Geological Characterization of Selected Offshore Sand Resources on the OCS, Offshore Alabama, for Beach Nourishment

by DAvid J. Davies, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, United States,
Steven J. Parker, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, United States,
W. Everett Smith, Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


Most Alabama Gulf and estuarine shoreline is undergoing long-term erosion; threatened shorelines will need programs of replenishment and maintenance if they are to be even temporarily stabilized. Highest priority beach replenishment areas include eastern Dauphin Island; west of Perdido Pass; and west of the inlet at Little Lagoon. There are no appropriate local onshore sand sources available for any such large scale program. Sediments in the Federal waters of the EEZ were evaluated for possible sources of sand for beach nourishment. Six lithofacies were delineated based on sediment characterization, spatial framework, and environment of deposition; of these, two (Clean Sands and Graded Shelly Sands) were deemed to have highest potential as beach nourishment sources. Five offshore target areas were delineated as potential sand sources. Criteria included sand aesthetics, estimated sand volume, and sand distributions. Preliminary environmental analyses included impacts of offshore sand dredging on shelf circulation; on economic activities; and on local benthic biota. Dredging may not significantly alter background wave regimes; however, data are insufficient to model effects of major storms on a modified shelf morphology. Dredging would avoid areas of current economic activity. There would like be little long-term impact on benthic biota in the target areas. Additional work will be required to confirm or refute these preliminary findings.

Subject Headings: Sandy soils | Sand (hydraulic) | Beach protection and nourishment | Dredging | Shoreline protection | Sediment | Gulfs | Alabama | United States | Gulf of Mexico

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