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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Erosion (Διάβρωση)

The remains of a small pier at Koum Kapi, an inner-city beach area, are still visible in the region; most of it is now under water. 



In the background you can see a mini-cruiseship docked outside the Venetian harbour. The passengers were picked up by privately-hired smaller boats which brought them to shore. The photos were taken this past summer.


This is a sign of the changing topology of the island: the north seems to be sinking while the south is rising. 

A few beaches along the northern coast which are located close to my house have shown signs of erosion during the two decades that I've been living in Greece, notably Kalamaki Beach (to the west of Agious Apostolous). There is now no sandy beach next to Bamboo Cafe; only 6 years ago, my kids were building sand castles there.


kalamaki 2008
Above: Kalamaki Beach 2008. My kids used to build sand castles below the wall. 
Another photo of the area in 2012 is also available here. 
Below: Kalamaki Beach, summer, 2013 - you can't build sand castles now, only rock castles! 
Bear in mnd that the Mediterranean is not a tidal sea - the coastline remains in a stable position all day long. It is not tides that are causing it to come further inland.
"The coastlines of western Crete are retreating at a rate that has increased substanstantially in the past decade. As in other parts of the Mediterranean, we infer that the causes are mainly anthropogenic and include: 1. sand mining from the beaches and rivers to use as construction material, 2. poor design of coastal structures that create sand trapping and reflection patterns focusing waves on vulnerable areas, 3. removal of sand dunes to build roads and hotels, and 4. coastal construction too close to shoreline." (Nikolaos Maravelakis, Nikos Kalligeris & Costas Emmanuel Synolakis, Beach Erosion in Western Crete, 2008)
Another view of Kalamaki Beach, summer 2013.
You can read more about the problem in this paper by researchers at the Technical University of Crete (TUC). The link leads you to a downloadable .pdf file which may be accompanied by a message about how safe it is to open such files. I downloaded and opened it without any problems - it contains interesting information and some photographs for comparison purposes from the north coast of Hania that illustrate the erosion problem. The issue is being tackled by the authorities at a very slow rate, but such things take time to be managed properly.

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