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Coastal & Marine Geology Program > Center for Coastal & Watershed Studies > OFR 2005-1326

The National Assessment of Shoreline Change: A GIS Compilation of Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for the U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast

USGS Open File Report 2005-1326

by: Tara L. Miller, Robert A. Morton, Asbury H. Sallenger

GIS Data Layers


thumbnail image of Southeast Atlantic Coast Internet Map ServiceThe data presented in this report have been integrated into the USGS U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast Shoreline Change Internet Map Server.
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The Coastal and Marine Geology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey has generated a comprehensive database of digital vector shorelines and shoreline change rates for the U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina). These data, which are presented herein, were compiled as part of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project. Beach erosion is a chronic problem along most open-ocean shores of the United States. As coastal populations continue to grow and community infrastructures are threatened by erosion, there is increased demand for accurate information including rates and trends of shoreline migration. There is also a critical need for shoreline change data that is consistent from one coastal region to another. One purpose of this work is to develop standard repeatable methods for mapping and analyzing shoreline movement so that periodic updates of shorelines and shoreline change rates can be made nationally that are systematic and internally consistent.

This data compilation for open-ocean, sandy shorelines of the U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast is the second in a series that already includes the Gulf of Mexico, and will eventually include the Pacific Coast, and parts of Hawaii and Alaska. Short- and long-term shoreline change evaluations are based on merging three historical shorelines with a modern shoreline derived from lidar (light detection and ranging) topographic surveys. Historical shorelines generally represent the following time periods: 1800s, 1920s-1930s, and 1970s. The most recent shoreline is derived from data collected over the period of 1997-2002. Long-term rates of change are calculated by linear regression using all four shorelines. Short-term rates of change are simple end-point rate calculations using the two most recent shorelines. Please refer to our full report on shoreline change for the U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast at to get additional information regarding methods and results.

Data in this report are organized into data layers by state and are provided as single-point vector datasets with metadata. Vector shorelines may represent a compilation of data from one or more sources and these sources are attributed in the dataset. All data are intended to be GIS-ready inasmuch as the data should not require any additional cleanup, formatting, or renaming of fields in order to use the data in a Geographic Information System (GIS). This project employs the Environmental Systems Research Institute's (ESRI) ArcView as it's GIS mapping tool and contains several data layers (shapefiles) that are used to create a geographic view of the margin off the U.S. Southeast Atlantic Coast. These vector data form a basemap comprised of polygon and line themes that include a U.S. coastline (1:80,000), U.S. cities, and state boundaries.

Related Research Projects:

National Assessment of Shoreline Change
USGS Coastal & Marine Geology Program

Coastal Classification Mapping Project
USGS Coastal & Marine Geology Program

Related Links:

National Assessment of Shoreline Change: Part 2, Historical Shoreline Changes and Associated Coastal Land Loss Along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico - USGS Open File Report 2005-1401
USGS Coastal & Marine Geology Program

Coastal and Marine Geology Program Internet Map Server Introduction and Help
USGS Coastal & Marine Geology Program

GIS and mapping software company

Winzip Computing, Inc.

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