Skara Brae Beach, Scotland: Thoughts on the Short and Long of Sea-Level Rise; By William J. Neal

By William J. Neal Department of Geology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan

“The sea gives and takes. The sea Devoured four houses one winter.”
— Excerpt from “Skara Brae” by George Mackay Brown (1921 – 1996)

Perceptions based on the present – what we see, hear, feel at the moment – bias our perception of the past and future. A static view of our environment is misleading. The human association with water, particularly shorelines, is a case in point. We do not perceive the history of place, and globally we occupy sites as if they are unchanging, not realizing that in fact they are of high risk. The following are the author’s impressions and personal discoveries from a couple of hours’ visit to Skara Brae, Scotland, site of a Neolithic village with origins going back 5000 years. This UNESCO World Heritage Site abounds in mystery, secrets yet to be discovered, and lessons to be derived. The poet, George Mackay Brown’s words, that the “sea gives and takes” reflects the history of Skara Brae’s discovery, partial loss, and is visionary in that the latter continues. Skara Brae, along with several other important archaeological sites in the Orkney Islands, are now in the “sea takes” category.

Skara Brae is now on the shore of Skaill Bay, Mainland, Orkney Islands, just off the northern coast of Scotland (Figure 1). The crescent-shaped beach at the head of the bay is subject to a high tidal range, and during Atlantic storms the shore is battered by very high wave energy (Figure 2). At spring low-tide there is a wide beach, but during the high tides the beach can be completely inundated. In 1850 a storm erosion at the back of the beach exposed some of the houses of the old Neolithic village, roofless but otherwise intact (Figures 3 and 4). The land owner initiated an excavation that continued until 1868, after which the site remained undisturbed, except for being raided for artifacts in 1913. The sea again took a bite out of the site during a 1924 or 1925 storm that destroyed one of the houses. The first-generation protective seawall was then built in the late 1920s, and has since been reinforced several times (Figure 5).

“The environmental setting of the village when first constructed has been determined to be well away from the ocean shore, behind protective dunes… ”
— William J. Neal

In viewing the village, one’s first impression is “why would they build their houses in such a hazardous place?” (Figures 4 and 5). But we must flash back from 5000 years ago to present in order to understand how the site came to be at the mercy of the waves. The environmental setting of the village when first constructed has been determined to be well away from the ocean shore, behind protective dunes, and near a freshwater lake. By that time, the rapid post-ice-age sea-level rise had slowed, but sea level was still rising. And the climate was changing. Very likely, the ocean shoreline was moving up the valley that is now the bay, and some archaeologists suggest that over time, the village was abandoned, perhaps because of storms moving sand dunes over the structures, as well as changes in the culture. In the sense of “the sea gives,” the dune burial preserved the village. Some millennia later, as the bay extended landward, the sea gave again when the 1850 storm revealed some of the village, before beginning the processes of “taking” by eroding the site.

Visiting the site during a low-spring tide reveals a beautiful beach; one in which the sediment distribution reflects the energy gradient of storm waves (Figure 6 and 7). The steep slope of the beach is apparent from atop the bluff, with cobble to boulder sized, flat flagstones at the uppermost back beach, a zone of more rounded cobbles to boulders at the base of the back beach, and the wide sandy inter-tidal beach on which ridges and runnels have developed (Figures 7 and 8). The flat flagstones are derived in part from the bedded sandstone outcrops that cross the beach (Figures 9 and 10). This island’s west coast is made up primarily of Devonian age sedimentary rocks, the “Old Red Sandstone”, which consists of these bedded sandstones and siltstones that have been referred to as ‘flagstones’ since the early days of quarrying, and are still used in construction. The flat stones in the walls of the Skara Brae houses were of the same origin, 5000 years ago.

