2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)
Paper No. 33-11
Presentation Time: 4:50 PM-5:10 PM


COOPER, J. Andrew G., Environmental Science, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine BT52 1SA United Kingdom, jag.cooper@ulster.ac.uk

The European coast has a long history of occupation and utilization. Particularly extensive tourism-related development has occurred since the 1960s. A renewed phase of rapid development is now occurring on the Mediterranean, Aegean, Adriatic and Black Sea coasts. This development has altered natural beach behavior in many ways. Even remote rural beaches contain a record of human alteration. In early interventions these alterations were often unintended and the systems adapted to changed external conditions without further impact. Examples of land reclamation, pier construction or inlet stabilization and subsequent reorientation of the shoreline abound. In some instances, however, these initial alterations prompted further measures that led to progressive degradation of the beach. In one example, sand dredged from a navigation channel causes erosion on the local beach, but the dredged sand is transported 100km north to nourish an unconnected beach. On the Spanish Mediterranean coast, construction often took place in unsuitable beach locations (for example, apparently stable back-beach environments) and erosion was further promoted by river impoundment. The initial response to beach erosion evolved from seawall construction, to a variety of engineering methods including offshore breakwaters, and more recently beach nourishment. Nourishment is now the dominant approach to beach erosion in the Mediterranean; it is favored because of the reliance of tourism on beach facilities. Inappropriate material in some fills has seen them set like concrete with razor-sharp shells protruding from the surface, while others are so wide that the landward section is abandoned. There are also numerous examples of beaches being built where none previously existed. The effect of the massive scale of intervention has been to transform beaches from natural to anthropic systems, where humans are the dominant geomorphic agent. The resulting ill-founded confidence in human ability to manage beaches has caused complacency in shoreline planning in the belief that any problem can be fixed. Several examples will be presented that illustrate the problems of this public perception, not least among which is the apparent lack of concern over the contemporary high rate of inappropriate coastal development at a time of rising sea level.

2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 33
Identifying America’s Most Vulnerable Oceanfront Communities: A Geological Perspective
Colorado Convention Center: 708/710/712
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Sunday, 28 October 2007

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 39, No. 6, p. 96

© Copyright 2007 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.