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News Archive - stories from June 2017.

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

Aerial Photo of the mouth of the Elwha River and its estuaries, showing a visible sediment plume blossoming out into the sea.USGS 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,, 831-460-7569posted: 2017-06-29

Photograph of a black smoker, courtesy of the Schmidt Ocean Institute/CSSFUSGS scientist discusses deep-ocean mineral resources in newspaper and radio interviews

USGS research geologist James Hein was interviewed in late May by two reporters interested in deep-ocean mineral resources. Carol Clouse, freelance reporter for The Guardian U.S., spoke to Hein about deep-ocean mineral deposits and deep-ocean mining. Her article was published June 28. Dagmar Roehrlich, science writer for German Public Radio Station Deutschlandfunk, recorded an interview with Hein about ferromanganese crust and nodule resources, with a focus on the Arctic Ocean. Roehrlich’s piece was broadcast and an article published on May 22. Contact: Jim Hein,, 831-460-7419posted: 2017-06-29

Photograph shows the tsunami wave, generated by JapanUSGS scientist interviewed for KQED podcast “What Would Really Happen if a Tsunami Hit the Bay Area?”

USGS research geophysicist Eric Geist spoke to Olivia Allen-Price of KQED Radio (San Francisco) for a podcast addressing the question: “If a tsunami were to hit the Golden Gate, what would be its real effect on communities facing the San Francisco Bay?” Geist described the impacts of tsunamis generated by large, distant earthquakes as they hit California’s Pacific coast and enter San Francisco Bay, where strong currents could damage piers and vessels. Steven Ward, professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, shared a computer simulation showing how a tsunami wave would fan out after coming through the Golden Gate, flooding low-lying areas in San Francisco and dissipating as it moved farther into the bay. Listen to the podcast, part of the Bay Curious series. View a larger version of the photo shown here: Tsunami generated by Japan's 2011 Tohoku earthquake makes its way through San Francisco Bay. Photo taken 9:38 a.m. PST, March 11, 2011, in Emeryville, California, by Dr_Speed at Flickr.

Contact: Eric Geist,, 650-329-5457

posted: 2017-06-26

Map shows subduction zones around the Pacific Rim.Just published: “Reducing Risk Where Tectonic Plates Collide—A USGS Plan to Advance Subduction Zone Science”

Most of the world’s earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions are caused by the continuous motions of tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s outer shell. The most powerful of these natural hazards occur in subduction zones, where two plates collide and one is thrust over another. The U.S. Geological Survey’s “Reducing Risk Where Tectonic Plates Collide—A USGS Plan to Advance Subduction Zone Science” is a blueprint for building the crucial scientific foundation needed to inform the policies and practices that can make our Nation more resilient to subduction zone-related hazards. Read a USGS Fact Sheet summarizing the plan, or read the full report. Contact: Joan Gomberg,, 206-616-5581posted: 2017-06-22

USGS Research Scientist quoted in Inside Climate News regarding prognosis of reef recovery following coral bleaching

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner (SPCMSC) was quoted in a June 21, 2017 article of Inside Climate News. The author of the article asked Kuffner to comment on a NOAA press release out this week regarding the winding down of the 3rd global coral bleaching event and the prognosis for recovery of coral reef ecosystems. Kuffner explained that, while temperatures have abated and some coral populations have survived the bleaching, many corals are now succumbing to disease outbreaks, including in the Florida Keys. Several coral species are trending quickly toward local extinction, forcing decisions and immediate management actions to preserve the remaining genetic diversity.

posted: 2017-06-22

USGS researcher presents research on coastal change assessments at NOAA workshop

Davina Passeri (SPCMSC, Mendenhall Post-Graduate Fellow) will be presenting on-going USGS research on coastal change assessments at the first annual workshop (Apalachicola, FL) of a four-year project called NGOM+N2E2 (, funded through NOAA's Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise Program. The project is focused on evaluating the ability of natural and nature-based features to mitigate present and future effects of storm surge, nuisance flooding and sea level rise in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This is a transdisciplinary effort between researchers at Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, University of Central Florida, and University of South Carolina. Resulting data products will be delivered to coastal resource managers and stakeholders to increase the integration of science into management decisions along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

posted: 2017-06-21

Graphic showing change in topography at the Big Sur landslide, from May 27 to June 13.New Land Created by Slide on Big Sur Coast is Eroding

USGS analysis of air photos collected June 13 shows that new land created by a May 20 landslide on California’s Big Sur coast is eroding. The large slide buried State Highway 1 beneath more than 65 feet of rock and dirt, and created about 13 acres of new land bulging into the ocean. Between May 27 and June 13, the seaward edge of the landslide retreated about 16 feet. USGS scientists collect air photos of the slide area weekly to biweekly as weather permits. They use “structure-from-motion” software to turn the photos into 3D maps from which they measure changes in ground elevation. View provisional imagery at the USGS Remote Sensing Coastal Change website. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569posted: 2017-06-15

USGS Microbiologist interviewed as 'best of' Microbe2017 conference

Dr. Christina Kellogg, SPCMSC Research Microbiologist, was interviewed during a live online segment to highlight the best sessions of Microbe2017, the premiere meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held June 1–5, 2017 in New Orleans, LA. Kellogg's work was chosen out of 500+ sessions at the meeting and focused on deep-sea coral microbiomes. The 40-minute interview has already been viewed >2,500 times.

