Beach Processes

Spring, 2002
April 18-21

Instead of going into uncharted wilderness, this fieldtrip took us to the urban joys of Southern California to see beach processes in action (a difficult thing to do within Arizona) such as the surf in San Diego and oil seeps in Santa Barbara. The drivers did not enjoy the hours of rush-hour traffic, but we saw a complete change from the usual Arizona Basin-and-Range tectonics and volcanics. As usual, Jay Melosh was the trip leader. Peter took pictures on our trip to Southern California.

Day 1

Mostly a driving day. We had lunch in the Algodunes dune field.

We stopped in the afternoon near the Salton Sea. Here Ingrid regaled us with tales of Travertine Rock, ancient Lake Chuilla, the Salton Trough, and palaeoshorelines.

Day 2

Our first beach stop was in San Diego. Adam and Adina went paddling and tried to demonstrate longshore drift. We lost the experiment, so I don't think it worked. Since the water was rather cold none of us non-wetsuited individuals were daft enough to go in and help.

Ingrid and Jani channel Baywatch as they escort Jay onto the beach. There were lots of other talks, including Matt's rip currents, Dave's breaking waves, and Joe's swash zone. We watched a parasailer mess around as well.

Jonathan got us into trouble by clambering all over the flowers near his assigned estuary.

Pete told us about marine terraces.

Day 3

Southern California is full of landslides. The Portugese Bend landslide, as discussed by John, is just one example. As Gwen demonstrates, the ground buckles and moves too much for the utility companies to put their pipes underground.

We eventually reached our furthest north of Carpinteria Beach, near Santa Barbara.

Here we saw some really cool oil seeps, discussed by Abby, and little critters in Gwen's tide pools.

Ingrid now pretends to be the Little Mermaid and Hans Christian Anderson shudders in his grave.

We went through LA at rush hour and eventually found a spot to camp east of the city. Dave liven up the evening by getting his van stuck in sand a mere hundred metres from the campsite. Great fun was had by all digging it out. Three point turns can be so useful...

Day 4

We had conveniently camped right next to the Blackhawk landslide, one of Jay's favourites.

Felipe showed us beach deposits at Lake Manix. Where's the lake? This is the magnificent fossil beach of ancient Lake Manix, so all the water is long gone. At the same spot, Oleg discussed putative martian beaches and the seminal publication of Withers and Neumann.

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Last Updated: 02 May 2003