Gary B. Griggs, James F. Tait, Katherine Scott


As a result of severe coastal storm damage in recent years along the California coast and the continuation of development and redevelopment in hazard prone oceanfront areas, large numbers of coastal protection structures have been built. This same trend has been observed on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as well. At present, fully 12%, or 130 miles of California's 1100 miles of shoreline have been armored. As the number of structures and their coastal frontage has increased, concern along the California coast and elsewhere has arisen in regard to the impacts of these protective structures on the adjacent beaches. Three Atlantic coast states (Maine, New Jersey, and North Carolina) have responded to this concern by establishing state-level policy which prohibits construction of any new "hard" protective structures. Although considerable laboratory scale research has been carried out on this problem, field work has been extremely limited. A study along the central California coast was initiated in order to resolve some of the most critical questions regarding the impacts of protection structures on beaches. Based on 4 years of precise, biweekly, shorebased surveys in the vicinity of different types of seawalls along the shoreline of northern Monterey Bay along the central California coast, some consistent beach changes have been documented. All of the changes observed to date have been seasonal and are best developed in the fall and winter months during the transition from summer swell to winter storm conditions.


shore protection; structure protection; Monterey Bay; structural impacts

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