Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Regarding the Wild Coast

One thing I had not told about yet was discovering that the river mouth at La Push was being dredged, and the sediment pumped out over the Rialto Jetty. When I drove around to First Beach the day of the big surf, February 14, you could see all the equipment, the pipes and floating platforms, though not the dredge that day (too much surf?). So I hunted down news articles, and by Saturday this weekend was at least prepared for the sight: on the Rialto side you could see the pipe pumping at the far end of the jetty. On the beach at Rialto there seemed to be fresh, unconsolidated unsorted sand and cobbles accumulating over the last couple of weeks (though perhaps it is also the normal cycle of beaches being shifted around by winter storms, changing their profile each winter, rebuilding each summer.)

Dredging operation, La Push (pumping over Rialto Jetty, February 20, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

Still, the dredging is something which apparently happens every few years and was grandfathered in since before the establishment of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

I decided to think of it mainly as returning the sediment to the beach, a process which has been obstructed since the construction of the jetties confined the river from its former freedom to flow north or south of James Island as it pleased, delivering sediment to Rialto or First Beach at different times. Not alien material, but the rock and sand brought down the Sol Duc River and the Bogachiel from the heart of the Olympic Mountains, delivered to the coast by the Quillayute... as so it is.

I decided not to think too much about the irony of the "Wild Coast" sign by the path from the parking lot at Rialto, my favorite sign in the whole world. I started intensively reading up on beach processes. E.g., "Gravel Barrier Morphology: Olympic National Park...", by Patrick J. MacKay and Thomas A. Terich, Journal of Coastal Research, v. 9, #4, Fall 1992. Lovely new vocabulary, 'beach nourishment', 'barrier stretching', 'storm surge overwashing', and so on.

But that was before the damn barge overturned in the river mouth this morning... Barge with dredge sinks near LaPush -- Peninsula Daily News ; Dredge aided but barge sinks near La Push KOMO News. <<-- that second one has a really depressing picture.

Some places are wilder than others, but no place is wild.


Anonymous said...


I have a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at oceaninview.blogspot.com.

May I use some of the information from this post above if I give a link back to this site?


Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at oceaninview.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


mb said...

Which link is down??? Both of the news links are working for me right now (and if they don't, nothing I can do about it).