Hein Home Page

Christopher Hein

Associate Professor

Email: [[v|hein]]
Phone: (804) 684-7533
Office: Andrews Hall 230
Section: Coastal & Ocean Processes
Lab Website: {{, Coastal Geology}}
Google Scholar Profile: {{, Hein Google Scholar}}
Bluesky: {{, coastalgeology}}
Curriculum Vitae: {{, Hein CV 2024}}


B.S., Science of Earth Systems, Cornell University, 2003

Ph.D., Coastal Geology, Boston University, 2012; Advisor: Dr. Duncan FitzGerald, Department of Earth & Environment

Postdoc: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Supervisor: Dr. Valier Galy, Department of Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry

Research Interests

Coastal populations, infrastructure, and ecological communities are currently under threat from atmospheric warming, accelerated sea-level rise, changes in the frequency and intensity of coastal storms, and variability in sediment-supply rates. The response of sedimentary coastal systems to these changes will be driven by the interactions of climate change and sedimentary processes. My research address the complexities of Holocene coastal evolution and the importance of our ability to predict interrelated changes in each of these drivers in forecasting the impact of future climate change on coastal evolution.

Specifically, my work focuses on three themes: (1) links between terrestrial climate change and fluvial sediment export, and their role in the global carbon cycle; (2) the coastal morphologic and sedimentologic imprints of changes in the type and delivery rates of fluvial and shallow-shelf sediments to the coastal zone in response to past climate and sea-level changes; and (3) the coupled responses of barrier islands and backbarrier environments to changes in sea level and sediment supply. I address these themes over timescales ranging from decades to millennia, focusing on the middle to late Holocene. For this, I employ a wide range of laboratory and field tools and techniques, including ground-penetrating radar, sediment sampling and coring, and compound-specific stable- and radioisotope organic-carbon chemistry. My primary research focuses on the mainland and barrier islands of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, but we have active projects studying dune processes in the North Carolina Outer Banks; barrier-island processes in the Gulf of Maine; coastal processes and paleoclimate as recorded in the beach- and foredune-ridge systems of southern Brazil; and marshes processes along much of the US East Coast.

Honors & Awards

Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award, William & Mary, 2022

David D. & Carolyn B. Wakefield Term Associate Professorship, William & Mary, 2022 - 2025

Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, William & Mary, 2018

Alumni Fellowship Award, William & Mary, 2017

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, 2017

Reves Center Faculty Fellow, William & Mary, 2015-2016

Current Graduate Students

Mary Bryan Barksdale, Ph.D. Student (co-advised w/ Matt Kirwan)

Kalya Cahoon, Ph.D. Candidate

Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D. Candidate

Selected Publications

Please feel free to [[hein, email me]] for pdf copies of any of the following publications:

Hein, C.J., Connell, J.E., FitzGerald, D.M., Georgiou, I.Y., Hughes, Z., *King, K., 2024. Vertical accretion trends project doughnut-like fragmentation of saltmarshes, Communications: Earth & Environment, v. 5, p. 74. doi: 10.1038/s43247-024-01219-8.

*Davis, E.H., Hein, C.J., Cohn, N., Zinnert, J., White, A., 2024. Differences in internal sedimentologic and biotic structure between natural, managed, and constructed coastal foredunes, Geomorphology. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2024.109083.

Hein, C.J. and Kirwan, M.L., 2024. Marine transgression in modern times, Annual Review of Marine Science. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-022123-103802.

*Heminway, S.S., Cohn, N., *Davis, E.H., White, A., Hein, C.J., Zinnert, J.C., 2024. Exploring  Ecological, Morphological, and Environmental Controls on Coastal Foredune Evolution at Annual Scales Using a Process-Based Model. Sustainability, 16, 3460. doi: 10.3390/su16083460.

*Barksdale, M.B., Hein, C.J., Kirwan, M.L., 2023. Shoreface erosion counters blue carbon accumulation in transgressive barrier-island systems, Nature Communications, v. 14, p. 8425. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-42942-8.

