Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Hein Home Page

Christopher Hein

Assistant Professor

Email : [[hein]]
Phone : (804) 684-7533
Office : Andrews 237
Department : Physical Sciences
Lab Website : {{, Coastal Geology}}
Outreach Website : {{,Plum Island Research}}


B.S., Science of Earth Systems, Cornell University, 2003

Ph.D., Coastal Geology, Boston University, 2012

Research Interests

Coastal populations, infrastructure and ecological communities will be directly affected over the next decades by atmospheric warming, accelerated sea-level rise, changes in the frequency and intensity of coastal storms, and variability in sediment-supply rates. The response of sedimentary coastal systems to these changes will be driven by the interactions of climate change and sedimentary processes. My research address the complexities of Holocene coastal evolution and the importance of our ability to predict interrelated changes in each of these drivers in forecasting the impact of future climate change on coastal evolution.

Specifically, my work focuses on three themes: (1) links between terrestrial climate change and fluvial sediment export, and their role in the global carbon cycle; (2) the coastal morphologic and sedimentologic imprints of changes in the type and delivery rates of fluvial and shallow-shelf sediments to the coastal zone in response to past climate and sea-level changes; and (3) the coupled responses of barrier islands and backbarrier environments to changes in sea level and sediment supply. I address these themes over timescales ranging from decades to millennia, focusing on the middle to late Holocene. For this, I employ a wide range of laboratory and field tools and techniques, including ground-penetrating radar, shallow seismic, sediment sampling and coring, and compound-specific stable- and radioisotope organic-carbon chemistry. My current study sites include barrier islands in the Gulf of Maine and, very recently, the Eastern Shore of Virginia; the coupled river-strandplain systems in southern Brazil; the Ganges-Brahmaputra River / Bay of Bengal system in Bangladesh; the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, France; and Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Selected Publications

Please feel free to [[hein, email me]] for pdf copies of any of the following publications:

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Buynevich, I.V., van Heteren, S., Kelley, J.T., 2014, Evolution of paraglacial coasts in response to changes in fluvial sediment supply, Geological Society, London, Special Publication, 388, doi: 10.1144/SP388.15.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T., Albernaz, M.B., 2014, Coastal response to late-stage transgression and sea-level highstand, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 126, no. 3/4, p. 459-480, doi: 10.1130/B30836.1. Click here for a link to the "toll-free" version, downloadable for free to anyone until March 2016.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Klein, A.H.F., Albernaz, M.B., de Menezes, J.T., Cleary, W.J., 2014, Reply to the Discussion by Dillenburg et al. on “Evidence for a transgressive barrier within a regressive strandplain system: implications for complex response to environmental change” by Hein et al. (2013), Sedimentology 60, 469–502: A transgressive barrier at Pinheira, Southern Brazil around 3 ka?”, Sedimentology, doi: 10.1111/sed.12133.

Galy, V., Hein, C., France-Lanord, C., Eglinton, T., 2014,  The evolution of carbon signatures carried by the Ganges-Brahmaputra River system: a source-to-sink perspective, In: Bianchi, T., Allison, M., and Cai, W.-J. (eds), Biogeochemical Dynamics at Major River-Coastal Interfaces: Linkages with Global Change, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, p. 353-372.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Barnhardt, W.A., Stone, B.D., 2013, Onshore-offshore surficial geologic map of the Newburyport East and northern half of the Ipswich Quadrangles, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Geological Survey, MGS Geologic Map GM 13-01, 3 sheets. VIEW ON ISSUU: Sheet 1  Sheet 2   Sheet 3

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Albernaz, M.B., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.F., 2013, Evidence for a transgressive barrier within a regressive strandplain system: Implications for complex coastal response to environmental change, Sedimentology, v. 60, p. 469-502.

McBride, R.A. (co-authors in alphabetical order), Anderson, J.B., Buynevich, I.V., Cleary, W., Fenster, M.S., FitzGerald, D.M., Harris, M.S., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Liu, B., de Menezes, J.T., Pejrup, M., Riggs, S.R., Short, A.D., Stone, G.W., Wallace, D.J., Wang, P., 2013, Morphodynamics of Barrier Systems: a synthesis, In: Shroder, J. (Editor in Chief), Sherman, D., (eds.), Treatise on Geomorphology, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, V. 10, Coastal and Submarine Geomorphology, p. 166-244.

Billy, J., Robin, N., Certain, R., Hein, C.J., Berné, S., 2013, Barrier shoreline evolution constrained by shoreface sediment reservoir and substrate control: The Miquelon-Langlade Barrier, NW Atlantic, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 65, p. 2089-2094.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Carruthers, E.A., Stone, B.D., Barnhardt, W.A., Gontz, A.M., 2012, Refining the model of barrier island formation along a paraglacial coast in the Gulf of Maine, Marine Geology, v. 307-310, p. 40-57.

FitzGerald, D.M., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., 2012, Morphodynamics and facies architecture of tidal inlets and tidal deltas, In: Davis, R.A., and Dalrymple, R.W. (eds.), Principles of tidal sedimentology, Springer, New York, p. 301-333.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Milne, G.A., Bard, K.A., and Fattovich, R., 2011, Evolution of a Pharaonic harbor on the Red Sea: Implications for coastal response to changes in sea level and climate, Geology, v. 39, no. 7, p. 687-690.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Stone, B.D., Carruthers, E.A., Gontz, A.M., 2011, The role of backbarrier infilling in the formation of barrier island systems, In: Kraus, N.C., and Rosati, J.D. (Eds), Coastal Sediments ’11, Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, p. 687–690.

Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A. H. F., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Hein, C.J., Veiga, F.A., Angulo, R.J., Asp, N.E., Petermann, R., 2011, Geological legacy of storm erosion along a high-energy indented coastline: northern Santa Catarina, Brazil, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 64, p. 1840-1844.

Barnhardt, W., Andrews, B., Ackerman, S., Baldwin, W., Hein, C., 2009, High Resolution Geologic Mapping of the Inner Continental Shelf: Cape Ann to Salisbury Beach Massachusetts, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1373, 50 p.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., and Barnhardt, W., 2007, Holocene reworking of a sand sheet in the Merrimack Embayment, Western Gulf of Maine, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, p. 863-867.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., Barnhardt, W., 2007, Holocene evolution of the Merrimack Embayment, Northern Massachusetts, interpreted from shallow seismic stratigraphy, In: Kraus, N.C., and Rosati, J.D. (Eds), Coastal Sediments ’07, Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes: New Orleans, LA, 13-17 May, 2007, p. 856-866.

FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Asp, N., Angulo, R, 2007. Strandplain evolution along the southern coast of Santa Catarina, Brazil, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, p. 152-156.

Former Advisors

Ph.D. Advisor: Dr. Duncan FitzGerald, Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University

Postdoctoral Supervisor: Dr. Valier Galy, Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Current Student
Andrew Fallon, M.Sc. Student, Department of Physical Sciences, Virginia Institute of Marine Science