Field Procedures

Field Procedures

The central element in the high school coastal monitoring program is at least three class field trips during the academic year. During each trip, students visit several locations and apply scientific procedures to measure beach morphology and make observations on beach conditions. Click on the headings to open a detailed description of each task.

Field Preparation
Before each field trip, students and teachers need to make sure they have the proper equipment and field forms.

Upon arriving at the field trip sites, students should not jump right into taking measurements. They should first listening for directions from their instructors and assess the site.

Beach Profile Measurement
Students use a pair of Emery rods, a metric tape, and a hand level to accurately survey a shore-normal beach profile from the foredunes to the waterline. The students begin the profile at a GPS-surveyed datum stake so that they can compare each new profile to earlier profiles.

Beach Processes Measurements
Students measure wind speed and direction, estimate the width of the surf zone, and observe the breaker type. They note the wave direction, height and period, and estimate the longshore current speed and direction using a float, stop watch, and tape measure. Students also learn to obtain weather and oceanographic data from resources on the Internet.

Mapping the Shoreline and Vegetation Line
Using a differential GPS unit, students walk along the vegetation line and shoreline, mapping these features for display in GIS software and on the THSCMP website. Students will also make measurements of shoreline orientation.

Photographs and Sketch
Consistently oriented photographs should be taken on every field trip. This will allow you to compare and contrast beach features and help the students and scientists recall what the beach and dune looked like at the time of the field trip.

Sediment Samples
Students take sediment samples along the beach profile at the foredune crest, berm top, and beach face. If they have the proper laboratory equipment, students can sieve the samples, weigh the grain size fractions, and inspect the grains using a microscope.

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