Wilson, F.L.G., Klein, A.H.F., Mahiques, M.M., Hein, C.J., de Sousa, L.A.P., Cooper, J.A.G., Green, A., 2023. Holocene barrier overstepping, estuarine rollover and drainage merging in a sub-tropical bay, Marine Geology, v. 462, p. 107076. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2023.107076

Georgiou, I.Y., Messina, F., Sakib, M.M., Zou, S., Foster-Martinez, M., Bregman, M., Hein, C.J., Fenster, M.S., Shawler, J.L., McPherran, K., Trembanis, A.C., 2023. Hydrodynamics and Sediment-Transport Pathways along a Mixed-Energy Spit-Inlet System: A Modeling Study at Chincoteague Inlet (Virginia, USA), Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, v. 11, p. 1075. doi: 10.3390/jmse11051075.

Hein, C.J., Pilarczyk, J.E., Brain, M., Green, A.N., Lau, A.Y.A., Ramos, N., 2023. From cores to code: Enhancing data-model integration to improve forecasts of coastal change – An introduction to IGCP Project 725, In: Coastal Sediments ’23, Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, p. 2340-2354, doi: 10.1142/9789811275135_0215.

*Heminway, S.S., *Davis, E.H., Cohn, N., Skaden, J., Anderson, D., Hein, C.J., 2023. Modeled changes in foredune morphology influenced by variable storm intensity and sea-level rise, In: Coastal Sediments ’23, Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, p. 684-697, doi: 10.1142/9789811275135_0064

*Davis, E.H., Cohn, N., *Heminway, S.S., Skaden, J., Hein, C.J., 2023. Linking internal coastal foredune moisture dynamics to erosion vulnerability, In: Coastal Sediments ’23, Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, p. 656-669, doi: 10.1142/9789811275135_0062

Mariotti, G., Hein, C.J., 2022. Lag in response of coastal barrier-island retreat to sea-level rise, Nature Geoscience, v. 15, p. 633-638, doi: 10.1038/s41561-022-00980-9

*Robbins, M.G., *Shawler, J.L., Hein, C.J., 2022. Contribution of longshore sand exchanges to mesoscale barrier-island behavior: Insights from the Virginia Barrier Islands, U.S. East CoastGeomorphology, v. 403, p. 108163. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2022.108163.

Lees, D.C., Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M. 2022. Measuring organization of large surficial clasts in heterogeneous gravel beach sedimentsJournal of Marine Science and Engineering. v. 10, p. 525. doi: 10.3390/jmse10040525.

FitzGerald, D.M., Hughes, Z.J., Staro, A., Hein, C.J., Sakib, M.M., Georgiou, I.Y., Novak, A., 2022. Following the sand grains, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, v. 10, p. 631. doi: 10.3390/jmse10050631.

Hein, C.J., Fenster, M.S., Gedan, K.B., Tabar, J.R., Hein, E.A., DeMunda, T., 2021. Leveraging the interdependencies between barrier islands and backbarrier marshes to enhance resilience to sea-level riseFrontiers in Marine Science, v. 8, 721904. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.721904.

*Shawler, J.L., Hein, C.J., *Obara, C.A., *Robbins, M.G., Huot, S., Fenster, M.S., 2021. The effect of coastal landform development on decadal-to millennial-scale longshore sediment fluxes: Evidence from the Holocene evolution of the central mid-Atlantic coast, USAQuaternary Science Reviews, v. 267, p.107096, doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.107096.

*Shawler, J.L., Ciarletta, D.J., Connell, J.E., *Boggs, B.Q., Lorenzo-Trueba, J., Hein, C.J., 2021. Relative influence of antecedent topography and sea-level rise on barrier-island migration, Sedimentology. v. 68, p. 639-669, doi: 10.1111/sed.12798.

FitzGerald, D.M., Hein, C.J., *Connell, J.E., Hughes, Z.J., Georgiou, I.Y., Novak, A.B., 2021. Largest marsh in New England near a precipiceGeomorphology, v. 379, p.107625, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2021.107625.

