Emerald Ocean Engineering: What's New

“Citadels of Coastal Stubbornness”

Recently I made a request to the Coastal List, a moderated email list for coastal engineers managed by the Center for Applied Coastal Research at the University of Delaware, for examples of what I called “Citadels of Coastal Stubbornness.” I defined these as narrow (on the scale of a single property) coastal defense projects on an otherwise unprotected and retreating shoreline; i.e., a hardened "finger" projecting into the sea. I received quite a few responses as well as some interest in the results. This page is posted to allow the members of the list access to my findings. To anyone else who stumbles onto this site and is interested in the coastal engineering profession, I highly recommend the Coastal List [http://www.coastal.udel.edu/coastal/coastal_list.html] as a valuable resource.

Some may view these as images of folly or failure. Responding to a retreating shoreline is both a trying economic, perhaps emotional, conundrum and a vexing technical challenge. This exercise is not intended to criticize the individual property owners for their decisions but to illustrate that there are no easy answers to this issue – one that will only increase in extent and degree in the future. If there is an overarching lesson from these examples it is the difficulty of managing a regional-scale process at the scale of a single property.

The sites are provided below as .kmz files that can be opened with Google Earth. Any useful descriptive text or comment that was provided and the author’s name and contacts (if they offered more information) will be hyperlinked next to the file name for anyone who wants to follow up. I would like to thank everyone who provided feedback and apologize for the delay in posting the results.

(Click on the named hyperlinks prefacing each article below. If installed on your computer, Google Earth will open and display the location.)

Fort Fisher, NC - Not certain exactly what you are looking for but attached is a kmz file for Fort Fisher NC. It is the most complex shoreline in the state. Here is the short story. It is unlike anything else in the state: a mainland peninsula with what is probably left of a barrier island veneer along the shoreline, underlain with several sandstone outcrops. The earthwork fort was built to protect the last Confederate port, to protect shallow-draft blockade runners. The ocean/river connection was closed in the river by the Corps after the Civil War to reduce shoaling in the port’s primary navigation channel. That altered tidal volume in the adjacent smaller inlet. The inlet went from relatively stable to migrating at times in excess of 1000’/yr. As the southern inlet became less efficient, a new inlet would open in a storm farther north and the old inlet would close. Three new inlets opened before the last closed in the 1990s. Most of the fort was lost to erosion. There were several earlier effort(s) to protect it with building debris and in the mid- 1960s, a small revetment. The latter progressively failed by 1986. Most oceanfront erosion control structures have been prohibited in the state since 1986but a generic rule was written primarily for the fort to allow protection of “historic sites” where no other options were available. The present Corps revetment was completed in 1995. Temporary erosion was predicted to the north and accelerated erosion to the south. Immediately ~40’ of accretion occurred to the north, although a(n) unusually high seasonal fluctuation in beach width persists. Interestingly a Corps beach fill was constructed in1997. The new sand supply has enlarged the pocket beach in the middle of the revetment beyond local memory and reversed the 10’/yr erosion south of the revetment to a southward expanding accretion area.

Spencer Rogers
NC Sea Grant
5600 Marvin Moss Lane
Wilmington NC 28409

Pump Station, Huron, OH - Here is one of our favorites from Lake Erie. It’s the NASA pump station for the Plum Brook facility, installed after WWII. To the west is Sheldon’s Marsh, a state nature preserve. The beach to the west has receded over 1000 feet.

James E Park PE
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Office of Coastal Management
105 West Shoreline Drive
Sandusky, Ohio 44870

North Cove, WA - Here is a KMZ file of just such a residence in Willapa Bay, WA State. North Cove has been one of the fastest eroding places in the US (supposedly) since the 1950s. There are a lot of USACE Pubs on this site as well as work in Willapa on the Navigation channel that I helped with while at Pacific Int’l Engineering. We were working with Nick Kraus. I have not been out there in several years, but this residence was still there about 2 years ago. Imagery on Google Earth is not that great because of the rural nature.


David Hericks
HydroGraphix, LLC
Kirkland, WA

Ebro Delta, Spain - Here you have the coordinates (for GoogleEarth) of a protruding (illegal) seawall in an eroding coastline in the Ebro delta (Mediterranean, Spain). It was constructed by the property owners (it is a restaurant) several years ago (originally was inland and the shoreline was seaward of its position) without permission. If you need a closer photo I have it. Also info on coastline dynamics.

Jose A. Jimenez

Katerini Paralia, Greece - An example of what you are asking for is the project at Katerini Paralia (beach), in Greece. It started with one groin after the construction of the fish port, finally the constructed around 15 in order to prevent the erosion and I have the impression that they started the deconstruction of some of the groins.

Stelios Flampouris

Hawk's Beach, Kenai Peninsula, AK - David, this one caused quite a controversy and has been studied quite a bit. It’s on the Kenai Peninsula in Anchorage. The development I marked was first and there’s been a steady erosion of adjacent homeowners property. We have quite a bit of information on the project. I included one news article about the area for your reading enjoyment:

Ruth A. Carter, P.E., Coastal Engineer
State of Alaska DOT&PF, Coastal Engineering Section
5800 E Tudor Rd, Anchorage, Alaska 99507
907.269.6241 907.269.6478


Additional locations having no associated article at this time:

6633 Gulf of Mexico Dr_Longboat Key_FL.kmz

Barrier Islands_Terrebone Parish_LA.kmz

Gulf Beach Drive_Galveston_TX.kmz

Monterey Beach Resort_Monterey_CA.kmz

North Captiva Island_FL.kmz

Ocean Harbor Condo_Monterey_CA.kmz

Ocean Outfall_San Francisco_CA.kmz

Rockaway Beach_Pacifica_CA.kmz

Siesta Park_Western Australia.kmz

Stillwell Hall_Fort Ord_CA.kmz

Via Gaviota Seawall_Santa Cruz_CA.kmz