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Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center

USGS Pacific Coral Reefs Website

Photo of coral reef.  

Oʻahu

satellite image of the island of Oahu

Landsat satellite image from NASA

Overview

Oʻahu encompasses 1546 sq km (597 sq mi) and is the third largest in the chain. Also known as The Gathering Place, Oʻahu draws more visitors than any of the other Hawaiian Islands. The island was formed from joining of the Waiʻanae and Koʻolau volcanoes. Coral reefs surround the island, although active live coral growth is limited to the leeward sides of the island or in sheltered areas on the windward coasts. Reef structures on the north shore help form the waves that draw surfers worldwide.

Motivation

The USGS is working closely with Malama Maunalua and the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, as part of the Hawaiʻi Local Action Strategy Plan, to investigate poor water quality issues in Maunalua Bay on the southeast coast of Oʻahu. This coral-lined embayment has seen a dramatic decline in ecosystem health, including sedimentation, invasive algae species, and a reduction in reef fish. A major factor in the decline of ecosystem health is human-induced changes on land, mainly from engineering of natural drainage gulches that have become concrete-lined channels. These channels speed up the flow of storm runoff from the uplands, increasing the discharge of freshwater, sediment and other land-based pollutants to the bay. The USGS has been instrumental in measuring water-column properties in Maunalua Bay, including waves, currents, water levels, termperature, salinity, and turbidity, to provide insight into the transport and fate of these contaminents.

We have also assisted the National Park Service (NPS) with documentation of underwater conditions around the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Of special concern is the fact that the hull of the USS Arizona is deteriorating and has the potential of releasing more than half a million gallons of fuel oil into the environment. By using the same instrumentation packages that we use to monitor oceanographic conditions on coral reefs, such as currents, waves, temperature and salinity, we can help the NPS get a handle on the physical dynamics surrounding the submerged hull. For more information visit USS Arizona Preservation Project 2004.

Other partners working with the USGS on Oʻahu include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Hawaii, James Cook University, University of California-Santa Cruz, and The Nature Conservancy.

Products

Divided by theme (Note: some products are listed multiple times as they cross multiple themes)

Mapping

Gibbs, A.E., Cochran, S.A., and Tierney, P.W., 2013, Seafloor video footage and still frame-grabs from U.S. Geological Survey cruises in Hawaiian nearshore waters: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 735, 11 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3089, 4 p.

Grossman, E.E., Barnhardt, W.A., Hart, P., Richmond, B.M., and Field, M.E., 2006, Shelf stratigraphy and the influence of antecedent substrate on Holocene reef development, south Oahu, Hawaii: Marine Geology, v. 226, no. 1-2, p. 97-114, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2005.09.012.

Gibbs, A.E., Grossman, E.E., and Richmond, B.M., 2005, Summary and preliminary interpretations of USGS cruise A-2-02-HW; Underwater video surveys collected off of Oʻahu, Molokai, and Maui, Hawaii, June-July 2002: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1244, 57 p.

Brown, E.K., Cox, E., Jokiel, P.L., Rogers, S.K., Smith, W.R., Tissot, B., Coles, S.L., and Hultquist, J., 2004, Development of benthic sampling methods for the Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (CRAMP) in Hawaiʻi: Pacific Science, v. 58, no. 2, p. 145-158, doi:10.1353/psc.2004.0013.

Jokiel, P.L., Brown, E.K., Friedlander, A., Rodgers, S.K., and Smith, W.R., 2004, Hawaiʻi Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program; Spatial patterns and temporal dynamics in reef coral communities: Pacific Science, v. 58, no. 2, p. 159-174, doi:10.1353/psc.2004.0018.

Field, M.E., Chavez, P.S., Evans, K.R., and Cochran, S.A., 2001, New mapping techniques help assess the health of Hawaiʻi's coral reefs: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 084-01, 4 p.

Circulation and sediment dynamics

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and Airoldi, L., 2014, The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation: Nature Communications, 5:3794, doi:10.1038/ncomms4794. [download PDF]

Field, M.E., Chezar, H., and Storlazzi, C.D., 2012, SedPods—A low-cost coral proxy for measuring net sedimentation: Coral Reefs, v.32, p. 155-159, doi:10.1007/s00338-012-0953-5.

Ganguli, P.M., Swarzenski, P.W., Dulaiova, H., Glenn, C.R., and Flegal, A.R., 2014, Mercury dynamics in a coastal aquifer: Manualua Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 140, p. 52-65, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.01.012.

Presto, M.K., Storlazzi, C.D., Logan, J.B., Reiss, T.E., and Rosenberger, K.J., 2012, Coastal Circulation and Potential Coral-larval Dispersal in Maunalua Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaii—Measurements of Waves, Currents, Temperature, and Salinity, June–September 2010 : U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1040, 67 p.

