Shoreline Types of the South Texas Coast: Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay Areas

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The following report describes how the Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) classified and mapped the shores of the south Texas coast, provides definitions of each shoreline type, and presents examples that illustrate how physical attributes of the shoreline habitats control the impact of spilled oil. This information is an integral part of the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps used for oil spill response and contingency planning. Shorelines were classified according to an ESI scheme established by Research Planning, Inc. (RPI) and the BEG. The ESI rankings (1-10) are described, examples of each type are illustrated, and the common occurrences of multiple adjacent shoreline types are given. Shoreline types were mapped at a scale of 1:24,000 based on U.S.G.S. topographic quadrangles using recent low-altitude color video surveys taken in 1999, oblique color slides taken in 1999, digital orthophoto quadrangles derived mostly from 1995 aerial photographs, and previous field experience. The maps were spot field-checked during winter and spring of 2000. The Corpus Christi to Brownsville region was selected for the final phase of ESI mapping in Texas. Shore types there are diverse; extant wetlands and tidal flats are environmentally sensitive; and significant volumes of oil are produced and transported through shipping channels and the Intracoastal Waterway of the region.


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