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The Erosion of Siletz Spit, Oregon

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  • Siletz Bay is a drowned river valley filled with Holocene alluvial and estuarine sediments and is separated from the ocean by a sand spit 3.8 km in length. Since the area was settled by white man in the 1890's, the bay has apparently experienced rapid siltation, due to increased farming and logging. This along with the damming of the Siletz River sloughs has altered circulation patterns in the bay. Deflection of the Siletz River flow by the prograding Drift Creek delta has caused 105 m of erosion since 1912 on the east side of Siletz Spit. The ocean side of the spit suffers periodic erosional episodes separated by periods of accretion and dune building. The most recent and publicized erosion occurred during the winter of 1972-73 when it was feared that the spit might be breached; one partially constructed house was lost and three others were saved only by timely riprapping. A sand mining operation may have aggravated the recent erosion by disrupting the sand budget, the balance of sand additions and losses from the beach. All of the foredune on the spit has been stabilized by dune grass and much of it has been riprapped. The long term effects of stabilization and riprapping are uncertain.
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