Ciarletta, D.J., Miselis, J.L., *Shawler, J.L., Hein, C.J., 2021. Quantifying thresholds of barrier geomorphic change in a cross-shore sediment-partitioning model, Earth Surface Dynamics, v. 9, p.183-203, doi: 10.5194/esurf-9-183-2021

*Wehmiller, J.F., Brothers, L.L., Ramsey, K.W., Foster, D.S., Mattheus, C.R., Hein, C.J., Shawler, J.L., 2021. Molluscan aminostratigraphy of the US Mid-Atlantic Quaternary coastal system: Implications for onshore-offshore correlation, paleochannel and barrier island evolution, and local late Quaternary sea-level history, Quaternary Geochronology, v. 66, p.101177, doi: 10.1016/j.quageo.2021.101177.

Hein, C.J., Usman, M., Eglinton, T.I., Haghipour, N., Galy, V.V., 2020. Millennial-scale hydroclimate control of tropical soil carbon storage, Nature, v. 581, p. 63-66, doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2233-9.

Hein, C.J. & Ashton, A.D., 2020. Long-term shoreline morphodynamics: Processes and poreservation of environmental signals, In: Jackson, D. & Short, A., Sandy Beach Morphodynamics, 1st edition, Elsevier, p. 487-531.

Silva, A.P., Klein, A.H.F., Fetter Filho, A.F.H., Hein, C.J., Mendez, F.J., Broggio, M.F., Dalinghaus, C., 2020. Climate-induced variability in South Atlantic wave direction over the past three millennia, Scientific Reports, v. 10, 18553, doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-75265-5.

*Shawler, J.L., Hein, C.J., Canuel, E.A., Kaste, J.M., Fitzsimons, G.G., Georgiou, I.Y., Willard, D.A., 2019. Tidal erosion and upstream sediment trapping modulate records of land-use change in a formerly glaciated New England estuaryAnthropocene Coasts, v. 2, p. 340-361, doi: 10.1139/anc-2018-0034.

Hein, C.J., *Fallon, A.R., Rosen, P., Hoagland, P., Georgiou, I.Y., FitzGerald, D.M., Morris, M., *Baker, S.M., *Marino, G.B. and Fitzsimons, G., 2019. Shoreline dynamics along a developed river mouth barrier island: Multi-decadal cycles of erosion and event-driven mitigation. Frontiers in Earth Science, v. 7, p.103, doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00103.

*Ciarletta, D.J., *Shawler, J.L., *Tenebruso, C., Hein, C.J., Lorenzo‐Trueba, J., 2019. Reconstructing Coastal Sediment Budgets from Beach‐and Foredune‐Ridge Morphology: A Coupled Field and Modeling Approach. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. doi: 10.1029/2018JF004908.

Hein, C.J., *Shawler, J.L., Camargo, J.M.D., Klein, A.H.D.F., *Tenebruso, C., Fenster, M.S., 2019. The role of coastal sediment sinks in modifying longshore sand fluxes: Examples from the coasts of southern Brazil and the Mid-Atlantic USA. In: Coastal Sediments ’19, p. 2330-2344.doi: 10.1142/9789811204487_0199

*Shawler, J.L., *Ciarletta, D.J., Lorenzo‐Trueba, J., Hein, C.J., 2019. Drowned foredune ridges as evidence of pre-historical barrier-island state changes between migration and progradation, In: Coastal Sediments ’19, p. 158-171, doi: 10.1142/9789811204487_0015

French, K.L., Hein, C.J., Haghipour, N., Wacker, L., Kudrass, H., Eglinton, T.I., Galy, V.V., 2018, Millennial soil retention of terrestrial organic matter deposited in the Bengal Fan, Nature Scientific Reports, v. 8, 11997, doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30091-8.

Hein, C.J., Ten Hoeve, J.E., Gopalakrishnan, S., Livneh, B., Adams, H.D., Marino, E.K., Weiler, C.S., 2018, Overcoming early career barriers to interdisciplinary climate change research, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Climate Change, doi:10.1002/wcc.530.