(Note: You do not need to log in to Facebook to watch the video)

posted: 2017-06-14

Florida Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote SensingCMGP Lidar Coordinator and SPCMSC Scientists to attend FL-ASPRS/UF Summer 2017 Lidar Workshop

Xan Fredericks (Lidar Coordinator, Coastal and Marine Geology Program), Christine Kranenburg, and Karen Morgan (scientists, St Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center) will be attending the Florida Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS)/University of Florida (UF) Summer 2017 Lidar Workshop in Apopka, FL, June 22, 2017. The workshop agenda includes updates from attending agencies, an update on the Florida Statewide Lidar Assessment, and technical lidar presentations,with topics such as bathymetric lidar, ele-hydro, and the use of UAVs.

posted: 2017-06-14

Photograph of a mosque left standing amid the rubble in Banda Aceh, following the tsunami on December 26, 2004. Photograph by Guy Gelfenbaum, USGS, taken January 21, 2005.Global Tsunami Science: Past and Future

USGS research geophysicist Eric Geist is the lead scientific editor of a compilation of 25 papers on tsunamis, published by Springer as a special issue of Pure and Applied Geophysics (December 2016) and as a book (April 2017). Tsunami science has expanded significantly since the 26 December 2004 Sumatra tsunami killed approximately 230,000 people along the coasts of 14 countries in the Indian Ocean, and the 11 March 2011 Tohoku (Great East Japan) tsunami killed almost 20,000 people and destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The book, which is volume 1 of the journal’s topical issue “Global Tsunami Science: Past and Future,” highlights tsunami research by scientists around the world. The papers cover tsunami hazard and risk assessment, new methods for tsunami warning and detection, new methods for modeling tsunami hydrodynamics, and the generation of tsunamis by landslides and meteorological disturbances. Contact: Eric Geist,, 650-329-5457. See a larger version of the photo shown here, taken after the Sumatra tsunami of 2004.posted: 2017-06-13

Photograph of Charles Lester, Patrick Barnard, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, and Gary Griggs.USGS coastal geologist discusses sea-level-rise impacts in roundtable organized by Congressman Jimmy Panetta

Patrick Barnard, coastal geologist with the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, joined University of California-Santa Cruz professor Gary Griggs, UCSC researcher and former executive director of the California Coastal Commission Charles Lester, and Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) for a roundtable discussion of sea-level rise impacts. Barnard leads the USGS Climate Change Impacts to U.S. Pacific and Arctic Coasts project. He explained how accelerated sea-level rise is likely to affect communities on California’s coast. Panetta, whose district includes the coasts of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, organized the roundtable to discuss the causes of sea-level rise, issues associated with sea-level rise, and ways to address the problem in his district and nationwide. The roundtable took place at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories on June 1. Contact: Patrick Barnard,, 831-460-7556posted: 2017-06-13

Scientists from National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards gave presentations at the 2017 JALBTCX Airborne Coastal Mapping and Charting Workshop

Kara Doran and Justin Birchler presented on data, science, and tools of the Coastal Marine Hazards and Resources Program (CMHR) National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH) project at the 18th annual Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) Airborne Coastal Mapping and Charting Workshop. In addition, they met with researchers from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to collaborate on interagency efforts to establish routine procedures for beach morphology feature extraction from lidar. JALBTCX research and development supports and leverages work in government, industry, and academics to advance airborne lidar and coastal mapping and charting technology and applications. The 18th annual Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) Airborne Coastal Mapping and Charting Workshop, held in Savannah, GA, June 6–8.

posted: 2017-06-08

Elevated water levels on Madeira Beach, along the west-central coast of Florida, as predicted by the USGS Total Water Level viewer (top) and observed by USGS video camera (bottom) on January 22, 2017.As Hurricane Season Opens, USGS Is Ready

As the 2017 hurricane season opens, USGS scientists are ready with new tools and data. Our interactive Total Water Level Viewer predicts the timing and height of water levels at select locations along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines. These advances help forecasters, emergency managers, coastal communities and homeowners prepare for coastal storm impacts and reduce risk in advance of the storm.

Learn more about the USGS' hurricane research and response:

posted: 2017-06-02

USGS USGS maps, measures huge landslide on California's Big Sur coast

USGS scientists analyzing before-and-after air photos have calculated the size of the May 20 landslide on California’s Big Sur coast, about 140 miles south of San Francisco. They are sharing their information with California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) engineers assessing the slide. Preliminary calculations indicate that the landslide moved approximately 2 million cubic meters of material, enough to fill 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It buried State Highway 1 more than 20 meters (65 feet) deep and added more than 50,000 square meters (about 13 acres) of new land to the coast. USGS scientists shot air photos of the Big Sur coast in March and May 2017. Using “structure-from-motion” software, they transformed these and earlier photos into 3D maps that allow them to precisely measure areas and changes in ground elevation. They plan to keep monitoring the slide area via weekly airplane flights and, starting in June, drone flights.

Watch an animation of USGS computer-generated "before" and "after" images at Big Sur landslide. Red areas are lower, blue/purple higher. For additional information and images, please visit the USGS Remote Sensing Coastal Change website, or contact Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569.posted: 2017-06-01

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