The low-tide beach is a wonderful canvas on which a variety of bed forms have developed from waves and currents. Ripple marks can be seen in the runnels (troughs) as they drain, and the water-saturated sand from high tide drains during low tide, giving the beach mirror-like watery patches (Figure 8), and forming tiny rill marks from seeps (Figure 11). In places, one can see stripes of light and dark on the beach from truncated antidunes that formed during the falling tide (Figure 12), and beach cusps on a grander scale. The beach sand is generally fine to very fine, and poorly sorted with very small pebbles of dark gray siltstone. The light gray color of the beach reflects the varied sand composition (Figures 13 and 14), which includes a surprising amount of calcareous material from microscopic shells and skeletal fragments (e.g., clams, snails, forams, echinoid spines, and a lot of unidentifiable material). The darker shade is derived from black sand-sized rock fragments and mineral grains including biotite mica. Quartz grains are also common.

Not far from Skara Brae are other ancient sites (e.g., Maeshowe, Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar), but for this geologist the nearby Yesnaby coast was the highlighted contrast to Skara Brae beach. Yesnaby is a sheer rock coast – beachless with sea cliffs, stacks and arches. All cut in the “Old Red Sandstone” sequence including the Stromness Flagstones (Figure 15) in which one can find ancient ripple marks (Figure 16) and mudcracks on the bedding planes of these ancient lake deposits. And local beds contain fish fossils of the kind first described by Hugh Miller and his contemporaries in the 19th Century, in the days of the development of the science of geology in the British Isles.

For this author, Skara Brae was a place of discovery, that former civilizations did retreat in the face of climate change and associated hazards, that a poet understood better than most that the “sea gives and takes”, that there are a few places like Skara Brae where a seawall is justified (even there the wall contributes to nearby erosion), and, along with its Orkney sister sites, this Neolithic village is an example that a shoreline can be a reservoir to be ‘mined’ for knowledge rather than sand.

Figure Captions

  • Figure 1. Outline map of the Orkney Islands at the northern tip of Scotland (circled area of UK inset map at lower right). The islands are at the boundary of the Atlantic Ocean (left) and the North Sea (right). The star marks the approximate location of Skaill Bay and Skara Brae on the western shore of ‘Mainland’, the largest of the islands.
  • Figure 2. Google Earth image of crescent-shaped Skara Brae Beach at the head of Skaill Bay during low tide. Rocky headlands yoke the beach, and are probably a partial source for the beach sand which is mostly derived from reworking of earlier beaches and sand dunes that formed when the shoreline was seaward of its present position. Even in the satellite image the strong cuspate pattern along the beach is apparent, and one can discern a ridge and runnel pattern. The remnants of Skara Brae village lie atop a cliff/bluff of bedrock, capped by old sand dunes (lower left).
  • Figure 3. Skara Brae’s Neolithic structures were preserved by being buried by sand dunes after their abandonment around 2200 B.C. The stone walls were constructed without cement, but the design and construction created below-ground dwellings that were water-proof. The furniture also was stone. Note people on beach (upper left) which gives perspective that village site is at top of bluff.
  • Figure 4. Skara Brae structures. Note the beach in background (top), and the far bluff of dune sand that is retreating under the influence of storm wave erosion, exacerbated by the rising sea level. Brown wrack line on beach is from high spring tide. Note offset in shore line is past the position of the old village structures, now protected by a seawall (Figure 5)
  • Figure 5. The seawall protecting the archaeologic site was constructed in the late 1920s after a storm had destroyed one of the houses in 1924 or 1925. The natural shoreline position has retreated past the line of the seawall. The erosion rate at the ends of the seawall has probably accelerated due to refracted wave energy.
  • Figure 6. Skara Brae beach at low tide shows the ridge (outer bar) and runnel (trough) system. The water drainage is back flow from runnels that breaches the outer bar, as well as ground water draining from the beach. The brown wrack line in the foreground marks the level of the last high tide. Note the steep upper beach on which cobble to boulder sized material has been concentrated by storm waves, with flatter flagstones at top, and more rounded stones lower on the beach.
  • Figure 7. View looking down the steep beach face from the sand dune cover to the flagstone zone, then rounded cobbles and small boulders, to the intertidal sandy beach. This sediment size/shape distribution reflects the energy gradient of storm waves. The largest storm waves toss the flat flagstones and slabs (cobbles to boulders) to the base of the eroding dune face, with a zone of more rounded stones in the same size range just seaward of the flagstone zone.
  • Figure 8. This view of the low-tide beach also shows the size-sorting pattern as well as the character of the sandy beach. Standing water in the runnels and water seeps along the mid-beach face produce mirror-like surfaces.
  • Figure 9. Close-up of the flagstones. The similarity of these beach rocks and the construction materials of the Neolithic structures are obvious. Given that a similar beach would have been farther from the village site at the time it was occupied, the convenience of the shape of the stones would have made their transport worthwhile.
  • Figure 10. The beach outcrop of a rock unit producing flagstones explains in part the source of these rocks on the upper beach. But some of the beach materials probably have come from the erosion of the nearby headlands.
  • Figure 11. In addition to the larger drainage patterns on the beach (Figure 8), the micro drainage produces smaller bedforms as water seeps from the beach. Rill marks are like micro-canyons cut by the running water. Small 20p coin for scale.
  • Figure 12. Note the striped pattern (dark and light) at the back of the sandy beach (mid-photo). This pattern of truncated anti-dunes forms by wave swash/backwash on the falling tide, and is a fairly common bed pattern on high-energy beaches.
  • Figure 13. The light gray color of the beach sand is due to a fairly high content of dark-colored sand grains. The sand is poorly sorted, but generally fine to very fine in grain size, with some coarser granule to small pebble-sized rock fragments of dark gray siltstone. Dime for scale.
  • Figure 14. A microscopic view of the beach sand shows a surprising amount of calcareous material derived from shelly organisms; the white chalky grains, as well as very fine fragments of thin shells. Whole microscopic snails, clams, and possibly forams were noted. The darker grains include sand-sized rock fragments and mineral grains including black biotite mica. Scale divisions equal mm.
  • Figure 15. The sea cliffs at Yesnaby include the beautiful Stromness Flagstones formation which consists of moderately thin beds (flags) of sandstones and siltstones, part of the “Old Red Sandstone” sequence (Devonian). Not far from this location is a unit containing fish fossils for which the “Old Red” became famous for all over the British Isles in the mid-19th Century.
  • Figure 16. Ripple marks on the bedding planes of these sandstones and siltstones formed around 400 million years ago when these sediments were deposited in an ancient lake basin. These bedforms are not unlike the ripple marks you might find today on the beach at Skara Brae.

