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Offshore Aggregates Database and GIS Meeting, 
NY-NJ Area

November 12, 1999
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District Office, Philadelphia, PA

bullet_p.gif (922 bytes)  Purpose of Meeting
bullet_p.gif (922 bytes)  Meeting Summary
bullet_p.gif (922 bytes)  Proposed Metadata format
bullet_p.gif (922 bytes)  Participant Address List


To review databases and GIS developments, in-hand or underway, on offshore aggregate resources, applications, and related environmental and management issues. The objective is to share information being developed by various organizations to foster interaction, and plan cooperative database and GIS products relating to the New York and New Jersey areas. This meeting will be focused on the two-state area. It is expected that this experience in cooperative product development will lead to extension to other parts of the continental margin.


Announcements: Susan Lucas, Chief of Planning Section, USACE Philadelphia District
Charles Chesnutt, USACE HQ: See Philadelphia attendee list
Goals & User needs:
Charles Chesnutt

We need to link users and data developers and explore how to make all data available to everyone. At the August 30 steering committee meeting it was agreed to begin a demonstration project in the NY-NJ area. It has a great need for offshore sediments to restore beaches, as well as need for capping materials for past dumpings. It is the location of activities by many agencies and organizations. It has more Corps of Engineers projects per mile than anywhere else. Insights from a demonstration project on how to work together in mapping, using, and managing offshore sediments could be exported to the rest of the country.

Congressional committees in the past often worked independently, focusing on given lead agencies. Now committees are working more closely together and expect cooperation by federal agencies. The Corps of Engineers is expected to utilize contributions by other agencies.


Lynn Bocamazo, NY District of USACE has extensive analog (undigitized) data from the 1960’s –1995. Since 1995 Coop with USGS has undertaken geophysical surveys of S. Shore LI and inner Bays. These data are digital. The goal is to understand nature & distribution of sediment. About 600 vibracores are available from the S. Shore of Long Island and northern N.J. Up to recently the main resource of specific sediment information was original vibracore work of Jeff Williams and ICONN data (paper). Most data are within 3-mile limit. Adequate sand resources have been identified for southern NY Bight (e.g. Coney Island) but NJ requirements are not fully identified. NY District would like to expand knowledge > 3 miles. A problem is funding to expand database.

Q & discussion: Corps might justify additional work, but a pooled resource approach among agencies has best prospects (Chesnutt); USGS needs specific purposes (justification) for new database efforts (Butman). Money can be saved and value lies in establishing metadata (and contact individuals) for repositories, and links to legacy databases, and agreeing on structures for collection of new data (Pope, Bruzewicz). State agencies, universities, and private users are also interested (Kenny). Intermar (MMS) has attempted to develop cooperation among collectors and users in federal & state waters off South Carolina area (Eric Treml) on: boundary (Rowland). Cindy Fowler & NESDIS is active in this effort. We could use map with metadata on each available database (Chesnutt).

Susan Lucas: Philadelphia District, USACE: 220 million cu yards of sand are needed, whereas, 170 mcy are identified for NJ – Delaware coastal’ requirements. District has utilized GIS with special emphasis on autocad (Brian Marcella, design engineer), but much data remains in analog format. 600 vibracores are available along NJ - Delaware coast, including Delaware Bay; 300-400 miles acoustic survey lines. New contracts require digital format and genocide indexing (including photographs). Most of these are within 3 miles of coast. Most vibracores have been given to Delaware Geological Survey (Newark), which has a refrigerated core repository. There are some funds for technical database development. Some problems, like sediment grain-size classification systems remain pose difficulties for data utilization.

Jane Uptegrove – NJGS. The N.J. Geological Survey has compiled earlier USGS seismic studies, and has actively explored potential offshore aggregate resource tracts. It has worked with Bob Sheridan at Rutgers and students in assessing sediment environments. Current studies include cores taken and worked up since early 1990’s (published 1995). The geological model changes northward. Hundreds of cores are not yet tabulated. ICONN studies remain a significant resource. NJGS has utilized cores from USACE Philadelphia district, thanks to Dan Kelley, and cooperated in biological assessments. NJGS does not have adequate storage capacity. Steve Allen, biologist (USACE) has worked in cooperation with NJGS and built a limited GIS in MapInfo for biological resources (especially benthic communities) on a project-by-project basis to overlay on borrow sites. Shellfish growing areas are a priority concern. MapInfo can be used without extensive GIS training, but permits conversion to ArcInfo and ArcView. Construction of larger integrated database is a challenge, however. Ancillary studies include a 1995 summary published by Stockton State College deliverable to NJ DEP. Zehdra Allen-Lafayette discussed cores and logs, especially work in Townsend Inlet. NJGS uses same subcontractor for well drilling, as does the Philadelphia Corps District. Aubrey Consultants have assisted with wave modelling. Cooperation is maintained with NJ DEP (B. Moore and others).

