Nantucket's Broad Creek Opening

by W. N. Tiffney, Jr., Univ of Massachusetts, Nantucket, MA, USA,
Robert Benchley, III, Univ of Massachusetts, Nantucket, MA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


On September 20-21, 1961 a severe coastal storm, the remnant of hurricane Esther, formed a 1,200 foot wide, 20 foot deep opening in a barrier beach (Smith's Point at Broad Creek) near the southwest end of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Subsequent tidal and wind-generated currents enlarged the opening through unconsolidated beach sediments. Sand transport through the opening led to sedimentation within Madaket Harbor. In 1977, the Army Corps of Engineers published a report suggesting how the opening might be closed and the harbor dredged to remove navigational barriers and restore shellfishing areas. For the next eight years the cut remained open as the tidal, wind, and wave-generated currents swept through the breach. On September 27, 1985, Hurricane Gloria came ashore in New England. This promoted substantial overwash, erosion, and sand transport along the Smith's Point barrier beach. As a result of this storm, the opening closed. Hence, the solution to this problem, generated by one coastal storm, was simply to allow natural littoral sand transport, speeded by another, to eventually seal the beach.

Subject Headings: Sediment transport | Rivers and streams | Littoral drift | Storms | Beaches | Sand (hydraulic) | Barrier islands | Tides | United States | Massachusetts | New England

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