References

This Florida Keys neighborhood has been flooded for nearly 3 months


Photo source: ©© Bryan Elkus

Excerpts;

The flooding here and elsewhere is happening during so-called “king tides.” Those are times, mostly in the fall, when the moon’s gravitational pull means tides are higher than usual.

Read Full Article; NPR (11-28-2019)

Rising tides force Miami Beach residents to seek higher ground; CBS News (09-25-2019)

Column: High-rises spell the end for Florida beaches; By Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper; Tampa Bay (07-25-2017)
Floridians are becoming more attuned to sea level rise and more familiar with nuisance flooding related to the rising sea. However, we believe there is less recognition that by century’s end it is likely that most of Florida’s major beaches will be permanently gone…

California King Tides Project: January 10-12 and February 8-9, 2020; California Coastal Commission (10-31-2019)

Worst floods for 50 years bring Venice to ‘its knees’; CNN (11-13-2019)
The worst flooding to hit Venice in more than 50 years has brought the historic city to its knees. Local authorities in the Italian lagoon city called for a state of emergency to be imposed…

Indian Ocean Dipole spells flood danger for East Africa; The New Humanitarian (10-22-2019)
Hundreds of thousands of people in East Africa are affected by heavy rains and floods linked to record-breaking temperature changes in the Indian Ocean. As a result, higher evaporation off the African coastline is being dumped inland as rainfall: a simplified description of 2019’s positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) episode…

Engineers hope high-tech sandbags will keep the beach in Waikiki from disappearing

hawaii-coastal-erosion
Coastal erosion, Hawaii. “Sandbagging is pretty much an exercise in futility. The only benefit is psychological, the feeling of doing something…” Captions and Photo source: ©© Davidd

Excerpts;

A fresh round of repairs to Hawaii’s most famous beach have been completed ― and engineers hope their latest idea will do more to help the shoreline from washing away.

