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Spotlight on Sandy

"Team Delmarva" Completes Second Comprehensive Seafloor Mapping off the Delmarva Peninsula



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For 37 days this summer, scientists and engineers primarily from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center mapped the seafloor and sub seafloor of the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) inner continental shelf. This completes the 2-year geophysical mapping component of the Hurricane Sandy Response Project—Linking the Delmarva Peninsula’s Geologic Framework to Coastal Vulnerability. Highlights of the 2015 cruise included outstanding data collection, great teamwork, wonderful weather, and a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rocket launch.

Location map showing the tracklines and grab sample sites of the 2014 and 2015 geophysical surveys offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula.
Above: Location map showing the tracklines and grab sample sites of the 2014 and 2015 geophysical surveys offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula. [larger version]

The Delmarva Peninsula is the 220-kilometer-long headland, spit, and barrier island complex in the Mid-Atlantic consisting of the states Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Parts of this coastline are experiencing some of the highest rates of sea-level rise in the East Coast (visit National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise). In 2012, Hurricane Sandy severely impacted many national assets (for example, Wallops Flight Facility, Assateague Island National Seashore, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge) and coastal municipalities along the Delmarva Peninsula exposing the need for knowledge of the sediment sources, transport pathways, sinks that support the beach and barrier system. Comprehensive inner continental shelf geophysical mapping provides the data essential to fill these knowledge gaps. Similar efforts conducted in New York, North Carolina, South Carolina (visit http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/coastal_change/), California, the northern Gulf of Mexico, and Massachusetts have proven crucial to the assessment of coastal hazards as well as to habitat characterization and identification of cultural resources in those regions.

The M/V Scarlett Isabella towed acoustic instruments
Above: The M/V Scarlett Isabella towed acoustic instruments such as the 512i Chirp subbottom profiler (yellow catamaran) and Edgetech 4100 sidescan sonar (underwater). Also pictured is the winch of the Moving Vessel Profiler. The survey was conducted in water depths of 7 to 33 meters. Resembling a scene from “Finding Nemo,” the vessel accrued ‘hitch hikers’ while surveying close to shore. [larger version]

Aboard the 132-foot motor vessel (M/V) Scarlett Isabella, “Team Delmarva,” consisting of Bill Danforth, Emile Bergeron, Alex Nichols, Chuck Worley, Jackson Curie, Dave Foster, Brian Andrews, Eric Moore, Wayne Baldwin, Seth Ackerman, and Laura Brothers, collected chirp and 16-channel boomer seismic reflection profiles, swath bathymetry, acoustic backscatter data and sediment samples in June-July, 2015. With amazing weather and solid equipment performance, the cruise had only 52 hours of unscheduled down time during the 6-week period. Working 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, in windowless lab vans filled with computers and expertise, the team collected over 5,500 kilometers (km) of geophysical data tracklines. In the last 2.5 days of the cruise, 125 samples and photos of the seafloor were collected.

Big smiles in the acquisition van as researchers watch geophysical data scroll across the screens
Above: Big smiles in the acquisition van as Bill Danforth, Eric Moore, and Alex Nichols watch geophysical data scroll across the screens in real time. [larger version]
A photo taken with a GoPro® Camera attached to a Van Veen grab sampler reveals a seafloor composed of shell hash
Above: A photo taken with a GoPro® Camera attached to a Van Veen grab sampler reveals a seafloor composed of shell hash. [larger version]

While finishing survey work in the Chincoteague Bight the morning of June 25, the M/V Scarlett Isabella was instructed to vacate the vicinity due to a rocket launch at neighboring Wallops Flight Facility. From a safe distance “Team Delmarva” had a clear view of the 6 a.m. launch of the rocket RockOnVIII, a suborbital rocket that carried student experiments. That event, along with the many days at sea continuously collecting and processing data, made the 2015 cruise memorable. The more than 5 terabytes of data collected during the cruise are already being examined and prepared for release and dissemination by Elizabeth Pendleton, Ed Sweeney, and Rob Thieler. Between 2014 and 2015, “Team Delmarva” collected trackline data along a linear distance of 10,000 km over an area of 5,700 square kilometers of the Delmarva inner continental shelf. Already, data from the 2014 survey are in use by regional stakeholders. (For more information about the 2014 survey, see Sound Waves article “USGS Scientists Conduct Comprehensive Seafloor Mapping off the Delmarva Peninsula.”) The successful 2015 survey completes another USGS regional geophysical study that lays the groundwork for understanding coastal response to hazards.


Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Scientists Conduct Comprehensive Seafloor Mapping off the Delmarva Peninsula
September / October 2014

Related Websites
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
USGS
Hurricane Sandy Response Project—Linking the Delmarva Peninsula’s Geologic Framework to Coastal Vulnerability
USGS
California Seafloor Mapping Program
USGS
Geologic Mapping of the Massachusetts Sea Floor
USGS
Geologic and Morphologic Evolution of Coastal Margins
USGS
RockOnVIII
WAVY.com

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in this issue:

Fieldwork
cover story:
Sampling Atlantic Margin Methane Seeps and Plumes

USGS Completes Second Expedition for Atlantic Submarine-Landslide Studies

Spotlight on Sandy
“Team Delmarva” Completes Seafloor Mapping off Delmarva Peninsula

Research
Pathways to the Abyss

Outreach
USGS Residual Oil Research Presented at Two Public Seminars

USGS Hosts USF Oceanography Camp for Girls

USGS Continues Collaboration for Native Youth in Science

USGS Assists in Another Year of Woods Hole Partnership in Education

Staff
New Production Team for Sound Waves

Publications
Oct. / Nov. Publications

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