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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1042

National Assessment of Historical Shoreline Change: A Pilot Study of Historical Coastal Bluff Retreat in the Great Lakes, Erie, Pennsylvania


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One goal of this pilot study was to explore the feasibility of conducting a regional bluff-retreat assessment for the Great Lakes coastal zone. Each state uses a different approach to address erosion hazard, and there is little regional consistency in what data are available and how bluff-retreat rates are measured and presented.

The relatively recently available (2006, 2007) lidar data set collected by the USACE provides a regional, modern source for future coastal hazard assessments. However, historical data (aerial photography or maps) are not consistently available, although they are likely to exist and to be of sufficient quality for use in a long-term bluff-retreat assessment. Additionally, because available historical bluff edges are not easily accessible in digital format, as part of any long-term bluff retreat assessment the bluff edge would need to be generated from original data sources.

A regionally consistent assessment of coastal-bluff hazards in the Great Lakes area would require significant resources, but the resulting database would be valuable as a management tool for coastal-zone managers of the Great Lakes states.

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