We are currently involved in a diversity of projects; some have recently ended while others are underway:     (Click to learn more): Slope Sedimentation in New Zealand Groundwater to Mississippi Shelf Katrina impacts on Mississippi margin  |  Effects of Sea-level Rise in NC  |  Groundwater/Surface-Water Interaction | Coastal Environmental Modeling  |  USGS Cooperative

Slope Sedimentation in New Zealand - NSF  
This project, part of the Margins Source to Sink program, is designed to investigate the modern transport of terrestrial sediment to and within the continental slope seaward of the Waipaoa River, New Zealand.  Several research cruises were conducted for this project; the first occurred in February 2005 aboard R/V Kilo Moana, and you can learn more about adventure here.  This research is being conducted in collaboration with Clark Alexander (Skidaway), Alan Orpin and Lionel Carter (National Institute for Water and Atmosphere Research, New Zealand), Steve Kuehl (Virginia Institute of Marine Science) and Lincoln Pratson (Duke University) along with their students.  Ben Sumners recently completed his MS thesis at ECU on this project, and Reanna Camp is in progress.
Groundwater to the Mississippi Shelf - NSF

The transport of groundwater into coastal zones may be a significant process in the geochemical, nutrient, and carbon budgets of many marine nearshore waters. This project addressed the manner in which we can evaluate interactions between groundwater and surface water on river-dominated margins. Applying a novel multiple-tracer approach (222Rn/226Ra, 4He/3He/tritium, and short-lived radium isotopes), groundwater flow along the margin adjacent to the Mississippi River was quantified.  To learn more visit this site.

Effects of Sea-level Rise in NC - NOAA

Rise in sea level, no matter the cause, will further impact natural resources (e.g., wetland distribution, structure and function) and coastal communities (e.g., by erosion and flooding).  To understand the ecological effects of rising sea level, it is imperative to focus on the area immediately affected by sea-level rise, the shore zone, which extends from shallow subtidal waters in estuaries to the most landward edge of estuarine wetlands.  Recognizing and understanding the complex causes and dynamic processes involved in shoreline erosion and shore zone alteration is the necessary first step towards minimizing the erosion impacts and managing our shoreline resources and economic investments.  Our multidisciplinary group is using relevant GIS datasets and remotely sensed observations coupled with sediment cores and grab samples collected and analyzed over the last two decades to determine the factors and scales necessary to evaluate shore zone change.   Learn more about this project here.

Cooperative Project with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

This co-operative project between ECU, the University of Delaware, the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences and the U.S. Geological Survey is aimed at understanding the geologic evolution and modern coastal geological processes of North Carolina, in particular the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system.  Numerous principle investigators and graduate students are involved in tackling a variety of research initiatives.  Some of the research focus topics include: barrier island morphological change, Quaternary stratigraphy, shore-oblique bars, erosional hot spots, paleoinlet, anthropogenic impacts, estuarine sediment dynamics, and inlet formation.  All projects have important implications for understanding coastal natural hazards.  Corbett and Walsh have been working with several graduate student four related project: seabed resuspension in the Neuse River estuary (Dillard), inlet-opening potential (Perkins), sediment dynamics and marsh sedimentation (Lagamosino), and tributary sediment and trace metal accumulation.  Shown below is a map of inlet-opening potential along the Outer Banks from the MS research of Arianna Perkins.

Katrina Impacts on Margin Sedimentation - NSF
The impact of great storms and hurricanes on coastal ecosystems extends well beyond the shoreline.  During storms, large waves and strong currents can disturb the seafloor, affecting regions of the seabed that rarely experience such energetic conditions.  The passage of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the fall 2005 provided a unique opportunity to evaluate the affects of great hurricanes on the seabed of the Mississippi-Atchafalaya continental margin.  Our team collected countless cores as well as multibeam data on the Mississippi continental after these events.   For an example of data from this work, check out the Overview section.
Coastal Environmental Modeling - State of NC  

                                                                                     Sea level is rising globally, and locally in NC, it is rising faster than the global rate (known as eustatic sea level rise).  This sea-level rise along with storm impacts, human activities and other changes are causing the coastal environment to change from day-to-day and decade to decade.  To better understand the response of the coastal environments (including land and water areas) over a range of timescales, computer modeling is often used to simulate and assess future conditions.  As part of the RENaissance Computing Initiative (RENCI) funded by the State of North Carolina, our team of researchers is building and refining a model to predict land cover changes over decades.  This modeling work is being spearheaded by Enrique Reyes, and uses his previous experience in coastal environmental modeling in Louisiana as a foundation.  Corbett and Walsh are helping to acquire the necessary datasets (e.g., river discharge, etc.), are collecting observational data in local estuaries and will work with Reyes to help refine the model.  The focus area of the project is the southern Pamlico Sound and the Neuse and Pamlico river estuaries. 

Groundwater/Surface-Water Interaction in NC - USDA

The importance of groundwater surface water interactions in streams and rivers has been recognized for many years (Pretty et al., 2006; Malard et al., 2002; Duff et al., 1998; Triska et al., 1993). The concentration and flux of nutrients and other geochemical constituents in surface water is often dependent on the volume of groundwater discharge. This project evaluated the biogeochemical alteration of groundwater between the riparian zone, hyporheic zone and the stream channel to better understand how input of nutrients, particularly nitrate, are modified by the groundwater flow dynamics of a stream’s ecosystem.

Research project support provided by:
Contact: J.P. Walsh or Reide Corbett
Department of Geological Sciences and
the Institute for Interdisciplinary Coastal Science and Policy

101 Graham Building, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858
walshj@ecu.edu, (252) 328-5431;  corbettd@ecu.edu, (252) 328-1367