Marine Geology


CCS studies the geological processes that occur along or near the coast, from estuaries and lagoons to the inner continental shelf. This research focuses on topics such as coastal sediment transport, tidal inlet evolution, ocean waves and tidal currents, shoreline change, seafloor mapping, as well as storm impacts to beach, dune and shallow water ecosystems.


The Moors salt marsh in Provincetown, MA

The Land-Sea Interaction Program seeks to understand the physical processes responsible for coastal evolution at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Centennial scale changes to beach, barrier islands, and spits have been studied through multiple projects. In the Marindin Project, Dr. Graham Giese (CCS) has partnered with Mark Adams of the Cape Cod National Seashore to resurvey over 200 transects that were first surveyed between 1887 and 1889. These transects were initially surveyed from onshore points across the dunes, bluffs, beaches and continued offshore for 1-2 km. They are all now within the boundaries of the Seashore. Other current and recent projects include the study of tidal inlet evolution, documenting change in salt marshes, the relationship between eelgrass and coastal sediment transport.

The Seafloor Mapping Program uses a state-of-the-art Interferometric Sonar System to collect coincident bathymetry and acoustic backscatter imagery. This geophysical instrument allows investigators to capture the seafloor at very high resolution and accuracy in order to conduct research in nearshore, shallow water settings. These studies are being used to quantitative data to answer questions regarding sediment transport pathways and bedforms, small, medium and large scale coastal evolution, submerged aquatic vegetation and other relevant science-based and management questions.

Interferometric sonar yields coincident back scatter imagery (left) and bathymetry (right). These two data sets collectively yield more information when synthesized

Interferometric sonar yields coincident backscatter imagery (left) and bathymetry (right). These two data sets collectively yield more information when synthesized