Port Isabel High School

School Website: https://pihs.pi-isd.net/

2022-2023 field trip data: PortIsabelHS2022-23v2.pdf

Galleries: 2017-2018  |  2018-2019  |  2019-2020  |  2020-2021  |  2021-2022  |  2022-2023  |  2023-2024

Port Isabel students collect data at three profile locations on South Padre Island: SPI01 in Isla Blanca Park, SPI02 at Beach Access #13 (Moonlight Circle), and the newest site, SPI08, at the Tiki Condominiums (E. Whitesands Street) (Fig. 1). Port Isabel High School has been measuring SPI01 and SPI02 since 1999, and SPI08 since 2007. Brazos Santiago Pass, the southern border of South Padre Island, serves as the southern Gulf of Mexico access to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Port of Brownsville. Sediment dredged from the pass is used to nourish the beaches of South Padre Island. The use of sediment dredged from the pass for beach nourishment or other restoration projects is called beneficial use of dredged material or BUDM. The three sites monitored by Port Isabel High School students are typically within or adjacent to these nourishment areas.

figure 1

Figure 1. Location map of Port Isabel High School monitoring sites.

The SPI02 monitoring site has been used by students and scientists to monitor the growth of dunes (sand volume) and shoreline movement. When SPI02 was established in August 2000, there were no dunes between the retaining wall and waterline. Since that time, student collected data has been quantifying the effects of the installation of sand fences, planting of vegetation, beach maintenance practices, and numerous BUDM nourishment projects (Fig. 2). Port Isabel student collected data, have documented an overall trend to shoreline advancement and sediment-volume increase throughout the study period (Caudle and others, 2014, 2019).

Figure 2

Figure 2. Changes at SPI02 on South Padre Island between 2000 and 2023. (A) Beach profile data and (B) volume, shoreline and vegetation line change plot documenting an overall trend of shoreline advancement and sediment-volume increase throughout the study period. (C) Photos looking seaward from the retaining wall from October 19, 2004; January 20, 2016; and January 26, 2023.

SPI08 is a chronically eroding location in front of the Tiki Condominiums near the north end of the city (Fig. 1). This site has a narrow beach backed by a retaining wall and regularly receives nourishment sand from road maintenance north of the City of South Padre Island and from the dredging of Brazos Santiago Pass. The students from Port Isabel have been documenting cycles between beach nourishment, dune creation by beach maintenance practices, and the long-term shoreline erosion trend at this site (Fig. 3).

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Figure 3. (A) Profile plots showing changes in the beach topography at SPI08. The changes in the profiles shape follow a pattern of beach nourishment to expand the beach seaward, vegetation plantings or creation of an artificial dune near the retaining wall, followed by a period of erosion and removal of the sand and plants at the wall. (B) Photos from the waterline looking landward toward the retaining wall taken on August 10, 2021 and May 13, 2022. Notice the decreased width of the beach between the 2 photos. Sand fencing and vegetation planting had taken place over the winter 2021-2022. (C) Evolution of the sand fencing installation and vegetation that was planted over the winter of 2021-2022. Tropical Storm Harold that made landfall just to the north of South Padre Island in late August did not cause impacts to the planting or dunes that are forming due to wind-blown sand.

SPI01 is located in Isla Blanca Park at the southern end of the island. Beach profile data, sediment volume, and shoreline position documented a stable beach between 1999 and 2014. Since that time, the shoreline has gradually moved seaward and the volume of sediment in the beach profile has increased (Fig. 4).

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Figure 4. Data collected by Port Isabel High School Students at SPI01 in Isla Blanca Park.  (A) All the beach profile data collected by PIHS since the starting point was reset in September 2019. The beach width has been increasing over the 4 years of monitoring and the height of the sand has built up at the base of the boardwalk about a meter. (B) GPS mapped shoreline positions from September 2019 through April 2023. (C) Photo taken on Sep 14, 2022 looking north along the wet/dry line (GPS mapped shoreline).

Caudle, T.L.; Tremblay, T.A.; Paine, J.G.; Andrews, J.A., and Saylam, K., 2014. Beach and dune analysis using Chiroptera imaging system, South Padre and Brazos Islands, Texas Gulf coast. Final Report to the Texas Coastal Coordination Council and General Land Office, Contract No. 13-030-000-6895. The University of Texas at Austin: Bureau of Economic Geology, 68p.

Caudle, T.L., Paine, J.G., Andrews, J.R., and Saylam, K., 2019, Beach, Dune, and Nearshore Analysis of Southern Texas Gulf Coast Using Chiroptera LIDAR and Imaging System: Journal of Coastal Research, v. 35, no. 2, p. 251–268.

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