While the coast of the Pacific Northwest becomes populated with houses, condominiums, motels, and restaurants, its beaches and cliffs continue to be altered by ocean currents and winter storms. A companion volume to Living with the Shore of Puget Sound and the Georgia Strait, The Pacific Northwest Coast serves as a source of information about the coast of the Pacific Northwest, its geological setting, the natural responses of beaches and cliffs to ocean processes, and the ever-present problem of erosion.
In this guide, Paul D. Komar, one of the nation’s leading coastal oceanographers, examines the lessons taught by ages of geological and cultural history. With explanations of the area’s geological evolution, including natural shoreline erosion and sea-cliff landsliding, Komar details human interaction with the coast: erosion caused by early settlers, the development and destruction of Bayocean Spit, the disastrous effects caused by the 1982–1983 El Niño, and the notorious failure of a construction project on the picturesqueæbut unstableæbluffs at Jump-Off Joe. Emphasizing the actual and potential harm to human projects and to the natural heritage of the coast, Komar provides the knowledge necessary for finding a safe home near the shore while preserving the beauty that draws us to it.
List of Figures ix
1. A Northwest Coast Perspective 1
2. Geological Evolution of the Northwest Coast 7
3. The Dynamic Northwest Coast 37
4. The Arrival of Man—Erosion Becomes a Problem 63
5. The Development and Destruction of Bayocean Spit 73
6. Natural Processes of Erosion 93
7. The 1982-1983 El Nino—An Extraordinary Erosion Event 117
8. Sea Cliff Erosion and Landsliding along the Northwest Coast 135
9. The Jump-Off Joe Fiasco 161
10. The Northwest Coast—A Heritage to be Preserved 175