Rationalities of Coastal Erosion and Protection: An Example from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina


  • Per Bruun


Beach nourishment, coastal protection, dunes, profile nourishment, stand-by and give-away principles


Progress in the field of coastal erosion and protection in the United States during recent years frequently has been upset by some irrational and irrelevant views. This interruption of technical progress and application in the field generally stems from a lack of knowledge of basic coastal physics that leaves the field open to political influence. There is no doubt that future coastal and storm tide protection efforts must consider the effects of an apparent relative rise in sea level. Coastal protection may be achieved by standby or give-way measures, as determined by coastal engineering and economic analyses. The stand-by condition may be achieved by profile-nourishment, a method where the eroding beach and bottom profile are nourished simultaneously to avoid rapid loss of material from offshore and alongshore. In some cases, broad dunes and wide beaches provide adequate protection against erosion and storm tides. In other situations narrow beaches backed by hardened (revetted dunes mitigate coastal erosion, as shown by centuries-old European practice. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is cited as a modern example from North America.

Author Biography

Per Bruun