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News Archive

News Archive - stories from November 2016.

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

SPCMSC scientist talks to families at the 2016 Great American Teach-InUSGS staff participate in the 21st annual Great American Teach-In

The Great American Teach-In, sponsored by Duke Energy since 1994, is part of Pinellas County Schools' annual American Education Week Celebration. The event encourages members of the community to visit Pinellas County schools for an hour, a few class periods, or an entire school day to share with students details of their careers or to teach a class. Students are exposed to new concepts and gain an understanding of the many career choices that are available. Kira Barrera, Ilsa Kuffner, Joe Long, BJ Reynolds, and Dave Thompson represented the USGS visiting four schools and presenting to 645 kindergarten through 8st grade students their work on climate change and its impacts, scientific diving, and coastal hazards and change.

posted: 2016-12-01

Top photo, Visitors on Santa Monica Pier look through Owls, virtual-reality viewers. Photo courtesy of USC Sea Grant. Bottom photo, View through the Owl: At today’s sea level, a big storm together with a high tide could cover almost the entire beach.Visualizing sea-level rise in Santa Monica, California

Visitors to the Santa Monica Pier in southern California can now see what the beach might look like when future storms and sea-level rise raise water levels. Two virtual-reality viewers, named “Owls” for their distinctive appearance, show the projected extent of flooding by a big storm at high tide, by sea-level rise, and by both together. The projections come from the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS). The viewers also show how communities can adapt to sea-level rise through nature-based coastal-planning projects, such as enhanced dunes. The City of Santa Monica developed the Owls (one ADA-accessible) in partnership with the USGS, Owlized, and the USC Sea Grant program. The Owls will operate from November 7, 2016, to January 7, 2017; a public celebration was held November 16 to coincide with “King” high tides. View more photographs on our Facebook page: USGS Coastal and Ocean Science; or view a larger version of the photos shown here. Contact: Juliette Finzi Hart,, 424-241-2457.posted: 2016-11-28

Screenshot of Janet Watt from CBS This Morning news segment. Copyright CBSCBS This Morning features USGS scientists studying link between earthquake faults near San Francisco, California

A camera crew from CBS This Morning visited the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center on November 10, 2016, to interview Janet Watt about her discovery of a connection between the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults, two of the most hazardous earthquake faults in California’s San Francisco Bay area. In addition to a sit-down interview, they filmed Watt and her team—Mary McGann, Katie Maier, and Tom Lorenson—processing sediment cores collected along the fault beneath San Pablo Bay. CBS News correspondent Mireya Villareal asked about what led to the discovery, what it means for Bay Area earthquake hazards, and how the team plans to use microfossils from the cores to date movement on the newly discovered fault strand. View the segment, which aired November 18. Contact: Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565.posted: 2016-11-28

Photo of tripod holding instruments and cameras used to measure and study aspects of sediment movement in and around the reef.New video highlights major coral reef study by USGS and Australian scientists

A new video, “Breaking Down Reefs, Building Up Beaches,” follows coral reef experts from the USGS and the University of Western Australia as they conduct the largest-ever hydrodynamic study of how coral reefs shape coasts. The scientists spent two weeks in May 2016 installing instruments to measure currents and sediment movement in and around Australia’s largest fringing reef, in the Ningaloo Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site, Western Australia. Over the next two months, the instruments collected massive amounts of data that will give scientists great insight into the protective role of reefs and will help the USGS forecast what could happen to U.S. fringing reefs in the face of climate change and sea-level rise. View the video. Contact: Curt Storlazzi,, 831-460-7521.posted: 2016-11-28

Computer-generated, three-dimensional graphic of western Santa Barbara Channel showing seafloor surface, sediment layers beneath the seafloor, landslides and long crack in seafloor, and a gas seep location.Looking for causes of underwater landslides near Santa Barbara

From September 11 to October 5, 2016, USGS scientists used high-resolution sonar to map the seafloor and image bubbles from natural gas seeps near Santa Barbara, California. They also collected high-resolution seismic profiles of sub-seafloor sediment layers. They are investigating the causes and history of underwater landslides, which can damage offshore oil platforms and pipelines, and generate local tsunamis. The scientists worked from two research vessels: the R/V Snavely (USGS) and the R/V Shearwater (NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary). They will combine the new data with older data to evaluate changes in seafloor topography and to map active faults, old and new landslides, and oil and gas pathways that could weaken slopes and set them up for future slides. The team plans to present preliminary results at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting in December. Contact: Jared Kluesner,, 831-460-7547.

Graphic shows a three-dimensional view of western Santa Barbara Channel. Rainbow colors are seafloor surface, with red for shallowest depths. Cutaway is vertical view (seismic profile) of sediment layers (red lines) beneath the seafloor. Note landslides (far end) and long crack in seafloor. Gas seep location is based on sonar mapping of bubbles in the water column. View a larger version of the graphic in a new window.

