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USGS Pleasure Point Study
See: Open-File Report 2007-1270
"High-Resolution Topographic, Bathymetric, and Oceanographic Data for the Pleasure Point Area, Santa Cruz County, California: 2005-2007"
The Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works, the Santa Cruz County Redevelopment Agency and the California Department of Boating and Waterways requested a proposal from the USGS Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team (WCMGT) to provide baseline geologic and oceanographic information on the coast and inner shelf off Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz County, California. To meet these information needs, the USGS proposed a study to collect baseline scientific information on the morphology and waves at Pleasure Point. This study provided high-resolution topography of the coastal bluffs and bathymetry of the inner shelf off East Cliff Drive between 32nd Avenue and 41st Avenue (see map below). Further, USGS documented the spatial and temporal variation in waves at the study site. Although this project did not actively investigate the impacts of the proposed bluff stabilization project, USGS provided the baseline data needed for future studies directed toward predicting the impacts of stabilization on the seacliffs, beach and nearshore sediment profiles, natural rock reef structures, and offshore habitats and resources. Data also provided a basis for calculating potential changes to wave transformations into the shore at Pleasure Point.
Location of the study area between 32nd Avenue and 41st Avenue, Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz County, California.
Summer 2005 - Spring 2006
Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz County, California
The Pleasure Point area in northern Monterey Bay is a complicated coastal setting of sea cliffs and small pocket beaches that are impacted by a variable wave climate due to its south-facing orientation. Spatially- and temporally-variable wave conditions and the complex, shallow, rocky seafloor at this site have restricted comprehensive field surveys in the past. Recent innovations in field techniques and equipment, as well as remote sensing techniques, now make it possible to perform a detailed analysis of the morphology and physical processes operating on this type of complex coastline. Understanding the morphology and waves off Pleasure Point is important because it is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the seacliffs in this area protect infrastructure (road, sewage) that is crucial to the Santa Cruz County. Continuing erosion has threatened this infrastructure, and thus it has become increasingly important to provide scientific data that will allow the various government agencies involved with the Pleasure Point area make the best informed management decisions.
The USGS Pleasure Point Study provided baseline information for future studies of impacts of the proposed East Cliff Drive Stabilization Project. USGS conducted an integrated study to document both the coastal and nearshore morphology and the spatial and temporal variation in waves at the study site. These data were collected by means of three-dimensional beach and seacliff mapping, nearshore bathymetric surveys, video monitoring and oceanographic instrumentation. All of the data conform to NGDC standards and thus can serve as the foundation for any future surveys conducted to investigate change in morphology or processes at the study site. These surveys, initiated in June 2005, are required to determine future long-term impacts by the proposed bluff stabilization project on the study area.
Tasks and SubTasks
Task 1: Mapping
High-resolution maps of the Pleasure Point area were compiled for both the terrestrial and subaqeous parts of the study area from a combination of historical and newly collected data. The morphology of the seacliffs was documented using historic airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data and terrestrial LiDAR data. The bathymetry of the inner shelf was collected using single-beam and multibeam fathometers.
SubTask 1.1: Historical Data
Historic airborne scanning lidar surveys were collected to measure shoreline and seacliff volume changes throughout the study area as a consequence of the 1997-1998 El Niño-influenced winter storms. These data sets provide excellent topographical coverage for determining regional shoreline position and seacliff morphology for comparison with our present survey work.
SubTask 1.2: Terrestrial Lidar
Terrestrial lidar is the newest and most accurate technology being used to monitor coastal bluff stability and has several advantages over aerial scanning. Because ground based lidar scanning is performed horizontally, not only is the point density much higher, but geologic features such as sea caves and wave cut notches are also captured. Current terrestrial lidar scanners also have integrated cameras that allow instantaneous image draping over the digital elevation model. This method is also more cost effective for localized coastal bluff monitoring where more effort can be placed on areas of interest. Current scanners have a range of 360 degrees horizontal and 80 degrees vertical with an accuracy level of 25 millimeters. Volumetric and spatial morphology can then be used to investigate the actual bluff failure mechanism(s). The terrestrial lidar was collected along the Pleasure Point study area to create a high-resolution digital elevation model of the seacliffs of interest. The fieldwork component of this subtask was conducted in late summer 2005 when wave energy was low.
