The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast: A Geologist Answers Questions about Sand, Storms, and Living by the Sea

The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast: A Geologist Answers Questions about Sand, Storms, and Living by the Sea

The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast: A Geologist Answers Questions about Sand, Storms, and Living by the Sea

The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast: A Geologist Answers Questions about Sand, Storms, and Living by the Sea

Synopsis

With strong personal and professional ties to the Gulf of Mexico, marine geologist John B. Anderson has spent two decades studying the Texas coastline and continental shelf. In this book, he sets out to answer fundamental questions that are frequently asked about the coast--how it evolved; how it operates; how natural processes affect it and why it is ever changing; and, finally, how human development can be managed to help preserve it. The book provides an amply illustrated look at ocean waves and currents, beach formation and erosion, barrier island evolution, hurricanes, and sea level changes. With an abundance of visual material--including aerial photos, historical maps, simple figures, and satellite images--the author presents a lively, interesting lesson in coastal geography that readers will remember and appreciate the next time they are at the beach and want to know: What happens to the sand that erodes from our beaches? Can beach erosion be stopped--and should we try? How much sand will be needed to stabilize our beaches? Does a hurricane have any positive impacts? How much development can the coast withstand? This entertaining and instructive book provides authoritative answers to these and other questions that are essential to our understanding of coastal change.

Excerpt

When I was a child, my family lived for a while on Morgan Peninsula in coastal Alabama. My father, like me, loved the Gulf and could never live far from it. Growing up there I experienced things that piqued my curiosity. For example, our neighbor, who tonged for oysters in the bay, frequently returned with Indian artifacts that he had gathered there. We wondered how these objects occurred in oyster reefs that are now in 5 to 10 feet of water. I now know that these reefs were at one time, just a few thousand years ago, above sea level.

As I grew older, the changes that were taking place along our coast became more evident, and today, a half century later, I occasionally return to our old bay house and view with amazement the amount of shoreline erosion that has occurred during my lifetime. But nature is not the only force that has changed the coast. When I was a kid, miles of beach were accessible to the public. Now I drive along the coast at Gulf Shores, Alabama, for miles and cannot see the Gulf past all the condominiums—at least that was the case until the summer of 2004, when Hurricane Ivan destroyed many of those that lined the coast.

Texans are fortunate. We have vast stretches of undeveloped coastline, and beach access is guaranteed to all citizens by law. Unfortunately these laws are eroding with our beaches.

In 1975 my family and I moved to Houston and immediately began visiting the upper Texas coast. I must admit that at first I was not impressed with Texas beaches. They certainly are not as spectacular as the white sandy beaches of west Florida and Alabama. When we first started going to the beach we saw more cows than people. That is starting to change. The upper Texas coast has finally been discovered, and developers are cashing in on this interest. Preservation of our valued coastal areas hinges on citizens being better informed about how coasts evolve, how they operate, and which natural processes will threaten them in the next century. We must all take an active role in protecting the coast.

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