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Folly Beach, South Carolina: An endangered barrier island

By
Norman Levine
Norman Levine
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29424, USA
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Charles Kaufman
Charles Kaufman
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29424, USA
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Michael Katuna
Michael Katuna
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29424, USA
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Scott Harris
Scott Harris
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29424, USA
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Mitchell Colgan
Mitchell Colgan
Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29424, USA
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Published:
January 2009

Folly Beach is a case study on the effects of multiple coastal barrier island management techniques. After the emplacement of the Charleston Harbor jetties in the late 1890s altered coastal sediment supply, Folly Island's beaches have retreated, and beachfront homeowners of the 1900s have attempted to slow the beach's retreat to protect their property along an eroding coast. The jetties interfere with the longshore transport of sand, depriving the beach of sand resources that has led to an erosion rate estimated between 0.3 m/yr and 1.8 m/yr. The town of Folly Beach has armored the shoreline and hard stabilization structures to protect property and prevent structures from being overwashed by waves. Now, property owners must rely on beach renourishment to retain a recreational beach and to protect their property.

Charleston's wetlands, estuaries, and barrier islands are a major economic engine for the region, and Folly Beach is an important tourist destination. Politics, multiple measurement techniques, and poor understanding of the effects of hard stabilization structures on the beach have complicated the ability of policy makers and the public to navigate the variety of issues associated with coastal erosion in this region. Furthermore, its long history of development and attempts to stabilize the beach qualify Folly Island as one of America's most vulnerable beaches and an excellent case study on the effectiveness of different techniques in this dynamic system.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

America's Most Vulnerable Coastal Communities

Joseph T. Kelley
Joseph T. Kelley
University of Maine, Department of Earth Sciences, Orono, Maine, USA
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Orrin H. Pilkey
Orrin H. Pilkey
Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
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J. Andrew
J. Andrew
Centre for Coastal and Marine Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
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G. Cooper
G. Cooper
Centre for Coastal and Marine Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK
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Geological Society of America
Volume
460
ISBN print:
9780813724607
Publication date:
January 01, 2009

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