Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 342: Shifting sands

image from color + design

Last night we attended a public lecture on the shifting sands of a local beach, Herring Cove. The presentation invited the audience to consider the changing shape of the Cape over spans of geologic time, not just a human lifetime. In this sense, areas of the local beaches will continue to erode and dramatically change before our eyes, but the sand is only doing what it has done since glacial deposition- move. It is always on the move but does not simply disappear. As certain parts of the beach slim down, others bulk up. Reassuringly, the stance the National Park Service and the Center for Coastal Studies seems to be taking is rooted in letting natural forces rearrange things on its own as much as possible. Mistakes have been made in the past by intervening too much and it is now clear that even small simple structures and roadways result in dramatic alteration of the surrounding coastline. It was encouraging to hear a "beach" defined as actually a dynamic force that starts at sea and leads up to the land and then over the shore into barrier dunes and salt marshes, in addition to being an incredible place of recreation.

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