Some Oregon Coast Beaches Seeing Enormously High Sand Levels
(Oregon Coast) – Summer always brings higher sand levels to the beaches of Oregon. But this year – just like summer of 2011 – means some remarkable changes for some parts of the coast.
Last year, the high sand levels seemed almost uniform in their height across the state, and certainly high enough to drastically change many beaches. This year, it's hit and miss, but some areas are definitely seeing marked changes in the way they look and act.
When sand levels get extremely high they can create a sort of faux minus tide look: it seems like the tide is farther out there all the time. Last year, this created huge changes to some beaches, like Oceanside, Arch Cape just south of Cannon Beach and the Devil's Punchbowl near Depoe Bay: suddenly you could access major rocky landmarks that were normally either underwater or too covered by dangerous surf to approach.
Again, Oceanside is the recipient of this, as in the pictures above. Again, you can walk around Maxwell Point with considerable ease, instead of having to tread through the tunnel to get to the secret beach and its many tide pool options.
This year, it's not happening at the Devil's Punchbowl. Sand levels here are normal for summer, but last year they were so high they kept the tide well at bay and allowed access to the Punchbowl much more often than usual.
High sands build up a kind of barrier, even complete sand bars, keeping the tide farther out. At the very least, these elevated levels make for a longer slope, which causes the ocean to have to push harder to get up to where the tide line usually is. If conditions are calm enough, as they have been much of the summer, the ocean stays much farther out. Sand levels will remain high.
All this gives the appearance of a really low tide event, but it's not.
This time around, parts of Lincoln City have acquired enormous sand bars in many spots. Yet interestingly enough, a few patches of this beach are actually experiencing low enough sand levels that gravel beds have emerged, which is prime hunting for agate hounds.
It's a similar story at Fogarty Beach near Depoe Bay, which is showing off plenty of agates – at least earlier this week it was. These conditions can change suddenly.
Tierra Del Mar, near Pacific City, is showing both sides of this coin as well. Most of the beach is farther out than normal and the gravel beds and areas of polished stones that cover this north Oregon coast beach are quite covered up. But one spot is still showing some bedrock, seen here from above.
In fact, this photo illustrates the addition of a sand bar and the difference between tide lines more succinctly than words. Notice the sand bar next to the rocky patch - and notice how much farther out the tide line is there.
Perhaps the most stunning example of what high sand levels can do is at Bob Creek Wayside just south of Yachats. Normally it's covered in nothing but large stones, in a half-circle that's almost like a small bay. The slope here is quite steep and the tide comes crashing in loudly, breaking over the stones and rattling them before dissipating fast.
Now, there's something new and strange at Bob Creek: sand. That's right, normally there's almost no sand in most of this beach (except at its southernmost end). Summer conditions have not only dropped a lot of sand here but created a dual tide line with a sand bar creating a small spit going across this half-circle.
These photos above are of Bob Creek now. Below is what Bob Creek normally looks like.
Keywords: geology, cape kiwanda, topography, geography, fossils, Pacific City, Cannon Beach, Yachats, Depoe Bay, Newport, Lincoln City, Oceanside, Astoria, Oregon coast, science.
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