Not the best photo, but that's one of the risks of drive-by geology. It appears that this slump started slowly, and that maintenance crews initially didn't realize the entire base was mobile. You can see the attempts to patch the cracks in the old road surface, now completely torn asunder.
After departing Agate Beach, we drove north past Beverly Beach and Otter Crest. I believe this road... disruption... was just before the pullout to Beverly Beach. It's a bit counter-intuitive; we're facing north, so the ocean is to our left, but the slump movement was clearly to the right. I'm pretty sure what happened here was the result of erosion in a stream off to the right, hidden in this perspective. Coast range sediments in this area weather quickly in our mild, moist climate, and mass movements of various kinds- slumps, slides, rock falls and debris flows- are common. Most of the time, though, they're not quite as in-your-face as this one.
A different angle on yesterday's shot. I've said before that what drew me to geology was the beauty of it. What rooted me in it was the awe I feel toward it, and the wonder I feel at being able to interpret the stories it's telling.
As I mentioned in the March 27th post, erosion of cross beds in wind-blown sand can create some beautiful patterns. Here we're looking down the axis of a trough. It appears that in both the older, eroded cross beds, and in the more recent transverse ripples to either side of the eroded area, the direction of the transporting winds were roughly similar.
So what should we see, walking back from the tsunami dock to Agate Beach Wayside, where we parked, but Luxurious Condos right down to the beach? The irony is strong with this one. And what is particularly infuriating/terrifying/despair-making is that this development is pretty clearly one that was constructed in the last 20-25 years... that is, since AFTER the potential for a great Cascadia Earthquake and subsequent inundation by tsunami was well-established. One can't help but wonder, of the people who reside or visit here (I don't know whether the above are residential or recreational rentals), how many made the trek to visit the dock during its several-month sojourn at the north end of the beach? I'd bet most or nearly all of them- the dock was well-publicized, and received thousands of visitors per day. How many would one guess understand that these buildings risk exactly that same kind of swamping and demolition at any time? (Granted, the estimated risk for this northern portion of the subduction zone is 12% over the next 50 years.)
On a similar note, geologists had identified the high risks in the neighborhood of the Oso landslide by the late 90's, yet people continued to build and develop there. In the middle of the last decade, hearings were discussed regarding whether to buy out property owners to prevent exactly the kind of tragedy that occurred a couple weeks ago. The general attitude of the residents? No big gummint! Just a bunch of landgrabbers! Keep your filthy mitts off our proppity! As of today, there are 34 identified fatalities, and 12 still missing and unaccounted for. Metaphorically, the dust has still not settled. But already, people are speculating about whether "the government," which they so distrusted previously, can be held responsible via lawsuits (Spoiler: it doesn't look terribly likely).
How will the aftermath in coastal developments like this one look, when there are not just a few dozen dead, and many more lives utterly disrupted, but a hundred or more times those figures? Despite countless calls for better zoning, preparedness, and resiliency planning, I have no doubt that a major theme of news reports afterward will be "Why did no one tell us?"
A final shot of the tsunami dock, ripped loose from its mooring in Japan in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake, March 11, 2011. A small section of this dock is on permanent display at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, a few miles south, on the other side of Yaquina Bay. Given the number of people seen here, coming to take a gander of this visceral reminder of the earth's power and indifference to human life and safety, one might hope that people would take the lesson to heart. One would be disappointed...