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College of Arts & Sciences
Earth Sciences and Resources Institute (ESRI-SC)

Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Development Geophysical Mapping and Identification of Paleolandscapes and Historic Shipwrecks Offshore South Carolina

Funded by the Office of Renewable Energy Program, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of the Interior ($ 1,534,189) PIs: Paul T. Gayes (Coastal Carolina University), Camelia Knapp (ESRI-SC, USC), and James Spirek (Institute of Archaeology & Anthropology, USC); submitted through the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium

The Office of Renewable Energy Program of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offered a cooperative agreement opportunity to the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.  The OREP oversees leasing for renewable energy projects on the Nations’ outer continental shelf and conducts reviews of site assessment and construction and operations plans.  This project, titled: “Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Development: Geophysical Mapping, Oceanographic Data Collection, and Identification of Paleolandscapes and Historic Shipwrecks offshore South Carolina” is aimed to conduct an environmental and socioeconomic study needed for the assessment and management of environmental impacts on the human, marine, and coastal environments which may be affected by development of offshore wind energy.

This project consists of three parts:

(1)   Initiate a systematic geophysical survey of two areas offshore of South Carolina that have high probability of being initially developed for wind power generation. This initiative was built on efforts up north. A geophysical mapping campaign in NC’s Wilmington East Call area was recently undertaken by North Carolina with BOEM support. This project seeks to advance the goals of that regional proposal and BOEM Environmental Studies Plan for the northern section of the South Carolina coast where wind power development has significant wind resources available, limited conflict for utilization and supporting work and studies to support industry development.

(2)   Conduct detailed surveys to assess geoarchaeological potential of pre-historic habitation at select sites and to provide baseline information concerning the potential to identify prehistoric and relict landforms, and historic shipwrecks and objects, and hazardous MEC/UXO lying in the SC-OCS. The proposed work will assist BOEM in meeting its management responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act and Executive Order 11593 to identify and mitigate potential adverse impacts to historical and archaeological sites from energy-related activities. The validation of habitat interpretations from geophysical surveys serves to increase confidence in interpretation of acoustic survey and facilitate eventual EIS and site survey requirements.

(3)   Conduct a detailed geophysical survey connecting the proposed survey area and a similarly extensive geophysical survey completed through a partnership with the USGS from 0-5 miles offshore. The survey will be aligned with potential grid connections for transmission cable routes from the study area as a first estimate of site conditions and issues of potential concern in future cable connection.