Monday, August 30, 2010

Jasper Beach

I'd only seen aerial photos of Jasper Beach before this visit, so I admit I was completely unprepared when I came to the end of the dirt road and found it blocked by a wall of gravel that extended a mile along the shoreline.

Most gravel beaches aren't really gravel beaches. They are mixed sand and gravel, sand with a surface veneer of gravel, cobble, coarse sand, and so forth. But Jasper Beach is a really a gravel beach. It looked like a training site for Maine DOT crews.

The beach face was broken into a series of berms - I'd like to call them swash terraces - and the seaward slope was incredibly steep, as might be expected on a beach with such uniform large gravel. Even with today's very gentle swell, the beach was noisy with rolling gravel.

The main lagoon (lake) is behind the eastern end of the barrier, but the berm also cut off a small valley just west of the parking area, forming a stagnant pond. The berm had been breached here in the past (recent past?), based on a big divot in the gravel ridge and small gravel overwash fan.

Roques Bluff

The main beach at Roques Bluff State Park is a sand and gravel barrier separating Simpson Pond from the Atlantic.

There was a beautiful set of gravel cusps (gravel horns, sandy troughs) at the west end. You could also see the coarse gravel storm berm peaking out at the back of the beach from under the sand and the backshore vegetation. I suspect this beach changes significantly in appearance from summer to winter.

There is an interesting variety of beaches and bluffs to the east of the State Park, including a fast flowing tidal inlet and an impressive bluff completely armored in rock. I suppose there's a neat glacial deposit hidden underneath!


This stretch of rocky coast north of Cutler is billed as Maine's
Bold Coast. There are some big blocks of public land, providing access and preserving it from the development that would inevitably encroach on this wilderness shoreline. There were other cars in the small lot, but I saw no one else on my one mile hike out to the sea and back.

A couple of days later and the swell from Hurricane Earl might have made this even more impressive!

East Quoddy Head

East Quoddy Head is at the northern tip of Campobello Island. The narrow peninsula breaks into a series of islands separated from one another at high tide. The light station is on the furthest north of these.

A simple gravel tombolo connects the first of these smaller islands with the rest of Campobello.

The humpbacks were fishing in the bay, occasionally surfacing and blowing. It was easy to hear them; harder to get pictures of them.

East Quoddy's American counterpart is West Quoddy Head, where I watched the sun rise this morning (hshipman: West Quoddy Head).

Herring Cove

Campobello Island is in New Brunswick, across a short bridge and a narrow channel from Lubec, Maine. Herring Cove is on the south side of the island, just across the hill from the Roosevelt Cottage (so FDR probably new this beach well).

The tide range here at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy is high (25 feet or so) and the tide this morning was pretty low, so the beach was impressively wide! Behind the low dunes, there is a coastal lake that must, at least some of the time, drain out the east end of this beach, but today the channel was dry and only a little bit of water was seeping out of the lower beach face.

The fishermen were preparing their nets for seining, so I guess the name Herring Cove remains appropriate.

There are more pictures of Campobello, and of the rest of this long weekend in Maine, at my hshipman blog.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Schoodic Peninsula

I suspect Schoodic Point is best known for waves crashing on its rocky headlands and that was the primary reason that I raced to get here before the sun set on my overstuffed day in Acadia.

The sunset was great, the rocky ledges impressive (but the waves today were pretty small). But what really impressed me were the boulder berms on the east side of the Point. Boulders and huge cobbles stacked along the shore, offering some sort of hint at what winter storms must be like along here. If only I had left more time to explore them! When I do come back, I'll also want to check out the gravel barriers around the pond on the west side.

Seawall Beach

I guess there is something a little oxymoronic about the name of this place, but it is also an advertisement for the inherent stability of coarse gravel berms. The gravel and cobble are piled up into a variety of configurations along the back of these rocky platforms. These photos were all taken within half a mile of each other. And there isn't a seawall in sight.

Little Hunter's Beach

Little Hunter's Beach is located at a small stream mouth in a equally small cove near Schooner Head on the south edge of Mount Desert Island. Its truly a gravel beach, in contrast to Sand beach or the boulders and cobbles at Monument Cove. I suspect this has more to do with the nature of the glacial source of this material than anything else.

Even in today's calm conditions, you could hear the gravel rattling up and down with the waves and watch the swash get sucked into the steep, permeable beachface.

As we've moved west along this coastline, the pink granite of the Otter Cliffs have given rise to a dark schist.

Monument Cove

Monument Cove is a small pocket beach, hidden in a cove between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs. It would be easy to miss and it looks difficult to get down to (I didn't try). I've seen this beach in dozens of calendar pictures over the years and it's cool to see it for real.

The grain size is huge compared to Sand Beach, just a mile or so away, going to show that you can't predict beaches on gross characterizations of geology or wave energy. The details matter. Source and abundance of sediment, orientation, and simply the antecedent history of the particular beach.

Sand Beach

Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, and this portion of the Down East coast in general, are better known for its rocky headlands than for its beaches, but there are beaches, and each is very different than the next.

Sand Beach, is just that. The sand is mainly shell fragments. It is a pocket beach - actually a barrier - with what appears to be an occasional outlet at its easternmost end. The beach is backed by dunes and a lagoon, then by forest and rocky hills. The back of the beach, at least at each end, lay against a coarse cobble berm. I suppose this may be much better exposed in February after a stormy winter than in August.