Project Purpose, Scope, and Approach
This project is a regional study examining the geologic framework of a large sector of coastal zone and inner shelf. A regional study allows us to examine large coastal sectors as a single entity and as a sum of interacting parts, i.e., rather than study single elements such as one barrier island and one inlet. This approach allows us to examine a connected series of barrier islands and inlets and provides for a more synergistic understanding of coastal geology. It links the barrier islands to the adjacent inner shelf rather than viewing the two as separate, disparate components. It assists us to determine underlying causes of beach erosion, potential sources of sand, past effects of storms, and other factors significant to human needs. A geologic framework approach allows us to step back in time to see how this coastal system has evolved to its present configuration. Finally, these data might eventually provide a basis from which predictions on coastal behavior can be made.
Primary characteristics of the geologic framework include:
These are primary themes derived from the data products presented in Appendix 1 and are presented collectively in the abstracts, theses, dissertations, and publications referenced in Appendices 2 and 3.
Overall, the primary goal of this regional study was to understand the natural variability of coastal morphology, seafloor bathymetry, surface sediment distribution, and subsurface stratigraphy of an extensive coastal system. An additional component was to understand shelf water circulation and how that interacts with this coastal/inner shelf system. This regional study was designed to view a naturally-bounded coastal sector as a field laboratory, which captures most of the spatial variability of a specific coastal typein this case a low energy, sediment-starved, barrier-island system significantly influenced by underlying antecedent topography. Locally, coastal engineers, planners, government officials, and interested citizens can use these data products in managing coastal resources for the west-central Florida coast. More broadly, the national and international coastal geologic community can use the techniques presented, the database produced, and the conclusions drawn as a contrast to and comparison with other coastlines worldwide. Additionally, we offer this study as one example on how regional coastal studies should be done.1College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
2Department of Marine Science, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL 33711
3Department of Geology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620
4U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025
5U.S. Geological Survey, Quissett Campus, Woods Hole, MA 02543