Monday, November 13, 2006

Coastal Zone Mapping of Little Narragansett Bay.

Deborah Surabian, USDA-NRCS, 344 Merrow Road, Suite A, Tolland, CT 06084 and Donald Parizek, USDA - NRCS, 100 Northfield Drive, 4th floor, Windsor, CT 06095.

Recent studies have demonstrated that “shallow-water sediments” (generally less than 2.5 m deep) that exhibit pedological properties could be better understood as “soils” (Demas and Rabenhorst 1998). The extent of subaqueous soils is obvious in coastal zone areas such as Little Narragansett Bay, and their importance to the structure and function of this underwater ecosystem is unquestionable. However, little is known about the physical, chemical, and morphologic properties of these soils. The geographic focus of this project is in the ecologically significant estuary of Little Narragansset Bay, located along the coast of southeastern Connecticut and southwestern Rhode Island. The project encompasses an area approximately 2,500 acres in size and contains subaqueous soils (sediments <2.5 m) formed from a variety of parent materials and aquatic environments. The USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, a member of the National Cooperative Soil Survey, is the lead federal agency for the mapping and interpretations of the nation’s soil resources.  The well established standards, techniques, and protocols used to map and interpret the nation’s terrestrial soil resources are being applied to this project.  The result of this endeavor will produce detailed seamless maps extending from the land into the estuary identifying the subaqueous soil resources and submerged aquatic vegetation at a scale of 1:12,000.  Subaqueous soil-landscape models will be developed, complimenting and refining protocols for extending coastal zone mapping efforts into additional estuaries. Important subaqueous soil interpretations will be identified and developed. This survey will provide ecologically meaningful characterization of important shallow water habitats, particularly interpretations necessary for eelgrass restorations. Ancillary benefits are many and include detailed bathymetry, submerged archeological investigations and geomorphologic investigations. Ultimately, new partners and stakeholders will be engaged in the National Cooperative Soil Survey efforts.

Handout (.pdf format, 398.0 kb)