The global impact of sand mining on beaches and dunes – Ocean & Coastal Management
Beaches and coastal dunes have always supplied sand for a wide range of uses, and initially the extracted volumes were limited to buckets, wheelbarrows, or small pickup truck loads. However, starting in the late twentieth century, and thanks to urban development, especially for coastal tourism, coastal and river sand has been extracted at an accelerated pace, and on a much grander scale…
Vanishing Sands: How Sand Mining is Stripping Away Earth’s Beaches by Orrin Pilkey, et al – Duke | Nicholas School of the Environment
A new book from Duke University Press, “Vanishing Sands: Losing Beaches to Mining,” casts light on the shadowy world of sand mining through case studies that illuminate its disastrous impacts and a concluding chapter that proposes common-sense solutions.
Because of the tradition of viewing beaches as public land, people have historically thought of beach sand as a free and limitless resource, Pilkey and his co-authors explain in their preface to “Vanishing Sands…”
As global demand outstripped the supply that could be economically sourced from conventional inland sand pits, beach sand was deemed a suitable substitute, partly because it has angular grains that adhere to each other and, theoretically at least, improve the durability of any material or matrix they’re mixed into, and partly because it could be sourced from nearby dunes and beaches at practically no cost.
Excavators, bulldozers and dump trucks soon replaced buckets and wheelbarrows.
By 2020, entire beaches and dune systems in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, South America and the eastern United States had been stripped bare…
In addition to documenting large-scale sand mining’s adverse impacts in nine vividly written chapters, “Vanishing Sands” provides a list of science-based recommendations—Pilkey and his co-authors call them “truths and solutions”—for ending the damage.
“Coastal sand exploitation is rapidly spreading in this time of sea-level rise and intensifying storms. Such mining is slowly destroying the protective nature and touristic value of beaches on a global scale,” they write. “Ultimately, the solutions must (include)an inexpensive substitute for sand to be used in concrete…an end to coastal sand mining, and a systematic move landward as the sea rises. Here’s hoping that some wisdom will prevail…”
Co-authors of the new book are Norma Longo, a geologist, photographer and longtime colleague of Pilkey’s at the Nicholas School; William Neal, emeritus professor of geology at Grand Valley State University; Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, professor of geology, geophysics and marine research at the Universidad del Atlantico in Colombia; Keith Pilkey, an attorney concerned with issues of coastal development; and Hannah Hayes, a scholar of land rights, disaster capitalism and risk management.
Beaver Island Michigan, 2016 – 2020: Beach Perspectives; By William J. Neal
Most readers probably have heard of Mackinac Island, either for its strategic place in early American history, or as today’s high-end resort. In contrast, lesser known Beaver Island has a more colorful history.
Skara Brae Beach, Scotland: Thoughts on the Short and Long of Sea-Level Rise; By William J. Neal
Perceptions based on the present 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.
Santa Veronica Beach, Atlantico, Caribbean coast, Colombia: A model of small community, beach loss, wrong responses; By Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, Adriana Gracia & William J. Neal
Santa Veronica is one of numerous recreational beach developments along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast most sharing a similar history of shoreline retreat, perceived as shoreline erosion, and the attempt to hold the shoreline in place through the use of shore-hardening structures.
Colombian Pacific Beaches at the Mouth of Bahia de Buenaventura; By William J. Neal & Orrin H. Pilkey
Among the world’s most remote beaches are those that line the 62 barrier islands of Colombia’s Pacific Coast. Only two roads lead over the Andes to access points from which the islands and their few, very small, subsistence coastal villages can be reached by boat. By William J. Neal and Orrin H. Pilkey