Monday, August 06, 2007

Ribbon of Sand

I recently re-read John Alexander & James Lazell's book, Ribbon of Sand. They write about the "dynamic geological system" that is the Outer Banks. Below are excerpts from one of their chapters describing the continuous changes these barrier islands have undergone:

  • A hundred thousand years ago the ocean level stood twenty meters, or seventy feet, above its present level.
  • About 80,000 years ago the sea began to drop.
  • Sea level stopped falling -- about 50,000 years ago.....No Outer Banks and no elbow capes occurred along the Atlantic coast of North America because there was no gentle slope on which they could form.
  • About 12,000 years ago more ice began to melt at the edges of the glacial ice caps than accumulated on them. Sea level began to rise.....With sea level rise, the Outer Banks formed.....First spits, then islands, then elbow capes developed.
  • About 3,500 year ago....sea level rose very rapidly to a point about two meters....below its present position.
  • Since the year 1800 sea level has come up at least thirty-five centimeters, or fourteen inches.
  • As sea level rises, the positions of the elbow capes and barrier spits and islands will change.
  • No matter what man does, there will be Outer Banks.
Consider reading the book. Its subtitle is "The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean & the Outer Banks." I'm sure Leslie carries the book at Books to be Red on the School Road.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Black Squall, a brig loaded with circus animals that wrecked on Ocracoke in April of 1861. You can read it here.

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