Term Paper on Geography

This essay has a total of 1632 words and 6 pages.


It's funny how things that you used to do as a kid can change the course of people's
lives. Myself, when my parents told me and my brothers and sisters that we were going to
the cabin meant a week of solid fun. My family has a cabin up on Camano Island, which is
about 20 minutes north of Everett, right off of the I-5 interstate. My family would go up
there during the summer with my cousins and grandma, and go swimming when the tide was in,
build sandcastles when the tide was out, only to have them washed away when the tide came
back in, build forts with the new driftwood that came in each year, explore the wrecked
ship down the beach in one direction from our cabin, and scour the dunes that were north
of our cabin. The dunes were the best part going to the cabin. We would always try to get
there by walking along the wood that had been washed up and once we got there, we would
race up the hills and jump down into the sand pits below. Another things that we all used
to love doing, were to see who had carved messages into the sides of the dunes. There were
all sorts of messages, love message from husband to wife, boyfriend to girlfriend. ‘I
was here' messages, and then there were simply names. That is what we always used to do.
Every year, my two cousins, dad, three siblings and I would climb up into the dunes and
carve our names into the wall using sticks. This was done over and over again for about
8-10 years. Over the last couple of years we did this we noticed that we could see a house
at the top of the dunes. This was something that we never noticed before and when we asked
my dad, he said that he never noticed it either. We thought nothing about it at the time,
carved our names in the wall and went back to the cabin. Later on we heard from other
people who lived up there that there was a big concern by the people who live in that
house that all of the messages that people had carved along with the natural erosion of
the hills has caused the hill side to be dangerously close to being pushed back far enough
to where the house might fall down. This was very interesting to me as I didn't know
anything about it and decided to find out what causes hills like that to erode, what can
be done to help prevent erosion, and the process of obtaining these preventive measures.

Erosion is a process where time and other various elements contribute together to wear
something away. Almost anything can be a victim of erosion: rocks, buildings, walls,
roads, and even mountains can be suspect to erosion. Erosion can also be referred to as
weathering. There are two different types of weathering: chemical and mechanical
weathering. Chemical weathering usually consists in changing the chemical composition of
the rocks while mechanical weathering breaks a mineral or rock away, but does not change
its chemical makeup. (Chernicoff pg. 97) Some examples of chemical weathering are
dissolution, oxidation, and hydrolysis. Examples of mechanical weathering are frost
wedging, crystal growth, thermal expansion and contraction, mechanical exfoliation,
abrasion, and root penetration.

Looking at the picture above and the surrounding elements, one could probably conclude
that the erosion of the dunes can be attributed to frost wedging, abrasion, and crystal
growth. Throughout the cold periods of the year, the rain has gotten into the cracks of
rocks in the side of the dune and when frozen, expands and then dislodges or loosens rocks
from the wall. Crystal growth can't really be seen in the picture above, but is more
apparent near the base of the dune. The salt from the incoming waves of the tide ???
Abrasion also plays a major part in the erosion of the dunes. The environment of Camano
Island is a windy climate, but because of this wind, rock particles are constantly being
scraped together with other fragments. This is very apparent in the above photo, it is
obvious where gusts of wind have caused scraping and the hillside looks as if someone took
a cheese grater and ran it across the face of the dune. When I went up to the house and
asked Mr. and Mrs. Skeel what their biggest concern was they responded, " We know that is
it only a matter of time before nature takes it's course and our house is in danger of
going over the edge. We knew that when we bought the house. What we didn't factor in was
how much faster it would happen because of teenagers and kids putting things into the
hillside." (Personal Interview. Mr. Skeel, 2004). Because of all these factors something
has to be done soon or else Mr. and Mrs. Skeel will most likely be forced from their home.

There are many ways to help stop beach erosion. Unfortunately in this case, there are only
a few and those won't be as effective due to the height and type of weathering that is
occurring here. One thing that the Skeels could do to protect their home from erosion is
put a concrete bulkhead at the base of the dune. (CITE) Now although this won't help with
abrasion or frost wedging, it will prevent the crystal growth at the base of the dune and
prevent waves lapping up against the base at high tides. The following picture shows a
type of bulkhead that could be used that would be effective against the natural erosion of
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