Friday, March 28, 2014

Goopy Guck Oozing off the Cliffs

Muck oozing off the cliffs along Bishop's Beach

I rarely get out for walks along Bishop's Beach these days, and even when I do I seldom get as far as the cliffs. Last week was a gorgeous sunny day (we've had a streak of those days lately!) and Denver and I had some time after school with nothing on the calendar for a couple hours. We decided to take a long walk on Bishop's Beach.  The last time I'd walked there was whenever I last hiked the beach from Diamond Creek to Bishop's Beach, last fall probably, and even then I was further out on the hard-packed sand rather than close to the cliffs. So I was startled at the changes along the line of cliffs since the last time I'd come by.

In some areas the edge had crept even closer to houses or cabins--in one place within a couple feet. In other areas large evergreen trees on the top of the ridge had fallen, prey to the receding coastline. And other areas had some significant slumping. What was most fascinating was coming across an actively moving area.  The oozing mud you see in the picture above was advancing as we watched, with water alternately trickling and gushing down the ridge in the 20 minutes we stood and watched it. Large rocks the size of our head tumbled down, as well as chunks of dirt bouncing down and then hunks of the earth breaking off. In this section the mud was mixed with sections of trees and brush.

The tide was advancing, so the muddy ooze above would soon be gone. In fact, the tide would get as high as where the ridge started climbing. If there were large waves during a high tide, it would take even more of the cliffside.

The receding coastline has been well documented, and to some degree it is a natural process that would occur whether humans were here or not. If property is not at risk, then nothing is usually done. And sometimes even if property is at risk, there still might not be anything that can be done. The type of earth and the level of saturation makes it difficult to contain. It fascinates me seeing erosion happening before my eyes, from month to month and year to year. And at the same time it is disquieting as ocean levels are predicted to continue rising and even as little as an inch can make a difference in how much a shoreline erodes. It makes me wonder what Homer's beaches will look like 50 years from now.

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