It’s Been a While . . .
December 2, 2015 by Chris Hein
VIMS, Gloucester Point, VA
As the title says, it’s been a while. Sorry about that – this semester has been very busy. But, I wanted to share with our readers some really great updates.
As I mentioned in my last post, we’re now deep into the data processing, analysis and writing from our two years of field data collection on Plum Island. To that end, we’ve starting sharing some of our results with the scientific community.
W&M senior Justin Shawler presented preliminary results from his investigation of sediment accumulation rates in Joppa Flats (the Merrimack River Estuary) at the national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore, MD back in early November. I’ll be sure to ask him to write up a blog post over the holiday break, discussing some of what he’s found.
Then, yesterday was a real big day around here: Plum Island Research & VIMS student Andy Fallon successfully defended his masters thesis. Our congratulations to Andy! (check out the photo below of him all suited up). You’ve seen posts from Andy here before, talking about his monthly beach surveys (ended in March 2015). That was only part of his work: with the help of W&M graduate Haley Gannon, he also mapped the northern Plum Island shoreline going back to the early 1900s to explore the causes of the cycles of erosion and beach building that so many have observed. With Porter Hoagland of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Andy also constructed a hedonic price model to look at how the local housing market responds to erosion and erosion-control structures like groins and seawalls. Really neat stuff. Now, Andy has a bit of work to do on edits before the final thesis is due next week, but we’re looking forward to getting both of those studies published soon. In the meantime, I’ll also ask him to write on this blog about some of what he found.
In the meantime, Ju-Chin & Wei continue data analysis from their surveys last year and I know Wei is writing up his PhD thesis. Work continues here at VIMS on sediment cores and associated geochemical analyses to look at the source of the sand and mud that make up Plum Island. And, we now have our first data (210-Pb & 137-Cs, for those interested) that will allow us to explore how humans have altered marsh growth rates throughout the Great Marsh in the last ~100 years.
Looking towards next year, we’re hoping that I and/or some of the team will be able to get back up to Newbury/Newburyport to give a public talk on some of our findings: we think they will provide some very useful insights in planning for future climate change (yeah, and about those talks in Paris . . .).
Finally, I’ve joined the 21st century and started using Twitter for scientific communication! Follow me: @coastalgeology.
Look for more from us around the holidays and into the new year. For now, it’s back to work for me on that final exam for my students next week . . .