University of Texas at Austin

Van Vleck Middle and High School

Van Vleck Middle School students collect data at MAT01 (Fig. 1) which is adjacent to a washover channel called Three Mile Cut.

Figure 1. Location map of Van Vleck monitoring site MAT01 adjacent to Three Mile Cut.

Matagorda area students collect beach measurements at Matagorda Bay Nature Park. The park has several special circumstances that make this monitoring especially informative and important. Monitoring sites have been established on the up-drift side of the jetty at the mouth of the Colorado River. Impacts of coastal structures (jetties) are critical to coastal management. During the 2009–2010 academic year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began constructing a new north jetty at the mouth of the Colorado River. The sites compare a beach/dune system where vehicular traffic on the beach is prohibited (MAT03) with an adjacent area where vehicular traffic will continue to be permitted (MAT01 and MAT02). Impacts of vehicles on Texas' beaches are not well documented. Vehicular traffic was permitted on the pedestrian beach at the Nature Park until 2007. MAT01 is adjacent to an active washover channel that will open due to storm surge associated with tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island September 13, 2008. Owing to the size of the storm, impacts from this hurricane were seen along the entire Texas coast, despite Ike's being only a category 2 storm at the time of landfall. Dune erosion was documented at Matagorda Peninsula and Mustang Island. Hurricane Ike briefly opened the Three Mile Cut and caused dune erosion at MAT01 (Fig. 2). Van Vleck students are monitoring the recovery of the dunes and vegetation line. 

Figure 2

Figure 2. Post-Hurricane Ike monitoring of dune and vegetation line recovery