Hurricane caused 30 years worth of erosion

Nov. 27, 2012 at 6:14 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy eroded 30 years worth of sand at beaches in parts of New York, the U.S. Geological Survey found.

The USGS conducted surveys of the Fire Island National Seashore along Long Island using light detection and ranging lasers to examine elevation changes in dunes.

Cheryl Hapke, a coastal geologist, said Sandy caused widespread dune erosion at the park.

"On average, where the dunes were not completely overwashed, they eroded back 70 feet -- the equivalent of 30 years of change," she said in a statement. "Our research also showed that dunes lost as much as 15 feet of elevation."

Sandy hit the U.S. East Coast late October as a Category 1 storm. It merged with an eastward-bound storm system, creating a so-called superstorm.

USGS Director Marcia McNutt said dune systems provide a natural defense for storms like Sandy.

McNutt said this month the amount of wave erosion caused by the hurricane reached historic proportions.

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