Over the last three weeks, and at a cost of roughly $700,000, engineers worked to install a 95-foot sandbag groin at Waikiki Beach, along with hauling in tons of new sand to help replenish it…

Read Full Article; Hawaii News (11-29-2019)

‘Sand mattress’ technology to combat Mother Nature at Kuhio Beach; KHON News (12-17-2017)

Waikiki Beach Is Totally Man-Made And Disappearing. Can Hawaii Save It?Huffington Green (03-10-2015)

Doubling of Coastal Erosion by Mid-Century in Hawai’i, Science Daily (03-24-2015)
Chronic erosion dominates the sandy beaches of Hawai’i, causing beach loss as it damages homes, infrastructure, and critical habitat. Researchers have long understood that global sea level rise will affect the rate of coastal erosion. However, new research indicates that coastal erosion of Hawai’i’s beaches may double by mid-century…

Terminal Groins Don’t Stop Erosion; Coastal Review (05-03-2016)

The Negative Impacts Of Groins, (02-12-2009)
The negative impact of groins on downdrift shorelines is well understood. When a groin works as intended, sand moving along the beach in the so-called downdrift direction is trapped on the updrift side of the groin, causing a sand deficit and increasing erosion rates on the downdrift side. This well-documented and unquestioned impact is widely cited in the engineering and geologic literature.

Seawalls: Ecological effects of coastal armoring in soft sediment environments; Science Daily (07-24-2017)
For nearly a century, America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with human made structures such as seawalls. These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes…

“Seawalls Kill Beaches,” Open Letters by Warner Chabot And Rob Young; (10-03-2014)

Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities, A book by Chip Fletcher; Robynne Boyd, William J. Neal and Virginia Tice.
“Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities” addresses a wide range of environmental concerns within the context of sustainability and their influence on the future of Hawaii…

Sandbagging at the Shore: North Carolina’s Coastal Sand Bags and Political Sandbaggers; By William Neal, Orrin Pilkey & Norma Longo;
The wonder of modern English is how social use of language expands and changes the meaning of words. Sand bag is a bag filled with sand used for temporary construction—quickly made, easily transported, and easily removed. Typically, sandbagging is the emplacement of sand bags to construct a temporary protective wall or barrier, such as a dike or dam to hold back flood waters, or protection on the battlefield. But the term ‘sandbagging’ has taken on an array of other meanings…

Rethinking Living Shorelines, By Orrin H. Pilkey, Rob Young, Norma Longo, and Andy Coburn;Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines / Western Carolina University, March 1, 2012, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
In response to the detrimental environmental impacts caused by traditional erosion control structures, environmental groups, state and federal resource management agencies, now advocate an approach known as “Living Shorelines”that embraces the use of natural habitat elements such as indigenous vegetation, to stabilize and protect eroding shorelines.

waikiki-beach-renourishment
Waikiki beach-renourishement, 2012. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care.
“Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach started to erode again, less than a year after the completion of a $2.2 million project to replenish the sand on about 1,730 feet of shoreline that had been suffering from chronic erosion.”
“Development is absolutely responsible for the majority of the beach nourishment,” Andrew Coburn, assistant director of The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, said. “Well over 99 percent of the shorelines that are nourished are developed so there is some economic value placed behind them.”

New Earth mission will track rising oceans into 2030


The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 mission that will track sea level rise, one of the clearest signs of global warming, for the next 10 years. Sentinel-6A, the first of the mission’s two satellites, is shown in its clean room in Germany and is scheduled to launch in November 2020. Credits: IABG

By NASA;

Earth’s climate is changing, and the study of oceans is vital to understanding the effects of those changes on our future. For the first time, U.S and European agencies are preparing to launch a 10-year satellite mission to continue to study the clearest sign of global warming — rising sea levels. The Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission (short for Jason-Continuity of Service), will be the longest-running mission dedicated to answering the question: How much will Earth’s oceans rise by 2030?

By 2030, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will add to nearly 40 years of sea level records, providing us with the clearest, most sensitive measure of how humans are changing the planet and its climate.

