Joseph Kelley

Climate Change Institute | School of Marine Sciences | Maine Geological Survey | Marine/Coastal and Sedimentary Group

I am a marine geologist who enjoys working on basic scientific research problems that have societal implications. I have worked on sediment provenance problems and used both physical and chemical signatures to track sediment (Kelley, 1984, 1989).

I have become interested the response of developed and pristine shorelines to sea-level change. This work involves measuring changes in sea level (Kelley et al., 1992; 1995; 2006; Barnhardt et al., 1995, 1997; Cooper et al., 1998; McCabe et al., 2007; Daly et al. 2007), as well as studying contemporary coastal processes (Brothers et al., 2008; Hill et al., 2004; Kelley et al., 2003; 2005; Fenster et al. 2001; FitzGerald et al. 2005). I spent 2 weeks this summer collecting seismic reflection and multibeam bathymetry data to locate lower-than-present-sea level landforms which we will core in the summer of 2012.

In addition, I have monitored and mapped coastal hazards that are a response to rising sea level (beach and bluff erosion, landslides) with the intent of providing information to the public (Kelley and Brothers, 2009; Kelley, 2004, Kelley et al., 1984, 1989, 2009; Bryant et al., 1998; Dean et al., 2006 Hampton et al., 2004a, Hampton et al., 2004b). In recent years I have mapped the seafloor of the Gulf of Maine (Barnhardt et al., 1996; 1998), and developed interests in phenomena like gas-escape pockmarks (Kelley et al., 1994; Rogers et al., 2006; Brothers et al., 2010, 2011) and cold-water carbonates (Barnhardt and Kelley, 1995). I have a funded project beginning in the summer of 2010 with Dan Belknap, Alice Kelley and Melissa Landon to select a site off the Maine coast to locate a wind power facility (graduate student RA built in).

Salt marshes have long been a subject of interest and I continue to study their geomorphology (Kelley et al., 1988; Wilson et al., 2009, 2010; Tanner et al., 2007, 2009). I am currently working on projects to define the role of salt marsh pools in the dynamics of Maine’s salt marshes (Wilson et al., 2009). Beginning in the summer of 2011 I will start a Sea Grant project (with Dan Belknap and Cyndy Loftin, and graduate student Margot Mansfield) to study the rates and mechanisms by which freshwater coastal bogs convert to marine environments as sea level rises.

I recently finished a NOAA-Explore project to predict the location of drowned archeological sites based on an understanding of where artifacts are recovered offshore and late Quaternary sea-level change (Kelley et al., 2010). I have plans to submit another proposal and continue this work.I also began a NSF-funded project in the Shetland Islands in 2011 to locate a community buried in coastal sand dunes in the Middle Ages.

I was recently funded (along with Dan Sandweiss, Dan Belknap and Alice Kelley) by the National Geographic Society to  study an ancient monument buried in a coastal sand dune in coastal Peru. I am also interested in looking at the fall of local relative sea level in Peru as part of this project. Our preliminary paper on this came out recently (Sandweiss et al., 2010) and a more detailed paper will be ready soon.

I am presently evaluating the source of sand for the beaches of Ireland by heavy mineral examination with our new scanning electron microscope.

Past Projects

Maine Geological Survey, Graduate Student Support to Map Coastal Bluff Hazards,, 2005-2007.

Bluff Management, Acadia National Park, 2005-2006.

University of Ulster , Northern Ireland, 2004-2006, Visiting Scholar.

U.S. Minerals Management Service, 2003-2005, Multi-Year cooperative assessment of sand and gravel resources along the inner continental shelf of Maine , (with Daniel F. Belknap, Walter Barnhardt and Stephen M. Dickson).

Maine-New Hampshire Sea Grant, 2003-2005, Monitoring of Coastal dynamics at the Saco River : (with S. Dickson and D. Belknap).

Maine-New Hampshire Sea Grant, 2006-2008, Salt marsh panne formation: (with D. Belknap).


Please see more projects and trips at Marine/Coastal and Sedimentary Research.