Understanding Erosion will be Important to Protecting the Great Lakes’ Coasts

HOUGHTON – Stamp sand beaches are a common sight throughout the Upper Peninsula’s Lake Superior shoreline. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal Engineer, Dr. Jim Selegean, says that understanding the process of erosion is very important for Michigan to protect it’s thousands of miles of coastline. Each location where stamp sand beaches are found creates issues unique for that area. Such as the sands near Gay, and it’s impact on the Buffalo Reef. Or like the stamp sands at the north Portage Canal entrance.

The waves that we see behind us today. They’re moving sand along the shoreline, they’re moving to the north today. So if the waves are moving 100 units of sand, and you don’t have 100 units replacing that, than that’s erosion. You’ve got more sand leaving the system, than coming in. So understanding sources and sinks will allow you to figure out where is your sand coming from. Quantify how quickly is it coming into the system, and how quickly is it leaving. – Dr. Jim Selegean, Coastal Engineer, USACE

As water current move the sand from one spot to another. Erosion moves sediment from one location to another, through the process of fluctuating water currents. At yesterday’s beach walk with the Michigan Department of Great Lakes and Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Selegean looked to answer some of the community’s questions about erosion in the Copper Country.

(The) production and disposal was in a number of places in the Keweenaw. One that most people are familiar with is the one up near Gay. And it’s a massive deposit and it’s become kind of a famous deposit. The feature we’re standing on was created by stamp sands. There’s a bit of an environmental concern. This has grown very large over the years. As it grows bigger and bigger, more and more of it is going to start spilling out around the breakwaters. – Dr. Jim Selegean, Coastal Engineer, USACE

Selegean believes that understanding the relationship between the sources of sediments, and where those deposits end up, is very important to Michigan’s ability to protect the state’s shores. He also notes that local issues in Lake Superior, are connected to issues on the coastlines in Canada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Understanding that connection, and working in stride with other regions will help protect the Great Lakes.