Discussion: There are commonly difficulties in obtaining funding to put hard-copy data into digital format. For Coney Island we have needs covered for 50 years. NJ has resources for 50 years, as well, but too far away (Bocamazo). Re: "adequate resources for database development", years down the line, are we going to need to know more than we know now? (Pope). Long Island has half its needs identified. New cores are needed. Corps can provide funding to ensure these are collected properly.  Florida has some current sand sources, but recovery is becoming increasingly restricted, or impacted by contamination. This initiative provides ability to amass what we know, and what we need in the future.

Standards are important, and are not guaranteed by software (Inglin). Butman: Documentation (knowing what was done) may be preferable to stipulating that one must perform studies based on given protocols. Old DBASE databases limited field names to 10 characters. Pope: Geotech databases and pockets of technology exist in every organization. We need a cost-effective method for rendering data useful and available, at least what is available. "Here’s what’s available, and here are contacts on how to get it". This would respond to "the Executive Order regarding the Data Clearinghouse". Precedents include regional groundwater model with USGS partner, federal highway coring logs.


Joan Pope, USACE Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC). All Corps of Engineers labs have been consolidated now: For example, the former CERC is now part of the Coastal & Hydraulic lab, Andy Bruzewicz represents the Cold Regions Laboratory (remote sensing). Other labs include Geotechnical and Environmental. Part of the current CH lab task includes geologic framework, identifying borrow sites, and developing sediment transport models for coastal and shallow marine areas. Other tasks include wave hindcasting and other coast-wide information. Specific model include SHOAL, which contains data from the 1850’s on), and ADCIR (Advection & circulation) tide, storm-induced water levels and current fields. CH assists Corps districts in managing offshore drifts and storm effects. It is currently undertaking detailed study of the S. Coast of Long Island, including shoreline change, erosion and accretion. These studies include LIDAR mapping of underwater areas and adjoining land. The DMSMART database incorporates data on shallow and marine water, incorporating all information required to manage dredging and aggregate resource use.

Dave Inglin, SAIC, Newport RI, on contract with USACE: Engaged in Atlantic coast geologic monitoring and data collection as authorized by Congress. Baseline information including sediment data is compiled into a database (DANY), which allows people to view data together with aerial photos and beach profiles. Most data is regional; with emphasis on the south coast of LI. Ungeoreferenced photos are stored in order collected. No immediate plans to place on web, although Corps is committed to collect data and have available for public use. As mentioned above, standards are important to permit reliable interfacing of data. The State of NY was heavily oriented to collect data, but did not spend money to permit effective use of data.

Discussion: Pope: Funding beach profiles 2-x year, for 5 years.

Roger Amato, MMS: Main MMS GIS/ web system is TIMS (technical information management system). This technical database emphasizes drilling, royalty management, mainly oil & gas. It also contains socioeconomic information, environmental information, especially in Gulf of Mexico. It utilizes standard OCS 3x3 mile square blocks, which extend to edge of shelf. It contains little sand and gravel data. When states started running out of sand six years ago they began to put money into aggregate resource potentials. MMS does no in-house research, but contracts research with states. The sand & gravel program began in N.J., at Towson Inlet, and moved upcoast. Since that time programs were developed with MD, Del, VA, N& S. Carolina, FL, Alabama; Most are still active. Each receives a small amount of money matched by the state. The stability of funding has been important. As a small regulatory agency MMS needs finished products rather than just databases. These are desired to include geological information and data in ArcView compatible format. An emerging research issue is deep water frozen gas, a concern of the Dept. of Energy.

Frank Manheim, USGS (EMRT and CMG, Reston VA). The USGS offshore aggregates project has three elements: 1) Design (now completed) and transfer of Atlantic coast legacy sediment databases to a unified relational DB in Microsoft ACCESS (upgradeable in future); 2) compilation of, linkage with, and publication of more comprehensive offshore sediment databases in cooperation with other organizations, and 3); the interagency GIS project. Introduction of B. Butman.

Brad Butman, USGS, CMG Woods Hole. The Woods Hole Coastal & Marine Geology’s NY Bight project emphasizes identifying coastal sand resources and processes, and longterm fate of sediments and associated contaminants. In cooperation with USACE it is mapping the Bight & S. Long Island by means of sidescan sonar mosaicking, high-resolution seismic profiling, and multibeam bathymetry and backscatter mapping. These measurements and sediment texture & bottom photography are used to interpret sediment thickness and dynamics. Synthesis reports and ArcView products are expected by end of FY 2000. Prominent features are sand-wave systems, the Hudson Shelf Valley, and dumped deposits. Butman also displayed a GIS library created cooperatively by many organizations for Massachusetts Bay (Butman and Lindsay, ed., 1999: A Marine GIS Library for Massachusetts Bay, USGS Open-File Report 99-439.) It includes multibeam maps of topography & texture, fish distribution, physical oceanography, coastlines, etc. Data are in Mercator and UTM coordinates. A simple index-card size metadata register employed in the above work attracted interest. The product from "as is" contributions was finished in 6 months. Copies will be available from B. Butman (see address list).


