Surveying Instrumentation in Mangrove Forests in Puerto Rico

By Pedro I. Matos Llavona

It is well known that sea level is rising and will cause significant shoreline adjustments around the globe. This makes the art of measuring sea level a critical skill for coastal scientists. For precise and accurate measurements, not only it is necessary to understand the functionality of the instruments we use, but also the reference frame to which all our measurements are fixed to, better known as datums. Fortunately, high end technology such as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) can help us measure elevation up to 2 cm precision. This high level of precision requires complex processes. Thankfully, there is instrumentation capable of reaching high precision within a short period of time – the Trimble® R10 GNSS system.

Frances Griswold (PhD Candidate) surveying bridge near our deployed instruments mooring in Vieques, PR


During the Fall semester of 2019, the Sedimentology and Coastal Dynamics Group from University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst visited Puerto Rico to deploy and survey sea level, water quality and oceanographic stations in Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (JBNERR), Los Machos, Ceiba and in coastal lagoons in Vieques. A major aspect of our research is focused on understanding short-term relative sea level change in mangrove forests in Puerto Rico and understanding the effects of hurricane María on sediment transport and deposition. Both of these research topics requires precise elevation measurements of the moored instrumentation. Fortunately, Trimble Technology Laboratory at UMass provided two Trimble R10 GNSS receivers units to measure the elevation of our deployed stations. These measurements will allow us to fix our sea level observations to a known datum and, therefore, assess sediment transport and tidal oscillations with respect to mean sea level. Furthermore, this research will improve our understanding of coastal systems (e.g. mangrove forests, beaches, etc.) response to future sea level rise.

Photograph of Humedal Los Machos, Ceiba, with el Yunque National Forest in the back. Photo credit: Pedro Matos Llavona

Trimble Tech Used:

  • Trimble R10

People Involved:

  • Pedro Matos Llavona, Geosciences
  • Frances Griswold, Geosciences

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