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Center News, February 2015

Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History Characterized

Aerial photograph of the Elwha River mouth.

During the first 2 years of dam removal on the Elwha River, approximately 2.4 million cubic meters of sediment was added to the river mouth delta, expanding it seaward by hundreds of meters. Photograph by Neal and Linda Chism, volunteers with LightHawk (http://www.lighthawk.org/). [Larger version]

Dam removal has become an important management and restoration tool. The largest dam-removal project in U.S. history, on the Elwha River in Washington State, is the focus of federal, tribal, and academic scientists collaborating to characterize its effects. Five papers resulting from this work have been published in the journal Geomorphology. They provide detailed observations about changes in the river’s landforms, waters, and coastal zone during the first 2 years of dam removal, when massive amounts of sediment were eroded from the former reservoirs and transported downstream through the river and to the coast. In addition to restoring salmon runs, the dam removal is renewing the downstream movement of sand, gravel, and wood, which are important to river, estuarine, and coastal habitats.

Links to and titles of the new papers on “Large-scale dam removal on the Elwha River, Washington, USA”:

For more information, contact Jonathan Warrick, jwarrick@usgs.gov, 831-460-7569. Also, read the USGS Newsroom Release from February 18, 2015.

 

Public Lecture on Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History

Photograph of Amy with Josh Logan, working on the Elwha River.

Amy East (left) and Josh Logan used a lidar (light detection and ranging) scanner to collect elevation data along the lower Elwha River, Washington, just before dam removal began in September 2011. These data were compared with data collected after dam removal to document effects on the shape of the river.

Dam removal has become an important management and restoration tool. The largest dam-removal project in U.S. history, on the Elwha River in Washington State, is the focus of federal, tribal, and academic scientists collaborating to characterize its effects. USGS research geologist Amy East presented a public lecture on the Elwha project on February 26, 2015 at the USGS center in Menlo Park, California. She described what happened as the gradual removal of two dams released massive amounts of sediment downstream, causing changes in the river’s landforms, waters, and coastal zone. In addition to restoring salmon runs, the dam removal is affecting river, estuarine, and coastal habitats and providing important lessons for future river-restoration endeavors. For more information, and to watch the video of Amy's talk, visit the USGS Evening Public Lecture Series website: http://online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/ — or contact Amy East, aeast@usgs.gov, 831-460-7533.

Center News, January 2015

USGS Marine Geology Paper Among Most Cited

Oblique aerial photograph showing a storm-deposited gravel ridge complex near the shore and an inland field of tsunami-deposited gravel, mostly boulder size, on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii. Arrows point to individual large boulders.

Oblique aerial photograph showing a storm-deposited gravel ridge complex near the shore and an inland field of tsunami-deposited gravel (mostly boulder size) on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaiʻi. Arrows point to individual large boulders. [Larger version]

The editors of Marine Geology sent Bruce Richmond a certificate in January 2015 recognizing his paper “Recent storm and tsunami coarse-clast deposit characteristics, Southeast Hawaii” (Richmond and others, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2010.08.001) as one of the journal’s three most-cited papers published in 2011 and cited in 2012-2013. Richmond and USGS colleague Bruce Jaffe were coauthors on a second paper among the three most-cited: “New insights of tsunami hazard from the 2011 Tohoku-oki event” (Kazuhisa Goto and others, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2011.10.004). Richmond’s paper resolved a controversy by showing the distinction between coarse-clast deposits formed by storms (mostly ridges) and those formed by tsunamis (mostly fields of isolated clasts). The Goto paper was one of the first to describe deposits from the devastating 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami in Japan and presented data suggesting that previous estimates of paleotsunamis in the region have been underestimated. For more information, contact Bruce Richmond, brichmond@usgs.gov, 831-460-7531.

 

USGS Virtual “Flight” Over San Francisco Bay Floor Featured by Sailing Magazine

Screenshot from USGS video titled, Fly Over the Seafloor of San Francisco Bay.

Screenshot from USGS video “Fly Over the Seafloor of San Francisco Bay” at http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/536.

A USGS video that takes viewers on a virtual “flight” over the floor of San Francisco Bay was featured in January 2015 on the website of Latitude 38, a sailing and marine magazine*. Peter Dartnell of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center created the video from bathymetric data collected by the USGS, NOAA, and California State University, Monterey Bay. Published on the USGS website in 2009 (http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/536), the video continues to attract and educate viewers. For more information, contact Peter Dartnell, pdartnell@usgs.gov, 831-460-7415.

*The January 2015 issue of Latitude 38 can be found at: http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2015-01-12

 

Future Wave and Wind Effects on Pacific Islands

Map showing the locations of the 25 modeled points within the tropical Pacific Ocean used in this study.

Map showing the locations of the 25 modeled points within the tropical Pacific Ocean used in this study. [Larger version]

According to a new USGS report, climate changes during the 21st century are expected to alter the highest waves and strongest winds across U.S. and U.S.-affiliated islands in the Pacific Ocean. Wave and wind processes drive flooding of coastal land, potentially damaging islands’ infrastructure, fresh-water supplies, and natural resources, and harming federally protected species such as nesting seabirds. Scientists from USGS and the University of California, Santa Cruz, used computer models to look at how climate change will affect wave heights, periods, and directions, and wind speed and direction. Their detailed calculations will be useful for managers developing coastal resilience plans or ecosystem restoration efforts, and for engineers designing future infrastructure. This research was supported by the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (http://piccc.net/). USGS Open-File Report 2015-1001 is posted at http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151001. For more information, contact Curt Storlazzi, cstorlazzi@usgs.gov, 831-460-7521.

 

Center News, December 2014

VIPs Learn about Climate Change Impacts along San Francisco’s Outer Coast

Photo of Patrick, Mayor Ed Lee, Secretary Jewel, and others above Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

USGS research geologist Patrick Barnard, far left, leads VIPs on a field trip on the cliffs above Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Standing, left to right beside Patrick and in the foreground, are San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, New York Times reporter Ken Chang, and Acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball. Ocean Beach's narrow stretch of coast is exposed to the brunt of the North Pacific Ocean wave climate. Photo courtesy of Tami Heilemann. [Larger version]

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee took part in a coastal climate change field trip led by USGS research geologist Patrick Barnard on December 18, 2014. The field trip visited two beaches along the outer coast of the San Francisco Peninsula that are within the most rapidly eroding stretch of California’s coast. Erosion is currently driven primarily by human influences on sand supply, but projected climate-change impacts, including sea-level rise and extreme storms, will increase the vulnerability of this urbanized coast to beach erosion, cliff failures, and coastal flooding, posing threats to private and public infrastructure, including a state highway and a $1.2-billion wastewater-treatment plant. The USGS has been active in understanding the various coastal processes that control this important section of coastline. For more information, contact Patrick Barnard, pbarnard@usgs.gov, 831-460-7556.

See more photographs from the field trip.

Learn more about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's climate change studies.

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