Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rocky Point

I can't think of another stretch of shoreline that's undergone such major changes in the last decade, except perhaps the site of the Ledgewood landslide (also on the west side of Whidbey Island), but that was a very different kind of change. The change here is significantly greater than the sandy accretion we're seeing at Maxwelton and Useless Bay at the south end of the island.

Rocky Point (see earlier posts linked below) is where bedrock makes its reappearance as you head north along the west shore of Whidbey Island. A few rocky ledges appear at beach level and form a hard point that undoubtedly influences the shape of the coastline along here, acting much like a large groin, with a broad beach built up to the south and sharp indentation in the coast to the north.


Cliffside Park. The spits hadn't arrived here as recently as 2009.
It is along this shoreline north of the point where things have been changing. In the 1990s, there was no subaerial beach along this shoreline between Rocky Point and Cliffside Park (the Navy campground a kilometer north). There may have been shallow sand bars, but waves were still acting directly on the forest-topped bluff and the low bank at the campground was being rapidly undermined.

But sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the sand bars began to grow and emerged as a series of north-trending spits. As new spits formed and grew north, they formed a series of small lagoons. As the berms grew in height, vegetation became established. When I visited last, in 2009, the spits had not yet reached the campground, although there was an obvious bar just offshore.

Rocky Point: February 2009
North of Rocky Point: February 2009

We visited the site on March 6th. The beach just north of Rocky Point has eroded back dramatically, but there is a wide foreland in front of Cliffside Park, as if the whole spit complex has just continued to roll north. The historical imagery on Google Earth illustrates these changes pretty well.

1 comment:

Dan McShane said...

Thanks for these last two posts. Good stuff and appreciated.