Visit to CSTARS

Julie and Nina traveled over thanksgiving break to the University of Miami to visit the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS; There they met with Hans Graber, the director of CSTARS and one of the project collaborators in our projects with ONR. In addition to discussing results from the Duck 2018 and the Yakutat 2018 field experiments, we started planning the upcoming experiment at Kentland Farms in early 2019. Stay tuned for more results. Julie & Nina

Field measurements in Sydney Harbour, Nova Scotia

Dr. Bruce Hatcher (University Chair in Marine Ecosystem Research, Director of the Bras d'Or Institute, Associate Professor of Biology at Cape Breton University (CBU)), Hailey Shchepanik (an intern at CBU), and Samuel Consolvo (a master’s student at Virginia Tech) participated in a three-day marine survey in the NW arm of the Sydney Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada. The harbor feeds into the North Atlantic Ocean. The purpose of this work was two-fold; firstly to conduct preliminary field research pursuant to Dr. Hatcher’s proposal entitled Measure to Offset the Effects of Benthic Habitat Loss associated with Dredging on Fishery Production in Sydney Harbor, and secondly to further Mr. Consolvo’s research project entitled Geotechnical Investigation of Bivalve-Sediment Interaction with regard to Bivalve Farms as a Self-sustained Scour Mitigation Method.

The field marine survey took place from Monday, November 19, 2018, through Wednesday, November 21, 2018 (3 days). Field instrumentation d…

Reconnaissance in response to Hurricane Michael

Last week Matthew flew to Panama City Beach, Florida to perform reconnaissance on the damage done to Mexico Beach, Cape San Blas, and Port St. Joe caused by Hurricane Michael. Matthew’s primary task was surveying the destruction done to buildings at the three locations mentioned and catalogue them in an online data base via the Fulcrum app. Matthew also collected soil samples from the field and is looking at scour prediction models to compare with the field data. Matthew was fortunate enough to work with a great team that included Andrew Kennedy, Pat Lynett, Jim Kaihatu, Matt Jenssen, Spencer Rogers, Doug Krafft, and Margaret Owensby.

One of the many buildings reduced to the foundation slab.

The remains of the pier at Mexico Beach. Large portions of the pier were found scattered throughout Mexico Beach.

Horseshoe scour formed around a wooden pile.

Albatal et al.: Investigation of spatial and short-term temporal nearshore sandy sediment strength using a portable free fall penetrometer

Congratz to Ali for publishing this article:

Nick Brilli presents at ASBPA National Conference

This past week, one of our graduate students, Nick Brilli, attended the American Shoreline and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) National Conference in Galveston, Texas. He presented a poster on research he had done over the summer while working at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The work involved trying to understand the trigger mechanism of large erosive failures at beaches on a barrier island next to a tidal channel. The conference was a great opportunity to get feedback on research techniques, network with professionals and academics, and attend presentations on various topics related to Coastal Science and Engineering. 

CEE2804 Undergraduate Students with the Coastal Geotechnics group at Pandapas Pond (Blacksburg,VA)

The Coastal & Marine Geotechnics group volunteered to host a field trip of CEE2804 “Introduction to Civil & Environmental Engineering” at the Pandapas Pond, VA. The group introduced the students to geotechnical and coastal engineering, discussing various methods used to measure geotechnical soil properties in offshore areas, as well as the variety of ongoingh projects. Some instrumentation used in field measurements and sampling were demonstrated to the students, including: a portable free fall penetrometer (BlueDrop) which was deployed in the pond with a GoPro underwater camera attached to it, showing students video footages of the penetrometer fall through the water and the impact with the soil; a side scan sonar; and a grab sampler as shown in some pictures below. by Reem Jaber

The coastal group explaining the side scan sonar images
The BlueDrop penetrometer with a GoPro camera attached to it.
Nick, (one of our graduate students), using a small grab sampler

Geophysical & geotechnical measurements at oyster reef sites in the Piankatank River, VA

Nina, Sam Consolo, and Julie Paprocki of Virginia Tech traveled to Gloucester Point, Virginia area to work on a new National Science Foundation-funded project (, “Geotechnical Investigation of Bivalve-Sediment Interaction with regard to Bivalve Farms as a Self-sustained Scour Mitigation Method.” The oyster reef (artificially constructed) survey took place on Thursday, October 4, 2018, and Friday, October 5, 2018, in the Piankatank River that feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Our launch point for both days was the Ginney Point Marina. Field instrumentation deployed included a side scan sonar, a boat-mounted CHIRP sonar  (also known as the sub-bottom profiler), one boat- and one towfish-mounted Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), a portable free-fall penetrometer known as the BlueDrop, a ponar grab sampler, and underwater cameras. On the second day, a GoPro HERO3 underwater camera was attached to the BlueDrop, and we were able …