California's Retreating Shoreline: The State of the Problem

by Gary B. Griggs, Univ of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


Approximately 86 percent of California's 1715 km of shoreline is eroding. Nearly ten percent of this oceanfront has now been armored. With present day costs of shoreline protection varying from 1500 to 10,000/meter of oceanfront, the costs of protecting the 170 km of developed coastline still threatened by erosion amounts to 255 million to 1. 7 billion. Development of three types of coastal geomorphic environments, the beach itself, eroding cliffs or bluffs, and active sand dunes, has led to the problems and storm damage witnessed in recent years. Careful investigation of the recent geologic history of oceanfront sites prior to development is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, and is necessary to clearly evaluate the risks and expected erosion at any particular location. Once construction in a hazardous environment has taken place, the options available are severely reduced with expensive but somewhat temporary protective structures being the most common solution.

Subject Headings: Seas and oceans | Shoreline | Coastal protection structures | Site investigation | Risk management | Coastal processes | Armor units | Beaches | California | United States

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