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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

December 21, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Sand building up bars at Elwha River mouth

Winter storms and a big slug of new sediment from behind the Glines Canyon dam are resulting in buildup of something not seen at the mouth of the Elwha in a century: sandbars deep enough to sink a foot into.

Ian Miller, of Washington Sea Grant, has been out examining the beach at the river mouth and reports accretion both noticeable and dramatic. Here’s his report in his blog.

Here is one of his photos, dramatic to anyone who knows the usually rocky, ankle-turning cobble of the beach at the river mouth.

sand at the beach.jpg

Soft sand is piling up at the mouth of the Elwha River. Photo by Ian Miller

Here are some maps Miller made for Field Notes, to put the deposition in context:

WestSideAccretion_ForLynda.png

Look how large the depositions of sand are at the river mouth, mapped by Ian Miller. Note too, how the shapes of the deposition reflect the prevailing west to east current of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Graphic by Ian Miller

Here’s another look, with the depositions drawn on the landscape. A good way to visualize just how much sand has been pumped out of the Elwha.

MouthPhotos_Dec2012.png

The large amount of sand coursing out of the Elwha reverses a 100 year trend of erosion … at least temporarily. The long-term effects are yet to be seen.

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