*Raff, J.L., *Shawler, J.L., *Ciarletta, D.J., Hein, E.A., Lorenzo-Trueba, J., Hein, C.J., 2018, Insights into barrier-island stability derived from transgressive/regressive state changes of Parramore Island, VirginiaMarine Geology, v. 403, p. 1-19, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2018.04.007.

Billy, J., Robin, N., Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Certain, R., 2018, Impact of relative sea-level changes since the last deglaciation on the formation of a composite paraglacial barrier, Marine Geology, v. 400, p. 76-93, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2018.03.009.

FitzGerald, D.M., Hein, C.J., Hughes, Z., Kulp, M., Georgiou, I., Miner, M., 2018, Runaway barrier island transgression concept: global case studies. In: Moore L., Murray A. (eds) Barrier Dynamics and Response to Changing Climate. Springer, Cham, p. 3-56, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-68086-6_1. 

Billy, J., Robin, N., Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Certain, R., 2018, Dominance of inherited geologic framework on the development of a coastal barrier systemJournal of Coastal Research, SI85, p. 406-410, doi:10.2112/SI85-082.1.

Hein, C.J., Galy, V., Galy, A., France-Lanord, C., Kudrass, H., Schwenk, T., 2017, Post-glacial climate forcing of surface processes in the Ganges-Brahamaputra river basin and implications for carbon sequestration, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 478, p. 89-101, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.08.013.

*Fallon, A.R., Hoagland, P., Jin, D., Phalen, B., Fitzsimons, G., Hein, C.J., 2017, Adapting without retreating: Responses to shoreline change on an inlet-associated coastal beach, Coastal Management, v. 45, n. 5, p. 360-383, doi:10.1080/08920753.2017.1345607.

*Deaton, C.D., Hein, C.J., Kirwan, M.L., 2017, Barrier-island migration dominates ecogeomorphic feedbacks and drives salt marsh loss along the Virginia Atlantic Coast, USA, Geology, v. 45, no. 2, p. 123-126, doi:10.1130/G38459.1.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., *de Souza, L.H.P., Georgiou, I.Y., Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T., Cleary, W.J., *Scolaro, T., 2016, Complex coastal change in response to autogenic basin infilling: An example from a sub-tropical Holocene strandplain, Sedimentology, doi: 10.1111/sed.12265.

Hein, C.J., Fitzsimons, G.G., FitzGerald, D.M., *Fallon, A.R., 2016, Records of migration and ebb-delta breaching at historic and ancient tidal inlets along a river-fed paraglacial barrier island, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 75, p. 228-232.

Rogers, L.J., Moore, L.J., Goldstein, E.B., Hein, C.J., Lorenzo-Trueba, J., Ashton, A.D., 2015, Anthropogenic controls on overwash deposition: Evidence and consequences, Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface, v. 120, p. 2609-2624, doi: 10.1002/2015JF003634.

Billy, J., Robin, N., Hein, C.J., Certain, R., FitzGerald, D.M., 2015, Insight into the Late Holocene sea-level changes in the NW Atlantic from a paraglacial beach-ridge plain south of Newfoundland, Geomorphology, v. 248, p. 134-146.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Buynevich, I.V., van Heteren, S., Kelley, J.T., 2014, Evolution of paraglacial coasts in response to changes in fluvial sediment supply, Geological Society, London, Special Publication, 388, p. 247-280.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Klein, A.H.F., de Menezes, J.T., Albernaz, M.B., 2014, Coastal response to late-stage transgression and sea-level highstand, Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 126, no. 3/4, p. 459-480. Click here for a link to the "toll-free" version, downloadable for free to anyone until March 2016.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Klein, A.H.F., Albernaz, M.B., de Menezes, J.T., Cleary, W.J., 2014, Reply to the Discussion by Dillenburg et al. on “Evidence for a transgressive barrier within a regressive strandplain system: implications for complex response to environmental change” by Hein et al. (2013), Sedimentology 60, 469–502: A transgressive barrier at Pinheira, Southern Brazil around 3 ka?”, Sedimentology, doi: 10.1111/sed.12133.

Galy, V., Hein, C., France-Lanord, C., Eglinton, T., 2014,  The evolution of carbon signatures carried by the Ganges-Brahmaputra River system: a source-to-sink perspective, In: Bianchi, T., Allison, M., and Cai, W.-J. (eds), Biogeochemical Dynamics at Major River-Coastal Interfaces: Linkages with Global Change, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, p. 353-372.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Barnhardt, W.A., Stone, B.D., 2013, Onshore-offshore surficial geologic map of the Newburyport East and northern half of the Ipswich Quadrangles, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Geological Survey, MGS Geologic Map GM 13-01, 3 sheets. VIEW ON ISSUU: Sheet 1  Sheet 2   Sheet 3

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Albernaz, M.B., de Menezes, J.T., Klein, A.H.F., 2013, Evidence for a transgressive barrier within a regressive strandplain system: Implications for complex coastal response to environmental change, Sedimentology, v. 60, p. 469-502.

McBride, R.A. (co-authors in alphabetical order), Anderson, J.B., Buynevich, I.V., Cleary, W., Fenster, M.S., FitzGerald, D.M., Harris, M.S., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Liu, B., de Menezes, J.T., Pejrup, M., Riggs, S.R., Short, A.D., Stone, G.W., Wallace, D.J., Wang, P., 2013, Morphodynamics of Barrier Systems: a synthesis, In: Shroder, J. (Editor in Chief), Sherman, D., (eds.), Treatise on Geomorphology, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, V. 10, Coastal and Submarine Geomorphology, p. 166-244.

Billy, J., Robin, N., Certain, R., Hein, C.J., Berné, S., 2013, Barrier shoreline evolution constrained by shoreface sediment reservoir and substrate control: The Miquelon-Langlade Barrier, NW Atlantic, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 65, p. 2089-2094.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Carruthers, E.A., Stone, B.D., Barnhardt, W.A., Gontz, A.M., 2012, Refining the model of barrier island formation along a paraglacial coast in the Gulf of Maine, Marine Geology, v. 307-310, p. 40-57.

FitzGerald, D.M., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., 2012, Morphodynamics and facies architecture of tidal inlets and tidal deltas, In: Davis, R.A., and Dalrymple, R.W. (eds.), Principles of tidal sedimentology, Springer, New York, p. 301-333.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Milne, G.A., Bard, K.A., and Fattovich, R., 2011, Evolution of a Pharaonic harbor on the Red Sea: Implications for coastal response to changes in sea level and climate, Geology, v. 39, no. 7, p. 687-690.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D.M., Stone, B.D., Carruthers, E.A., Gontz, A.M., 2011, The role of backbarrier infilling in the formation of barrier island systems, In: Kraus, N.C., and Rosati, J.D. (Eds), Coastal Sediments ’11, Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, p. 687–690.

Buynevich, I.V., Klein, A. H. F., FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Hein, C.J., Veiga, F.A., Angulo, R.J., Asp, N.E., Petermann, R., 2011, Geological legacy of storm erosion along a high-energy indented coastline: northern Santa Catarina, Brazil, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 64, p. 1840-1844.

Barnhardt, W., Andrews, B., Ackerman, S., Baldwin, W., Hein, C., 2009, High Resolution Geologic Mapping of the Inner Continental Shelf: Cape Ann to Salisbury Beach Massachusetts, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2007-1373, 50 p.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., and Barnhardt, W., 2007, Holocene reworking of a sand sheet in the Merrimack Embayment, Western Gulf of Maine, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, p. 863-867.

Hein, C.J., FitzGerald, D., Barnhardt, W., 2007, Holocene evolution of the Merrimack Embayment, Northern Massachusetts, interpreted from shallow seismic stratigraphy, In: Kraus, N.C., and Rosati, J.D. (Eds), Coastal Sediments ’07, Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes: New Orleans, LA, 13-17 May, 2007, p. 856-866.

FitzGerald, D.M., Cleary, W.J., Buynevich, I.V., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Asp, N., Angulo, R, 2007. Strandplain evolution along the southern coast of Santa Catarina, Brazil, Journal of Coastal Research, SI 50, p. 152-156.

Curriculum Vitae