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Each year the USGS (National Mapping Division, NMD) holds meetings of its senior leadership at various regional locations to discuss issues of strategic importance to the USGS mission. An objective of these meetings is to seek input from specialists in the selected region concerning problems in the area and potential solutions including science and data needs. This year the seminar, entitled "The Fragile Fringe," focused on coastal issues along the central Gulf coast, was held in Lafayette, LA, and was hosted by the USGS National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC, BRD).
The day prior to the seminar, participants enjoyed an interesting bus tour of the Five Islands region of south Louisiana. The area is named for the linear arrangement of five salt domes that rise as much as 40 m above the surrounding wetlands. The domes are the region's most conspicuous features. The tour was led and narrated by Larry Handley (NWRC) and included stops by the active salt-mining operations on top of the salt-domes, marshes, and the "Home of Tabasco Hot Sauce" atop Avery Island. Following the bus tour, NWRC hosted a Cajun cookout and reception that included all our favorite Cajun dishes (gumbo, sausage, jambalaya, jumbo Gulf shrimp, fish, oysters).
Terry Felkerson (NMD, Rolla) convened the one-day seminar the next morning with welcoming remarks by USGS Director Charles "Chip" Groat. The keynote speaker, a special guest, John M. Barry, author of the best seller Rising Tide, provided a rich overview of the issues facing the lower Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast. Mr. Barry also provided insight into historic coastal events and societal response to these events.
The seminar consisted of two panel discussion groups for four hours each. Panel themes were Coastal Hazards and Coastal Environment Problems. The panel members were invited local, state, federal, and academic representatives from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.
The over-riding theme of the Coastal Hazards Panel was subsidence and the impact of subsidence. Jack Kindinger (St. Pete), being the last speaker of the first panel, finished the morning session with an overview of coastal subsidence and sea-level rise in the U.S. with specific examples from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Jack was able to help tie many of the comments by the previous speakers into one focused prospective.
The afternoon panel focused on specific impacts caused by subsidence and other natural and manmade changes to coastal environments. USGS Associate Director of Science Bonnie McGregor provided an excellent summary of the proceedings to close the seminar.
in this issue: Lake Tanganyika
Nat'l Mapping Leadership
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