Gary B Griggs

TitleDistinguished Professor of Earth Sciences
DivisionPhysical & Biological Sciences
DepartmentEarth & Planetary Sciences Department,
Institute of Marine Sciences
AffiliationsEnvironmental Studies Department
Web Site Institute of Marine Sciences
Seymour Marine Discovery Center
OfficeEarth & Marine Sciences A361
Campus Mail StopOcean Sciences
Gary B Griggs

Research Interests

Gary Griggs' research is focused on the coastal zone and ranges from coastal evolution and development, through shoreline processes, coastal hazards and coastal engineering, and sea level rise. Recent research projects have focused on documenting and understanding coastal erosion processes including temporal and spatial variations in rates of retreat; evaluating the effectiveness of coastal protection structures and the impacts of coastal engineering projects (seawalls, jetties, breakwaters) on coastal processes and beaches; evaluating beach processes and quantifying littoral cell budgets and human impacts on these budgets; impacts of extreme events such as El Ninos) on coastlines; the impacts of sea level rise on California's beaches and coastline; and coastal policies to reduce the impacts of hazards and sea level rise.

Biography, Education and Training

B.A., Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara (1965)
Ph.D., Oceanography, Oregon State University (1968)

Honors, Awards and Grants

1974-75: Fulbright Fellow- Institute of Oceanographic Research, Athens, Greece
1998: University of California, Santa Cruz, Division of Natural Sciences- Outstanding Faculty Award (teaching-research-service)
2001: Distinguished Alumnus Award- Geological Sciences Department, University of California Santa Barbara
2003: American Shore and Beach Preservation Association: Joe Johnson Coastal Research Award
2006: University of California Santa Cruz Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award
2006: University of California Santa Cruz Pioneer Faculty Award
2007: Ed Ricketts Award for Sustained Research in Marine Science- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
2009: California Coastal Commission/Sunset Magazine California Coastal Hero award.
2010: Elected to California Academy of Sciences.

2012: Appointed to California Ocean Sciences Trust

2016: Edna Hecox Naturalist Award

Selected Publications

  • Griggs, G.B. 2010. Introduction to California’s Beaches and Coast. (book). University of California Press, 311pp.

  • Griggs, G.B. and Ross, D.S., 2006. Santa Cruz Coast- Then and Now. (book) Arcadia Publishing Co., Charlotte, S.C. 95pp.

  • Griggs, G.B., Patsch, K.B. and Savoy, L.E., 2005. LIVING WITH THE CHANGING CALIFORNIA COAST (book). University of California Press: 540pp.

  • Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B. 2012. Adapting to Sea Level Rise- A Guide for California’s Coastal Communities. California Energy Commission-Public Interest Environmental Research Program and California Ocean Sciences Trust: 52p.

  • Orme, A.R., Griggs, G.B., Revell, D.L., Zoulas, J.G., Grandy, C.C., and Koo, J. 2011. Beach changes along the Southern California coast during the twentieth century: A comparison of natural and human forcing factors. Shore and Beach 79:4:38-50.

  • Griggs, G.B., 2011. 1965- The Recovery of the First Ocean Floor Evidence of Great Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquakes. EOS, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union v, 92: 39: 325-326.

  • Griggs, G.B., 2010. The Effects of Armoring Shorelines – The California Experience, In: Puget Sound Shorelines and the Impacts of Armoring-Proceedings of a State of the Sciences Workshop, May 2009. USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5254, 77-84.

  • Kinsman, N. and Griggs, G.B., 2010. California Coastal Sand Retention Today: Attributes and Influence of Effective Structures: Shore and Beach 78:4:64-74.

  • Griggs, G.B. and Ross, D.S., 2014. The California Coast from the Air- Images of a Changing Landscape. Mountain Press, Missoula, Mt. 176pp. 

  • Griggs, G. B. 2015. Lost Neighborhoods of the California Coast, Journal of Coastal Research. 30(1): 129-147. On-line:

  • Atwater, B.F., Carson, B., Griggs, G.B., Johnson, H.P., and Salmi, M.S. 2014. Rethinking turbidite paleoseismology along the Cascadia subduction zone. Geology: v. 42:9: 827-830. 

