A Coast Beyond Compare

Coastal Geology and Ecology of Southern Alaska

Miles O. Hayes and Jacqueline Michel

A Coast Beyond Compare

Miles O. Hayes and Jacqueline Michel

Distributed for University of Alaska Press

350 pages | 183 color plates, 9 halftones | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2017
Paper $29.95 ISBN: 9780981661841 Published June 2017
The southern coast of Alaska stretches over six hundred miles, its sweeping crescent studded with glaciers and beaches that connect temperate rainforest to frozen islands. While its soaring beauty attracts thousands of visitors a year, it also hides a deadly energy due to its volcanoes and a location on one of the most active earthquake zones on the planet. Salmon and bears are some of the more famous residents of this fascinating area but the coast is home to an astonishing diversity of marine and terrestrial creatures.

A Coast Beyond Compare introduces the general reader to coastal geology and ecology of this majestic coastline. It starts with the basic physical processes that shaped this region and shows how earthquakes, waves, and tsunamis all had a role in creating the present landscape. It then moves through the many mammals, birds, fish, kelp, and grasses that live on and just off the coast. The guide then turns to the eleven distinct ecologies that form the state’s southern border, pointing out each area’s unique characteristics. It also includes suggestions of where to visit so that residents and tourists alike can experience these unique ecosystems for themselves.
Contents
PREFACE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
INTRODUCTION
 
SECTION I: COASTAL PROCESSES AND GEOMORPHOLOGY
 
1. GENERAL STRUCTURE AND ORIGIN
INTRODUCTION
CHARACTERISTICS OF LEADING EDGE COASTS
CHARACTERISTICS OF DEPOSITIONAL COASTS
ORIGIN OF THE SOUTHERN ALASKA COAST
Introduction
How Old Is It?
Evolution of the Southern Alaska Coast – Early Beginnings
Evolution of the Coast – 200–2.6 Million Years Ago
Evolution of the Coast – Pleistocene and Holocene Epochs
Evolution of the Coast – Quarternary Sea Levels
EARTHQUAKES
Introduction
The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964
THE GEOLOGICAL SETTING
OIL AND GOLD
Introduction
Oil and Gas
Gold
Story
RELATIVE ABUNDANCE OF COASTAL TYPES
 
2. COASTAL PROCESSES
TIDES
WAVES
General Introduction
Wave-Generated Currents and Longshore Sediment Transport
Coastal Storms on the Southern Alaska Coast
Waves on the Southern Alaska Coast
TSUNAMIS
 
3. MAJOR LANDFORMS OF THE COAST
ROCKY COASTS
Introduction
Rock Headlands
Rock Cliffs
Rock Platforms
Raised Marine Terraces
SAND BEACHES
A River of Sand
The Beach Profile
The Beach Cycle or “Normal Seasonal Changes”
Smaller-Scale Physical Sedimentary Features
GRAVEL BEACHES
Introduction
Occurrence of Gravel Beaches
Coarse-grained Gravel Beaches Exposed to Significant Wave Action
OUR SURVEYS OF SOUTHERN ALASKA BEACHES
CRENULATE BAYS
RIVER DELTAS
BARRIER ISLANDS
TIDAL FLATS
Definition
Exposed Sandy Tidal Flats
Sheltered Mud Flats
Dominant Biogenic Features
Nushagak Bay
COASTAL SAND DUNES
COASTAL WATER BODIES
Introduction
Definition of an Estuary
Estuarine Characteristics
MARSHES
RIVER AND TIDAL CHANNELS
FAN DELTAS
Introduction
Fan Deltas on the Southern Alaska Coast
 
4. COASTAL EROSION
INTRODUCTION
SEA-LEVEL RISE
COASTAL EROSION IN SOUTHERN ALASKA – AN ASSESSMENT
 
5. LANDSLIDES
 
6. CONTINENTAL SHELF
 
7. GLACIATION
INTRODUCTION
THE LOCAL PIEDMONT GLACIERS
The Malaspina Glacier
The Bering Glacier
GLACIAL RETREAT AND MELTING
OUTWASH AND BEACH-RIDGE PLAINS
 
8. VOLCANOES
 
SECTION II: COASTAL ECOLOGY OVERVIEW
 
9. INTRODUCTION
 
10. KEY BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES OF SOUTHERN ALASKA
MARINE MAMMALS
Introduction
Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises Along the Southern Alaska Coast
Pinniped Haulouts and Rookeries
Pacific Walrus
Sea Otters
TERRESTRIAL MAMMALS: BEARS
MARINE AND COASTAL BIRDS
FISH
INTERTIDAL HABITATS AND BIOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES
Introduction
Rocky Shores
Sand and Gravel Beaches
Tidal Flats
Salt Marshes
SUBTIDAL HABITATS: KELP FORESTS AND EELGRASS BEDS
 
SECTION III: MAJOR COMPARTMENTS
 
11. INTRODUCTION
 
12. COMPARTMENT 1 – SOUTHEAST ALASKA (Canadian Border to Icy Point)
INTRODUCTION
TIDES AND GEOLOGY
TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST
ECOLOGY AND PLACES TO VISIT
ZONE 1. SOUTHEAST REGION (Canadian Border to Stikine River)
General Description
Story
ZONE 2. SOUTHWEST REGION (Cape Chacon to Cape Ommaney)
General Description
General Ecology
ZONE 3. NORTHEAST REGION (Stikine River to Skagway)
General Description
Major Towns and Places to Visit
Glaciers
ZONE 4. NORTHWEST REGION (Cape Ommaney to Icy Point)
General Description
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
 
