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Oregon Coast Beach Shifts Direction of River
(Lincoln City, Oregon) – The D River in Lincoln City has shifted direction in a rather startling way.
Normally, what is nicknamed the “world’s smallest river” heads straight out to sea, with maybe a couple of small twists along the way. It’s a fairly direct route.
Now, sand conditions on the Oregon coast this summer have changed that. These days, it takes a long, meandering route out to sea, curving and twisting in a massive arc that takes a few hundred feet, instead of the usual 100 or so feet it takes to get to the ocean.
Jonathan Allan, with the Newport office of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, studies these things as a coastal geomorphologist. He described what’s happening here: a situation where so much sand exists that the river course is dictated by the path of least resistance.
“Basically too much sand being transported onshore by waves, currents, and wind, when compared to the relatively low flows of the river,” Allan said. “The prevailing conditions at the moment is consistent with the summer build up of sand, enhanced by winds which helps to transport it to the south. Since the river flows are low it is not able to maintain a normal discharge, and hence shifts in response to the build-up of the sand.”
The immediate impact is a larger area with more warm water for tourists and dogs to play or wade in. Those familiar with the area will find it rather remarkable.
The D River is an oddity in itself: there are times it is so low it doesn’t even exist. Its flow can be so low it doesn’t make it across the bridge that crosses over it, and doesn’t get past the Kyllo’s restaurant that overlooks it – as seen here in this photo above. This is its normal riverbed, but this photo from fall of 2003 shows the D River is essentially gone.
Also, the river has been rumored to be registered by Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Smallest River.” Not so, according to Guinness officials. Oregon Coast Beach Connection checked last year with the group.
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