The surveys are part of a 22-beach investigation.
A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Geological Survey and NOAA recently examined beaches in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown as part of an ongoing study geared toward preventing beach erosion. The study is funded by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and is being conducted in partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.
This is the first, necessary step toward coming up with a plan for dealing with some hard issues related to coastal erosion, sedimentologist and lead investigator of the study Dr. Jon Woodruff said in a press release. The public beaches included in this study were identified by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management as beaches in critical need of assessment. Many have sensitive and important infrastructure behind them, such as roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants, and harbors.
In an email to The Times, geology professor Dr. Nicolas Venti, a member of the research team on-Island last week, outlined the threats to the Vineyard beaches they investigated.
In the case of Oak Bluffs Town Beach (Pay and Inkwell), the beach abuts a seawall that protects Seaview Avenue and the downtown area to the west, he said. Hard structures such as seawalls can be undermined by scour when ocean waves and currents are forced to flow against them. Sylvia State Reservation is a thin, low-lying barrier beach that protects Beach Road, Sengekontacket Pond and its surrounding marsh, connects Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, and is a treasure in itself. Dissection of the dunes due to breech by storm surge might lead to disintegration of the barrier beach.
By analyzing the beaches natural shapes and what theyre composed of, Dr. Venti thinks a beach blueprint can be made to aid restoration needs that may arise in the future.
These measurements will allow coastal communities and the state to pursue appropriate management strategies in response to beach erosion, he said. Specifically, information about this type of seasonal beach variability will be particularly useful for potential beach nourishment. It provides a guide to determine what type of material is suitable for a particular location, and how much material might be required to restore a full beach profile.
According to Dr. Venti, Horseneck and East Beaches in Westport, Barges Beach on Cuttyhunk Island, Surf Beach in Falmouth, and Low and Miacomet Beach on Nantucket were also surveyed this year. In total, we plan to survey 22 beaches along Massachusetts coast, he said.
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A federally funded study examines Island beaches