihau, and Oahu). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flood extent polygons and flood depth points based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the Territory of Puerto Rico (the islands of Culebra, Puerto Rico, and Vieques)

    This part of the data release presents projected flooding extent polygon (flood masks) and flooding depth points (flood points) shapefiles based on wave-driven total water levels for the Territory of Puerto Rico (the islands of Culebra, Puerto Rico, and Vieques). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for each four nearshore wave energy

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flood extent polygons and flood depth points based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands (the islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas)

    This part of the data release presents projected flooding extent polygon (flood masks) and flooding depth points (flood points) shapefiles based on wave-driven total water levels for the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands (the islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas). For each island there are 8 associated flood mask and flood depth shapefiles: one for each four n

    Date published: January 1, 2019

    Projected flooding extents and depths based on 10-, 50-, 100-, and 500-year wave-energy return periods, with and without coral reefs, for the States of Hawaii and Florida, the Territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,

    This data release provides flooding extent polygons (flood masks) and depth values (flood points) based on wave-driven total water levels for 22 locations within the States of Hawaii and Florida, the Territories of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. For each of the 22 locations there are eight ass

    Date published: September 1, 2017

    National Water Information System web interface (NWISweb)

    The National Water Information System (NWIS) web application provides access to real-time and historical surface-water, groundwater, water-quality, and water-use data collected at approximately 1.5 million sites across all 50 states.

    Date published: April 20, 2016

    Structures Data

    USGS data portray selected structures data, including the location and characteristics of manmade facilities. Characteristics consist of a structure's physical form (footprint), function, name, location, and detailed information about the structure. The types of structures collected are largely determined by the needs of the disaster planning and response and homeland security organizations....

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    Digital Elevation Model in the Atchafalaya Basin, LA
    April 19, 2016

    The 3DEP products and services available through The National Map consist of standard digital elevation models (DEMs) at various horizontal resolutions, elevation source and associated datasets, an elevation point query service and bulk point query service. All 3DEP products are available, free of charge and without use restrictions.

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    Year Published: 2019

    Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction

    The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision making...

    Storlazzi, Curt D.; Reguero, Borja G.; Cole, Aaron D.; Lowe, Erik; Shope, James B.; Gibbs, Ann E.; Nickel, Barry A.; McCall, Robert T.; van Dongeren, Ap R.; Beck, Michael W.
    Storlazzi, C.D., Reguero, B.G., Cole, A.D., Lowe, E., Shope, J.B., Gibbs, A.E., Nickel, B.A., McCall, R.T., van Dongeren, A.R., and Beck, M.W., 2019, Rigorously valuing the role of U.S. coral reefs in coastal hazard risk reduction: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1027, 42 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191027.

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    Year Published: 2018

    2018 hurricane and wildfire supplemental funding: USGS recovery activities

    The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-123), was signed by the President on February 9, 2018. This funding provided $42.2 million to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for equipment repair and replacement, high-resolution elevation data collection in both hurricane- and wildfire-impacted...

    Hinck, Jo Ellen; Stachyra, Joseph
    Hinck, J.E., and Stachyra, J., 2018, 2018 hurricane and wildfire supplemental funding—USGS recovery activities: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3063, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20183063.

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    Year Published: 2017

    Resident areas and migrations of female green turtles nesting at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

    Satellite tracking in marine turtle studies can reveal much about their spatial use of breeding areas, migration zones, and foraging sites. We assessed spatial habitat-use patterns of 10 adult female green turtles (Chelonia mydas) nesting at Buck Island Reef National Monument, U.S. Virgin Islands (BIRNM) from 2011 – 2014. Turtles ranged in size...

    Hart, Kristen M.; Iverson, Autumn; Benscoter, Allison M.; Fujisaki, Ikuko; Cherkiss, Michael S.; Pollock, Clayton; Lundgren, Ian; Hillis-Starr, Zandy
    Hart, K.M., Iverson, A.R., Benscoter, A.M.L., Fujisaki, I., Cherkiss, M.S., Pollock, C., Lundgren, I., and Hillis-Starr, Z., 2017, Resident areas and migrations of female green turtles nesting at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands: Endangered Species Research, v. 32, p. 89-101, https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00793.

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    Year Published: 2016

    Disease prevalence and snail predation associated with swell-generated damage on the threatened coral, Acropora palmata (Lamarck)

    Disturbances such as tropical storms cause coral mortality and reduce coral cover as a direct result of physical damage. Storms can be one of the most important disturbances in coral reef ecosystems, and it is crucial to understand their long-term impacts on coral populations. The primary objective of this study was to determine trends in disease...

    Bright, Allan J.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Brandt, Marilyn E.; Muller, Erinn; Smith, Tyler B.
    Bright, A.J., Rogers, C.S., Brandt, M.E., Muller, E., and Smith, T.B., 2016, Disease prevalence and snail predation associated with swell-generated damage on the threatened coral, Acropora palmate (Lamarck): Frontiers in Marine Science, v. 3, art. 00077, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2016.00077.

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    Year Published: 2013

    Ecology of juvenile hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) at Buck Island Reef National Monument, US Virgin Islands

    Surveys of juvenile hawksbills around Buck Island Reef National Monument, US Virgin Islands from 1994 to 1999 revealed distributional patterns and resulted in a total of 75 individual hawksbill captures from all years; turtles ranged from 23.2 to 77.7 cm curved carapace length (CCL; mean 42.1 ± 12.3 cm SD). Juveniles...

    Hart, Kristen M.; Sartain-Iverson, Autumn R.; Hillis-Starr, Zandy; Phillips, Brendalee; Mayor, Philippe A.; Roberson, Kimberly; Pemberton, Roy A.; Allen, Jason B.; Lundgren, Ian; Musick, Susanna

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    Year Published: 2003

    Documentation for 2003 USGS Seismic Hazard Maps for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

    Mueller, C.S.; Frankel, A.D.; Petersen, M.D.; Leyendecker, E.V.
    Documentation for 2003 USGS Seismic Hazard Maps for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; 2003; OFR; 2003-379; Mueller, C. S.; Frankel, A. D.; Petersen, M. D.; Leyendecker, E. V.

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    Year Published: 1990

    National water summary 1987: Hydrologic events and water supply and use

    Water use in the United States, as measured by freshwater withdrawals in 1985, averaged 338,000 Mgal/d (million gallons per day), which is enough water to cover the 48 conterminous States to a depth of about 2.4 inches. Only 92,300 Mgal/d, or 27.3 percent of the water withdrawn, was consumptive use and thus lost to immediate further use; the...

    Carr, Jerry E.; Chase, Edith B.; Paulson, Richard W.; Moody, David W.
    National water summary 1987: hydrologic events and water supply and use; 1990; WSP; 2350; Carr, Jerry E.; Chase, Edith B.; Paulson, Richard W.; Moody, David W.

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    November 12, 2020

    Climate Adaptation to Support Amphibian Conservation in U.S. Caribbean

    Climate change will strongly affect tropical island ecosystems. The risks of significant negative impacts are likely to be higher in these island systems than in many temperate regions of the world because of the limited size of their land masses, high numbers of species that only exist in narrowly defined regions, and expectations that tropical environments will

    January 6, 2020

    How Our Reefs Protect Us: Valuing the Benefits of U.S. Reefs

    The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards during storms. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision-making. Here we

    Aerial imagery of islands are marked to show different data about each island's coast.
    January 1, 2020

    U.S. Virgin Islands Coral Reefs and Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction

    Rigorously Valuing the Role of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Coral Reefs in Coastal Hazard Risk Reduction

    Estimated Annual Benefits

    Maps of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) showing the distribution of the value of averted direct building damages, indirect economic activity losses, and population annually protected from flooding by coral reefs. Results at 10 m

    ...
    December 31, 2019

    What makes a wetland a wetland? (AD - Part 1)

    Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center study important aspects of wetlands, such as the flow and quality of water, the chemistry of soil, and the plants and animals which call this ecosystem home. In this video, we learn about three characteristics you can use to identify a wetland near you. 

    December 31, 2019

    What makes a wetland a wetland? (Part 1)

    Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center study important aspects of wetlands, such as the flow and quality of water, the chemistry of soil, and the plants and animals which call this ecosystem home. In this video, we learn about three characteristics you can use to identify a wetland near you. 

