Woods Hole Science Center
South Carolina Coastal Erosion Studies
Shoreline change is a major concern along much of the nation's coastline,
where population growth has rapidly increased in recent decades. Two of
the most important problems are determining the physical response of the
coastline to sea-level rise and predicting the impact of major storm events
on coastal infrastructure. The USGS is working in cooperation with the
State of South Carolina, NOAA Sea Grant, several universities, and the US
Army Corps of Engineers to better understand the factors that control beach
erosion, marine habitat distribution, and vulnerability of coastal
communities to storms and sea-level rise along the northern South Carolina
Walter Barnhardt (email@example.com)
The ultimate vision for this program is to acquire a sophisticated
understanding of the entire coastal system of South Carolina, focusing on
the factors controlling sediment transport in order to predict coastal
change. The main objectives are to: 1. determine the influence of geologic
framework on the evolution of the shoreface, inner shelf, and subaerial
components of the coastal system, 2. quantify the sediment transport links
between the shoreface and the inner continental shelf, and 3. identify
sediment sources and transport pathways and eventually to construct a
regional sediment budget.
Start Date of project:
October 1, 1999
End date of project:
September 30, 2006
Topic of project:
Coastal erosion assessments and loss reduction, Seafloor geology, resources
and the environment
Onshore geology is mapped using boreholes, ground-penetrating radar (GPR),
and vibracores. Seafloor geology is mapped using data from interferometric
and multibeam sonars (swath bathymetry), sidescan sonar (acoustic
backscatter), chirp seismic-reflection profiling (stratigraphy and
structure), direct sampling and bottom photography/video. Process-oriented
studies deploy instrument packages on the seafloor to measure oceanographic
processes (waves, currents, etc) and define large-scale, long-term trends
in circulation and transport.
The geologic mapping component of the project indicates a complex geologic
framework in which differential erosion of older, underlying units have
heavily influenced the evolution of the region, exerting control over the
locations of river systems and tidal inlets, modern depositional patterns,
and areas of chronic erosion. Results from the mapping were immediately
useful in identifying new aggregate resources for planned beach nourishment
projects, and providing new baseline maps for ongoing biological habitat
studies within the region. Based upon observations from geologic mapping
and shoreline erosion/accretion rates, numerical models of shoreline
behavior have been tested and supplemented by quantitative measurements of
the physical processes that drive inner-shelf circulation and sediment
transport. These are requisite components needed to develop quantitative
sediment budgets for the Long Bay coastal system and, ultimately, to
improve predictive capabilities that will support management decisions.
- Warner, J.C., G. Voulgaris, D. Hanes, K. Haas, P.Work, P., C. Sullivan, "Three dimensional circulation model in LongBay, South Carolina"
- Baldwin, W.E., Morton, R.A., Denny, J.F., Dadisman, S.V., Schwab, W.C., Gayes, P.T., and Driscoll, N.W., 2004, Stratigraphic framework maps of South Carolina's Long Bay from Little River Inlet to Winyah Bay: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 04-1013, 30 p.
- Baldwin, W.E., Morton, R.A., Putney, T.R., Kautna,M.P., Harris, M.S., Gayes, P.T., Driscoll, N.W., Denny, J.F., andSchwab, W.C., 2006, Migration of the Pee Dee River system inferred fromancestral paleochannels underlying the South Carolina Grand Strand andLong Bay inner shelf: Geological Survey of America Bulletin, v. 118,no. 5/6, p. 533-549.
- Barnhardt,W., Denny, J., Baldwin, W., Schwab, W., Morton, R., Gayes, P., andDriscoll, N., 2007, Geologic framework of the Long Bay inner shelf:Implications for coastal evolution in South Carolina, Proceedings ofCoastal Sediments '07, May 2007, New Orleans, LA, 13 p. (in press).
- Bernstein, D.F., Freeman, C., Forte, M.F., Gayes, P.T., Park, J and Mitasova, H., 2003, Survey Design Analysis for three-dimensional mapping of beach and nearshore morphology: in Davis, R. and Howd, P., Coastal Sediments 03, American Society of Civil Engineers, St. Petersburg, FL (in press)
- Denny, J.F., Baldwin, W.E., Schwab, W.C., Warner, J.C., and DeVoe, M.R., 2005, South Carolina coastal erosion study: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2005-3041, 4 p.
- Denny, J.F., Baldwin, W.E., and others, 2007, Morphology and Texture ofModern Sediments on the Inner Shelf of South Carolina's Long Bay fromLittle River Inlet to Winyah Bay: US Geological Survey Open-File Report2005-1345.
- Eiser, William C.,1996-2006 (11 annual reports). South Carolina¿s Annual State of theBeaches Report. South Carolina Department of Health and EnvironmentalControl, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM).
- Gayes, P.T., Schwab, W.C., Driscoll, N.W., Morton, R.A., Baldwin, W.E., Denny, J.J., Wright, E.E., Harris, M.S., Katuna, M.P. and Putney, T.R, 2003, Sediment Dispersal pathways and conceptual sediment budget for a sediment starved embayment: Long Bay: in Davis, R. and Howd, P., Coastal Sediments 03, American Society of Civil Engineers, St. Petersburg, FL
- Gayes, P.T., Schwab, W.C., and Eiser, W.C., 2002, An integrated approach to assessing natural and constructed beach systems: The South Carolina coast, U.S.A., in, Brunn, P., ed., Port Engineering, 5th edition, Butterworth (Elsevier), 5 p.
- Gayes, P.T., Schwab, W.C., and Eiser, W.C., 2003, SC coastal erosion study: Merging beach profiles and regional sea floor mapping: Applications for baselines, beach renourishment and understanding coastal vulnerability: NOAA Shoreline Change Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research Special Publication
- Gutierrez, B.T., Voulgaris, G., and Work, P.A.,2006. Cross-shore variation of wind-driven flows on the inner shelf inLong Bay, South Carolina, United States. J. of Geophys. Research, v.111, C03015, doi:10.1029/2005JC003121, 2006.
- Harris, M.S., Gayes, P.T., Kindinger, J.L., Flocks, J.G., Krantz, D.E., and Donovan, P., 2005, Quaternary geomorphology and modern coastal development in response to an inherent geologic framework: An example from Charleston, South Carolina: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 21, p. 49-64
- Langley, S.K., C.R. Alexander, Bush, D.M. and C.W. Jackson, 2003, Modernizing shoreline change analysis in Georgia using topographic survey sheets in a GIS environment: Journal of Coastal Research, SI 38, p. 168-177.
- Ojeda, G.Y., Gayes,P.T., Van Dolah, R.F., and Schwab, W.C., 2004, Spatially quantitative seafloor habitat mapping: example from the northern South Carolina inner continental shelf: Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 59, p. 399-416.
- Putney, T.R., Katuna, M., and Harris, M.S., 2004, Subsurface stratigraphy and geomorphology of the Grand Strand, Georgetown, and Horry Counties, South Carolina: Southeastern Geology, v. 42, No. 4 p. 217-236.
- Scott, D.B., Collins, E.C., Gayes, P.T., and Wright, 2003, Records of pre-historic hurricanes on the South Carolina coast based on micropaleontological and sedimentological evidence with comparison to other Atlantic coast records: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 115, p. 1027-1039.
August 27, 2009