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USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program

Geologic Framework Studies of South Carolina's Long Bay from Little River Inlet to Winyah Bay, 1999 - 2003; Geospatial Data Release

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Introduction: South Carolina Coastal Erosion Study

Figure 1. Map showing the location of the survey area offshore of the northern South Carolina coast.
Figure 1. Map showing the location of the survey area offshore of South Carolina between Little River Inlet to the north and Winyah Bay to the south. Click on figure for larger image.

The northern South Carolina coast is a heavily developed region that supports a thriving tourism industry, large local populations and extensive infrastructure (Figure 1). The economic stability of the region is closely tied to the health of its beaches: primarily in providing support for local tourism and protection from storm events. Despite relatively low long-term shoreline erosion rates, and the implied stability of the beaches, the economic impact of storm events to coastal communities has been costly. For example, Hurricane Hugo made landfall on the central South Carolina coast in 1989. High winds and storm surge inflicted roughly $6 billion in property loss and damages, and Hugo remains the costliest storm event in South Carolina history. Localized erosion, commonly occurring around tidal inlets and erosion "hot spots", has also proved costly. Construction and maintenance of hard structures and beach nourishment, designed to mitigate the effects of erosion, have become annual or multi-annual expenditures. Providing a better understanding of the physical processes controlling coastal erosion and shoreline change will allow for more effective management of coastal resources.

In 1999, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in partnership with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (SCSGC), began a study to investigate inner continental shelf and shoreface processes. The objectives of the USGS/SCSGC cooperative program are: 1) to provide a regional synthesis of the shallow geologic framework underlying the shoreface and inner continental shelf, and to define its role in coastal evolution and modern beach behavior; 2) to identify and model the physical processes affecting coastal ocean circulation and sediment transport, and to define their role in shaping the modern shoreline; and 3) to identify sediment sources and transport pathways in order to develop a regional sediment budget.

This report contains the geospatial data used to define the geologic framework offshore of the northern South Carolina coast. The digital data presented herein accompany USGS Open-File Reports OFR 2004-1013 and OFR 2005-1345, describing the stratigraphic framework and modern sediment distribution within Long Bay, respectively. Direct on-line links to these publications are available within 'References' on the navigation bar to the left. Additional links to other publications and web sites are also available.

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