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Multipronged Scientific Assault on North Carolina's Outer Banks

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Rotosonic-drilling rig set up adjacent to dunes south of Avon, NC
Drill rig: Rotosonic-drilling rig set up adjacent to dunes south of Avon, NC.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists from Woods Hole, MA, and their collaborators landed on the beaches of North Carolina in April to implement two more pieces of ongoing efforts to understand the evolution and modern dynamics of the State's extensive barrier-island system, including its hydrogeology.

Stormy conditions provided the perfect weather for shoreline-erosion studies conduced by Jeff List, Peter Ruggiero, and collaborator Bill Birkemeier of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Field Research Facility at Duck, NC. John Bratton and other scientists working with a contract drilling crew were less enthusiastic about the storm, which slowed (and even stopped for 1 day) their subsurface sampling efforts on the islands.

The rotosonic-drilling team recovered almost 900 ft of sediment cores from six sites, including one mainland site, and measured the salinity of 130 pore-water samples. Beth Wrege and other USGS scientists from offices in North Carolina and Reston, VA, conducted gamma logging of each hole and installed monitoring wells at several sites.

Other participants in the drilling program included Bill Hoffman and Bob Brooks (North Carolina Geological Survey); Reide Corbett, Lance Tully, and Irene Abbene (East Carolina University); and an excellent drilling crew from Boart Longyear. Additional chemical analyses are being performed on pore-water samples at East Carolina University.

Rob Thieler (USGS, Woods Hole) is organizing a workshop scheduled for June to study and sample the split sediment cores, which are stored at the North Carolina Geological Survey's Coastal Plain Office in Raleigh.

Core sections recovered from the Rodanthe, NC, drillsite USGS bathymetric-surveying systems - detector-equipped wave-runners mounted with four-wheeled undercarriages
Above left: Core sections recovered from the Rodanthe, NC, drillsite awaiting transport back to the North Carolina Geological Survey repository in Raleigh.

Above right: USGS bathymetric-surveying systems used by Peter Ruggiero and crew to measure cross-shore profiles during coastal-erosion research in North Carolina.

The shoreline-erosion team was fortunate to have a week of perfectly calm weather immediately before the big storm. Prestorm studies focused on a 27-km-long section of coast from Southern Shores to Nags Head. The scientists measured shoreline position with the USGS' SWASH (Surveying Wide-Area Shorelines) system and measured 121 cross-shore profiles with a combination of the U.S. Army Corps' amphibious LARC (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo) Survey System and the USGS' bathymetric-surveying system employing personal watercraft.

The 4-day storm commenced the day after the profiles were finished, ending with 40- to 50-knot winds and 4.5-m waves. Storm surveys with the SWASH system revealed typical patterns of hotspots and coldspots of erosion. Along with wave data from temporary gauges deployed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, these data will be used to examine the association between prestorm nearshore morphology and the response of the subaerial beach to storms.

Related Web Sites
SWASH: Surveying Wide-Area Shorelines
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
LARC (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo) Survey System
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
North Carolina Geological Survey
North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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North Carolina's Outer Banks

Research Gulf of Mexico Contaminants

Nutrient Enrichment in Florida Springs

Outreach Gulf Region: Subsidence, Fault Activation, and Wetland Loss

Future of Natural Gas

Icelandic Language Lecture

Massachusetts Marine Educators Weekend

University of New Hampshire Lectures

Earth Day Celebration

Florida Oceans Day

Museum Exhibit on Natural Disasters

Meetings Phytotechnologies Workshop

West-Central Florida Evapotranspiration

Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration

Web-Site Data Base Demonstration

Staff & Center News St. Petersburg Bloodmobile

Patent Plaque Presentation

Publications El Niño Article

June Publications List

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