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Coast Survey Responds to March 11 Tsunami

Preliminary survey for Crescent City,
March 16

Manmade and natural events can change important characteristics of U.S. waterways, ports, and harbors, and investigating those changes are an important responsibility for NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. Following last week’s tsunami, Coast Survey’s staff and equipment on the West Coast are assisting with detection of submerged debris in critical marine transportation arteries along the coast.

The tsunami left the port at Crescent City, Calif., in a shambles, with marine debris and wreckage above and below the waterline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asked Coast Survey to assist with hydrographic survey support there, to help make sure commercial and recreational vessels can begin to navigate safely and efficiently once again.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers also asked Coast Survey to survey the federal channel at Santa Cruz, Calif., which also experienced extensive damage and destruction to boats.

Coast Survey staff and navigation response teams have deployed to both port areas, and are coordinating with USCG and USACE to begin the hydrographic surveys.


Preliminary survey plan for Santa Cruz,
March 16

Using a small boat equipped with powerful echo-sounding SONAR equipment, the teams will search the seafloor for sunken vessels, debris, and other hazards dangerous to commercial shippers and recreational boaters. The teams will also check the areas for shoaling. If the teams find shoaling, they will measure the bathymetry for updating NOAA’s nautical charts of the areas.

The Coast Survey navigation manager based in California is coordinating rapid response survey requests and navigational resources from areas impacted by last week’s tsunami.

March 15, 2011, 2:00 pm EDT

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