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8. Beaches of Mississippi

Richard A. Davis Texas A&M University Press ePub

Beaches of Mississippi

THE beaches of Mississippi are found on two distinctly different coasts: the mainland and four barrier islands that are several kilometers from the mainland (figure 8.1). None of the barrier islands is accessible by vehicle. For this reason and because they are mostly public land, the islands are pristine. A regular ferry schedule in spring and summer conveys people to West Ship Island, a federal park. The mainland beaches are among the most beautiful and best cared for along the entire Gulf of Mexico.

Beach nourishment has been common on the mainland of Mississippi. The first such major projects were after Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Katrina (2005), which hit this coast very hard. A volume of 280,000 m3 of sediment was placed on the eroded beach at Pascagoula with the help of the federal government (figure 8.2). Farther to the west at Ocean Springs the beach is very well maintained. This area is dominated by fine sand with few shells. Wave energy is limited along this coast due to the offshore barrier islands that provide a level of protection. This low wave energy is evidenced by the vegetation near the strand line (figure 8.3). The Ocean Springs beaches also have groins to help maintain beach sediment.

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10. Beaches of Texas

Richard A. Davis Texas A&M University Press ePub

Beaches of Texas

THE Texas coast is essentially a continuum of beaches with tidal inlets scattered throughout (figure 10.1). With few exceptions, these beaches are on barrier islands that are no more than 7000 years old. Mainland beaches are present between Follets Island and Matagorda Peninsula. This is a distinctly wave-dominated coast with low to moderate energy and a mean annual wave height of about 0.5 m. Because the prevailing wind is from the southeast, much of the coast experiences a northeast-to-southwest longshore transport of sediment. In contrast, from the Rio Grande mouth north to an area known as “Big Shell” in central Padre Island, the longshore transport is in the opposite direction. The passage of cold fronts between October and March produces strong wind from the north that blows generally offshore and dissipates wave energy for a few days each year. This process and the relatively strong prevailing wind have resulted in this coast being considered wind dominated, a more specific category of wave-dominated coasts.

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4. Human Impact on Gulf Beaches

Richard A. Davis Texas A&M University Press ePub

Human Impact on Gulf Beaches

MOST of the world population lives within an hour’s drive of a beach. The influence of humans on the coast has been extensive and intensive, and it will continue in the future. The entire coastal system has been impacted by various human activities: the dunes, estuaries, tidal inlets, and most certainly, the beaches. This discussion includes the spectrum of human influence on the beaches going back to some of the early efforts to protect and/or control coastal change. Since the 1960s we have made changes in how we manage the coast, including the beaches. These changes have been aimed at being less intrusive into coastal dynamics and have provided more aesthetic methods for beach management.

Human efforts to control some of the changes that beaches experience focus on coastal erosion and inlet management. There have been numerous approaches to these efforts, some that work pretty well and others that definitely do not. The US Army Corps of Engineers has led the way in the effort to eliminate or moderate beach erosion problems. They have taken considerable criticism over the years because of their approaches to coastal management. Most recently the Corps, as it is commonly known, has moderated its approach and the public has been appreciative of their efforts. Now all Gulf Coast states also have agencies that are responsible for coastal management and for regulating various activities there, especially construction. Typically it is necessary to obtain permits for any type of coastal modification from both the federal (Corps) and state government agencies. The current system is not perfect, but it works much better than in the past, and the coast has benefited greatly from this cooperation.

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11. Beaches of Mexico and Cuba

Richard A. Davis Texas A&M University Press ePub

Beaches of Mexico and Cuba

OVERALL, the Gulf Coast of Mexico is relatively unpopulated and therefore rather pristine. Areas around population centers of Veracruz and Tampico are exceptions. This chapter considers some of the major places where people will visit. The discussion of the Mexican coast of the Gulf terminates in the Cancún vicinity.

The Cuban shoreline is not well known and is frequented only by non-US citizens at this time. The northern coast just east of Havana is the most popular place to visit and has excellent beaches. There are two styles to the shoreline zone in Cuba, and each is discussed.

Mexico

The beaches are much the same in northern Mexico as they are in South Texas. The back-barrier lagoon here is also called Laguna Madre. Overall, the beaches of Mexico are fine sand and are terrigenous except for the area of Campeche Bay and the Yucatán Peninsula, where carbonate skeletal debris dominates beach sediment. This material is coarser than that on the terrigenous beaches. In the area between the two distinct sediment types the beaches are dominated by a mixture of quartz and carbonate debris, giving the sediment a bimodal texture.

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3. Beach Materials, Structures, and Sources

Richard A. Davis Texas A&M University Press ePub

Beach Materials, Structures, and Sources

THE most common term associated with the beach is sand. True, most beaches are predominantly sand, but there are many other kinds of materials that can also be present in large amounts at some locations. In fact, the term sand denotes only grain size; it tells us nothing about the composition of the particles. Sand can be composed of a wide range of minerals. This chapter discusses the range of materials that constitute beaches: their textures, composition, and origins. This information will give us a much more comprehensive appreciation of the beach environment.

Beach Textures

Sand is a particle that is between 0.0625 mm and 2.00 mm, or about 1/16 inch. This range of particle size is part of a comprehensive size classification called the Wentworth Grain Size Scale (table 3.1). Some of the terms for grain-size categories in this classification are quite recognizable, but they also have specific quantitative definitions. For example, the term boulder has a specific definition: any particle between 256 mm and 1048 mm or about 10 inches and larger. The terms cobble, pebble, silt, clay, and mud also have specific quantitative size ranges. Beaches can be composed of boulders, cobbles, or sand (figure 3.1).

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