Friday, August 02, 2013

Big Sur

Traveling south past Big Sur, the granite of the Monterey Peninsula eventually gives way to Franciscan formation and other metamorphics - a significant step down in the quality of coastal building materials. Big landslides were simply not part of the Monterey landscape, but here the Coast Highway is challenged by one big failure after another, including this area near Lucia, where CalTrans engineers are undertaking some pretty amazing roadwork (at the Pitkin Curve Landslide, I believe).

USGS Big Sur Landslides

There have been some interesting debates along here about the disposal of landslide material during this kind of work, as the sediment creates turbidity and can impact marine life (the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is offshore). We have our own version of this debate in Puget Sound.  If the landsliding is largely a natural phenomenon (even if the repairs are necessitated by the road) that's been going on for millenia, how much effort should we expend to prevent sedimentation? Or is there something unique about the manner or rate of delivery that justifies caution?

Google Maps:  AERIAL VIEW

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