Benthic Habitat Morphodynamics-Using Remote Sensing to Quantify Storm-Induced Changes in Nearshore Bathymetry and Surface Sediment Texture at Assateague National Seashore

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Trembanis A., Abla A., Haulsee K., DuVal C.

JOURNAL OF MARINE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING, vol.7, no.10, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/jmse7100371
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Keywords: side-scan sonar, swath bathymetry, habitat monitoring, hurricane Sandy, hurricane Joaquin, climate change, shoreline detection, remote sensing, IMPACTS, COASTAL, BEACHES, COMPLEX
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This study utilizes repeated geoacoustic mapping to quantify the morphodynamic response of the nearshore to storm-induced changes. The aim of this study was to quantitatively map the nearshore zone of Assateague Island National Seashore (ASIS) to determine what changes in bottom geomorphology and benthic habitats are attributable to storm events including hurricane Sandy and the passage of hurricane Joaquin. Specifically, (1) the entire domain of the National Parks Service offshore area was mapped with side-scan sonar and multibeam bathymetry at a resolution comparable to that of the existing pre-storm survey, (2) a subset of the benthic stations were resampled that represented all sediment strata previously identified, and (3) newly obtained data were compared to that from the pre-storm survey to determined changes that could be attributed to specific storms such as Sandy and Joaquin. Capturing event specific dynamics requires rapid response surveys in close temporal association of the before and after period. The time-lapse between the pre-storm surveys for Sandy and our study meant that only a time and storm integrated signature for that storm could be obtained whereas with hurricane Joaquin we could identify impacts to the habitat type and geomorphology more directly related to that particular storm. This storm impacts study provides for the National Park Service direct documentation of storm-related changes in sediments and marine habitats on multiple scales: From large scale, side-scan sonar maps and interpretation of acoustic bottom types, to characterize as fully as possible habitats from 1 to 10 m up to many kilometer scales, as well as from point benthic samples within each sediment stratum and these results can help guide management of the island resources.