Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The disappearing sand

The beach area north of the mouth of the River Segura at Guardamar has lost between 60 and 70 meters in the last 55 years according to a study by a scientist at the Coastal Ecology Institute of El Campello . This loss of over the 1,700 meters stretch of beach amounts to a decrease of 90,300 meters square in area.

The study, conducted in collaboration with Caja Madrid, discusses coastal erosion on the beaches most representative of the province and its goal has been to implement an environmental monitoring system to establish a starting point for this type of information .

The study also revealed that the stretch of coast on the North Beach of Babylon (Guardamar) has lost, since 1989, an average of 15-20 meters in width - an approximate area of 72,500 square meters.

The main problem for this area are the waves which  easily penetrate inland causing the collapse of many houses on the dunes.The origin of the problem may be alterations of the river Segura, which causes a reduction of sediment to the sea and consequently to the beach. The study also shows that the occupation of the dunes, south of the mouth of the river, prevents the recirculation of sand between the dunes and the beach, promoting erosion by the impact of waves. Moreover, the configuration of the breakwater at the mouth of Segura alters the longitudinal transport of sediments in north-south direction and south-north, caused by waves.

Another cause of the problem may be that the reduced flow of water favours the intrusion of the river Segura into the sea and with it the transport of marine sediment upstream which in turn reduces the beaches of the area.

The good news is that the southern part of the beach at Guardamar where it creates dunes allows the exchange of sand between the dunes and beach. This beach  has remained virtually unchanged over the past 55 years.

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