The mission consists of two identical satellites, Sentinel-6A and Sentinel-6B, launching five years apart. The Sentinel-6A spacecraft was on display for the media on Nov. 15 for a last look in its clean room in Germany’s IABG space test center. The satellite is being prepared for a scheduled launch in November 2020 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS follows in the footsteps of four other joint U.S.-European satellite missions — TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3 — that have measured sea level rise over the past three decades. The data gathered by those missions have shown that Earth’s oceans are rising by an average of 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) per year.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will continue that work, studying not just sea level change but also changes in ocean circulation, climate variability such as El Niño and La Niña, and weather patterns, including hurricanes and storms.

“Global sea level rise is, in a way, the most complete measure of how humans are changing the climate,” said Josh Willis, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “If you think about it, global sea level rise means that 70% of Earth’s surface is getting taller — 70% of the planet is changing its shape and growing. So it’s the whole planet changing. That’s what we’re really measuring.”

Decades of space- and ground-based observations have documented Earth’s surface temperature rising at a rapidly accelerating rate. The oceans help to stabilize our climate by absorbing over 90% of the heat trapped on the planet by excess greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, that have been emitted into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

As the oceans warm, they expand, increasing the volume of water; the trapped heat also melts ice sheets and glaciers, contributing further to sea level rise. The rate at which it is rising has accelerated over the past 25 years and is expected to continue accelerating in years to come.

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will measure down to the millimeter how much global sea level rises during the 2020s and how fast that rise accelerates. As the rate increases, humans will need to adapt to the effects of rising seas — including flooding, coastal erosion, hazards from storms and negative impacts to marine life.

Along with measuring sea level rise, the mission will provide datasets that can help with weather predictions, assessing temperature changes in the atmosphere and collecting high-resolution vertical profiles of temperature and humidity.

As with its Jason-series predecessors, Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will gather global ocean data every 10 days, providing insights into large ocean features like El Niño events. However, unlike previous Jason-series missions, its higher-resolution instruments will also be able to provide data on smaller ocean features — including complex currents — that will benefit navigation and fishing communities.


One week’s worth of data from NASA’s Earth observing satellites show the rising sea level on Earth between Oct. 29 and Nov. 7, 2019. Areas in red show higher levels, while blue show the lowest. The joint U.S.-European Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission will continue efforts to track sea level rise. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Global sea level rise is one of the most expensive and disruptive impacts of climate change that there is,” said Willis. “In our lifetimes, we’re not going to see global sea level fall by a meaningful amount. We’re literally charting how much sea level rise we’re going have to deal with for the next several generations.”

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS is being jointly developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellite (EUMETSAT), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with funding support from the European Commission and support from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). NASA’s contributions to the Sentinel-6 mission are science instrument payloads for the two Sentinel-6 satellites, launch services for those satellites, ground systems supporting the science instruments operations and support for the international Ocean Surface Topography Science Team.

Original Article; NASA (11-20-2019)

To Our Contributors


© SAF — Coastal Care

Our deepest gratitude and thanks to our talented and inspiring Beach Of The Month authors and Photo Of The Month photographers contributors.
—Santa Aguila Foundation – Coastal Care

Contributors for Beach of the Month

Contributors for The Photo of the Month

Steve McCurry
“Weligama, Sri Lanka.” © All rights reserved. Photograph courtesy of © Steve McCurry for Coastal Care’s Photo Of The Month, May 2013.

Climate change is reshaping communities of ocean organisms


Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Climate change is reshaping communities of fish and other sea life, according to a pioneering study on how ocean warming is affecting the mix of species. The study covers species that are important for fisheries and that serve as food for fish, such as copepods and other zooplankton…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (11-25-2019)

New technology developed to improve forecasting of Earthquakes, Tsunamis


Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Geoscientists have successfully developed and tested a new high-tech shallow water buoy that can detect the small movements and changes in the Earth’s seafloor that are often a precursor to deadly natural hazards…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (11-22-2019)

Rising sea levels threatens coastal cities with more tsunamis, scientists warn; The Telegraph UK (08-15-2018)

Are We Wiser About Tsunamis? Science Daily (09-23-2015)

