Sand mining impacts on long-term dune erosion in southern Monterey Bay

Marine Geology
By: , and 



Southern Monterey Bay was the most intensively mined shoreline (with sand removed directly from the surf zone) in the U.S. during the period from 1906 until 1990, when the mines were closed following hypotheses that the mining caused coastal erosion. It is estimated that the yearly averaged amount of mined sand between 1940 and 1984 was 128,000 m3/yr, which is approximately 50% of the yearly average dune volume loss during this period. To assess the impact of sand mining, erosion rates along an 18 km range of shoreline during the times of intensive sand mining (1940–1990) are compared with the rates after sand mining ceased (1990–2004). Most of the shoreline is composed of unconsolidated sand with extensive sand dunes rising up to a height of 46 m, vulnerable to the erosive forces of storm waves. Erosion is defined here as a recession of the top edge of the dune. Recession was determined using stereo-photogrammetry, and LIDAR and GPS surveys. Long-term erosion rates vary from about 0.5 m/yr at Monterey to 1.5 m/yr in the middle of the range, and then decrease northward. Erosion events are episodic and occur when storm waves and high tides coincide, allowing swash to undercut the dune and resulting in permanent recession. Erosion appears to be correlated with the occurrence of El Niños. The calculated volume loss of the dune in southern Monterey Bay during the 1997–98 El Niño winter was 1,820,000 m3, which is almost seven times the historical annual mean dune erosion of 270,000 m3/yr. The alongshore variation in recession rates appears to be a function of the alongshore gradient in mean wave energy and depletions by sand mining. After cessation of sand mining in 1990, the erosion rates decreased at locations in the southern end of the bay but have not significantly changed at other locations.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sand mining impacts on long-term dune erosion in southern Monterey Bay
Series title Marine Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2006.02.005
Volume 229
Issue 1-2
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 45
Last page 58
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Monterey Bay Canyon
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