Coastal erosion at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland

Thompson, Sheridan (2014) Coastal erosion at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The purpose of the project at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve (MPER) was to investigate coastal processes through qualitative assessment as well as to create a measurable baseline for future quantitative measures at four distinct sites. Analysis started in the spring of 2009 and was completed in the fall of 2011. The sites were chosen based on previously observed erosion, as well as age and number of Ediacaran fossils present at each site. MPERs coastline is known for having the oldest known soft-bodied multi-cellular organisms, and is believed to provide critical information about biological evolution in the Ediacaran Period. As a result, MPER was nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status in 2004. However, under the UNESCO Operational Guidelines, appropriate management of the site and its fossils must be procured in order for full heritage status to be granted. Four sites were chosen (PC Site 1, PC Site 2, MP Site 3 and MP Site 4) for analysis within MPER. Qualitatively, field and ground photographs of the four sites were analyzed. Visitation statistics were recorded for MP Site 3. To create a baseline for future research on coastline erosion, data was collected using Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS. Additional quantitative methods include strike/dip/sense measures which were later mapped to stereonets to provide a comprehensive view of the geological structure, and its response to physical processes. Much of the bed rock along MPERs coastline is greywacke. Differences such as structural geology, wave aspect, human impact, and therefore type and level of erosion occurring vary among sites. Observed physical processes included wave impact, storms, freeze/thaw, and gravitational failure resulting in mass movement. Human factors include foot traffic due to increased visitation and individual casting projects of the fossils. Due to time constraints of the project, no quantitative rates were identified. However, qualitative observations pointed to two primary contributing factors of erosion at all four sites. The first was the inherent structural geology, and the second was intense wave impact. Although the qualitative observations made from 2009-2011 document visible movement or removal of bedrock clasts, to adequately understand rates of erosion along a consolidated hardrock coastline, a minimum of 60 years of data collection is required. Therefore, to quantitatively understand rate of erosion along MPERs coastline, further and ongoing assessment of MPERs coastline is recommended.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 6275
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 139-150).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission

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