Marine Science Faculty Publications


Geologic Framework Influences on the Geomorphology of an Anthropogenically Modified Barrier Island: Assessment of Dune/Beach Changes at Fire Island, New York

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Framework geology, Coastal geomorphology, Beach replenishment, LiDAR, Volume change, Topography

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Antecedent geology plays a crucial role in determining the inner-shelf, nearshore, and onshore geomorphology observed in coastal systems. However, the influence of the geologic framework on a system is difficult to extract when evaluating responses to changes due to storms and anthropogenic modifications, and few studies have quantified the potential for these influences in dune/beach environments. This study evaluates topographic change to the dune/beach system at Fire Island, New York over a ten year period (1998-2008) at two sites representing eastern and western reaches of the island where morphology has been shown to vary. The sites are situated along swaths of coast eroding differentially and where the inner shelf geologic framework differs substantially. Fewer large storms occurred in the first half of the study period, compared with the later part of the study period which includes several severe and prolonged extratropical storms. Additionally, a major beach replenishment project was conducted at one of the study sites. Topographic data from LiDAR and RTK GPS surveys are used to construct high-resolution 3D surfaces, which are used to determine volumetric change and to extract 2D alongshore features and profiles for analysis. The study sites help to further characterize morphologic differences between eastern and western reaches of the island. The western site displays higher sand volumes, lower dunes, and a lower gradient profile slope when compared with the eastern site. In addition to these fundamental morphologic differences, the two sites also differ significantly in their response to coastal storms and in the fact that their replenishment histories are different. The replenished areas show reduced vulnerability to storms through minimal volume loss and shoreline accretion that should be considered when evaluating the response of replenished areas to episodic events. We propose that site-specific differences evident throughout the study period can be linked to alongshore variations in the framework geology of the system. Anthropogenic modifications may have intensified differences already inherent in the system.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Geomorphology, v. 126, issue 1-2, p. 82-96