SubTask 1.3: Shallow Nearshore Bathymetry
The historic airborne lidar and the proposed terrestrial lidar were coupled with bathymetric profiles collected using personal watercraft (PWC) with kinematic GPS and echo sounder equipment to create a three-dimensional model of the seacliffs, beach, and shallow nearshore at Pleasure Point. A kinematic GPS base station was set up onshore to measure water depths in real-time with centimeter accuracy. The cross-shore survey lines were run from approximately 0.5 kilometer offshore through the surf zone to depths approaching mean sea level. Along-shore profiles were be run to image cross-shore oriented features, such as subaqeous bedrock ridges often observed in aerial imagery. A higher-resolution bathymetric survey grid along the study area was nested in a coarser grid that extends a few kilometers to both the east and west of the study area to put the high-resolution data collected off Pleasure Point into the context of the region's bathymetric variability. The fieldwork component of this subtask was conducted in early fall 2005 when the equipment was available and wave energy was low.
SubTask 1.4: Deeper Nearshore Bathymetry
A multibeam/side-scan survey was run offshore Pleasure Point, the first ever high-resolution bathymetric survey in this region, to link the shallower PWC surveys with USGS side-scan sonar and single-beam fathometer surveys collected farther offshore in 1996. The new bathymetry collected by the PWC (discussed above) and the multibeam cruise provide baseline data for any future modeling efforts and serve as a valuable resource for Pleasure Point management decisions. The fieldwork component of this subtask was conducted in the spring of 2006 when wave energy and kelp coverage was low.
Task 2: Wave Characterization
The spatial and temporal variation in both the incoming waves and the resulting breaking wave patterns at Pleasure Point area were documented from a combination of in situ instrumentation and remote sensing techniques. The information on the incident wave and current field at the study site were collected by way of oceanographic instrumentation deployed just offshore of the coast. Wave breaking patterns were documented using a web-based camera system.
SubTask 2.1: Temporal Variation in Currents and the Incident Wave Field
An Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) was deployed for several months offshore of Pleasure Point to document the range of wave energy conditions observed over a year. ADCP data provided a vertical profile of current velocity and acoustic backscatter (a proxy for suspended sediment) through the water column along with tide, temperature, and wave (height, period, and direction) information. This sensor allowed the determination of the link between the offshore wave conditions measured by the deep-water NDBC Monterey Bay directional wave buoy and the resulting wave breaking patterns at Pleasure Point imaged by the web-based camera system (see below). This data, in conjunction with the nearshore bathymetry, is crucial if accurate modeling of waves in the study area under a range of scenarios (engineering, climate, etc.) is desired by resource managers in the future. The fieldwork component of this subtask was initiated in fall 2005.
SubTask 2.2: Spatial and Temporal Variation in Breaking Wave Patterns
A web-based camera system was installed to document the patterns of breaking waves across the study area in real-time. The system was comprised of an analog video camera and a digital still camera, housed in a single pan tilt unit, linked to a computer, and controlled remotely from the USGS office in Santa Cruz. This video monitoring made it possible to track wave breaking patterns, track rip channel development, and infer sand bar location(s) under a range of wave conditions. These data were then compared to offshore deep-water offshore wave conditions measured by the deep-water NDBC Monterey Bay directional wave buoy and the USGS ADCP (see above). The fieldwork component of this subtask was initiated in fall 2005.
Read the results in the USGS publication, "High-Resolution Topographic, Bathymetric, and Oceanographic Data for the Pleasure Point Area, Santa Cruz County, California: 2005-2007," Open-File Report 2007-1270