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CMGP Hosts Interagency Workshop: Designing a Template for Syntheses and Geologic Framework Studies of the U.S. Coastal and Marine Regions

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On December 12th, the Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) hosted a multidisciplinary group of scientists and managers in a well-attended one-day workshop at USGS headquarters in Reston, VA. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the 'ins and outs' of a National Coastal Synthesis.

The workshop was the initial response to the National Research Council's Grand Challenge #1-to establish the geologic framework of the U.S. coastal and marine regions. The 2001 CMGP Synthesis and Assessment Project undetook the task of defining content and format of a response to the NRC challenge.

Jeff Williams and Brad Butman (Woods Hole), Jack Kindinger and Gary Hill (St. Petersburg), Steve Eittreim, Bruce Richmond, and Peter Barnes (Menlo Park) comprised the CMGP steering committee. Other participants included representatives of Geologic Division (GD) programs, USGS Divisions, the Director's Office, and DOI bureaus (NPS, MMS, FWS), from whom we sought perspective and advice.

Because the broadest information base possible was desired, representatives from other agencies were invited to give their perspective and experience. These included personnel from Federal agencies with coastal and marine responsibilities (EPA, NOAA/NOS, NOAA/NMFS, USACE, FEMA), as well as representatives from the New England Aquarium, Coastal States Organization, Geological Society of America, Canadian Geological Survey, and the academic research community.

We learned a great deal, not the least of which was affirmation of the NRC challenge. Those in attendance expressed high regard for the CMGP and expectation that the Program would undertake a national framework and synthesis effort. Attendees also noted that this effort would provide support to management, policy and research roles. Within the GD, Energy Resources, the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP), and others acknowledged the NRC and steering committee observations of the significant staff concerns, angst, and avoidance to culture change that will be required to add this capability to our program.

The purpose of seeking perspective and advice from these agencies was to help the CMGP formulate a template for syntheses and framework studies of large sectors of the U.S. continental margins. The committee framed the following questions:

  • What issues should be addressed in syntheses/assessments?

  • What should be the geographic extent (and scale) of "regions?"

  • What standard formats for regional and national reports/maps should we use?

  • What priority should be given to the different regions?

  • How should regional synthesis/assessment build toward a national geologic framework?

USGS staff discussions were held the following day to build on what had transpired the previous day and to formulate a template and plan for implementing the workshop recommendations. A draft statement of our vision of a CMGP synthesis was developed: "A comprehensive set of national standardized and seamless data layers, and interpretations of the geologic framework and processes of the U.S. Coast and EEZ." A draft list of standardized issues and data layers was also compiled. The messages heard from participants, along with those resulting from numerous pre- and post-workshop discussions, are allowing us to move toward committee consensus and a definition of our view of a template.

A report emanating from the workshop will include:

  • What we heard from non-CMGP workshop participants,

  • Initiation of discussions with scientists working on the National Knowledge Bank to develop national data and format standards,

  • Expansion and distillation of synthesis content, i.e., compilation of an expansive list of candidate interpretive and data layers, and

  • Prioritization of recommended specific issues and approaches for management.

Please feel free to call or email any of us on the steering committee if you have questions. We have established a Web site for notes and discussion regarding the workshop: http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/workshops/synworkshop.

Related Web Sites
Coastal & Marine Geology Program Science Workshop
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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