Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2012–1084

National Assessment of Hurricane-Induced Coastal Erosion Hazards: Gulf of Mexico

By Hilary F. Stockdon, Kara J. Doran, David M. Thompson, Kristin L. Sopkin, Nathaniel G. Plant, and Asbury H. Sallenger

Thumbnail image of report cover


Sandy beaches provide a natural barrier between the ocean and inland communities, ecosystems, and resources. However, these dynamic environments move and change in response to winds, waves, and currents. During a hurricane, these changes can be large and sometimes catastrophic. High waves and storm surge act together to erode beaches and inundate low-lying lands, putting inland communities at risk. A decade of USGS research on storm-driven coastal change hazards has provided the data and modeling capabilities to identify areas of our coastline that are likely to experience extreme and potentially hazardous erosion during a hurricane.

This report defines hurricane-induced coastal erosion hazards for sandy beaches along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastline. The analysis is based on a storm-impact scaling model that uses observations of beach morphology combined with sophisticated hydrodynamic models to predict how the coast will respond to the direct landfall of category 1-5 hurricanes. Hurricane-induced water levels, due to both surge and waves, are compared to beach and dune elevations to determine the probabilities of three types of coastal change: collision (dune erosion), overwash, and inundation. As new beach morphology observations and storm predictions become available, this analysis will be updated to describe how coastal vulnerability to storms will vary in the future.

First posted May 1, 2012

For additional information contact:
Hilary F. Stockdon
U.S. Geological Survey
St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
600 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

National Assessment of Hurricane-Induced Coastal Erosion Hazards

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Stockdon, H.F., Doran, K.J., Thompson, D.M., Sopkin, K.L., Plant, N.G., and Sallenger, A.H., 2012, National assessment of hurricane-induced coastal erosion hazards—Gulf of Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012–1084, 51 p.



Impacts of hurricanes on coastal communities

Prediction of hurricane-induced coastal erosion

Storm-scaling model


Lidar-derived beach morphology

Hurricane-induced water levels

Probability of coastal change


Coastal morphology

Hurricane-induced water levels

Probability of coastal change


Validity of assumptions

Relative importance of waves and storm surge

Assessment updates



References Cited

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 10-May-2016 15:44:01 EDT