Skip to Main Content

North Topsail Beach, North Carolina; a model for maximizing coastal hazard vulnerability

Orrin H. Pilkey and William J. Neal
North Topsail Beach, North Carolina; a model for maximizing coastal hazard vulnerability (in America's most vulnerable coastal communities, J. T. Kelley (editor), Orrin H. Pilkey (editor) and J. A. G. Cooper (editor))
Special Paper - Geological Society of America (2009) 460: 73-90


As a result of the natural setting plus poor development and management decisions, the town of North Topsail Beach on Topsail Island, North Carolina, is the state's most vulnerable barrier-island community. It is our view that this very narrow, low, and duneless island community is the most hazardous on the U.S. East Coast. Although most of North Topsail Beach was designated a CoBRA unit under the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982, the area has been developed extensively (mostly post-1980), starting with "mom and pop" beach cottages, and evolving into large single-family rental houses, duplexes, and several medium- and high-rise hotels and condos. Over the years, North Topsail Beach has experienced property losses from storm surge, overwash, flooding, inlet migration, new inlet formation, and chronic shoreline erosion. The single evacuation road crosses seven swash channels and is flooded early in every significant storm. A political cauldron has evolved, often featuring the front-row property owners versus those behind the front row, in which this middle-class town seeks to solve its problems. Debate centers on beach erosion problems, including proposed beach nourishment; exemptions to banned shore hardening; and construction of a proposed terminal groin and inlet channel realignment.

ISSN: 0072-1077
EISSN: 2331-219X
Serial Title: Special Paper - Geological Society of America
Serial Volume: 460
Title: North Topsail Beach, North Carolina; a model for maximizing coastal hazard vulnerability
Title: America's most vulnerable coastal communities
Author(s): Pilkey, Orrin H.Neal, William J.
Author(s): Kelley, J. T.editor
Author(s): Pilkey, Orrin H.editor
Author(s): Cooper, J. A. G.editor
Affiliation: Duke University, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Durham, NC, United States
Affiliation: University of Maine, Department of Earth Sciences, Orono, ME, United States
Pages: 73-90
Published: 2009
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 11
Accession Number: 2010-018091
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: Includes appendices
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 4 tables, sketch maps
N33°49'60" - N34°19'60", W78°40'00" - W77°55'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Duke University, USA, United StatesUniversity of Ulster, GBR, United KingdomGrand Valley State University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201011
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal