Other Projects

Alaska Scenery

In addition to our primary research objectives, we also love to get involved in numerous other projects across the spectrum of coastal geology. Here is a brief sampling:

The long-term effects of oil-spill beach washing on sediment organization and hard-shell clam assemblages in Prince William Sound
C. Hein collecting images for photogrammetric analysis of sediment organization at Prince William Sound beaches. Photo courtesy of D. Janka (M/V Auklet).Overview: Intense high-pressure washing of many beaches of western Prince William Sound following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill resulted in sediment reworking that disrupted clast organization on these generally coarse-grained (granule to boulder) beaches. These actions caused substantial long-term injury to hard-shell clam assemblages. We returned to these beaches in 2010, some 21 years later to study the progress in natural re-organization of clasts along these beaches, as well as any continued impacts of washing on the infaunal populations. We employed a first-of-its-kind photogrammetric approach that allowed us to provide three-dimensional, high-resolution analysis and quantification of coarse-clast organization on both oiled-and-washed (treated) and oiled-but-unwashed (untreated) beaches throughout the sound. We found that beaches disturbed by washing in 1989/90 that were exposed to more wave energy had recovered by 2010, whereas more protected beaches were still in a state of semi-disturbance 21 years after these beaches were washed. Furthermore, it appears that recovery at the more protected sites will require appreciably more time before these sites attain the ambient level of organization that was observed at the unwashed sites, where clam populations had recovered significantly more 13 years after the spill than the washed sites.
Collaborators: Dennis Lees (Littoral Ecological and Environmental Services), Emily Carruthers (Sea Education Association), Duncan FitzGerald (Boston University)
Funding Sources: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council


Sedimentary Signatures of Extreme Precipitation along the Connecticut River
NOTE: This work is from Andy Fallon's undergraduate thesis at UMass Amherst, with funding from, and supervision of, Dr. Jon Woodruff. The Coastal Geology Group at VIMS can take no credit for this work, except for snatching Andy up to complete his masters here!Connecticut River Historic Floods
Overview: This research analyzed the sedimentary deposits along the lower Connecticut River from severe precipitation during Tropical Storm Irene.  The Irene deposits, retrieved from off-channel ponds, were compared to historic flood deposits through a combination of grain size, organics loss on ignition, mercury dating, bulk density and X-Ray fluorescence analyses. Typical flood deposits are coarse grained, however, the deposits from tropical Storm Irene are anomalously fine grained and similar in size and composition to underlying glaciolacustrine sediments.  Flooding and landscape disturbance during Tropical Storm Irene was particularly extreme within the upper watershed, however, discharge was relatively moderate within the lower river near Keeney Cove. Irene’s unique deposit reflects the sedimentary fingerprint of flooding on the new managed river system following widespread flood control upriver.
Collaborators: Jon Woodruff (UMass Amherst), Brian Yellen (UMass Amherst), Laura Kratz (Umass Amherst), Anna Martini (Amherst College)
Funding Sources: National Science Foundation



Lees, D.C., Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Carruthers, E.A., 2013, Re-assessment of Bivalve Recovery on Washed Heterogeneous Beaches in Prince William Sound, EXXON VALDEZ Oil Spill Restoration Project Draft Final Report, Restoration Project 10100574, 165 p.


Abstracts & Presentations

Links below will bring you to online, downloadable versions of recent ppt presentations or posters. Or, feel free to contact us for pdf copies of any of the following abstracts or their associated presentations or posters.

Fallon, A.R., Yellen, B.C., Kratz, L.N, and Woodruff, J.D., 2013, How unique was Tropical Storm Irene? A comparison of deposits from historical floods on the lower Connecticut River, Paper No. 60-3, Northeastern Section, GSA, 48th Annual Meeting, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA.

Hein, C.J., Lees, D.C., Carruthers, E.A., FitzGerald, D.M., 2012, Sediment organization in the heterogeneous, coarse-grained beaches of western Prince William Sound: Long-term effects of post-oil spill beach washing, Alaska Marine Sciences Symposium 2012, 16-20 January 2012, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

Lees, D.C., Hein, C.J., Carruthers, E.A., 2012, Status of hard-shell clam assemblages in organized coarse-grained sediments in western Prince William Sound – A preliminary report, Alaska Marine Sciences Symposium 2012, 16-20 January 2012, Anchorage, Alaska.