Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Coastal Erosion On Grand Isle, Louisiana, Occurring Rapidly

Date:
November 22, 2008
Source:
Tulane University
Summary:
Students measuring the loss of sand on the barrier island of Grand Isle, La., are seeing coastal erosion happen before their eyes. On spits of land on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico students are observing rapid land loss in southern Louisiana.

Students measuring the loss of sand on the barrier island of Grand Isle, La., are seeing coastal erosion happen before their eyes. Dean Moosavi takes students in his physical geology course to the spit of land on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico where they are observing rapid land loss in southern Louisiana.

Grand Isle is an example of deteriorating barrier islands that have served in the past as part of a natural storm surge protection system for coastal Louisiana.

“We knew the island is incredibly vulnerable,” says Moosavi, a professor of practice in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “But we didn’t realize how rapidly the erosion was occurring, how quickly the island is disappearing.”

This semester’s class is measuring the beach after the storm surges of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike hit the island to determine the new erosion rate and to compare it to pre-storm measurements. They found that the island had been breached in two places, with erosion extending through the beach into the forest.

“Less than half of the island was left in this area,” Moosavi says. “Storms come and go, but rarely do you have data before and after.”

Moosavi’s students began in spring semester 2008 to measure the height of the beach relative to sea level, transecting the eastern end of Grand Isle every 50 meters. Collaborating with Grand Isle State Park and the New Orleans Geological Society, the students in the course that fulfills part of the public-service graduation requirement have gathered baseline data for the eastern two miles of the island.

The Tulane students conducted follow-up measurements five weeks after their baseline measurements to determine the rate of erosion. Moosavi says he expected the students’ data to show the loss of beach sand over time. But both he and the students were “shocked” by the dramatic changes they observed.

“For many of these students, this is their one lab science class, and they’re collecting data to help protect a public space,” says Moosavi. “It’s a taste of science that’s meaningful for them.”

Measurements of this type have not been made on Grand Isle before, which makes the effort particularly valuable as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attempts to build up the sand dunes on the island. The Corps’ attempt during the summer of 2008 to restore the dunes for the first time in 30 years proved insufficient for storm surges from Gustav and Ike, according to Moosavi.

Moosavi hopes that his students gain an appreciation of the fragility of the Louisiana coastal region. He also teaches them that other coastal regions are vulnerable. The world’s physical and ecological system is dependent upon land-use decisions made by humans, and his students learn what steps individuals can take to combat environmental threats.

Eventually, Moosavi anticipates having data to present to the community, which will help inform decisions about how the island’s dune system can be restored. In the meantime, the School of Science and Engineering is seeing an increase in students wanting to major in earth and environmental sciences.

“Most people won’t become geologists, and there never will be enough geologists to monitor everything that needs to be monitored,” Moosavi says. “What we need is more ‘citizen scientists’ to raise red flags.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tulane University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tulane University. "Coastal Erosion On Grand Isle, Louisiana, Occurring Rapidly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081122091319.htm>.
Tulane University. (2008, November 22). Coastal Erosion On Grand Isle, Louisiana, Occurring Rapidly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081122091319.htm
Tulane University. "Coastal Erosion On Grand Isle, Louisiana, Occurring Rapidly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081122091319.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins