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Curiosities of Yachats: Holes in the Oregon Coast, Gushes to Clams That Dig Rocks

Published 09/13/23 at 6:37 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Yachats, Oregon) – If you haven't already noticed, the little town of Yachats is full of holes. Rounded openings, cracks, crevices, grooves, notches, pits and even chasms abound along this rather magical, blackened chunk of Oregon coast. In fact, there's a load of curiosities on the basalt shoreline here, a bundle of surprises lurking at almost every turn. (Above: a hole in Yachats, perhaps only two feet wide. All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Pockmarked Holes and a Sudden Change. Along the 804 Trail, at its very northern end where the black basalt begins to run out, there's a slight shift in color. It happens 300 or so feet from the end of the trail, where the color lightens up a bit.

Then you may notice a sudden proliferation of rather small holes – as if the area is pockmarked in a way.

It's all actually a little connected. Most of Yachats' black rock is basalt – remnants of an ancient lava flow that actually came from Cape Perpetua about 36 million years ago. Yet the northern end is something a little different. You'll notice it doesn't have all the same sharper edges of most of Yachats' shoreline. Inside Heceta Head / Cliffs Near Florence: All Come from Oregon Coast Volcano

According to Eugene geologist / author Marli Miller, this area is a somewhat lighter material – a form of sandstone (which makes it younger, at about 18 million years old). It's actually a conglomerate – a mix of rock types. This makes it softer, which allows for more erosion.

Those myriad of little holes? It's a surprise: they come from little lifeforms having once burrowed into the rock, and then wave action gouging out more.

According to Miller, geologist George Mustoe on the south Oregon coast, and geologist Tom Horning out of Seaside, these rocky holes come from – believe it or not – clams.

“The holes have been drilled by rock-boring clams in the softer matrix,” Horning told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. Basically, clams have a way of rooting themselves in smaller holes, and then slowly grinding that space bigger and bigger.

Land of Spouting Horns. The central Oregon coast is about the only place where there's spouting horn action along this shoreline – with the exception of a tiny one at Cape Kiwanda that's rather rare. In Yachats, there's the very large blowhole at the 804 Trail, near Smelt Sands, and then of course there's the other biggie at Cook's Chasm several miles south.

Yet did you know of the little one at Ocean Drive? It doesn't happen that often, but when conditions are right it fires off a decent stream of ocean spray, even making a little hissing noise as it does so. It's also fairly difficult to photograph as the wind usually launches that spray right at you and soaks your camera lens, so be prepared to wipe it off every few shots. The Unknown Blowhole of the Oregon Coast at Yachats

Mysterious Wedding Arch of Yachats. What is this? Good question. No locals want to talk about it. It is known, however, that a local built it there about a couple of decades ago for someone's wedding. Oregon Coast Beach Connection has attempted to ask around but to no avail. So, whatev's: a mystery remains. It doesn't hurt that there's a home there with a bit of a clipper ship shape. Odd Sights Along the 804

Tiny Bridges, Bigger Holes. Sometimes you can see beneath Yachats. Well, at least the large, rather harsh and coarse grains of sand that exist under most of the area's basalt.

Like this one with a tiny land bridge. The tide often comes barging through here and sometimes bubbles up, creating a bit of a surprise gush.

Some of these holes have been documented as far back as 100 years ago, with old historical photos of them even back then (although this is likely newer than the '30s).

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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