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North Carolina Coastal Sedimentary System Cruises

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This summer provided excellent weather for fieldwork in North Carolina, with two highly successful 18-day cruises conducted by the Woods Hole Field Center in support of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program cooperative Coastal Research Program in North Carolina. The first cruise was from July 1st to 18th aboard the M/V Atlantic Surveyor to map the inner continental shelf using sidescan sonar, swath bathymetry, and both high-resolution CHIRP and boomer seismic systems. The scientific party included Rob Thieler, Jane Denny, Erika Hammar-Klose, Barry Irwin, Dave Nichols, Tom O'Brien, and Chris Polloni (WHFC). The crack team of seafloor mappers took advantage of some great conditions to more than double the mapped area in the study region between Currituck Beach and Rodanthe, NC.

The second 18-day cruise was from August 1st to 18th using the new WHFC boat, R/V Rafael, to acquire high-resolution CHIRP and boomer seismic data in the Albemarle Sound estuarine system. This work helped kick off the first full year of cooperative work between the USGS and Dr. Stan Riggs of East Carolina University. The field party for day-boat operations included Rob Thieler, Dave Nichols, and Barry Irwin. A shore party consisting of Dave Foster and Ann Swift set up a data processing facility at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility at Duck, NC, to process and archive the data generated each day. Although Albemarle Sound is widely known among boaters as a rather inhospitable body of water, the cruise saw over a week of slick calm conditions. When the weather did deteriorate, however, the R/V Rafael could be relied on for a safe and comfortable ride back to the dock. Rafael's transit speed (35 kt) also made for quick access to remote parts of the Sound, allowing more data to be collected each day.

These cruises are part of a larger cooperative project to map the regional coastal sedimentary system of northern North Carolina. The USGS, North Carolina Geological Survey, East Carolina University, and other academic collaborators began the project in 1999. Overall objectives are to:

  • provide a regional synthesis of the geologic framework of the estuaries, barrier islands, and inner shelf;

  • assess potential offshore aggregate resources by developing a series of maps of sediment deposits and surface distribution patterns;

  • compare conceptual models of inner-shelf sediment transport with barrier-island behavior identified using SWASH and LIDAR surveys and corehole data;

  • identify sediment-transport patterns and investigate the roles oceanographic processes and antecedent geology play in controlling coastal evolution and modern behavior of the barrier-island system;

  • make these map products, data, and interpretations available to collaborators and stakeholders such as the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers and State agencies; and

  • identify and conduct studies to further understand the processes controlling sediment flux within the coastal system.

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Moloka'i Coral Reef Monitoring

North Carolina Cruises

California Offshore Oil Seeps

Research Training FWS in Geologic Processes of Coastal Ecosystems

MRIB to Host Digital Library of Gulf of Maine

Meetings Coastal Summit

Coastal Issues at GSA

Dust Transport

Gulf of Mexico Integrated Science

Awards Geographical Honor Society—Larry Handley

Staff & Center News Quenton Smith-Costello: SEPAC

NWRC Seminars

Publications September Publications List

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Updated December 02, 2016 @ 12:09 PM (THF)