Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dungeness Spit

There are hundreds of spits and barrier beaches on Puget Sound, but the longest and the best known is Dungeness Spit on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, north of Sequim.  It is also the most elegant, composed of a long slender bar, a rapidly growing tip, and a complex series of secondary and tertiary spits along its inner shores.


It's a 4 1/2 mile walk from the base of the spit to the lighthouse and another 1/2 mile out to the end (much of which has formed in the last 150 years).  You can't actually walk to to the tip -- the spit is a National Wildlife Refuge and much is off limits to casual exploration.

Saturday's weather was magnificent, which meant that I returned with hundreds of photos and dozens of possible stories.  In the interests of time, I'm simply going to post some of my favorite pictures and provide a few chapter headings:  The eastward transport of bluff-derived sediment.  The influence of long-period, but low amplitude ocean waves.  Overwash and spit migration.  The growth of the spit since the 1800s.  The configuration of the spits on the bay side.  The distribution and role of large wood. The partitioning of sand and coarser gravel and cobble on the beach face, the berm, and the backside.  The development of beach cusps.

There's even a story about riprap, but fortunately it looks like perhaps it was a mistake that nature is already trying to erase.

George Vancouver called the spit New Dungeness, after t
he original Dungeness, a cuspate foreland located on the English Channel.  Ness is a British term for a low-lying coastal area typically associated with a spit or barrier - so the term "Dungeness Spit" may be a bit redundant.  

There are some more pictures of Saturday's hike to the lighthouse at

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