Learn more on the USGS project page, "Underwater Landslides off Southern California."

posted: 2016-11-21

A happy child sits astride the jet ski at the St. Pete Science FestUSGS a Silver Sponsor of the 6th Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival

The St. Petersburg Coastal Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) and Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (WARC) represented the USGS at the 6th annual St. Petersburg Science Festival, October 21–22, 2016. Six exhibits were presented over the two-day festival highlighting USGS research; including corals, microfossils and paleoclimate, food webs, Lidar, seafloor mapping, and coastal hazards and change. Over 33 USGS personnel participated in the event which engaged approximately 1,000 school children on the Friday school day and a record of 25,000 attendees on Saturday.

posted: 2016-11-17

USGS researchers to host Hurricane Matthew webinar for Congressional staffers

On Thursday November 17, the USGS is hosting a Hurricane Matthew webinar for Congressional staffers. Brian McCallum (Hydrologist, South Atlantic Water Science Center), Geoff Plumlee (Research Geochemist, AD for Environmental Health), and Hilary Stockdon (Research Oceanographer, SPCMSC) will provide an update on the USGS response to Hurricane Matthew. Topics include the rapid water level gauge deployment, coastal erosion forecasts, and environmental health research. They will discuss how USGS worked with NOAA and FEMA to help emergency managers prepare for the hurricane, what was done to measure water levels during the hurricane, and how USGS is assessing storm impacts and preparing for future extreme weather events.

posted: 2016-11-17

USGS scientist selected as judge for the $7 Million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE

Christina Kellogg (Research Microbiologist) from the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) will travel to San Diego November 13–17, 2016 for the judging summit to begin the next phase of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition. This $7 million global competition is challenging teams to advance deep-sea technologies for autonomous, fast, and high resolution ocean exploration (visit

posted: 2016-11-09

USGS marsh sediment transport study at Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Kathryn Smith (Ecologist, SPCMSC), Nicole Khan (Research Geologist, SPCMSC), and Chelsea Stalk (research assistant, SPCMSC) installed field sampling devices to examine marsh sediment transport at four marsh sites in Grand Bay NERR, Mississippi. In addition, eight marsh sediment cores were collected to expand on an existing marsh sediment and carbon database for the Northern Gulf of Mexico. This research is being conducted in conjunction with estuarine circulation and sediment transport studies by WHCMSC scientists, Dan Nowacki, Steven Suttles, and Neil Ganju. The study will further scientific understanding of shoreline erosion and marsh sedimentation, as well as elucidate the fate of carbon in estuaries with rapidly eroding marshes.

posted: 2016-11-03

Photograph of a portion of a crocheted art piece called Medusa.USGS coral expert in wide-ranging panel discussion on “Understanding Coral Reefs”

Research oceanographer Curt Storlazzi (Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center) served as a shallow-water coral expert in a panel discussion titled “Understanding Coral Reefs through Marine Science and Woolly Sculptures.” The free public event took place October 20, 2016, at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Storlazzi was joined by deep-sea coral expert Matt McCarthy of UCSC and science communicator Margaret Wertheim. Wertheim’s projects include Crochet Coral Reef, the largest participatory art/science project in the world. The panel explored the interweaving of science and art, with a focus on coral reefs and the challenges that sea-level rise, climate change, and human-driven stressors pose to their health and sustainability. See a larger version of the photo shown here.

Contact: Curt Storlazzi,, 831-460-7521.

posted: 2016-11-02

Photographs of USGS scientist Janet Watt, left, and the stern of research vessel Retriever, right.Coring the Hayward-Rodgers Creek fault zone in San Pablo Bay, California, to unravel the history of faulting beneath the bay

From October 17-21, 2016, USGS scientists collected 20 core samples of bayfloor sediment along the Hayward-Rodgers Creek fault zone in San Pablo Bay, a northern extension of San Francisco Bay, California. The longest core measures nearly 4 meters. Detailed radiocarbon dating of benthic forams (one-celled microorganisms) in the core samples will aid in unraveling the history of faulting in the bay and constraining the age of the most recent surface-rupturing earthquake along this part of the fault zone. Recent high-resolution acoustic imaging revealed a direct link between the Hayward and Rodgers Creek faults and provided a framework for targeted sampling of offset sediment layers, unconformities, and peculiar gas pockets. See a larger version of the photos shown here.

Contact: Janet Watt,, 831-460-7565.

posted: 2016-11-02

Screen capture from JonTV News Features USGS Use of Historical Photos to Measure Cliff Erosion in San Francisco

USGS geologist Jonathan Warrick appeared in a TV newscast about his use of historical photos to measure cliff erosion at Fort Funston in San Francisco, California. On October 28, 2016, Warrick met Andria Borba of KPIX 5, a CBS affiliate, at Fort Funston. He showed her how easily the cliff crumbles, explained how overlapping photos enabled his team to measure erosion rates, and noted that the results can help scientists forecast future erosion. “Geologists Get 3-D Pictures Of Beach Erosion On California Coast,” aired that night and on the web. A recent press release and journal article by Warrick and others prompted the interview. Contact: Jon Warrick,, 831-460-7569.posted: 2016-11-02

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