Abstract

Greenwich Dunes, Prince Edward Island National Park, is a sandy mainland and barrier spit beach–dune complex stretching for about 10 km along the northeast shore of Prince Edward Island, Canada. In October 1923, surge associated with an intense storm produced catastrophic overwash along the whole length of the study area. Subsequent evolution of the system was quantified from historic aerial photographs taken in 1936, 1953, 1971, 1997, and 2005. Orthophoto mosaics were generated for each photo set using PCI Geomatica OrthoEngine, a digital photogrammetric software. Linear changes in shoreline position and areal changes in geomorphic units were evaluated for each photo set. In addition, digital elevation models (DEMs) were extracted from the 1953, 1971, and 1997 aerial photos, enabling analysis of topographic and volumetric changes. The 1936 photos show complete destruction of all foredunes, with overwash and transgressive dunes extending 300 to 600 m inland. A descriptive model of the stages of evolution of the system is proposed based on the processes controlling overwash healing and dune stabilization. Detailed topographic and volumetric changes associated with the development of an extensive transgressive dunefield and subsequent stabilization as a result of reduced sand supply due to the growth of a new vegetated foredune complex and vegetation colonization are doccumented for each stage. It was nearly 40 years before a continuous foredune system was re-established and a further 30 years before the inland transgressive dunes became completely stabilized.

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