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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

Recent News

Recent News - stories from the last 14 days.

For information about a story, contact Ann Tihansky (202) 208-3342.

Bruce Richmond clowns for the camera during the closing credits of Peeking into Permafrost. In the background are Cordell Johnson, left, and Peter Swarzenski, on the groundUSGS video selected for Goldschmidt film festival in Paris

The USGS video Peeking into Permafrost has been selected for this year’s Goldschmidt Wild Orbit Cinema week in Paris, August 12–18. Produced by USGS contractor Amy West, the film is one of 15 chosen from nearly 100 entries. It follows a USGS team led by geologist Bruce Richmond as they investigate bluff erosion on Barter Island on Alaska’s Arctic coast. The video conveys the challenging conditions under which the scientists collect samples of permafrost and a range of data—from repeat photographs of the shore, to radon content in groundwater, to the composition and structure of the bluffs—to examine what’s controlling erosion of Arctic coasts. Such erosion threatens villages and infrastructure in many parts of northern Alaska. The annual film festival is a “week long celebration of the very best in science communication” held in conjunction with the prestigious Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.
View all 15 films.
Contact: Bruce Richmond,, 831-460-7531, or Amy West,, 831-460-7428

posted: 2017-08-15

Underwater photograph shows instrument package on the seaward slope of the coral reef off Puerto Rico.Deep deployment of instruments to study coral reef structure and health off Puerto Rico

An instrument package developed by the USGS was placed on the seaward slope of a coral reef off southwestern Puerto Rico on July 27. Collaborators from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez deployed the instrument package at a depth of 177 feet—the deepest deployment yet of instruments to measure currents and suspended sediment in a coral reef environment. The researchers want to measure how much volcanic sediment (derived from land) and carbonate sediment (derived from the reef) are moving off the reef. They are also exploring how deep currents move cool, nutrient-rich water up the slope. This water can offset stress caused by global warming of surface waters and provide food for stressed corals. USGS scientist Cordell Johnson designed and built the instrument mount for delicate emplacement by technical divers. Contact: Curt Storlazzi,, 831-460-7521

posted: 2017-08-10

Two stills from video showing animation of tsunami approaching the shore, from video produced by Physics World.Physics World videos feature USGS tsunami and earthquake scientists

USGS geophysicists are featured in two videos published by Physics World, magazine of the Institute of Physics. In the first video, Eric Geist explains his studies of the mechanics of tsunamis, particularly those triggered by earthquakes occurring at subduction zones on the seafloor, where oceanic plates slide underneath continental plates. (See Geist’s animations of historical tsunamis.) A second, companion video covers the work of Brian Kilgore, who triggers mini-earthquakes in a USGS lab to study their characteristics, and David Lockner, who works in a rock deformation and friction lab to recreate conditions in the Earth under which earthquakes occur. Journalist James Dacey filmed the interviews a year and a half ago at the USGS center in Menlo Park, California. The videos and accompanying article were published in July 2017 on Contact: Eric Geist,, 650-329-5457

posted: 2017-08-10

USGS Corals and Paleoclimate Group Tours New Florida Aquarium Facility in Apollo Beach, FloridaUSGS Corals and Paleoclimate Group Tours New Florida Aquarium Facility

A group of SPCMSC researchers, staff scientists, and visiting students visited The Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation's brand-new facilities currently being built in Apollo Beach, Florida. The new buildings presently under construction will include state-of-the-art coral arks (greenhouses) to protect and restore coral genetic diversity and stocks of Florida's threatened corals. Scott Graves, director of the Florida Aquarium Center for Conservation (CFC), led the tour of the partially built main building, showed plans for future buildings, and explained the mission and vision of the Center. Keri O'Neil, (CFC, marine invertebrate specialist), explained the logistics of coral husbandry while leading the tour of the temporary coral facility that presently holds 92 specimens of the threatened pillar coral rescued from an ongoing disease outbreak in the Florida Keys. Collaboration between USGS and CFC could provide opportunity for scientific advancement in understanding the environmental determinants of coral growth, as well as providing data critical to optimizing the strategies for restoring populations of threatened coral species in the Florida Keys.

posted: 2017-08-09

Aerial Photo of the mouth of the Elwha River and its estuaries, showing a visible sediment plume blossoming out into the sea. Photo taken April 14, 2012 by Jon Felis, USGSUSGS scientist quoted in "Why the World's Rivers are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters"

USGS research geologist Jon Warrick was quoted in an article about the importance of river-borne sediment for helping coastal-wetland growth keep pace with sea-level rise. Titled “Why the World’s Rivers Are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters,” the article was published June 20 in Yale Environment 360, an online magazine covering global environmental issues. Warrick leads a USGS project studying how the removal of two large dams from the Elwha River in Washington State is changing the region’s coastal areas. He described the expansion of coastal landforms by sediment released during and after dam removal, and he noted that the best way to free sediment trapped behind a dam depends on the dam’s purpose and the unique nature of the river. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569

Read the article, and visit the "USGS Science to Support the Elwha River Restoration Project" web site.

posted: 2017-08-04

USGS met with the National Hurricane Center to discuss the USGS storm-tide monitoring and coastal change hazards programs

Personnel from the USGS met with the scientists from the Storm Surge Unit at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to collaborate on the USGS storm-tide monitoring program, including providing NHC with water level observations for model verification, and to discuss how to provide the NHC with wave runup and coastal erosion forecasts. The NHC team was very complimentary of the USGS program, noting the value of the information our scientists provide and citing datasets collected by the USGS in 2016 for Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew as examples. The USGS and NHC will work together to make USGS coastal hazards data and products available to NOAA during landfalling hurricanes.

posted: 2017-08-03

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Page Last Modified: December 05, 2016 11:14 AM (JSG)