A review of the geologic hazards along the Lake Erie shore of Ohio from Cleveland to Ashtabula
Creators:Wetmore, Robert J.
Advisor:McKenzie, Garry D.
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Geological Sciences Senior Theses; 1991
The principle hazard along the Lake Erie shore from Cleveland to Ashtabula is shore erosion. While the average rate of shoreline recession has decreased, some unprotected stretches have seen a major increase in the amount of land being lost. For any given wave climate and physical setting, including the amount of sand supplied by long shore drift, lake level is the most important variable. But since humans began building structures into the lake, the natural balance of erosion and deposition has been altered. Now the most important variable in shore erosion is the presence of shore protection structures. Human beings have always found it necessary to invent solutions to remedy the problems caused by their previous inventions. For example, when we lived in caves we found them cold and uncomfortable so we invented houses. Houses were warm and comfortable, but we missed the outdoors so we invented windows. With these new windows we felt we lost our privacy so we invented curtains, shades and blinds. Now that the natural cycle of the shore has been disrupted a solution must be found. Many cities, businesses and homeowners have constructed shore protection structures to protect separate stretches of land, but there is no comprehensive shore-wide plan. As more short reaches of shore are protected, less sand enters the littoral system and the remaining unprotected reaches recede at an even greater rate. The options for a solution are very limited. Could the entire shore be adequately protected at an acceptable cost? Even if this could be financed it would greatly diminish the appearance of the lake's natural shoreline and its usefulness as a place of recreation. Perhaps the lake level could be controlled. This could be very expensive and could disturb the natural balances of the Great Lakes. Probably the best solution for now is beach nourishment. Sand supply does not appear to be a problem. There are large offshore sand deposits off Fairport Harbor (about 320x106 m3) and Lorain-Vermilion (about 100x106 m3) (Carter, Benson, and Guy, 1982). Ironically, the irregular shore may help to reduce the longshore flow of sand and therefore reduce the frequency of nourishment.