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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

North Carolina Regional Coastal Erosion Studies

Project Description:

The USGS, the State of North Carolina and university researchers, are mapping the regional sedimentary framework of the inner shelf of northern North Carolina to understand recent coastal processes, including erosion and the impacts of shoreline change. The study area includes communities along the Outer Banks, several national and state parks and refuges, as well as Oregon Inlet, one of the most dynamic inlets on the East Coast and the site of major political controversy for much of the last 30 years because of inlet stabilization strategies. The mapping products will be used to investigate the role that geologic framework and physiography play in the dynamics of coastal evolution and behavior, and to help identify sand resources suitable for beach nourishment.

The objectives of this project are:

1) Provide a regional synthesis of the geologic framework of the inner shelf using sea-floor and coastal mapping techniques. The offshore segment of the study area will be surveyed with high-resolution sidescan-sonar (100% coverage), subbottom profiling, swath bathymetry, and vibracoring systems;

2) Assess potential offshore aggregate resources by developing a series of isopach maps of sediment deposits and surface distribution patterns;

3) Compare conceptual models of inner-shelf sediment transport with adjacent barrier island behavior identified using SWASH, LIDAR surveys and corehole data ;

4) Identify the direction of net sediment transport and investigate the role oceanographic processes and antecedent geology play in controlling coastal evolution and modern behavior of the barrier-island system;

5) Make these mapping products, data, and interpretations available to clients/collaborators; and

6) Identify and conduct studies to further understand the processes controlling sediment flux within the coastal system.

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