Miles O. Hayes, Timothy W. Kana, John H. Barwis


To gain a better understanding of the cycles of shoreline changes on Seabrook Island, South Carolina and advise a private developer on how to deal with localized erosion problems, a detailed field survey and historical study were completed. The data base included historical charts dating from 1661, vertical aerial photographs from 1939, field surveys of beach profiles and nearshore bathymetry over a sixmonth period, and sediment cores through the entire Holocene section. Seabrook Island, less than 6 km in length, is bounded by tidal inlets with extensive seaward shoals. With a 2 m tidal range for the area, changing exposure and orientation of the shoals over time has had a profound effect on the adjacent shoreline of Seabrook Island. Historical evidence points to the importance of offshore shoals which act as natural breakwaters and sediment storage systems. At various times in recent history, these shoals have supplied sediment to Seabrook beaches by means of bypassing mechanisms around tidal inlets. On the other hand, migration of shoals has allowed excess wave energy to strike portions of the shore causing local erosion. Along a portion of the shoreline, short-term erosion is jeopardizing the development. Based on the present study, a set of "soft" engineering designs was proposed which attempt to manipulate offshore sand bodies in a way that will be beneficial to the development and preserve the inherent beauty of the shoreline. Remedial measures recommended for the developer included dredging new inlet channels and construction of a breakwater in the position of a former protective shoal.


soft coastal protection; soft design; coastal protection; Seabrook Island, S.C.

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