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News Briefs

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text USGS Tracks How Hurricane Floodwaters Spread Non-Native Freshwater Plants and Animals

April 23—Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate may have spread non-native freshwater plants and animals into new water bodies, where some of them can disrupt living communities or change the landscape. To help land managers find and manage these flood-borne newcomers, scientists at the USGS have created four online maps, one for each hurricane. “As the rivers carried Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters downstream, a freshwater area developed along the Gulf Coast,” said biologist Pam Fuller, the leader of USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program. “Normally the Gulf acts as a saltwater barrier that blocks freshwater species. But that barrier was temporarily gone, and freshwater aquatic species could move into new habitats.” More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/usgs-tracks-how-hurricane-floodwaters-spread-non-native-freshwater-plants-and-animals

text USGS Rolls Out Groundbreaking Earthquake Study: The HayWired Earthquake Scenario

April 18—The USGS, along with approximately 60 partners, released a new fact sheet that summarizes a larger study of what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area along the Hayward Fault—arguably one of the most urbanized and interconnected areas in the nation. “The USGS and its partners have worked together to anticipate the impacts of a hypothetical M7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault, before it happens, so that people can use the latest science in their efforts to become even better prepared,” said Ken Hudnut, USGS Science Advisor for Risk Reduction and one of the lead authors of the report. The newly released USGS Fact Sheet, “The HayWired Earthquake Scenario—We Can Outsmart Disaster,” provides a concise overview of what will be a multi-volume report. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/usgs-rolls-out-groundbreaking-earthquake-study-haywired-earthquake-scenario

text Documentary About Sea-Level Rise Threatening the Republic of the Marshall Islands Features USGS Findings

April 13—USGS research in the Republic of the Marshall Islands forms part of the scientific foundation of an interactive documentary released April 6 by PBS Frontline. “The Last Generation” profiles three children whose homeland in the Marshall Islands could become uninhabitable during their lifetimes. The producers incorporated information from interviews with research geologist Curt Storlazzi, who leads the USGS project “The Impact of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on Pacific Ocean Atolls that House Department of Defense Installations.” Studies by Storlazzi and his colleagues show that the combined effects of climate change—particularly sea-level rise, storm-wave overwash, and reduced rainfall—could make living and working on atoll islands in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and elsewhere nearly impossible as early as 2035. More: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/documentary-about-sea-level-rise-threatening-republic-marshall-islands-features-usgs

text New Control Methods Can Help Protect Coral Reefs from Invasive Species

March 29—Control efforts such as the removal of shipwrecks and application of chlorine may help mitigate the damaging effects of corallimorph, which is a type of invasive anemone, on valuable coral reefs in the Central Pacific Ocean, according to a new USGS study. “Coral reefs are home to a significant diversity of marine life, provide valuable economic and environmental services to millions of people, buffer shorelines from erosion and waves, and can serve as a resource for the development of new medicines,” said Thierry Work, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the study. At the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Central Pacific, researchers found corallimorphs expanding and smothering otherwise pristine coral reefs in an area near a shipwreck. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/new-control-methods-can-help-protect-coral-reefs-invasive-species

text Seismic Event Devastated Kaʻū 150 Years Ago

March 29—This week marks 150 years since the largest earthquake to strike Hawaiʻi in the last two centuries. Estimated to have been at least magnitude 7.9, this earthquake struck near Pāhala in the Kaʻū District of the Island of Hawaiʻi on April 2, 1868. Known as the great Kaʻū earthquake, the event had the same maximum intensity as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It was felt as far away as Kauaʻi and stopped clocks on Oʻahu. In Kaʻū, the destruction was nearly total. A tsunami, consisting of at least eight waves over several hours, was estimated to be more than 6 m (20 ft) high in Kaʻū. The waves caused damage from South Point (Kalae) to Cape Kumukahi (Kapoho), destroyed more than 100 structures, and took 47 lives. More: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1358

text Tracking the Movement of Sediment and Contaminants from Northern California Wildfire Areas to San Francisco Bay

March 28—USGS research geologist Renee Takesue of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center collected 20 sediment samples from Sonoma Creek and Napa River north of San Francisco Bay on March 17. Working with Takesue was Brett Tipple, associate project scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. They will analyze the samples for sediment and contaminants released after the October 2017 Atlas and Nuns wildfires in northern California. Wildfires can exacerbate erosion and runoff of sediment and toxic debris. Contaminants delivered to San Francisco Bay with post-fire runoff could negatively impact San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and local marsh-restoration projects. Takesue and Tipple will use geochemical fingerprinting to track the dispersal of post-fire runoff in these sensitive nearshore environments. More: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/tracking-movement-sediment-and-contaminants-northern-california-wildfire-areas-san

text Mapping Beach Changes After Devastating Montecito Debris Flows

March 26—During the week of March 26, scientists from the USGS began four days of mapping selected beaches and the adjacent seafloor in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Results will be compared to surveys from last fall to highlight changes due to winter waves, and to sediment inputs from area streams. The study area includes Montecito, California, which was devastated on January 9 by debris flows that killed 21 people. USGS scientists are measuring beach topography and seafloor bathymetry in this area to better understand long-term coastal changes. The researchers will use precision GPS units on backpacks and on an all-terrain vehicle for beach surveys, and personal watercraft equipped with GPS and sonar for bathymetry surveys. This will be the first comprehensive beach and nearshore survey since the Montecito debris flows reached the ocean on January 9, which was the first major sediment input to Santa Barbara beaches since 2005. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/mapping-beach-changes-after-devastating-montecito-debris-flows
Also: Unique Mapping Project Underway on South Coast Beaches; May Provide Insight into Storm Impacts http://kclu.org/post/unique-mapping-project-underway-south-coast-beaches-may-provide-insight-storm-impacts

text USGS Scientists Lead Investigation of Tropical Subterranean Estuaries in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

March 20—In partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Moody Gardens, the USGS is leading an investigation of ecosystem dynamics and water quality within subterranean estuaries beneath the jungles of Yucatan Peninsula. The team is trying to understand the biological and hydrological mechanisms that sustain life within thousands of miles of caves within the coastal groundwater of the peninsula. Rapid urbanization and development threaten the well-being of life in this extreme environment and condition of the region's primary water supply. Details: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/usgs-scientists-lead-investigation-tropical-subterranean-estuaries-yucatan-peninsula

For all USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program news, see: https://marine.usgs.gov/news/

For all USGS news, see: https://www.usgs.gov/news

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Cover Story How Will Underwater Mining Affect the Deep Ocean?

News Brief
News Briefs

Field Work
USGS Deploys Oceanographic Gear near Matanzas Inlet, Florida

Recent Fieldwork

Staff amd Center News
Visiting Scientist from Japan Collaborating on Shoreline-Change Research

Modern Perspective on Gas Hydrates

April - May Publications

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