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Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast

A Geologist Answers Questions about Sand, Storms, and Living by the Sea

By John B. Anderson

Publication Year: 2007

With strong personal and professional ties to the Gulf of Mexico, marine geologist John B. Anderson has spent two decades studying the Texas coastline and continental shelf. In this book, he sets out to answer fundamental questions that are frequently asked about the coast—how it evolved; how it operates; how natural processes affect it and why it is ever changing; and, finally, how human development can be managed to help preserve it.   The book provides an amply illustrated look at ocean waves and currents, beach formation and erosion, barrier island evolution, hurricanes, and sea level changes. With an abundance of visual material—including aerial photos, historical maps, simple figures, and satellite images—the author presents a lively, interesting lesson in coastal geography that readers will remember and appreciate the next time they are at the beach and want to know:               What happens to the sand that erodes from our beaches?             Can beach erosion be stopped—and should we try?             How much sand will be needed to stabilize our beaches?             Does a hurricane have any positive impacts?             How much development can the coast withstand?   This entertaining and instructive book provides authoritative answers to these and other questions that are essential to our understanding of coastal change.  

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Gulf Coast Books Series


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pp. vii-viii

When I was a child, my family lived for a while on Morgan Peninsula in coastal Alabama. My father, like me, loved the Gulf and could never live far from it. Growing up there I experienced things that piqued my curiosity. For example, our neighbor, who tonged for oysters in the bay, frequently returned with Indian artifacts that he had gathered there. We wondered how these objects occurred in oyster reefs that are now in 5 to ...

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p. ix

I want to thank my graduate students who conducted research on the Texas coast and continental shelf. This book is based largely on their hard work. Thank you, Ken Abdulah, Laura Banfi eld, Lou Bartek, Mary Lou Cole, Brenda Eckles, Michelle Fassell, Mike Hamilton, Jessie Maddox, Kristy Milliken, Tony Rodriguez, Alex Simms, Fernando Siringan, Wendy Smyth, Jennifer Snow, Patrick Taha, Mark Thomas, and Julia Wellner. A ...

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pp. xi-xvi

Ask any coastal geologist whether natural forces, particularly sea level rise, or humans are having the greatest impact on the world’s coasts, and they will probably say that humans are winning the race. Factor in our contributions to global warming and coastal subsidence, or sinking of the land surface, and we, by far, are the greatest threat to coasts. Nowhere on ...

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1. Coastal Processes

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pp. 1-18

As waves approach the shore, they begin to drag on the seafloor, which causes them to become steeper and break. A breaking wave is literally surface water that has overrun water near the bottom. The location where waves break is called the breaker zone. Its location varies as wave height varies. Landward of the breaker zone is the surf zone, where extreme turbulence from breaking waves lifts sand off the seabed. The area ...

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2. The Evolution of the Modern Coastal System

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pp. 19-46

To appreciate why our coasts are changing we need to understand how they evolved. To do that, we need to go back in time thousands of years to when the Texas shoreline was located many tens of miles seaward of its present location. ...

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3. Historical Changes in our Coast

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pp. 47-56

In Victorian times, Galveston Island was the “Wall Street of the South,” a boomtown whose growth was largely spurred by its warm climate and proximity to the Gulf. This was before the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston jetties, and Texas City Dike were constructed. ...

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4. Sea Level Rise and the Destiny of Our Coast

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pp. 57-67

For the most part, the changes that are occurring along our coast, such as coastal retreat and wetlands loss, are due to rising sea level and a shortage of sediment supply to the coast. Sea level rise has two components. One is the actual rise in the ocean’s surface, which is called eustasy. The other is subsidence of the land surface. ...

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5. Coping with Coastal Change

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pp. 68-96

Before we get started in our discussion, we need to set the record straight about “beach erosion.” To a coastal geologist, the term erosion implies that sediment is being lost from the system. A geologist thinks about where the sediment is going and whether it is truly being removed from the coastal system or simply redistributed. Mountains erode, and much ...

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6. The Impact of Hurricanes on the Coast

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pp. 97-118

... Category 5 hurricane is one with sustained wind speeds of greater than 155 miles per hour. Such a storm could bring a storm surge of 20 feet, possibly as much as 25 feet in some areas, to the upper Texas coast. Coastal flooding would occur as far away as 150 miles on either ...

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7. Combating Coastal Change

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pp. 119-147

In reality, there is only one way to slow the rate of coastal retreat, and that is to place more sand on the beach. This is referred to as beach nourishment. Trying to engineer our way around the problem has had a detrimental impact, namely the loss of beaches. ...

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8. Development of the Coast

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pp. 148-156

On paper, our coast is in safe hands. The Texas Open Beaches Act guarantees beach access for all citizens. Other laws, including the Dune Protection Act, Coastal Erosion Act, Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act, and the Coastal Management Program, are intended to protect our coast and insure wise use and development. For additional information ...


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pp. 157-160


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pp. 161-163

E-ISBN-13: 9781603442749
E-ISBN-10: 160344274X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445615
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445614

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 124 color & b&w photos. 44 color figs. 17 b&w figs.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Gulf Coast Books Series
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OCLC Number: 733242230
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast

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Subject Headings

  • Coastal zone management -- Mexico, Gulf of.
  • Coast changes -- Texas.
  • Coastal zone management -- Texas.
  • Coast changes -- Mexico, Gulf of.
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