Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Allen M. Gontz

Second Advisor

Crystal Schaaf

Third Advisor

Steven Grey


Many methods have been employed to study coastline change. These methods range from historical map analysis to GPS surveys to modern airborne LiDAR and satellite imagery. These previously used methods can be time consuming, labor intensive, and expensive and have varying degrees of accuracy and temporal coverage. Additionally, it is often difficult to apply such techniques in direct response to an isolated event within an appropriate temporal framework. Here we utilize a new ground based Canopy Biomass LiDAR (CBL) system built at The University of Massachusetts Boston (in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology) in order to identify and analyze coastal change on Lovells Island, Boston Harbor. Surveys of a bluff developing in an eroding drumlin and beach cusps on a high-energy cobble beach on Lovells Island were conducted in June, September and December of 2013. At each site for each survey, the CBL was set up and multiple scans of each feature were taken on a predetermined transect that was established parallel to the high-water mark at distances relative to the scale of the bluff and cusps. The scans from each feature were compiled, integrated and visualized using Meshlab. Results from our surveys indicate that the highly portable and easy to deploy CBL system produces images of exceptional clarity, with the capacity to resolve small-scale changes to coastal features and systems. The CBL, while still under development (and coastal surveying protocols with it are just being established), appears to be an ideal tool for analyzing coastal geological features and is anticipated to prove to be a useful tool for the observation and analysis of coastal change. Furthermore, there is significant potential for utilizing the low cost ultra-portable CBL in frequent deployments to develop small-scale erosion rate and sediment budget analyses.