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Sandy's underwater sandscapes

Nov. 15, 2012 — Beneath the 20-foot waves that crested off Delaware’s coast during Hurricane Sandy, thrashing waters reshaped the floor of the ocean, churning up fine sand and digging deep ripples into the seabed. Fish, crustaceans and other marine life were blasted with sand as the storm sculpted new surfaces underwater.

UD scientists cued up their instruments to document the offshore conditions before, during and after Sandy’s arrival to scrutinize the differences and better predict the environmental impact of future storms.

“Out here, we’re trying to get the fingerprint of the storm,” said Arthur Trembanis, associate professor of geological sciences and oceanography, aboard the research vessel Hugh R. Sharp.

Trembanis and his colleagues focused in on Redbird Reef, an artificial reef about 16 miles off the coast of the Indian River Inlet. The site contains old subway cars, boats and truck tires sunk over the past decade to provide habitat for sea creatures. The scientists have been studying the reef in recent years, among other “hard bottom” sites in this otherwise barren, sandy region, to examine the ecosystem found there and create detailed maps of the seafloor.

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