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Find Your Science at GSA
18 December 2009
GSA Release No. 09-72
Christa Stratton
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach
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Heading off Coastline Hazards

Boulder, CO, USA - Sea level is rising, yet Americans continue to develop beaches with little regard for this fact. This new Special Paper from The Geological Society of America presents a collection of case studies that convey the startling saga of ten U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast shoreline communities and the problems created by their inevitable interaction with the natural processes of these highly dynamic geologic environments. Examples from Puerto Rico and Europe are also highlighted.

According to volume editors Joseph T. Kelley of the University of Maine, Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University, and J. Andrew G. Cooper of the University of Ulster, the 11 case studies in this volume foreshadow the impending rise of sea level and the myriad of shoreline responses and political controversies that rise will provoke.

The volume’s authors, almost all specialists in coastal geology, discuss the geologic context of the hazards of each site, the history of societal responses to those hazards and their subsequent environmental impacts, and the unanticipated outcomes of shoreline mismanagement.

Response to the natural coastal processes that threaten lives and buildings is carried out in a context of local, state, and national politics, with fixed short-term engineering solutions (beach replenishment, seawalls) generally favored over longer-term approaches (moving back, prohibition of seawalls). The final aim of this Special Paper is to provide the basis for close examination of future beach engineering and management decisions.

Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through the Geological Society of America online store, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service, .

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting Jeanette Hammann, .

America’s Most Vulnerable Coastal Communities
Joseph T. Kelley, Orrin H. Pilkey, and J. Andrew G. Cooper (editors)
Geological Society of America Special Paper 460
SPE460, 179 p., $65.00, GSA Member price $50.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-2460-7