One of my geotweeps, CGKings317, once tweeted this rather remarkable video showing coastal erosion over the course of a year:
It gives you a sense of just how delicate coastlines can be. There’s the ocean, and storms; wind, water and gravity, all working to lay the land low. 17 meters (almost 56 feet) of prime seaside real estate now sleeps with the fishes.
And we build seawalls and groynes, pile riprap, terrace and wire and drain, do our damnedest to make these temporary landforms permanent, but good Mother Earth just sticks her tongue out at us, goes “Nyah-nyah!” and takes another few bites out of what we thought we could preserve.
I live in the Seattle area, where coastal erosion is a daily fact. The bluffs I see today aren’t the same ones I’ll see next year. They may look similar, but they’ve changed, and one day, they’ll be gone.
One of my favorite places in the whole of the Pacific Northwest is Discovery Park. I first saw it in 2007. It was, in fact, the first place I got a sunburn up here. And that bluff – my Arizona eyes had never laid eyes upon anything like it!
It feels rock-hard, but it’s just hard-packed glacial sediments, and the Sound wears away at it year by year.
See the chunks of it being carved out? Every year, a little bit more gone; every year, it’s changed.
Geology feels rock-solid, at first. There’s nothing that gives the sensation of being forever quite like a rock does. And some changes happen so gradually we barely notice them. But the world changes all the time. Little changes, building up over time. There’s a bluff there now; someday, there will be only the water. Water will in its turn be replaced by land again, elements dancing, continents fussing with their appearance, gone traveling. Look at the world through a geologic timescale, and it’s a busy place, always different, always fascinating, frequently eroding.
Remember that when you’re considering that beachfront house.