Coastal & Shallow Sea Systems (February 19 & 21)

The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program maintains an extensive set of webpages. One of the most interesting for coastal geology covers the coastal damage produced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including impressive lidar images of pre- and post-hurricane coastal changes in three dimensions. El Niño is a climatic state which greatly affects coastal processes, especially on the west coast of the USA; on this topic you might want to see the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean website from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You may enjoy looking at surf webcams to escape this cold Ohio winter! Here’s a “documentary” on waves and surfing.

We now know much about tsunamis and their often tragic effects. The Tsunami Information Website from NOAA has tsunami graphics and simulations. The PBS webpage on tsunamis has graphic stories and a small animation. You will want to read about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

When it comes to understanding the difference between spring and neap tides, you can’t beat this simple animation by James Irwin which I will use in class (if I can just figure out how to slow it down). There is a nice barrier island panorama and other images from the coast of North Carolina on this website from Steve White. You can also look at some beach profile animations on Long Island produced by geologists at Hofstra University.

Sediment plume from DeGeerladen, south shore of Isfjorden, Svalbard, Norway. (Click image for larger view.)

Geology in the News –

The insect apocalypse is upon us. We are in the midst of a terrible Mass Extinction equivalent to some of the worst we’ve seen in the fossil record. Insect losses signal ecosystem collapse. Yikes.

Hummingbirds, little sweet hummingbirds, have a fantastic evolutionary history of violent competition with their elaborate beaks. This is a well-written and illustrated account in the New York Times.

It’s not very often we see evidence of cancer in the fossil record. Recently a leg bone of one of the earliest turtles (Triassic) was found to show signs of bone cancer. Most unusual.

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