The Beach Is Back

Janice_Kaspersen_Erosion_Control-Blog

Some property owners in Florida and other coastal regions are no doubt feeling a bit jealous right now. Beach renourishment—the process of adding sand to an eroding beach—is a costly and painstaking process, and one that in many cases must be repeated to maintain a viable stretch of land. It can also involve legal hassles, as the city of Destin, FL, discovered. But a beach on Achill Island, off Ireland’s west coast, has just accomplished the task all by itself.

In 1984, storms decimated the beach at Dooagh, removing the sand—“every last grain” of it, according to locals—and leaving only barren rock. Suddenly this April, the sand returned in just a few days—thousands of tons of it, spread over a 300-meter stretch. You can see a brief video of the before and after versions here.

How did it happen? Scientists theorize that a new wave or tidal pattern might have played a role, or perhaps an increased supply of sediment further along the coast. No one is sure—and they’re also not sure whether it will stay. Sand erodes from and accrues on beaches regularly, varying with seasons and storms and other activities or structures up and down the coast, but the results are rarely this dramatic.
We’ve covered a number of coastal protection and restoration techniques in the magazine—here and here, for instance. We’ll be watching to see what happens on the Irish coast. EC_bug_web

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