Two University of New Orleans-led research projects received a total of nearly $650,000 through the first round of Louisiana’s RESTORE Act Center of Excellence grant process. Funding for the research program comes from fines and penalties in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Mark Kulp, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, will lead a research project that received a $349,000 grant to map faults in the Mississippi River delta. The research group under the direction of Marla Nelson, associate professor of planning and urban studies, will get $295,000 to design an effective and equitable relocation policy for people in Terrebonne Parish. The funded projects directly relate to the implementation of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.
Kulp’s research project will use shallow, high-resolution and deep seismic data and sediment coring to evaluate faults in the Mississippi River Delta Plain. Researchers will study northern Terrebonne-Timbalier Bay; Bayou Lafourche, near Golden Meadow; and the Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne areas of the Deltaic Plain to better understand the vertical motion of land surfaces. The research is unique in that scientists will use seismic data donated by the hydrocarbon industry to map fault trends.
Kulp is joined on the project by Nancye Dawers of Tulane University, Rui Zhang of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, David Culpepper of the Culpepper Group, John Lopez of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and Kevin Yeager of the University of Kentucky.
Nelson’s project will evaluate populations in Terrebonne Parish to identify the opportunities and challenges in designing a relocation policy that retains traditional communities while reducing risk. The team plans to collect data by interviewing residents about their concerns and priorities regarding the role of government in helping them relocate, should they decide to move. Nelson’s collaborators are Traci Birch of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio, Anna Brand with UNO’s Department of Planning and Urban Studies, Renia Ehrenfeucht of the University of New Mexico and Tara Lambeth with UNO’s Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology.
Sixty-one proposals for research and collaborative awards were submitted to the Center of Excellence and seven were selected for funding. To select the projects, the Center of Excellence coordinated an external peer review-process where three experts from within Louisiana and from around the country evaluated each proposal.