[Coral-List] USGS Post-doc opportunity: fluvial impacts on nearshore ecosystems

Curt Storlazzi cstorlazzi at usgs.gov
Tue Jul 25 15:16:04 EDT 2006

The US Geological Survey has established a Mendenhall Postdoctoral 
Research Fellowship investigating the Processes of Fluvial Delivery 
to and Deposition in the Coastal Ocean.  A complete description of 
the position is provided below. Students interested in advancing the 
science of linking changes in watersheds to nearshore ecosystems, and 
that will have completed their Ph.D work by March 15 2008, are 
strongly encouraged to apply. Guidelines for how to apply, as well as 
a complete listing of USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research 
Fellowships beginning fall of 2007 can be viewed at:


Questions can be directed to the three advisors:

Curt Storlazzi, (831) 427-4721, cstorlazzi at usgs.gov
Jonathan Warrick, (831) 427-4793, jwarrick at usgs.gov
David Rubin, (831) 427-4736, drubin at usgs.gov


Research Opportunity #24:

Processes of Fluvial Delivery to and Deposition in the Coastal Ocean

Sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from a variety of land-based 
activities adversely impact many nearshore ecosystems in the United 
States and around the world. These contaminants are transported by 
surface water runoff into coastal waters, and there is compelling 
evidence that the sources have increased globally as a result of 
human-induced changes to watersheds. The small, steep rivers such as 
those found along the U.S. west coast and on high islands in the 
Pacific Ocean are recognized to generate high sediment discharge, 
which can be effectively modified by alterations in land use. 
Significant anthropogenic modifications have been made to many 
drainage basins, including agriculture, feral grazing, urbanization 
and both dam construction and decommissioning that have, in turn, 
altered the character and volume of land-based pollution released to 
the coastal ocean. Terrigenous run-off and deposition in the coastal 
ocean has potential impact on nearshore ecosystems by blocking light 
and inhibiting photosynthesis, directly smothering benthic fauna, and 
causing nutrification that triggers macro algae blooms. Studies that 
combine information on watershed, surface flow, transport and fate of 
sediment and other pollutants in the nearshore environment, and their 
impact on marine ecosystem health are essential. These different 
components form the framework of the developing source-to-sink 
research programs around the world. For example, USGS watershed and 
hydrologic data could be assimilated with geologic and oceanographic 
processes data and compared to nearshore benthic habitat surveys to 
develop an ecological model to predict the impacts of watershed 
modification on a critical nearshore species. USGS science 
capabilities are particularly well suited to provide science for 
making informed decisions on land-based pollution threats to 
nearshore ecosystems.

The goal of this research is to evaluate the impacts of land-use 
changes on the mechanisms of sediment delivery to the shoreline and 
its dispersal in coastal ocean. The postdoctoral fellow will develop 
and test innovative means for measuring and predicting rates, 
pathways and processes of material export from terrestrial to coastal 
systems using state-of-the-art process-response models and 
assimilations of disparate data types such as LIDAR- and 
satellite-derived high-resolution topography and bathymetry, coastal 
geomorphology, and historic and real-time oceanographic and 
meteorologic measurements. Specific tools that could be employed 
include high-resolution acoustic and optical profilers to measure 
flow and water column properties, sediment and coral coring units, 
DELFT-3D numerical modeling and both side-scan and multibeam mapping 
systems. The research results will provide an important step in the 
longer-term goal of predicting how future climate change and human 
population growth may impact marine ecosystems. Potential study sites 
include offshore regions flanking mountainous small drainages in 
central California, Washington's Olympic Peninsula, and U.S. National 
Parks on islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The postdoctoral fellow will have ample opportunities for 
interdisciplinary collaborations in hydrology, ecology, geology, 
oceanography, physics, statistics, spatial data analyses, numerical 
modeling, remote sensing and engineering. She/he will be a member of 
a team that includes researchers from the USGS, academia (University 
of California at Santa Cruz, University of Hawaii, University of 
Washington), and other federal agencies (National Park Service, 
Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration). The postdoctoral researcher will be at the forefront 
of interdisciplinary research in the United States and will 
participate in significantly improving our understanding of the 
delivery of land-based pollution to the coastal oceans and its impact 
on their long-term health.

Proposed Duty Station: Santa Cruz, CA

Areas of Ph.D.: Oceanography, geology, hydrology, geography, coastal 

Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following 
qualifications: Research Oceanographer, Research Geologist, Research 

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for 
the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable 
depending on the applicant's background, education, and research 
proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by 
the Personnel specialist.)

Research Advisor(s): Curt Storlazzi, (831) 427-4721, 
cstorlazzi at usgs.gov; Jonathan Warrick, (831) 427-4793, 
jwarrick at usgs.gov; David Rubin, (831) 427-4736, drubin at usgs.gov

Personnel Office contact: Cathy Shahan, (703) 648-7468, cshahan at usgs.gov


Curt Storlazzi, Ph.D.
Research Oceanographer
U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Science Center
400 Natural Bridges Drive
Santa Cruz, CA  95060
(831) 427-4721 phone
(831) 427-4748 fax

Staff web page:

Coral Reef Project:

Pleasure Point Project:

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