13. COMPARTMENT 2 – FAIRWEATHER FORELAND (Icy Point to Ocean Cape)
INTRODUCTION
ZONE 1. GLACIATED MOUNTAINOUS COAST (Icy Point to Clear Creek Just West of the Grand Plateau Glacier)
Introduction
Geology
Lituya Bay
Glaciers
General Ecology
ZONE 2. YAKUTAT FORELAND (Clear Creek Just West of the Grand Plateau Glacier to Ocean Cape)
Introduction
Geology and Geomorphology
Two Main Glaciers
Sediments
General Ecology
Places to Visit
 
14. COMPARTMENT 3 – MALASPINA FORELAND AND VICINITY (Ocean Cape to Icy Cape)
INTRODUCTION
ZONE 1. YAKUTAT BAY
Introduction
Geology/Geomorphology
Origin of Yakutat Bay
Glaciers
General Ecology
ZONE 2. MALASPINA FORELAND (Yakutat Bay to Icy Bay)
Introduction
Morphology
Sediments
Glaciers
General Ecology
ZONE 3. ICY BAY
General Description
General Ecology
 
15. COMPARTMENT 4 – YAKATAGA FORELAND (Icy Cape to Cape Suckling)
INTRODUCTION
ZONE 1. ROBINSON MOUNTAINS HEADLAND (Icy Cape to Cape Yakataga)
General Description
General Ecology
ZONE 2. BERING FORELAND
Introduction
Morphology and Sedimentation
Glaciers
General Ecology
 
16. COMPARTMENT 5 – COPPER RIVER DELTA AND VICINITY (Cape Suckling to Shirttail Point on Hinchinbrook Island)
INTRODUCTION
ZONE 1. KAYAK ISLAND AND CONTROLLER BAY TOMBOLOS (Cape Suckling to Palm Point near Katalla)
Introduction
Geology
Controller Bay
Glaciers
General Ecology
Places to Visit
History and Story
ZONE 2. MIXED ENERGY BARRIER ISLANDS (Palm Point near Katalla to Shirttail Point on Hinchinbrook Island)
Introduction
Sediments
Glaciers
General Ecology
History
Places to Visit

17. COMPARTMENT 6 – PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND AND OUTER ISLANDS (Shirttail Point on Hinchinbrook Island to Cape Puget)
GENERAL DESCRIPTION
Outer Island
Geology
Prince William Sound
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Climatic and Oceanographic Setting
Gravel Beaches
Glaciers
General Ecology and Places to Visit
 
18. COMPARTMENT 7 – OUTER KENAI PENINSULA (Cape Puget to Point Bede Magnet Rock)
INTRODUCTION
GENERAL GEOLOGY
GENERAL DESCRIPTION
Introduction
Glaciers
General Ecology
Places to Visit
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
 
19. COMPARTMENT 8 – COOK INLET
INTRODUCTION
ZONE 1. LOWER COOK INLET (Point Bede Magnet Rock/Cape Douglas to West Foreland/East Foreland)
General Description
Geology
Wind, Waves, and Tides
Coastal Types
Bayhead Depositional Systems
Sediment Composition
Glaciers
General Ecology
Places to Visit
ZONE 2. UPPER COOK INLET (West Foreland/East Foreland to Portage/Palmer)
Geology
General Description
General Ecology
Places to Visit
 
20. COMPARTMENT 9 – KODIAK AND ASSOCIATED ISLANDS/SHELIKOF STRAIT
INTRODUCTION
ZONE 1. KODIAK AND ASSOCIATED ISLANDS
Physical Setting
Coastal Types
General Description
General Ecology
Places to Visit
ZONE 2. NORTHWEST SHELIKOF STRAIT (Cape Douglas to Cape Kuyuyukak)
Physical Setting
Coastal Types
General Description and Glaciers
General Ecology
Places to Visit
 
21. COMPARTMENT 10 – ALASKA PENINSULA (Cape Kuyuyukak to Cape Menshikof)
INTRODUCTION
PHYSICAL SETTING
ZONE 1. SOUTHERN PENINSULA (Cape Kuyuyukak to Konets Head, Umnak Pass)
General Description
General Ecology
Places to Visit
ZONE 2. NORTHERN PENINSULA (Konets Head, Umnak Pass to Cape Menshikof)
General Description
General Ecology
Places to Visit
 
22. COMPARTMENT 11 – NORTHEASTERN BRISTOL BAY (Cape Menshikof to Cape Constantine)
INTRODUCTION
GENERAL GEOLOGY, TIDES, RIVERS, AND WIND
GENERAL ECOLOGY
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BRISTOL BAY COMMUNITIES
Places to Visit
Story
FINAL WORDS
 
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING
GLOSSARY
REFERENCES CITED
INDEX
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Review Quotes
John R. Harper, professional geoscientist
“A Coast Beyond Compare is an amazing book: a textbook, a reference book and an art book in one. Beautifully illustrated, it honors one of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. The book covers the evolution Alaska coast from the beginning of the universe (really!) to the present. It puts the coast in context of global plate tectonics and right down to centimeter-scale ripples. Researchers will find this definitive reference book of key literature on the Alaska coastline. But it will also serve well as a textbook for introductions to coastal processes and coastal morphology. . . . There is a feast of ‘eye candy’ photographs varying from the majestic cover photo of Kayak Island to the mesmerizing patterns of sand ripples on tidal flats—you won’t find such photos elsewhere. The authors’ love for this coast shines. . . . It should be required reading for anyone working or living on the coast of Alaska.”
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