The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Relentless Lake: Erosion Control

The lake is in motion. In a storm, it becomes a force, pounding, relentless. The shoreline is subject to the lake and to the moisture which drains into the lake.

In addition, the composition of the shore can determine how it erodes. Sand will fall away at a faster rate than clay revealing the clay in huge, sculptural deposits.

People have tried many methods to shore up the shore. The classic, low tech way is to just deposit a load of massive rocks or chunks of concrete at the waterline. The idea here
is to let the waves bash away at these impediments instead of the more fragile shoreline.

The seawall is a more high tech improvement on this idea. A line of wooden pillars driven into the shore was the first incarnation of the seawall, and that has evolved into wood and steel construction.

Concrete poured in various configurations are also used to hold back the storm.

Another concern is to preserve the crumbling cliffs. Planting dune grasses and other anchoring plants can help. Some people have used netting or tarps to protect these
escarpments (with various levels of success).

It's a battle that is slowly lost, it seems, no matter what method is employed. The lake doesn't stop, doesn't quit, never goes completely quiet. Little by little, it will take what is owed, and people will rebuild their ramparts to hold back the erosion, maintain their beaches, to attempt to stop the slide of their structures into the water.

1 comment:

  1. Monica in EscanabaMay 11, 2009 at 5:51 AM

    Loreen, I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog. I have been to some of the places you are trekking (Saugatuck Dunes - such a gem of a park - hardly ever busy in the summer, what with the trek to get to it).

    Monica in Escanaba