  • Griggs, G.B. 2014. Monterey Bay, California: Beach sand mining from a national marine sanctuary. Coastal Care:

  • Hapke, C.J. Adams, P.N., Allan, J. Ashton, A. Griggs, G.B., Hampton, M.A., Kelly, J., and Young, A. The rock coast of the USA. Chapter 9, In: Geological Society of London Memoir: Rocky Coast Geomorphology: A Global Synthesis, v. 40: 137-154.

  • Andeson, J., Griggs, G., & Nichols, R.J. and Uhlenbrock, K. 2013. Adapting to Shifting Tides: Science and the Policy Implications of Coastal Change. EOS: 94:47: 435. 

  • Caldwell, M. R., Hartge, E. H., Ewing, L. C., Griggs, G., Kelly, R. P., Moser, S. C., Newkirk, S. G., Smyth, R. A., & Woodson, C. B. (2013). Coastal Issues. In: Garfin, G., Jardine, A., Merideth, R., Black, M., & LeRoy, S. (Eds.), Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: a Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment. A report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. Washington, DC: Island Press: Chapter 9: 168-196. 

  • Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B. 2013. California sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation guidance document: A summary report. Shore and Beach V. 81:1: 1-7.

  • Quan, S., R.G. Kvitek, D.P. Smith, and G.B. Griggs. 2013. Using vessel-based LIDAR to quantify coastal erosion during El Niño and inter-El Niño periods in Monterey Bay, CA. Journal of Coastal Research, V.29:3:555-565. 

  • National Research Council, 2012. Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon and Washington: Past, Present and Future. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 274pp.

  • Atwater, B.F., and Griggs, G.B., 2012, Deep-sea turbidites as guides to Holocene earthquake history at the Cascadia Subduction Zone; Alternative views for a seismic-hazard workshop: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2012-1043, 58 p., available at

  • Grandy, C.C. and Griggs, G.B.  2009. Natural and anthropogenic changes to beach sand supply in the Oceanside Littoral Cell, San Diego, California. Shore and Beach 77:30-38. 

  • Patsch, K.B. and Griggs, G.B. 2008. A sand budget for the Santa Barbara Littoral Cell, California. Marine Geology 252:50-61.

  • Slagel, M.J. and Griggs, G. 2008. Cumulative Losses of Sand to the Major Littoral Cells of California by Impoundment behind Coastal Dams. Journal of Coastal Research 252:50-61.

  • Revell, D.L, Marra, J.J. and Griggs, G.B. 2007. Sandshed management. Journal of Coastal Research Special Issue 50: 93-98.

  • Griggs, G.B. and Slagel, M.J. 2007. A regional approach to coastal protection. Shore and Beach 75(3): 3-20.

  • Limber, P.W., Patsch, K.B., and Griggs, G.B. 2007. Coastal sediment budgets and the littoral cutoff diameter: a grain size threshold for quantifying active sediment inputs. Journal of Coastal Research 2(2B): 122-133.

  • Revell, D.L. and Griggs, G.B., 2007. Regional shoreline and beach changes in the Santa Barbara sandshed. Proc. Coastal Sediments 2007. ASCE.

  • Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B. 2012. Adapting to Sea Level Rise- A Guide for California’s Coastal Communities. California Energy Commission-Public Interest Environmental Research Program and California Ocean Sciences Trust: 52p.

  • Russell, N.L. and Griggs, G.B., 2013. City of Santa Barbara sea-level rise vulnerability assessment: A summary report. Shore and Beach V. 81(4): 38-51.

  • Griggs, G.B. 2014. Our Ocean Backyard- Collected Essays. Creative Space. 542pp.

  • Griggs, G.B. 2015. The California Coastal Records Project: A globally accessible record of coastal change, Shore and Beach 83(2): 1-14.

  • Griggs, G.B. and Kinsman, N., 2016. Beach Widths, Cliff Slopes, and Artificial Nourishment Along the California Coast, Shore and Beach:84:1-12. 


  • Griggs, G.B. 2014. Walls Around our Coastal Cities. Coastal Care:

  • Griggs, G.B. 2015. How do you measure a sea’s level anyway. The Conversation:

  • Griggs, G.B. 2015. The Colors of Beach Sand. Coastal Care:

  • Griggs, G.B. 2015. Isle of Skye-Coral Beach, Scotland. Coastal Care:





Teaching Interests

Coastal Geology, Oceanography