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Science for Decisionmaking: Coastal and Marine Geology at the U.S. Geological Survey
Geologic Division that is dedicated to dealing with coastal and marine geology. This will provide a venue for interdisciplinary studies of the complex marine and coastal systems that would be difficult to undertake in the division's other topical programs. Such studies require different tools and strategic approaches than those used in land-based studies, and CMGP is scientifically and technically best equipped to conduct them. The committee recommends that the role of the CMGP and its unique niche in the USGS be made more visible in USGS planning publications. The USGS, at the highest levels, needs to emphasize the economic and societal importance of understanding both the fundamental nature of the geologic framework of the nation's coastal and marine areas and the role of geologic processes in controlling the quantity, transport, and distribution of living and nonliving resources.
The committee also reviewed the planning documents and current projects of CMGP to determine how clearly the CMGP, its goals, and responsibilities are presented in its publications and in its activities. As presently configured, the CMGP is fragmented into unrelated projects. Although these projects fit into the Geologic Division's Strategic Science Goals on an individual basis, as a group, they do not convey the sense of a coherent scientific effort focused primarily on the geologic framework of coastal and marine areas. The committee determined that there is a need for a CMGP strategic planning process aimed at more strongly identifying the CMGP as playing a leadership role in developing an understanding of coastal and marine geologic processes and providing the geologic framework for science-based management of nearshore and offshore environments. The committee, therefore, recommends that, as part of the strategic planning process, the CMGP develop a new mission statement that identifies the role of the CMGP in the USGS and clearly articulates its responsibilities.
The committee also conducted a review of the themes of CMGP to evaluate how well they map to the Geologic Division's seven Strategic Science Goals; the results are presented in Appendix D. Studies within each of the themes are broken down into fundamental studies that are designed to improve understanding of the complex geologic processes in the marine and coastal environments and more regional studies that fall within well-defined subthemes. The overall conclusion of the committee was that individual projects currently being conducted by CMGP map well into the Geologic Division's science goals, but they do not group into coherent scientific efforts in the themes and subthemes. For example, topics in CMGP Theme 1 (Environmental Quality and Preservation) are the sedimentary record of long-term geologic change, the dynamics of natural sediment transport processes, the transport of pollutants, and marine reserves.
The Geologic Division approaches geological studies of the environment from the ''hazard, impact, or change'' (whether natural or anthropogenic) perspective, which fits well with CMGP Theme 2 (Natural Hazards and Public Safety) and its subthemes. However, in the Geologic Division there are four other programs that address hazards of various types (e.g., the earthquake, volcano, landslides, and