Analysis of bathymetric surveys to identify coastal vulnerabilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida

Open-File Report 2015-1180
By: , and 



Cape Canaveral, Florida, is a prominent feature along the Southeast U.S. coastline. The region includes Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and a large portion of Canaveral National Seashore. The actual promontory of the modern Cape falls within the jurisdictional boundaries of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Erosion hazards result from winter and tropical storms, changes in sand resources, sediment budgets, and sea-level rise. Previous work by the USGS has focused on the vulnerability of the dunes to storms, where updated bathymetry and topography have been used for modeling efforts. Existing research indicates that submerged shoals, ridges, and sandbars affect patterns of wave refraction and height, coastal currents, and control sediment transport. These seabed anomalies indicate the availability and movement of sand within the nearshore environment, which may be directly related to the stability of the Cape Canaveral shoreline. Understanding the complex dynamics of the offshore bathymetry and associated sediment pathways can help identify current and future erosion vulnerabilities due to short-term (for example, hurricane and other extreme storms) and long-term (for example, sea-level rise) hazards.

The purpose of this work is to describe an updated bathymetric dataset collected in 2014 and compare it to previous datasets. The updated data focus on the bathymetric features and sediment transport pathways that connect the offshore regions to the shoreline and, therefore, are related to the protection of other portions of the coastal environment, such as dunes, that support infrastructure and ecosystems. Previous survey data include National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS) hydrographic survey from 1956 and a USGS survey from 2010 that is augmented with NOS surveys from 2006 and 2007. The primary result of this analysis is documentation and quantification of the nature and rates of bathymetric changes that are near (within about 2.5 km) the current Cape Canaveral shoreline and interpretation of the impact of these changes on future erosion vulnerability.

Suggested Citation

Thompson, D.M., Plant, N.G., and Hansen, M.E., 2015, Analysis of bathymetric surveys to identify coastal vulnerabilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Open–File Report 2015–1180, 24 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion and Conclusions
  • References Cited 
  • Appendix I—Secchi Disk Observations
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Analysis of bathymetric surveys to identify coastal vulnerabilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2015-1180
DOI 10.3133/ofr20151180
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description vi, 24 p.
Country United States
State Florida
City Cape Canaveral
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details