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Images: Scientists Unearth Long Record of Past Hurricanes

Researchers extracted and examined cores of sediment from Laguna Playa Grande in Vieques, Puerto Rico, to look for evidence of intense hurricanes. (Photo by Jeff Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Laguna Playa Grande (left) sits behind a vegetation-covered barrier beach that is as much as 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) high. Laguna Playa Grande (left) sits behind a vegetation-covered barrier beach that is as much as 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) high. Surges from intense storms carry sand from the ocean beach over the dunes and into the lagoon. Such "over-topping" events leave distinctive layers of coarse-grained sands and bits of shell interspersed between the organic-rich silt usually found in lagoon sediments.

Graduate student Jonathan Woodruff of the WHOI Geology and Geophysics Department works to sink a coring tube into the sediments beneath Laguna Playa Grande. (Photo by Erin Bryant)