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Factors Contributing to Erosion

Erosion presents the greatest present danger to the integrity of the island.  Numerous studies have shown a confluence of factors which have contributed to island erosion in recent years and/or decades.  Those elements include:

  • Sand starvation from littoral drift interference (see Dredging).

  • Lack of vegetation.  The island was greatly vegetated during and prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004.  Even far-West Enders remember having to mow their lawns on a regular basis!  Without significant ground cover, there is little to hold the sand in place.  (See photo of heavily vegetated island in 2003.)

  • Storms (hurricanes and other tropical systems).

The exponentially-accelerating erosion in recent months is likely due to an accumulation of these factors, which has created a "critical mass" tipping point.

To rebuild will likely require:

  • Restoring (or compensating for) the littoral drift that allows the island to heal itself.  This can be accomplished by dumping or pumping channel-dredged sand closer to the island.

  • Widening the beach. In many spots, the land between Bienville Blvd and the current south shoreline is too narrow.  There is not enough width at present to weather even minor storms without more homes and roads being devoured.

  • Filling in the subsurface profile, which is currently too steep and the dropoff too sharp to hold sand on the beach topside.  In addition to horizontal widening, the vertical profile must also be filled in to give the topside sand a better base.

See the following pages below for more detail on the effects, and purported causes, of erosion on the island.

Possible/Probable Causes


Sea Level Rise

Mobile Harbor Dredging

Offshore Drilling


Erosion on the Coastal Mainland

Erosion / Change in Island Shoreline - Photos




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