Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations
The northern Outer Banks
The United States is currently experiencing a population boom along its eastern coast, and the development of beaches and coastal areas is taking place at an alarming rate. As humans invade the coastal zone, more and more reports are heard of erosion and property loss due to storms. Not only is the coastal zone economically important, but it is extremely important ecologically. An understanding of the natural processes in barrier island ecosystems is vital if humans are to coexist with these rapidly changing environments.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina is an ideal setting to study the impact of humans on the natural processes of the coastal zone. In this field trip, we will visit various localities on the Outer Banks, from Nags Head to Cape Hatteras, in order to gain a better understanding of coastal processes. Along the way we will examine the importance of antecedent topography in modern landscape evolution, the migration of dunes and their role in erosion control, overwash processes, inlet processes and development, longshore transport, and the development strategies that have failed and succeeded as humans struggle to inhabit the coastal zone.