Stock, J.D., Cochran, S.A., Field, M.E, Jacobi, J.D., and Tribble, G., 2011, From ridge to reef--Linking erosion and changing watersheds to impacts on coral reef ecosystems in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Ocean: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3049, 4 p.

Storlazzi, C.D., Field, M.E, and Bothner, M.H., 2011, The use (and misuse) of sediment traps in coral reef environments; Theory, observations, and suggested protocols: Coral Reefs, v. 30, no. 1, p. 23-38, doi:10.1007/s00338-010-0705-3.

Storlazzi, C.D., Presto, M.K., Logan, J.B., and Field, M.E., 2010, Coastal circulation and sediment dynamics in Maunalua Bay, Oahu, Hawaii; Measurements of waves, currents, temperature, salinity, and turbidity; November 2008-February 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1217, 59 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3089, 4 p.

Fletcher, C.H., Bochicchio, C., Conger, C.L., Engels, M.S., Feirstein, E.J., Frazer, L.N., Glenn, C.R., Grigg, R.W., Grossman, E.E., Harney, J.N., Isoun, E., Murray-Wallace, C.V., Rooney, J.J., Rubin, K.H., Sherman, C.E., and Vitousek, S., 2008, Geology of Hawaiʻi reefs, in Riegl, B., and Dodge, R., eds., Coral Reefs of the U.S.A., Springer-Verlag, p. 435-488.

Field, M.E., 2005, Living with change; Response of the seafloor to natural events, in Barnes, P.W., and Thomas, J.P., eds., Benthic habitats and the effects of fishing; American Fisheries Society Symposium 41, Proceedings of Symposium on effects of fishing activities on benthic habitats; Linking geology, biology, socioeconomics, and management, Tampa, FL, 12-14 November 2002: Bethesda, MD, American Fisheries Society, p. 215-218.

Grossman, E.E., and Fletcher, C.H., 2004, Holocene reef development where wave energy reduces accommodation space, Kailua Bay, windward Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, U.S.A.: Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 74, no. 1, p. 49-63, doi:10.1306/070203740049.

Rooney, J., Fletcher, C., Grossman, E., Engels, M., and Field, M., 2004, El Niño influence on Holocene reef accretion in Hawaiʻi: Pacific Science, v. 58, no. 2, p. 305-324, doi:10.1353/psc.2004.0022.

Storlazzi, C.D., Russell, M.A. Owens, M.D. Field, M.E,. and Murphy, L.E., 2004, Dynamics of the physical environment at the USS Arizona Memorial: 2002-2004: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1353.

Climate change

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and Airoldi, L., 2014, The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation: Nature Communications, 5:3794, doi:10.1038/ncomms4794 [download PDF]

Ganguli, P.M., Swarzenski, P.W., Dulaiova, H., Glenn, C.R., and Flegal, A.R., 2014, Mercury dynamics in a coastal aquifer: Manualua Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 140, p. 52-65, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.01.012.

Swarzenski, P.W., Dulaiova, H., Dailer, M.L., Glenn, C.R., Smith, C.G., and Storlazzi, C.D., 2013, A geochemical and geophysical assessment of coastal groundwater discharge at select sites in Maui and Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, in Wetzelhuetter, C., ed., Groundwater in the coastal zones of Asia Pacific: Coastal Research Library, Vol. 7: New York, Springer, p. 27-46, doi:10.1007/978-94-007-5648-9.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3089, 4 p.

Jokiel, P.L., 2004, Temperature stress and coral bleaching, in Rosenberg, E., and Loya, Y., eds., Coral Health and Disease, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, p. 401-425.

Jokiel, P.L., and Brown, E.K., 2004, Global warming, regional trends and inshore environmental conditions influence coral bleaching in Hawaii: Global Change Biology, v. 10, no. 10, p. 1,627-1,641, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2004.00836.x.

Future reefs

Ferrario, F., Beck, M.W., Storlazzi, C.D., Micheli, F., Shepard, C.C., and Airoldi, L., 2014, The effectiveness of coral reefs for coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation: Nature Communications, 5:3794, doi:10.1038/ncomms4794 [download PDF]

Ganguli, P.M., Swarzenski, P.W., Dulaiova, H., Glenn, C.R., and Flegal, A.R., 2014, Mercury dynamics in a coastal aquifer: Manualua Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 140, p. 52-65, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.01.012.

Presto, M.K., Storlazzi, C.D., Logan, J.B., Reiss, T.E., and Rosenberger, K.J., 2012, Coastal circulation and potential coral-larval dispersal in Maunalua Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaii—Measurements of waves, currents, temperature, and salinity, June–September 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1040, 67 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, Science-based strategies for sustaining coral ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3089, 4 p.

Other selected works

Coral Reefs Provide Critical Coastal Protection

USGS Researchers Collaborate with National Park Service Archeologists to Better Predict the Life Expectancy of the USS Arizona

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Page Last Modified: 29 August 2014 (sac)