Louisiana is experiencing the most critical coastal erosion and land loss problem in the United States. Shoreline erosion rates exceed 6 m/yr in more than 80% of the Louisiana coastal zone and can be up to 50 m/yr in areas impacted by hurricanes. The barrier islands have decreased in area by some 40% since 1880. Land loss from coastal marshlands and ridgelands from both natural and human-induced processes is estimated to exceed 100 km2/yr. In response, a two-phase plan has been established, calling for barrier-island restoration and beach nourishment, both requiring large amounts of sand. The plan will be cost-effective only if sand can be found offshore in sufficient quantities close to project sites. To locate such deposits, the Louisiana Geological Survey is conducting an inventory of nearshore sand resources on the Louisiana continental shelf. Exploration for offshore sand deposits is conducted in two phases, with high-resolution seismic reflection profiling to locate potential sand bodies followed by vibracoring to confirm seismic intepretations and obtain samples for textural characterization. As part of the initial stages of the program, reconnaissance high-resolution seismic investigations of three areas of the continental shelf representing different stages in the evolutionary sequence of barrier shorelines were carried out. The Timbalier Islands, flanking barriers of the eroding Caminada-Moreau headland, contain potential sand resources associated with buried tidal and distributary channels. The Chandeleur Islands, a barrier-island arc, have potential offshore sands in the form of truncated spit and tidal inlet deposits, submerged beach ridges, and distributary channels. Trinity Shoal, an inner shelf shoal, is an offshore feature containing up to 2 ?? 109 m3 of material, most of which is probably fine sand. These reconnaissance surveys have demonstrated the occurrence of sand resources on the Louisiana continental shelf. Utilization of such deposits for island restoration or beach nourishment raises the question of potential adverse effects on the shoreline due to alteration of the inner shelf bathymetry by removing material or deposition of spoil in the process of dredging. Wave refraction analysis models provide a means by which hypothetical wave energy distribution can be determined and possible changes due to resource utilization assessed. A preliminary assessment of the consequences of using sand from Ship Shoal, a large shore-parallel feature, as borrow material for beach nourishment was conducted. Initial results indicate that the shoal serves to attenuate storm waves, and removal of this feature would result in increased erosion and overwash on the adjacent Isles Dernieres barrier-island shoreline. These findings illustrate the need to determine optimum dredging configurations if environmentally deleterious effects of utilization of offshore and aggregate resources are to be minimized. ?? 1989.
Additional publication details
Preliminary assessments of the occurrence and effects of utilization of sand and aggregate resources of the Louisiana inner shelf