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Brothers, Laura Research Geologist, Coastal/Shelf Geology

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The coastal zone and outer continental shelf contain many resources and are subject to a multitude of competing uses. Currently over one third of the nation’s population lives in coastal shoreline counties and this fraction is projected to grow within the next decade. In addition, resource recovery and development efforts (e.g., wind and tidal power, turbine and pilings placement, energy exploration and distribution infrastructure, fishing grounds and sand resources) continue to escalate along the entire continental shelf. Erosion, impacts of severe storms and hurricanes, shoreline change related to sea-level rise threaten human capital and infrastructure. Uncertainty regarding the frequency and distribution of potential hazards and resources endangers coastal communities and inhibits sound development. Managers and scientists often lack the information that resolves sediment abundance, seafloor or shallow geohazards (e.g. scour, natural gas), sea-level histories, substrate heterogeneity and other regionally variable characteristics that impact the Nation’s use of this region. By collecting and interpreting geologic data on a regional-scale we can characterize an area’s associated resources and potential hazards and begin to quantify the processes that shape the continental shelf and link it to coastal evolution.

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