More People Could Survive Tsunami If They Walk Faster, ABC News (04-15-2015)

Sri Lanka wields mangroves, its tsunami shield, against climate change; MongaBay (09-22-2019)
Fifteen years after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Sri Lanka’s government intends to keep expanding the island’s coastal green belt — the chain of mangrove swamps credited with limiting the damage and destruction of the deadly waves…

Tsunamis could cause beach tourism to lose hundreds of millions of dollars every year; Science Daily (04-12-2018)
European tourists are more frequently going to places all over the world with significant tsunami risk, researchers have found. A global tourism destination risk index for tsunamis was released on April 12, at the 2018 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna…

The Environmental Cost of Land Reclamation

hong-kong
Land reclamation, Hong Kong, South China Sea. Photograph: © SAF – Coastal Care.
“Sand is the second most consumed natural resource, after water. The construction-building industry is by far the largest consumer of this finite resource, followed by the land reclamation industry. The Sand business has been estimated to be a $70 billion industry, worldwide…” Captions from Award-winning Filmmaker: ©2013 Denis Delestrac

Excerpts;

The stories exposed the powerful commercial interests behind reclamation in China’s coastal regions over the previous decade and the widespread damage they had done to marine ecosystems…

Read Full Article; Caixin Environment (11-08-2019)

Hong Kong land reclamation explained: the good, bad and ugly methods of pushing back the sea; SCMP (07-29-2018)

Government’s ambitious 2030 land reclamation plan to cost HK$400 billion; South China Morning Post (12-04-2016)

Cities from the sea: the true cost of reclaimed land; Guardian UK (05-02-2018)
Asia is growing. Literally. From Malaysia to Dubai, luxury developments are rising on artificial islands and coastlines. Everybody wins – except the local sea life and the fishermen who depend on it…

Hong Kong’s Government Is Spending Billions Taking Land from the Sea; Vice (11-10-2017)
Through expensive, time intensive, and complicated land reclamation projects, Hong Kong is continually extending out and into the water, where there wasn’t land before…

Built on Sand: Singapore and the New State of Risk, Harvard Design Magazine (09-07-2015)
The island’s expansion has been a colossal undertaking. It is not merely a matter of coastal reclamation: Singapore is growing vertically as well as horizontally. This means that the nation’s market needs fine river sand—used for beaches and concrete—as well as coarse sea sand to create new ground…

Cambodia’s villagers lose ground – literally – to Singapore’s expansion; CSM (10-21-2016)
Singapore is buying tens of millions of tons of sand for its land reclamation projects. Their dredging is destroying Cambodia’s coastal mangrove forests, and fishermen’s livelihoods with them. But the villagers are pushing back…

Monaco’s $2.3bn project to expand into Mediterranean Sea; CNN (01-04-2018)
Now construction has begun on a €2 billion ($2.3 billion) project to extend the natural contour of Monaco’s coastline a further 15 acres into the Mediterranean…

Such Quantities of Sand, The Economist (07-27-2015)
Asia’s mania for reclaiming land from the sea spawns mounting problems…

Land reclamation has harmed marine life: Survey, The Peninsula Quatar (03-05-2017)
Survey shows that land reclamation has adverse effects on coral reefs and fish quantity has decreased in the last five years in the coastal areas of Doha, Quatar…

What Happens to a Coral Reef When an Island is Built on Top? the Washington Post (07-11-2015)
Seven such coral reefs are being turned into islands, with harbors and landing strips by the Chinese military, and it is destroying a rich ecological network. “It’s the worst thing that has happened to coral reefs in our lifetime…”

Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks: A UNEP report (GEA-March 2014)
Despite the colossal quantities of sand and gravel being used, our increasing dependence on them and the significant impact that their extraction has on the environment, this issue has been mostly ignored by policy makers and remains largely unknown by the general public.
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about sand mining. “Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.

Sand Wars, An Investigation Documentary, By Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker Denis Delestrac (©-2013)

Global Sand Mining: Learn More, Coastal Care

The mission of the Santa Aguila Foundation is to raise awareness of and mobilize people against the ongoing decimation of coastlines around the world.

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