Palacios High School

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2022-2023 field trip data: PalaciosHS2022-23v2.pdf

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Students from Palacios High School collect data at MAT02, which is northeast of the vehicular beach access point on Matagorda Peninsula (Fig. 1). Van Vleck and Palacios High School students also collect GPS vegetation line and shoreline data at MAT03 (Fig. 1), a site adjacent to the Matagorda Bay Nature Park fishing pier and on the updrift side of the jetty at the mouth of the Colorado River.

figure 1

Figure 1. Location map of Palacios High School monitoring sites MAT02 and MAT03.

Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island on September 13, 2008, as a Category 2 hurricane. Owing to the size of the storm, impacts from this hurricane were seen along the entire Texas coast, including on Matagorda Peninsula. The storm surge from Hurricane Ike caused vegetation line retreat and dune erosion at MAT02. Over the decade since Ike’s landfall, students from Palacios High School have been monitoring the recovery and growth of the dunes and the seaward movement of the vegetation line at this site (Fig. 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2. Changes to the beach and dune system at MAT02 on Matagorda Peninsula. (A) Beach profile showing the impacts of Hurricane Ike between September 2007 and October 2008 and recovery and seaward expansion of the dunes through 2023. (B) Series of photos taken from a point approximately 30 meters from the datum monument looking northeast (same orientation as the beach profile) showing the seaward movement of the vegetation line and shoreline and expansion of the dunes. On September 18, 2009 that point was the vegetation line. The September 20, 2017 and April 14, 2023 photos were taken from the crest of the secondary dune.

Understanding the impacts of coastal structures are critical to coastal management. After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a new north jetty at the mouth of the Colorado River in 2010, GPS-mapping indicated that the shoreline position at MAT03 moved 125-m seaward over a decade (Fig. 3). The combination of the new jetty impounding sand on the updrift side and decreased vehicular traffic at MAT03 has allowed for coppice dune formation to occur on the expanded backbeach area and for new vegetation to develop without being disturbed.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Changes at location MAT03 at Matagorda Bay Nature Park due to the construction of a jetty at the mouth of the Colorado River. (A) GPS mapped shorelines from September 2009 through April 2023. The shoreline moved seaward at an average rate of 12.5 m/yr until 2019 when the position stabilized. (B) Shoreline, vegetation line, and beach profile volume change. Notice that the shoreline and vegetation lines have stabilized after a decade of advancement. (C) September 26, 2009 and September 21, 2016 photographs looking southwest toward the Colorado River along the dune crest at MAT03. Note the increase in the coppice dune area seaward of the dune crest in the 2016 photograph.

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