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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.

Screenshot, HERA displays number of residents and projected flooding for a 20-year storm at sea level 10 inches higher than todayUSGS website estimates community impacts from projected coastal-flooding hazards in California

The USGS recently added three counties (Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego) to its Hazard Exposure Reporting and Analytics (HERA) interactive web application. HERA provides community-level estimates of resident, economic, land cover, and infrastructure exposure to coastal-flooding hazards for various storm and sea-level rise combinations. Such information is critical for emergency managers, community planners, and elected officials developing risk-reduction strategies. HERA now covers 12 counties in northern and southern California. It is a collaboration between the USGS Western Geographic Science Center and the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, which developed the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) used by HERA for flooding projections. Information provided by HERA supports short-term preparedness and outreach strategies to address current threats, as well as longer term mitigation and adaptation strategies. Contact: Jeanne Jones,, 650-329-5635

posted: 2017-03-23

USGS researcher advises European-Union coastal hazard project: Risc-kit

From April 5–7, Nathaniel Plant (Research Oceanographer, SPCMSC) will attend the final meeting of a 12-country coastal hazard project called Risc-Kit in Delft, The Netherlands, to review project results and present a U.S. perspective on coastal hazard research and applications. USGS and the international community help protect coastal infrastructure, economies, and ecosystems. Specifically, the Netherlands looks to USGS for data sets on storm impacts, and many aspects of the Risc-Kit project are modeled on the USGS coastal change assessments. Lessons learned by Risc-Kit and USGS projects are mutually beneficial to understanding and responding to coastal hazards.

posted: 2017-03-22

Sam Johnson, third from right, and other marine-geology enthusiasts at CGS conference.USGS seafloor-mapping expert Sam Johnson is keynote speaker at geological conference in South Africa

The Council for Geoscience, South Africa’s geological survey, invited research geologist Sam Johnson of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (Santa Cruz, California) to participate in a 1-day workshop and 2-day conference in Pretoria, South Africa. CGS recently launched the South African Nearshore Mapping Program and invited Johnson to share his insights as a leader of the California Seafloor Mapping Program. Johnson gave a presentation at the workshop on March 1 and opened the conference on March 2 with a keynote address: “The California Seafloor Mapping Program—History, Challenges, Applications, and Lessons Learned.” The workshop and conference produced many stimulating conversations on marine geology and mapping with scientists from CGS as well as other South African agencies and academic institutions. Follow-up communications are underway. Contact: Sam Johnson,, 831-460-7546

posted: 2017-03-20

Amy East, left, and Melissa Foley, right.USGS scientists offer career advice to students at University of California, Santa Cruz

Students considering careers in Earth and ocean sciences gained valuable information from USGS research scientists Amy East and Melissa Foley at a March 8 event at the University of California, Santa Cruz. East, Foley, and eight more scientists on the GEODES Career Panel briefly described their career paths and then joined small groups of students for lively conversations that lasted more than 2 hours. Both graduate and undergraduate students attended the event, sponsored by the student organization GEODES (Geoscientists Encouraging Openness & Diversity in the Earth Sciences). Contact: Amy East,, 831-460-7533

posted: 2017-03-20

Lidar Coordinator elected to serve as ASPRS GIS Division Assistant Director

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, won the 2017 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) National Election for GIS Division Assistant Director ( She will serve as GISD Assistant Director for two years and then move up to the Director position for two more years. Founded in 1934, the ASPRS is a scientific association serving over 7,000 professional members around the world with a mission to advance knowledge and improve understanding of mapping sciences, and to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and supporting technologies.

posted: 2017-03-16

Splash screen of new project webpageJoint USGS/USEPA Soil Pathogens Webpage and Interactive Map Application is now live

USGS researcher Dale Griffin (Environmental and Public Health Microbiologist, SPCMSC), in partnership with the USEPA Office of Homeland Security, has published a new project webpage, “Joint USGS/USEPA Pathogens in Soils Geographic Information Systems Project,” featuring an interactive web mapping application. This application, created by Steven Douglas (Researcher, SPCMSC), helps researchers determine background concentrations of select pathogens in soils of the contiguous U.S. and the influences of geochemistry, weather and climate on these pathogen populations. The application will be used to display future predictive geospatial modeling and research results.

posted: 2017-03-16

USGS Research Scientist quoted in Inside Climate News regarding coral bleaching

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner (SPCMSC) was quoted in a March 15, 2017 article of Inside Climate News. The author of the new article asked Kuffner to comment upon the results of a study published in Nature this week about the connection between ocean-heat stress and coral bleaching on the Australian Great Barrier Reef. The new study found that 2016 coral bleaching intensity was almost entirely explained by the amount heat-stress and not by reef-management status, water quality, or bleaching history. Kuffner explained that the study provides further evidence that the primary agents of coral mortality, mainly bleaching and coral disease, do not have to be the same as those preventing reef recovery. It is to the process of reef recovery that secondary stressors—like poor water quality and overfishing—are important.

posted: 2017-03-16

Local-scale ecosystem resilience amid global-scale ocean change: the coral reef exampleUSGS Powell Center coral reef working group to meet for 2nd workshop in Ft. Collins, Colorado, March 20–24, 2017

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner (SPCMSC), Research Ecologist Caroline Rogers (Caribbean Field Station), Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth (SPCMSC), and eleven other colleagues from around the world will meet to discuss and analyze existing datasets on coral reef status in concert with remotely sensed physical oceanographic data at the John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis. The working group’s goal is to uncover the geographic, biological, ecological, and physical features that characterize coral reef “oases” which have maintained populations of corals against a background of reef ecosystem degradation. For this second and final meeting of the working group, members will finish one manuscript and conduct analyses for a second that will assess the physical, biological, and oceanographic settings where areas qualifying as “reef oases” presently exist.

posted: 2017-03-16

Photo collage of USGS and UW crew aboard research vessel Barnes, with inset map of Cascadia Zone and inset photo of gear used on the trip.Collaborative research cruise investigates earthquake hazards in Seattle, Washington

Scientists from USGS and the University of Washington (UW) collected data in Seattle’s Lake Washington and Puget Sound to decipher the earthquake history of the Seattle fault, which runs beneath Seattle and neighboring communities. From February 20-28, they used UW’s research vessel Barnes to obtain detailed images of sediment layers as far as 200 meters below the seafloor. Scientists will identify and determine the ages of layers offset by past (paleo) earthquakes and correlate them with paleo-earthquakes recognized in sediments on land. These onshore/offshore studies will provide estimates of the size and frequency of past events to help communities prepare for future earthquakes. The work is part of a larger multi-disciplinary effort to evaluate the frequency of great earthquakes on the Cascadia subduction zone off the Pacific Northwest coast and improve assessments of the region’s earthquake hazards. Contact: Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565

posted: 2017-03-13

Christie surveys Twin Lakes beach during Fall 2016 with high resolution GPS mounted on a backpack to understand how sand moves along the coast.USGS scientist engages with Life Long Learners

On February 27, Christie Hegermiller, a Ph.D. candidate working at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, met with a group of “Life Long Learners” affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz, at their monthly meeting in Scotts Valley, California. Hegermiller described the impact of El Niño on California coasts and her research predicting future wave conditions under changing wind and storm patterns. The group of about a dozen people included many with Ph.D. degrees and long careers in science, which led to insightful questions and lively discussions. Contact: Christie Hegermiller,, 831-460-7588

posted: 2017-03-13

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