Click here for a larger version of this picture The first photo is a view from just offshore to the seawall and steps leading up to the park at Boca del Rio, taken in March, 1998. The second photo below is the view after Mitch. The seawall along the front-side of the park is gone, as are the steps. The person standing in the middle of the photo is where the steps used to be.

Click here for a larger version of this picture View to the south, at low tide, along the beach toward Boca del Rio (the "river"), which is on the other side of the tree line that runs across the photo in the background; part of San Pedro Town is visible in the far distance in the left background. This locality is immediately north of Boca del Rio, and it was a nice beach prior to Mitch. The storm caused about 1-2 feet of vertical erosion and about 10 feet of lateral erosion here, knocking down many of the palm trees. Most of the sand eroded from the beach was deposited as a "washover lobe" behind it (see next photo).

Click here for a larger version of this picture View looking west, into the caye, from the beach shown in the photo above. This is the "washover lobe" that was deposited here behind the beach; the sand was derived from erosion of the former beach. The lobe is about 1 foot thick, and its surface is strewn with blocks of limestone and beachrock (which is now exposed along the beach) and conch shells. The lobe extends about 180 feet inland from the beach, and has buried vegetation. Ambergris Caye has actually built up over the last 6000 years or so by this geologically constructive process. That is why we find beach sand extending several hundred yards in from the shore all along the seaward side of the caye.

Click here for a larger version of this picture This is a view of the new, clean beach immediately south of Robles Point, on the north end of the caye, which was a low, swampy area prior to Mitch. New, wide beaches like this appeared at many places on the seaward side of the caye after Mitch. Unlike those beaches which are composed of sand, this beach is composed of coarse rubble (boulders), largely corals that were washed in from offshore during the storm (at this locality the reef is very close to shore). The beach ridge here is about 5 feet high.

Click here for a larger version of this picture The first photo is a view along the beach, looking south, to Robles Point before Mitch. Notice how narrow the beach is, and how littered it is with seagrass and garbage. The ridge is composed of coral rubble (boulders) and large conch shells that are gray because they‰ve been exposed to the air for a long time. We estimated that this ridge formed about 1000 years ago, and interpret it as the deposits of a storm like Mitch, only more powerful. Our interpretation is based on the modern analogy of Mitch building a storm boulder ridge as illustrated in the previous photo. Such a comparative process-approach is used by geologists to interpret the origin of ancient rocks. The ridge here is about 13 feet high here -- imagine the power of the storm that deposited boulders into a 13 foot-high pile!

The next photo was taken after Mitch, looking at the same view as above. The beach is wider, cleaner, and a new layer of white coral rubble was deposited on top of the older gray rubble, burying it so that it‰s no longer visible. In essence, the rubble ridge has been extended seaward by this process of adding new rubble by the storm known as "accretion".


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