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
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
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
See the following pages below for more detail on the effects, and purported causes, of
erosion on the island.
Sea Level Rise
Mobile Harbor Dredging
Erosion on the Coastal Mainland
Erosion / Change in Island Shoreline - Photos
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