Oceanographic Institute Study Currently Under Peer Review Finds Cause for “Grave Concern”
First Posted April 1, 2008
by Tom Quinn, SAP Science Reporter
Fire Island, New York:
Researchers from the Springfield Oceanographic Institute predict that more than half of a summer community on Fire Island, New York, will likely be reduced to sinking marsh land within five years, and completely underwater within ten years.
SAP has obtained a draft copy of a study scheduled for publication in the Fall 2008 issue of the "Journal of the Springfield Oceanographic Institute." The draft copy has been distributed to several hundred geologists worldwide as part of a rigid peer review process and it has not been distributed publicly.
Springfield Oceanographic Institute has declined to comment on the report and a spokesman indicated that there will be no announcement or comment until the peer review process is complete and the article is published in October, 2008.
“These findings are stunning, but they are not surprising,” Professor John Cracktinkle of the Springfield Institute states in the report's Executive Summary. “We found that the cause of increased flooding in Saltaire emanating from a cove on the east side of the Village known as Clam Cove has nothing to do with what locals commonly supposed." Local authorities had assumed that increased flooding in recent years was caused by the disappearance of a protective sand spit on the east side of the cove known as “Coffey Point,” which had gradually disappeared over the past 25 years. “The disappearance of Clam Cove/Dogfish Island is not the cause of the problem. It is part of the same problem that is now threatening the entire Village." according to the Executive Sumary, "...nor are high tides, northeaster storms, global warning, or other weather conditions causitive. This is a geological defect in the foundation on the North, or Bay side of the barrier beach at Saltaire."
No Danger to other parts of Fire Island Seen
The Cracktinkle report concluded that that there is no danger to any other part of Fire Island, a thirty two mile long and half mile wide barrier beach on the south shore of Long Island. The problem lies in the fact that Fire Island at Saltaire is twice as wide as the rest of the Island, and the threatened part of Saltaire does not rest on the same geological ridge that lies beneath the rest of the Island.
"The subsurface beneath the north half of Saltaire will not support land above sea level indefinitely, and once it starts sinking there is virtually nothing that be done to stop it. Subterranean water is in the process of leeching into the vulnerable marshy foundation,” said Dr. Cracktinkle in the Executive Summary.
Click to enlarge Springfield Oceanographic Institute
Situation Similar to Jamaica Bay Marsh Disappearance
“This is not a unique occurrence on the bay sides of barrier beaches” according to the Cracktinkle report, citing the possible "disappearance within five years of most of the marshes and islands in Jamaica Bay, in Queens, some 25 miles west of Saltaire." http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/02/nyregion/02marsh.html?_r=1&fta=y&oref=slogin "And we have recently seen the disappearance, within three years of a 40 mile stretch of bay front at Yourmo Linda, on the western coast of Baja California." Similar bay beach and marsh disappearances have been documented in the British West Indies and along the sandy coast of northern Australia. “In Baja California, the size of the phenomenon was much larger. The drop-off from the Baja California plateau to the Bay floor was much steeper that it is from the Fire Island Plateau to the Great South Bay floor. But the relatively small size of the Saltaire area makes it inevitable that the area's return to the bay bottom will be complete and “very quick -- a couple of years-- .- a nano second in geological time” said Dr. Cracktinkle.
In a small footnote, the Report predicts that as the endangered areas on the western side of the Village disintegrate, the underlying sand will be drawn into the Great South Bay and carried eastward by the Bay’s littoral drift. “Many thousands of cubic yards of sand will be deposited on what was the eastern perimeter of Clam Pond Cove. This will build up and cause the reemergence of a small island (referred to in the report as “Dogfish” Island) which had disappeared in recent years. Ironically, it was the disappearance of that small island, along with the disappearance of the entire “Coffey Point” sand spit, that authorities had suspected to be the cause of recent Village flooding. The Cracktinkle report debunks that theory, and concludes that neither the Coffey Point spit nor the Village proper will ever reemerge because of the absence of a solid subterranean foundation. However, "Dogfish Island," several hundred feet south of the former Coffey Point, “lies firmly on the Fire Island geological ridge” and it will remerge as a stable bay island with a strong subterranean foundation,:” according to footnote # 373 in the report.