Severe beach erosion can be a significant problem for coastal communities affected by hurricanes and tropical storms.
To assist Georgia communities in future recovery efforts, the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography entered into a cooperative agreement with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to evaluate existing data on Georgia’s offshore sand resources and identify where more data are needed.
This consolidated information will increase knowledge of Georgia’s offshore sand resources and contribute to long-term coastal resilience planning.
“Georgia’s sand resources are arguably the least well-known of those along the East Coast, and this project will provide critical data and insights to enhance coastal resilience,” said Clark Alexander, a professor with the UGA Skidaway Institute. “The work is being coordinated closely with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the state geologist to assure that our findings are disseminated rapidly and broadly.”
Under the $200,000 agreement, UGA’s Skidaway Institute will gather, evaluate and analyze existing geological, geophysical and benthic habitat data off Georgia’s coast and identify gaps in the information. Based on the gaps, project scientists will suggest areas for future geologic studies to confirm previously identified sand resources and locate new ones.
“A reliable inventory of offshore sand resources will help the Department of Natural Resources be effective at representing the state’s interest in discussions with BOEM and other federal agencies,” said Spud Woodward, director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division. “We appreciate the initiative of Dr. Alexander and the UGA Skidaway Institute and look forward to the results of this project.”
“Since the 1960s, there have been quite a number of small studies, but the information is scattered,” Alexander said. “This project contributes significantly toward the goal of more fully understanding available sand resources by synthesizing existing information into a single, digital resource.”
Much of the older information is available only in printed form and needs to be converted to a digital format. The goal of the project is to have all the compiled information readily accessible to coastal managers and municipal planners.
“This agreement demonstrates BOEM’s commitment to work with Georgia to help coastal communities recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy and enhance resilience efforts for the future,” said Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “We are committed to continuing to work in a collaborative manner to help local communities withstand damage from future storms.”
This agreement is one in a series of partnerships with 14 coastal Atlantic states, using part of the $13.6 million allocated to the bureau through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The combined agreements support research that will help to identify sand and gravel resources appropriate for coastal protection and restoration along the entire Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.