San Diego’s Ocean Bluffs – Clear and Present Danger?

by on August 15, 2019 · 0 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Ry Rivard / Voice of San Diego / August 5, 2019

In the decades since [Swami’s] temple slid off the cliff (in Encinitas), more houses have been built along the coast, altering the landscape and, perhaps, endangering those who live there and below.

Of course, erosion has happened long before humans started building houses along the ocean. It’s caused primarily by wind and water. Some water is natural — waves and runoff, for instance. Other water is unnatural, like leaking water systems that weaken the ground, or the rising seas caused by human-made climate change. On Friday [August 9], the catastrophic consequences of cliff collapses again became clear when a bluff near Encinitas collapsed and killed three people.

Earlier this year, I spoke with Adam Young, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher who studies coastal erosion. If you’ve read any articles on the recent bluff collapse, you’ve probably seen Young say cliff failures have several causes and that he can’t speculate on why the cliffs near Encinitas fell when they did. “Technically, all cliffs are eroding,” he told me at the time.

Indeed, one of Young’s key findings is sure to frustrate our search for an obvious crystal ball about what places to avoid. He found that cliffs that had lots of erosion in the past were eroding less now, and cliffs without a history of major erosion could erode a lot more. As a press release summarizing the study pointed out, “These are key findings, because models predicting future cliff retreat are often based on projecting the historical rates.”

For the balance of this article, please go here.

Photo above from Sunset Cliffs bluff collapse of Feb. 24, 2016. Photo from facebook.

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