CESC Lunch & Learn SandSnap - Engaging the Community to Amass a National Beach Grain Size Database

When:  Aug 30, 2022 from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (ET)
Associated with  COPRI Public Events

SandSnap - Engaging the Community to Amass a National Beach Grain Size Database

Brought to you by the COPRI Coastal Engineering Sciences Committee
Chair - Christopher Bender, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, M.ASCE

Sediment size is a critical factor in all nearshore morphology models, yet it often has the greatest uncertainty (Soulsby, 1997). This uncertainty is due to the intractability of collecting beach grain size data over large geographical areas or temporal extents with traditional methods (e.g., sample collection and sieve analysis) and the corresponding absence of a nationwide database of beach grain size information. The SandSnap project harnesses the power of cell-phone equipped citizen scientists to crowdsource a nationwide beach grain size database. Prospective citizen scientists snap a cell-phone image of beach sand with a U.S. coin in the frame for scaling, and upload the image to the SandSnap web application. The image is then analyzed with an open-source deep learning convolutional neural network trained to estimate beach grain size (SediNet – Buscombe 2020). The results are stored on a cloud database for easy access through the web application, and returned to the originator of the image along with a fun fact about beaches with similar grain size to incentivize further participation.

Crowdsourcing the data collection with citizen science provides a cost-effective way capture the critical spatial and temporal variations in the beach sediment size at a large scale. The database itself will massively improve morphology modeling capabilities, both for preliminary studies where traditional grain size data is not yet available and in large-scale modeling with large spatial variability in grain size.

Brian C. McFall, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE., M.ASCE

Brian C. McFall, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE., M.ASCE

US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory
Engineer Research and Development Center

Dr. McFall is a Research Civil Engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. He has more than 15 years of experience as a civil engineer in the private and public sectors. His expertise and research interests include wave mechanics and the beneficial use of dredged sediment. Dr. McFall developed the Sediment Mobility Tool to assist coastal engineers and planners identify nearshore areas suitable for placement of dredged sediment. He is currently leading the “SandSnap” initiative to create a beach grain size database using citizen scientists and their smartphones. Dr. McFall has been an active member of ASCE since he joined as a student in 2001. He was an officer in his university’s ASCE chapter and the Corpus Christi branch. Additionally, Brian served on the Local Organizing Committee for the 2018 COPRI-sponsored International Conference of Coastal Engineering and is currently the Secretary of the COPRI Governing Board.

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Sean Herpolsheimer
(703)295-6000 EXT 6370
[email protected]