Maureen Kenny: Coast Survey, NOAA. One of the goals of the Spatial Synergy project was to produce seamless bathymetric coverage, and ancillary data (e.g. wrecks, obstructions) in a user-friendly, multi-user GIS. The approach is not limited to ESRI products, but should be viewable in ArcView. A prototype web site is planned for next year. A current focus is cooperative research with USGS in Tampa Bay. Previous bathymetric compilations used all data. The current effort will use most recent data with common datums. It is desired to incorporate 2nd (other government) and 3rd party (private industry) data. Other products include a national shoreline DB. Cindy Fowler and colleagues in South Carolina tie into effort. NOAA data is mean low low water, to be referenced to the ellipsoid. Web site: (Coastal Assessment and Data System).

Discussion: (Chesnutt). Corps has been given authority to prepare new report on erosion, its causes & economic import. Must use NOAA (shoreline & bathymetry) and USGS (regional sediment processes) assistance. Kenny: a 1-mile is established for national parks, such as National Seashore. Web site Coastal Assessment and Data System. Includes population and pollution sources, land uses, counties freshwater salinity, etc. allows make own map. Download digital data. Build map.

Eric Treml: Ocean GIS project. Goal is data pertinent to hazard mitigation, fisheries, in the Georgia-Florida area (200-mile limit). Technical development in Charleston includes Internet mapping package, web site; jurisdictional boundaries; spatial footprint. Marpol. Click on map and get federal laws. Jurisdictional: Coast Guard, NOAA, Army, Park, and MMS. Web site has links to benthic habitat data, dredged material disposal sites, etc. at 1: 24,000 (USGS topo maps). Site uses new presentation system, which is still buggy but will become an effective display. Current centralized information will be decentralized.

Wayne Wilmot and Charles Sun, NODC, NOAA. Seeks integrated coastal data and information management system, focusing on documentation of water column data in coastal regions, including historical record. Objective includes real-time information for hazards mitigation. The compilation procedure includes acquiring many small databases scattered over huge area. The Coastal Ocean Laboratory database holds approximately 55,000 profiles on line. The Distributed Object Technology server (DOT) permits retrieval and visualization of ocean current dynamics by time interval, TS diagrams, latitude ranges. It also provides unified central access to other databases online. The integration of legacy applications by "wrapping" data with DOT interfaces will grow as use warrants. Other NOAA data centers include NGDC (geophysical data), Boulder CO, Ocean, NC (GIS server), NOAA Coast Watch (AVHRR SST images). IDARS System architecture. Cooperation with CHSLC, PMEL, JOSS.

Peter Rona, Rutgers University. Marine and Coastal Research Institute is enthusiastic about contributing to contribute to effort. The Institute maintains unique undersea observatory, 1-2 miles offshore at Tuckerton, N.J. It is instrumented to collect real-time data for satellite link and shore station. Investigators are researching erosion, transport and deposition relating to sand ridge (Scott Glenn). Feedback between model and collection data. Other products are circulation-transport model for the NY Bight (focused on Port area), and cooperative research by Bob Sheridan with NJ Geological Survey. Includes seismic work on sand inventory for USACE. Biological information. Rutgers actively involved in national committee developing ocean life census and biodiversity inventory.


Organizations not present: NMFS Sandy Hook, NJ DEP, Stevens Institute, SUNY Stony Brook (Henry Bokuniewicz), Lamont-Doherty, NMFS, Hudson River Foundation (excellent library), EPA, Region II and III, NY DEC, NY Geological Survey, NY Dept. State CZM, Lindsay, NOAA HAZMAP, Nick Coch, Queens College.

Discussion topics:

Demonstration project (NY-NJ boundaries), NOAA NESDIS/ NODC/NMFS activities, "Granularity" of data: how should one aggregate data, program levels, scale, clean capping issue, sediment cores, role of interpretive studies, references, global metadata and common formatting; forward project planning, static vs. dynamic display, contours; how big a group should control data; endpoints, data quality, scientific editing, publication modes. Top down (Assistant Secretaries) or working level up? Unified database vs. portal access, where databases are retained by host organization? GIS content – sand only or broader data). "The freight train is fish habitat" (Chesnutt).

Wrap-up and Conclusions
  • DISCOVERY: First step is to develop metadata on all available databases and GIS from currently participating organizations - seek others as well.
  • DELIVERY: The next step is to link digital databases and GIS
  • CONTENT STANDARDS: Collection goals and content standards (as opposed to format standards) "virtual databases": geologic, biologic, and oceanographic.
  • VIRTUAL DATABASES. Virtual databases can include large databases that sweep up smaller ones and independent databases. These are linked electronically through communication and cooperation. The virtual systems include information on contacts and analog data resources.
Next Steps:
  • FILL IN METADATA TABLE (with any suggested revisions) - see Proposed Format
  • PUBLISH METADATA RESULTS (and any additional revisions to above summary in cooperating web sites and and other linked sites)
  • ESTABLISH MEETING DATE (February ?) to work on steps 1, 2 and 3
    (web sites may not be hotlinked in some recipients’ e-mail but can be implemented by pasting address into URL of browser).


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