    December 8, 2019

    How Our Reefs Protect Us: Valuing the Benefits of U.S. Reefs (AD)

    The degradation of coastal habitats, particularly coral reefs, raises risks by increasing the exposure of coastal communities to flooding hazards during storms. The protective services of these natural defenses are not assessed in the same rigorous economic terms as artificial defenses, such as seawalls, and therefore often are not considered in decision-making. Here we

    Perspective view of coastal bathymetry looking onshore, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
    December 21, 2018

    Perspective lidar view of coastal bathymetry at St. Thomas, USVI

    Perspective view of coastal bathymetry looking onshore, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, mapped using lidar and depicted with false-color, showing detailed submerged features, including coral reefs.

    September 30, 2017

    USGS Hurricane Preparedness

    Before a hurricane, USGS Scientists undertake a data collection effort of a grand scale. They install a temporary mobile network of sensors along the coasts to collect additional data on the intensity of storm surge, one of the most dangerous elements of a hurricane. This effort provides critical information that allows various USGS partners and emergency responders to

    Beached boats and bare trees in Hurricane Hole
    September 30, 2016

    Irma leaves beached boats and broken trees in Huricane Hole

    Boat owners sought protection for their vessels in sheltered Hurricane Hole, but Hurricane Irma sunk and beached many boats, likely damaging corals. Photo: Caroline Rogers, USGS, 2017

    A healthy coral reef at Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Island
    December 31, 2015

    Elkhorn coral anchors a healthy reef

    Healthy Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) near unpopulated Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Islands. Elkhorn coral is one of many important reef-building species that create 3D structure on the seafloor. Coral reef structure provides habitat for marine life and helps break up waves as they approach the coastline.

    Elkhorn coral has died and turned to rubble.
    December 31, 2015

    Corals die, turn to rubble

    These Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) near Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Islands have died and collapsed into rubble. As coral reef structure degrades, valuable habitat for marine life is lost and nearby coastlines become more susceptible to storms, waves and erosion.

    Perspective view of coastal bathymetry looking onshore, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
    December 31, 2014

    Perspective lidar view of coastal bathymetry at St. Thomas, USVI

    Perspective view of coastal bathymetry looking onshore, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, mapped using lidar and depicted with false-color, showing detailed submerged features, including coral reefs.

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    USGS scientist collects water samples for contaminant analysis in the US Virgin Islands
    August 31, 2021

    The U.S. Virgin Islands attracts more than two million people each year, most of whom are eager to explore the white sandy beaches and tropical marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. 

    Photo of a small concrete block; a disk attached to the top holds a small growing coral.
    October 4, 2018

    Scientists travel to Buck Island Reef National Monument to plan a new study and to assess hurricane impacts to the coral reefs surrounding Buck Island.

    Hurricane Isaac carousel image
    September 11, 2018

    Hurricane response crews from the U.S. Geological Survey are installing storm-tide sensors at key locations in Puerto Rico from Cabo Rojo to Naguabo in advance of Hurricane Isaac. Under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the USGS plans to deploy about 20 sensors along the island’s coast

    Calcification monitoring station with a colony of the massive starlet coral, Siderastrea siderea, fastened in place.
    March 29, 2018

    Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner, Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth, and Oceanographer Anastasios Stathakopoulos, will travel to Buck Island Reef National Monument for a reconnaissance trip to plan a new study and assess hurricane impacts to the coral reefs surrounding Buck Island.

    Preparing to measure Irma's storm surge in Puerto Rico
    September 6, 2017

     To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Irma, visit the USGS Hurricane Irma page.

    A healthy coral reef at Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Island
    April 20, 2017

    In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

    Catawba rhododendron blooming at Round Bald, NC
    August 11, 2016

    “From the mountains to the coast, the southeastern U.S. contains ecosystems that harbor incredible biodiversity. Many of those ecosystems are already highly at risk from urbanization and other human land-use change. Identifying the ecosystems at risk from climate change will help inform conservation and management to ensure we don’t lose that biodiversity.” (Jennifer Constanza, report author)

    As US models predicted Hurricane Joaquin washed out a road at Kitty Hawk, NC in 2015.
    June 1, 2016

    New USGS models help predict storm effects on beaches

    As the 2016 hurricane season opens, weather forecasters, emergency managers and coastal residents have access to tools developed by the U.S. Geological Survey that predict, more precisely than ever, where beach erosion and beachfront flooding will take place during hurricanes and other storms.

     

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