Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Earth Sciences


Joseph T. Kelley

Second Committee Member

Daniel F. Belknap

Third Committee Member

Peter O. Koons


Shoreline erosion in response to rising sea level is a global problem. Recognizing the need for observational data on coastal bluff recession in Casco Bay, Maine, we employed Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetric methods in a dynamic intertidal environment. Evaluating the method as a means to measure and monitor dynamic geomorphological changes occurring at a coastal bluff shows that a spatial resolution of centimeters over an area of 10’s to 100’s of meters can be attained at relatively low cost. The efficient methodology allows for frequent surveys at an operational scale, leading to greater temporal resolution and quantification of bluff erosion activity that supports understanding of the local geohazard. With the greater temporal resolution gained from this evaluation additional inferences are made towards seasonal controls on bluff geomorphology. In the local temperate climate, the dominant erosional actor is characteristically linked to seasonal transitions. Given the urgency of coastal erosion, the lack of local records, and newfound feasibility of repeat surveys, Structure from Motion presents the opportunity to address the uncertainty of bluff instability with an approach that accounts for quantified change over time. Observations were evaluated with respect to: 1) the coastal bluff erosion cycle conceptual model; 2) local landslide hazards; and 3) preservation of a shoreline status record.

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