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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

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Marine Aggregate Resources and Processes (MARP)

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Beach Nourishment

Overview of Beach Nourishment

Beach nourishment, a method of dredging sand from offshore areas and pumping it ashore to widen and elevate beaches and dunes to mitigate erosion has been in use since the 1920s when Coney Island was created. Nourishment is often viewed as a cost-effective and environmentally acceptable method for use on developed coasts to mitigate erosion, reduce storm and flooding risk, enhance recreation, and restore degraded ecosystems. Over the past 80 years about 650 million cubic meters of sand have been used throughout the U.S. coastal zone for beach nourishment. For beach nourishment to be viable, however, large volumes of high quality sand are necessary. Also, the sand deposits must be located reasonably close to the beaches being considered for nourishment and in water depths ranging typically from approximately 10 m, an approximate “close-out depth” for sediment transport, to 40 m, an approximate current limit of U.S. commercial dredging.

Beach Nourishment and GIS

A database of beach nourishment projects, including cost and volume of sand, has been compiled by Western Carolina University (see: The Western Carolina University PSDS beach nourishment database). The Marine Aggregates Resources and Processes group at the U.S. Geological Survey has compiled this information into a GIS file and is preparing an open-file report. Currently, Google Earth files are available for New York (see image below), New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Louisiana. Additional states will be added, and the file expanded, as time permits.

Google Earth image of data

Download the Google Earth file here !

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This page last modified on Monday, 14-Jan-2013 04:50:49 EST